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The Cenotaph, erected in the St. Norbert Cemetery, was an over-grown, long forgotten homage to the thirteen men who fought and died in World War I and who were connected to the St. Norbert area.

Then one day in 2008, Art Bloomfield, an area resident, took a closer look at the overgrown monument while walking his young grandson to pre-school. Soon after, he and his family made it their personal mission to ensure that the cenotaph and those thirteen men whose names are etched in stone were forgotten no more.

Celebrate and honour these men at the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Lest We Forget image

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image placeholderPRIVATE JOSEPH ALBERT RYAN
Regimental #288234

Born:  August 16, 1894, St. Boniface, MB

Occupation:  Farmer

Enlisted:  March 29, 1916, 78th Battalion, Canadian Infantry

Killed in Action:  October 30, 1917 (23 years) at Passchendaele, Belgium

Awarded:


Born to Michael Ryan and Marie Angela Dodancourt, Albert was a single farmer in St Norbert with no previous military experience. Joseph Albert is his full name based on his birth registration on the MB Vital Statistics web site.  He usually went by Albert, although the St Norbert Memorial shows him as Alfred. At 21 years of age, he stood 5 foot 4 inches and weighed 145 lbs. This Roman Catholic man had a fair complexion, with brown eyes and hair. His brother, Michael Ernest Ryan, Regimental No. 288432, cousins Frank James Ryan, Regimental No. 106531, and Michael Auburn Ryan, Regimental No 288321, also fought for Canada.

photo of 221st Bn Cap Badge
221st Battalion
Cap Badge

Private Albert Ryan enlisted in the 221st Battalion along with Roger Chartrand, Joseph Frobisher, James Normand, and brother Ernest Ryan.

Albert enlisted with the 221st Bn at the end of March 1916.  The 221st shipped off to England a year later, and six weeks after arrival, Albert was posted to the 78th (Winnipeg Grenadiers) Bn. He was in the same draft as Chartrand and Frobisher.  In September he had a brief bout of Trench Fever, but was back with the 78th in time to make the move from Vimy back to Flanders.

image of newspaper article

The Cdn Corps was being committed to the notorious Passchendaele Campaign - in large part because there was no other army corps left that hadn't been decimated already.  On October 30, 1917, the 78th took part in what was the second phase of the Canadian assault on Passchendaele.  The goal was an area of high ground just south of the town.  The attack was largely successful, and gave the Canadians an area of relatively dry ground from which the final assault could be launched a week later.  A newspaper account says he was shot by a sniper and fell back into the arms of his cousin, (named Auburen, but was actually Michael Auburn Ryan).  He is now buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest WW1 Commonwealth cemetery in Flanders. 

image of mapA map taken from the 78th Bn War Diary, shows the plan of attack.  A road that cuts diagonally through the battalion area still exists.  The houses that are shown dotting the sides of the road have been rebuilt, but the areas behind them are all farm land.  It's a fairly gentle rise toward Passchendaele, utterly devoid of natural cover.  A line of soldiers rising up from their trenches would have been inviting targets.  The war diary noted that the 78th took 50% casualties that day, but felt that was better than expected.  Just north of the "78th" notation is Crest Farm.  The Canadian monument to the battle stands there today.  It's a spectacular view of the slope back toward the town of Ieper, (formerly Ypres). 


image of Albert Ryan's grave marker

Attestation Paper
He is interred at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium, XVIII. H. I.
He is commemorated in the First World War Book of Remembrance, page 320
His name is inscribed on the St Norbert, MB War Memorial
Veterans Affairs Canada Link
Library and Archives Canada File RG150, 1992-93/166, Box 8574-06

*with files from Jim Busby

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