Presant's of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in World War I
If you go the Canadian Archive Web page to view the database for soldiers who served in the Canadian Army in World War I, http://www.archives.ca/02/020106e.html, you will discover the names of three Presant's. There was another Presant from Ontario that served his country at this time, but with the British air force, so he was considered a member of the British military. Canada has made their WWI enlistment forms (Attestation Form) available to order. The following information I have below regarding Canadian soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force of World War I is open to the public and is free to obtain.
Bert joined the Canadian Army on September 22, 1914. He joined at the same time with his older brother Cecil, who is profiled below. The only problem is that he lied about his age. I have a registration of birth from England showing that Bertie Arthur Presant was born on October 17, 1897, so was only 16 at the time he enlisted. These volunteers were supposed to be 18 years of age, but at this time the country was so desperate for recruits, and men so desperate to join for patriotic reasons or a chance to see Europe before the War ended by Christmas that year, that issues such as underage were trivialized or ignored. If you see his Attestation Paper he filled out to enlist you can see Bert told the military witness that he was born on October 17, 1895, a two year lie.
I have included his Attestation Form & Casualty Form (962Kb) because between April 22 and April 26, 1915, Bert Presant was killed at age 17 at St. Julien, near Ypres, Belgium, while serving with the 14th Battalion, or Montreal Regiment. This was called the 2nd Battle of Ypres and the Canadian Forces were faced with the first Western Front application of poison gas by the German Army. At this battle between April 22 to April 26, 1915, the First Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force lost one out of every three men.
As with many soldiers of World War I, the body of Bert Presant was never recovered, so his name is inscribed on the Ypres Memorial, otherwise known as the Menin Gate. It spans one of the two main gateways into the town. It was through the Menin Gate, a roadway flanked by two stone lions where the medieval gate once stood, that hundreds of thousands of Commonwealth soldiers passed on their way to the battlefields of the Ypres Salient. The panels inside the 120 foot-long arch, the stairways and upper loggias, bear the names of 40,000 British (who died before 16th August 1917), 7,000 Canadian, 6,000 Australian, nearly 600 South African, and 400 Indian soldiers who died in the Salient and have no known grave.
Menin Gate with the Cloth Hall of Yper in the background
This is me pointing to Bert Presant's name inscribed on the south side of the memorial along with other men of the 14th Battalion. Bert Presant was my great-uncle.
Cecil Herbert Presant was the older brother of Bert profiled above. Both brothers joined the Canadian Army the same day, in Toronto, where they were living. Cecil survived the war and I have a photograph of him taken as part of the 3rd Battalion CEF First Contingent (Toronto Battalion) on Salisbury Plain in late 1914/early 1915 before the units went over to France. Cecil Presant Attestation Form (682Kb)
With Frederick Stanley Presant you have an interesting web page describing his life in Alberta: Link to London Presant's; and then compare to his military record. Briefly, his World War I record indicates that because his health was so bad, that he was sent to England and worked at a hospital. The cold and rainy weather caused him to be unable to continue in the military and he was sent home on a medical discharge. Frederick Presant Attestation Form (748Kb)