The Courier

Sergeant Arthur Davidson Melvin – Supplied Photo

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The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces have confirmed that the grave of an unknown soldier in Bois-Carré British Cemetery, in Thélus, France, is that of Sergeant Arthur Melvin, a Canadian soldier of the First World War.

Arthur Davidson Melvin was born on June 3, 1887, in Udny, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, to Helen “Nellie” Melvin (née Wallace) and James Melvin. He lived with his parents and nine siblings in Whiteashes, Aberdeenshire, until he immigrated to Canada sometime after 1901. He worked as a pipefitter until he enlisted with the 56th Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) on May 18, 1915, in Calgary. In March 1916, he sailed for England, and after training, transferred to the 31st Infantry Battalion, CEF, and was sent to France. He was promoted to the rank of corporal and then sergeant.

In the spring of 1917, in the Battle of Arras, which included the assault on Vimy Ridge, the 31st Infantry Battalion fought as part of the 6th Brigade of the 2nd Division. Sergeant Melvin was first reported missing, and later presumed dead on April 9, 1917, in the effort to clear and hold the village of Thélus. He was 29.

“While many years have passed since the Battle of Arras, time does not change the magnitude of Sergeant Melvin’s sacrifice in service to Canada,” said Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence. “Today, we reflect on the debt we owe all our fallen, from the First World War and other conflicts. To Sergeant Melvin’s family: you have my sympathy and thanks. Lest we forget.”

The Canadian Armed Forces has notified the family of Sergeant Melvin’s identification and is providing them with ongoing support. A headstone rededication ceremony will take place at the earliest opportunity in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Bois-Carré British Cemetery in Thélus, France.

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