First World War Project
John Lovett SATTIN (of Lynsted)
b. 14th January 1885
Private, Service Number 466904
The eldest child of John, a coal yard manager and Clerk to the County Council, and Elizabeth Jane (née Lovett), John was born in Sittingbourne on 14 January 1885. Some Canadian records incorrectly give John's date of birth as 14 January 1888 and age at death of 29. His early years were spent at 4 Hill House, Greenstreet (next door to The Grange), Lynsted, with his younger siblings Charles, Maude, George, Mabel and Lilian. He was admitted to Teynham School on 11 March 1890 and, on leaving, was employed as a labourer in the brickfields.
On 15 June 1907, John married Florence Emily Mount of Chartham in Lynsted Church. As with several local men, John looked abroad for employment and sailed from Liverpool on the "Laurentic" to Montreal, Quebec, on 25 June 1910. Once settled, he was joined by his wife a year later. It appears his brother, Charles, also joined them in Canada in mid 1911 but died the following year on 28 September. During Charles's younger years, Teynham School records had registered his long absence due to pneumonia. This may have been a contributing factor in his early death.
John lived at 875, 4th Street, South East Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada and worked as a labourer at the time of his enlistment on 16 July 1915. Papers show he was 30 years and 8 months old on enlistment and was described as being 5 ft 5 ins tall with a dark complexion, dark brown hair and light blue eyes. He would serve in the 63rd Battalion (Edmonton), Canadian Expeditionary Force, an infantry battalion that had recruited in Medicine Hat, Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta. John's training would have taken place at the largest military training camp on Canadian soil, Valcartia.
On 22 April 1916, the Battalion was mobilised and sailed from St John on the SS Metagama, arriving in England on 5 May. On 29 June 1916, John's Battalion was taken on to the strength of the 7th Battalion to provide reinforcements for the Canadian Corps in the field. On 30 July he left England to proceed to his unit in France, arriving on 5 August.
The Battalion was soon in action on the Somme during the battles of Flers-Courcelette (15 - 22 September) and Ancre Heights (1 October - 11 November). Perhaps after surviving these battles he can be forgiven when, on 21 December 1916, he was sentenced to 7 days Field Punishment for "refusing to pay the sum of 8 Francs for refreshments ordered and eaten at expense of Mme Whersin".
On 4 February 1917 he spent a month on attachment to the 2nd Canadian Trench Mortar Battery, returning to his battalion on 3 March.
John's final battle would be that of the infamous Vimy Ridge, which took place from 9 - 12 April 1917. A heavy price was paid for this battle, the success of which was due to the meticulous planning and extensive training of the Canadian Corps, for which they became famous. The battle was the first occasion when all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force participated in a battle together and thus became a Canadian nationalistic symbol of achievement and sacrifice.
The days running up to the start were described in the Battalion's war diary:
|Place||Date||Summary events and information|
|Camblain L'Abbe||April 1st 1917||Morning fair though cloudy. Battalion Church parade at 10.30. Light snowfall in pm.|
|2nd||Battalion proceeds to training grounds near Estree Cauchie for attack practice. Very windy and cold in forenoon. Battalion returns from training in afternoon. Cold.|
|3rd||Attack practice under company arrangements in am. Brigade attack rehearsal at training ground in afternoon. Heavy snowstorm at night. Cold.|
|4th||Battalion practices for attack at training grounds under company arrangements. Weather dull, raining most of the day.|
|Trenches (Centre sub sec)||5th||Weather bright. Battalion relieves 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion in Front Line of Labyrinth Sector. Relief complete by 7.15pm. Trenches are very muddy. Our artillery very active on enemy wire and trenches. No retaliation.|
|6th||Weather bright and clear in am. Our heavy artillery very active against enemy defence system all day. Very little retaliation. One of our aeroplanes seen to come down. Raining towards night. Machine Gun fire – slight.|
|7th||Weather – fair. Inter-company relief. Much aerial activity on both sides. Continuous bombardment of enemy trenches by our artillery throughout the night. Our scouts patrol enemy wire from 500 crater to the Snout. At 11.00pm they were fired on from enemy trenches opposite 5 00 crater. No attempt by enemy to repair wire was noticed.|
|8th||Weather bright and clear during forenoon. In afternoon – considerable activity by our heavies on enemy's Batteries and rear. Our heavy artillery also bombarded enemy front line and wire for several hours. No's 1 and 4 Company come up into battle position. Continuous bombardment by our artillery. Some retaliation by enemy on our line.|
The battle for Vimy Ridge started at 5.30am on Easter Monday, 9 April 1917. Major D Philpot's (Commanding 7th Canadian Infantry Battalion) report 9 - 16 April 1916 gives an account of what was a successful battle, but at a huge loss:
At Zero hour the barrage opened and all assaulting troops left our trenches and formed up in no-man's-land roughly along the line of the old French trench. The first wave only were formed up in their proper formation, the remaining waiting until they entered the enemy lines to adopt their formations as laid down. One enemy machine gun from rear trenches opened fire immediately our barrage started and inflicted a number of casualties on our men as they formed, including the Company Commander (Capt C L Harris) who was killed instantly.
Immediately the barrage lifted the attacking troops followed into the German Front Line which was taken without difficulty, the companies following and opening out to their proper formations as the barrage moved forward.
The First Objective was taken without much heavy fighting, most of the enemy surrendering readily as our men reached them. They were, however, subjected to a steady rifle and machine gun fire from positions in the rear and had a number of casualties from short bursts of our own shells — this was particularly the case on the right where one of our own guns appeared to be firing short all the way to the Red Line and inflicting a large number of casualties on No 3 Coy who were on that flank and detailed to take the Red objective.
Great difficulty was found in locating the Bastion Tunnel as only one entrance to it remained open after our bombardment. The 1st Battalion followed our men very closely into the black objective and assisted in mopping-up.
During the pause of the barrage in front of the Black objective the two companies detailed for the Red objective formed up on the barrage again advancing followed it through to their objective. They met with considerable resistance from isolated parties of the enemy in trenches and Strong Points and in many cases had to advance up trenches until bombing parties could dislodge the enemy and allow the advance to continue. This undoubtedly caused a certain amount of confusion owing to the line being broken in places but had it not been done would probably have meant that our casualties would have been so heavy that sufficient men would not have been left of the attacking parties to capture their objective.
Casualties in these two companies had been very heavy and No 1 Coy were ordered to reinforce them, their place in the Black line being taken by A Coy of the 8th Can Battalion moved up from reserve………
……….. During the afternoon of "Z" day the Battalion were relieved from the Red line by the 8th Battalion and moved back into reserve in the old German front system. The balance of "Z" day was spent in clearing and evacuating our wounded, this being practically completed by dusk.
On April 10th (Z plus 1 day) the Battalion was employed in collecting our dead and burying them in a Battalion Cemetery which was located at map ref A.16.d.7.6. and in re-fitting and re-equipping from casualty equipment on the field and re-organising on a two section platoon basis ready for further operations if called on.
April 11th was spent in completing re-equipment and re-organisation and in salving and collecting abandoned stores, arms and equipment of both our own and enemy's troops.
On April 12th the men were rested and moved up in the late afternoon and relieved the 1st Can Inf Battalion in the Brown Line and Farbus, relief being reported complete by 1am on the 13th.
The battle for Vimy Ridge was now over, but fighting would continue as the Canadian's continued to advance. There was confusion about the date of John's death which is recorded as 14 April 1917 on the Lynsted memorial. Records show this was the original assumed date, however, it was finally confirmed as 13 April 1917.
Major Philpot's report of the day on which John died is as follows:
During the whole of the night 12th/13th our positions were heavily shelled by 4.1 and 5.9 batteries and many casualties were suffered by us. At 3.30pm 13th whilst at a Brigade Conference it was reported that the 2nd Division had gained the railway and we were ordered to send out patrols with the same objective. At 4.30pm a patrol of Battalion Scouts under Lieut Fraser had reached the railway and reported it all clear of enemy. Lieut Matthews who was at that time holding Farbus and Station Woods with his company was ordered to send out three patrols in the direction of Arleux to endeavour to gain touch with the enemy and if they got sufficiently far forward to follow the remainder of his company to support them. At the same time a party of signallers were sent out to lay a wire from Battalion HQ to Lieut Matthews Company and to follow with them and maintain communication - established and remained intact throughout the advance.
Lieut Fraser with a patrol Battalion Scouts moved along the left flank of the Battalion advance with the object of ascertaining if the Mont Forget Quarries were occupied by the enemy. A British aeroplane was brought down by an enemy machine. Lieut Fraser got in touch with the pilot and observer (who were both uninjured) and drove back a party of about ten of the enemy, who were moving forward from the direction of Mont Forget Quarries with the object evidently of capturing the airmen, by firing on them with a Lewis Gun taken from the aeroplane. About fifty men were seen to leave the Mont Forget Quarries and retire in the direction of Arleux and were fired on by the Lewis Gun but it was not seen whether any casualties were inflicted.
At 6.30pm Lieut Matthews reported that he was level with Willerval and still advancing. I then ordered No 1 Coy under Lieut McDonald to follow and support No 2 and assist in consolidating should they be held up. At 7pm it was reported to me that the forward company were still advancing and in touch with the 8th Canadian Infantry Battalion on the right but that the 18th Can Inf Battalion on the left were digging in about 200 yards east of the railway. I requested Major Tudor commanding 5th Can Inf Battalion to send me up one company to link in between the 18th Battalion and my forward company to form a defensive flank and this company reported to me about 8.30pm and were sent forward. At 7.40pm it was reported to me that the 8th Battalion on our right were digging in in front of Willerval and I sent instructions to my leading company to conform to their movements and consolidate the line, sending out patrols in the direction of Arleux to try and establish contact with the enemy. At 8pm I sent forward No 4 Coy Under Lieut Slater to support the other companies forward of the track and to assist the company of the 5th Battalion if necessary in filling the gap on our left flank. At 8pm a small company of our Corps Cavalry rode through our left flank going NE and returned about 10 minutes later but did not send in any report to the Battalion. At 8.40pm instructions were sent out to dig in a line. As the furthest advanced company were ahead of the line they retired to the Sunken Road from Willerval to Mont Foret Quarries where good cover was available and established a main resistance line there with six posts dug-in in front. The remaining companies dug-in in rear. Battalion HQ moved down to the gun-pits in the railway near Farbus Station.
Over the period 9 - 13 April 1917 John's Battalion took heavy losses:
|Strength going into battle:||Situation on 13 April|
|21||4 killed, 7 wounded|
|8 died of wounds|
|1 missing - believed killed|
|6 missing - believed wounded|
|9 wounded at duty|
It is estimated that the Battalion took 250 prisoners but owing to heavy Canadian casualties, there were few escorts to take them away.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge had been a great success. However, of the 100,000 Canadians who took part and bore the brunt of the fighting, 3,598 were killed and 7,004 wounded. Four members of the Canadian Corps received VCs for their actions during the battle.
John was posthumously awarded both the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. [See Appendix 1]
John has no known grave but is commemorated on the magnificent Vimy Memorial which stands on the Ridge that was so hard fought for. A 250 acre site was ceded to Canada in perpetuity by the French Government for the memorial. A poignant reminder of the 11,285 Canadian soldiers killed in France who have no grave.
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial which bears the inscription "To the valour of their countrymen in the Great War and in memory of their sixty thousand dead this monument is raised by the people of Canada".
In addition John is remembered on page 321 of the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance. A copy of this page has kindly been sent to us by the Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Canadian House of Commons, noting that:
"A grateful nation recognises his sacrifice every year on July 13th, when this page is displayed for public viewing in the Memorial Chamber of the Parliament of Canada."
John Lovett Satin was one of a number who emigrated (Pals) only to return to answer the call of their homes.