|Date of Birth||April 5, 1895|
|Place of Birth||Smithfield, Brighton Township, Northumberland County, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Eulalia Snider (mother), Ponoka, Alberta|
|Trade / Calling||Farmer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Edmonton, Alberta|
|Date of Enlistment||January 10, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||20|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Decorations and Medals||Military Medal|
|Date of Death||October 4, 1966|
|Age at Death||71|
|Buried At||Ocean View Burial Park, Burnaby, British Columbia|
Sergeant James Cecil Snider enlisted in January 1916 and served in France and Belgium with the 44th Battalion. He earned the Military Medal at the Battle of Passchendaele and returned to Canada in August 1919.
Cecil was the oldest son of James Henry Snider and Eulalia Pearl Taft. James Henry was a baker and he and his wife Eulalia were both German and born in Ontario. They had a daughter, Minnie Rosanna, who was born in Colborne, Northumberland County, Ontario in 1892. Cecil was born on 5 April 1895 in Brighton Township, Northumberland County. When the 1901 census was taken the family was living in the town of Keewatin in northwestern Ontario. Two more daughters were born there, Edith Grace (1902) and Belle Pearl (1906). By 1911 they had moved west to the area of Red Deer, Alberta and James Henry’s occupation was listed as veterinary surgeon. A son, Harold Arthur, was born in Ponoka in October 1911.
James Henry passed away on 8 March 1914, at age 44, and he’s buried in Forest Home Cemetery in Ponoka. After his death Eulalia and the children continued living in Ponoka. The war entered its second year in the summer of 1915 and Cecil enlisted that winter, signing up in Edmonton on 10 January 1916. He listed his occupation as farmer, next of kin as his mother in Ponoka, and place of birth as Smithfield, a village in Brighton Township. He joined the 151st (Central Alberta) Battalion and they trained at Camp Sarcee near Calgary. Cecil headed overseas with his unit in the fall, embarking from Halifax on 4 October on the SS California and landing at Liverpool about ten days later. In England he was transferred to the 11th Reserve Battalion and he trained with them for a month.
On 14 November Cecil was drafted to a front line unit, the 44th Battalion, and sent to France. He joined his new unit in the field about a week later, just as the Battle of the Somme was ending. After the offensive the Canadians moved north to the Arras area, across from Vimy, where they spent the winter of 1916-17. On 15 April 1917, following the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Cecil was appointed Lance Corporal and on 28 May he was promoted to Sergeant. In August and September he spent about four weeks on a course at 1st Army School. On 21 October the 44th Battalion moved into Belgium to take part in the Battle of Passchendaele. The men were billeted near Ypres and they spent the first few days getting their camp in order. On the night of 25-26 October the battalion moved into support trenches where the troops helped to bring in supplies and evacuate the wounded. On 27-28 October they took part in the first phase of the assault, facing heavy machine gun fire during their advance. Cecil earned his Military Medal during the operation, the citation stating:
In front of Passchendaele 27th – 28th October 1917, this N.C.O. was in charge of Platoon in the attack. When met by heavy fire he extended his party and kept going, gaining objective without heavy casualties. He showed fine ability as leader and brought platoon out when relieved, with great skill, through heavily shelled area.
Cecil had ten days leave in the UK starting on 2 November and while he was there he was admitted to the hospital in Etchinghill. He was treated for illness (vdg) and discharged to duty on 27 February 1918. He served with the 18th Reserve Battalion and spent two weeks in No. 14 Canadian General Hospital in July, suffering from influenza. On 22 October he was transferred to the 13th Reserve Battalion and he was in No. 12 Canadian General Hospital from 24 November to 28 December, this time for adenitis. On 23 April 1919 he was put on command at Grace Road Barracks which was in Walton, near Liverpool. He was transferred to the Alberta Regiment Depot in July, to await his return to Canada. He sailed from Liverpool on the SS Caronia on 9 August, arriving in Halifax about a week later and getting discharged on demobilization on 21 August in Calgary.
Cecil returned to his family in Ponoka after the war and he was married in Edmonton in 1920. His wife, Hannah Johnston (née Massey), was a widow with two young boys. She was born in 1894 in Liverpool, England and she came to Canada in 1911. She married Hilles Johnston in 1912. Hilles was a farmer in Wainwright, Alberta and he died near Wainwright in 1918. When the 1921 census was taken Cecil and his wife were living in Ponoka and he was employed as a grocery clerk. They had three children: Denver Cecil (1922), Charles Dennis (1923) and Florence Grace (1936).
Cecil’s sister Edith Grace died in Alberta in 1919, at age 17. His mother was remarried in 1922, to John Gainer, and they lived in Edmonton. She died in 1952. Cecil and his family moved to Vancouver in the 1940s and he worked in real estate until his retirement in 1956. He passed away in the Vancouver General Hospital on 4 October 1966, at age 71, and he’s buried at Ocean View Burial Park in Burnaby. His wife Hannah, who died in New Westminster in 1983, is buried alongside him. His brother Harold died in Victoria in 1969, his son Dennis in New Westminster in 1972, at age 49, his sisters Minnie Rosanna (Mrs. Elmer Pendleton) in Ponoka in 1984, Belle Pearl (Mrs. A.V. Carlson) in Edmonton in 1985, and his son Denver in Vancouver, BC in 2011. Harold is interred in Hatley Memorial Gardens in Colwood, BC. Edith and Minnie are buried in Forest Home Cemetery in Ponoka, along with Cecil’s father.
By Becky Johnson
Family information and two military photos of Cecil provided by Kerry Snider.
Family photo courtesy of Snider public family tree on ancestry.com; grave marker photo courtesy of findagrave.com.