A Intriguing & Emotive Memorial Plaque to the 4 CMR
WWI Memorial Plaque, Lance Corporal George W. Brunton, 74th Battalion (4th Canadian Mounted Rifles) - (GEORGE WILLIAM BRUNTON). Very crisp detail, dark patina, maker marked "W" surounded by a circle on the reverse, scratch across central portion of the plaque on the obverse, drill hole at the top, better than very fine. Accompanied by original paperwork, including his Will and Accompanying Letter (1917), Circumstances of Death Report and Accompanying Letter (1917), Certificate of Death from the Adjutant General's Office and Accompanying Letter (1917), Burial Report Accompanying Letter without the Report (1917), Imperial War Graves Commission Letter addressed to his son, Alfred, Confirming His Burial Location with Mailing Envelope (1954), Government Letters that originally accompanied the Memorial Cross and Memorial Plaque, Correspondence Mailing Envelope to his wife, Sarah (1916), Province of Ontario Department of the Registrar General Proof of Age for Brunton's Son, Alfred (born January 28, 1914 at Toronto)(1916) and and a CD containing eight pages with copies of his Roll Index Cards, Attestation Paper, Service Records and Medical Records (the government file on Brunton remaining small). Footnote: 138536 George William Brunton was born in Hastings, England on January 8, 1892, the son of George Edward and Mary Jane Brunton (nee Boggs), of Hastings, Sussex. He signed his Attestation Paper with the 74th Battalion, on July 24, 1915 in Toronto, Ontario, stating that he had three years previous Active Militia service with the 9th Mississauga Horse, that he was married (Sarah Jane Brunton) and that his trade was that of Teamster. The 74th Battalion was raised in the counties of Peel and York, Ontario under the authority of G.O. 103A, August 15, 1915, with mobilization headquarters was at Camp Niagara, Ontario. The Battalion sailed March 29, 1916 from Halifax, Nova Scotia, aboard the Empress of Britain, with a strength of 34 officers and 1,046 other ranks under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel J.M. McCausland, disembarking at Liverpool, England on April 9th. Once in England, the Battalion was absorbed into the multiple Infantry Battalions and Mounted Rifle Battalions, including the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles. He embarked for France on June 8th, arriving at Canadian Base Details as reinforcements and was taken on strength on June 10th, arriving with his unit in the field on the 11th and given the rank of Acting Lance Corporal at the same time. It is acknowledged that Brunton was "Accidently Killed" in the Somme on November 20, 1916, at the age of 24, however, there are two stories perpetrated surrounding the circumstances of his death. Two articles printed in the Toronto Star form the basis of the first version. In the Toronto Star of December 8, 1916, it states "Lance-Corp. G.W. Brunton, 20 Adrian avenue has been killed in action. He went overseas with the 74th Battalion and was in the trenches about three months. He was 25 years old, and married, and his wife and child live in Toronto. His only brother, Pte. Fred Brunton, and his father, Pte. George Brunton, went over with the same unit, but the father has been invalided home after serving for some time in the trenches. The family came to Canada seven years ago from Hastings, England." The day after, December 9th, a second article appeared, continuning to tell the story, stating, "Lance-Corp. George Wm. Brunton, 171 Perth avenue, who risked his own life to save that of his father, Lance-Corp. Geo. E. Brunton, in the shell-shattered Somme section, has been reported accidently killed. His father, Lance-Corp. George E. Brunton, returned to Toronto last Sunday, having been invalided home. He told the story of his son's heroic action to a Star reporter, relating how the boy had gone out under heavy fire, found his father with a disabled knee, and half-carrying, half-dragging him, managed to get him back of the lines and to a dressing station. Yesterday a telegram was received from Ottawa stating that the boy had ben accidently killed, Nov. 21st. No details as to how he met his death have been received. He was 25 years of age, and before enlisting was employed as a teamster. He was for three years a member of the Mississauga Horse. Of the entire family, the father and mother and their two boys have each "done their bit" for the Empire. Although 49 years of age, Lance-Corp. Geo. E. Brunton, who was for 12 years in the British navy, enlisted and was in the same battalion as his two sons, George William Brunton and Albert Victor Brunton (note: should read Fred Brunton, as Albert Victor was his young son). With her husband and two sons overseas, the mother went to work in a munition factory, where she has been engaged for several months." The government version of events is much different, as documented in the Circumstances of Death Report, dated March 31, 1917, describing in detail Brunton's untimely death: "I regret to have to report that No. 138536 L/Cpl. G.W. Brunton met his death accidently on the 20th November, 1916. He was in charge of a guard at the approach to the trenches and had several times noticed a suspicious character moving about, but in the maze of trenches was unable to approach him. He returned to his Company Headquarters to borrow a revolver. While being explained the use of same it went off, the bullet immediately piercing his heart. He died immediately." Two very different and conflicting accounts of the events of November 20, 1916. Brunton is remembered with honour at Louez Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France, Grave II. G. 14., located four kilometres northwest of Arras and one kilometre north of the main road from Arras to St Pol. He was awarded the WWI trio for his war service, which were forwarded to his widow, Sarah, along with his Memorial Cross, Memorial Plaque and Scroll, while his mother, Mary, also received a Memorial Cross. Only the Memorial Plaque is presented here.