Regimental Service No. 603075

Early Years

Theodore Schuler was born November 12, 1889, in New Hamburg. He was a clerk by trade and was not married. He was the son of Margaret and John Schuler of New Hamburg.  He was 5 ft. 3 3/4 inches tall, had a “dark” complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. He had a couple of moles on his back but was “fit” for service. His identified religion was “Centennial” Protestant. In addition to his father, John Schuler, it was noted that the military was to notify Miss. L. Bonair of R.R. No. 4, Elmwood, c/o H.G. Redford. This may indicate that he had a romantic interest prior to signing to serve his country?

Military Years – overview

On the date of his “attestation” (when he signed up for service), he was 26 years old. His initial placement was in the 34th Battalion and arrived in England on the S.S. California on November 11, 1915. He was transferred to the 12th Battalion at Brawslott on February 3, 1916, and moved to Shorncliffe that day where he was “taken on strength”. On April 15, 1916, he was sent “overseas” to Le Havre and taken on strength with the 14th Battalion on the 16th. On June 3rd, 1916 he was “Reported Missing”. On July 26, 1916, he was declared “Killed in Action” on June 3rd.

Military Events – 14th Battalion Royal Montreal Regiment circa June 3, 1916

The following are taken from the official War Diaries for the 14th Battalion. according to the “Intelligence Summary” for June 2nd, 1916, the “Battalion Resting. Kit inspection in the afternoon. Battalion in Divisional Reserve”, and for June 3rd, 1916, the “Battalion in Divisional Reserve and moved from HOP FACTORY to the RUE DE BOESCHEPPE.” This appears on the surface to show things were uneventful and no reason to explain why Theodore Schular was killed in action on June 3rd.

The war diaries also contain further detailed descriptions of events on the night and morning of June 2 – June 3, 1916. The is a detailed narrative entitled, “Counter-Attack On Maple Copse and Observatory Ridge Positions”  which explains where Theodore was and how he was killed that night/morning.

At 7:30 p.m. of June 2nd, Brigade Headquarters ordered the whole 14th Battalion to move out to a previously decided upon rendezvous near Zillebeke by a route that had been reconnoitred and known by the Regimental Officers (“G.24.C.1C.6., G.19.B.8.10., to G.14.B.4.8. thence through H.15. to a point about H.16.C.1.1”).

They connected with the 3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade and then moved to near Zillebeke in battle formation. Each Company and Detail moved across country and into position as previously planned. It isn’t known which specific Company Theodore was in, so I don’t know exactly where he was (Kruistraat, Zillebeke Halte, Transport Farm?), but the movement of the troops was spotted by German scouts and “an intense barrage was placed over the whole district through which the remainder of the battalion had to pass”. Machine gun companies were sent to positions (Maple Copse, right flank, Observatory Ridge) to “cover” the troops and were ready by 2:45 A.M. of June 3rd.

Bombers were sent ahead to prepare for the advance, a Regimental aid-post was set up at Valley Farm and stretcher-bearers searched the ground for wounded. When the Battalion was set up in position in battle formation at Zillebeke Halte, Major McCombe at Brigade headquarters ordered,

“that the whole would advance to a fresh position in front of Zillebeke Village and near to Observatory Ridge, the right of the Battalion to rest upon the ridge Road and the left upon Maple Copse. The Battalion then moved forward through the village in lines of platoons in extended order. Numbers a and 2 Companies were in the first lines with numbers one and five platoons leading. In support of No. 1 Company moved No. 3 Company in similar formation, while No.4 Company supported No. 2 Company. The Bombers moved on the extreme left and the machine guns rested in positions already assigned them. Going up in this order the Battalion came under heavy shell fire and suffered grievously.

“At 8:17 A.M. word was received to advance. Under Major Powell the whole Battalion swept forward. They were met with a concentrated machine gun and rifle fire from the enemy’s trenches and an almost incredible weight of artillery was brought to bear upon them. Steadily they went forward, the lines reforming automatically as the growing number of casualties robbed the first lines of their effectiveness. For almost three hundred yards they continued towards the German trenches, one Officer, Lieut. Major with a small following actually reaching the German Line, other parties advancing right up to his wire. Major Fowell finding his strength reduced to one-third and losing heavily at every step then stopped the advance and ordered the Battalion to dig in where it stood. Under continuous heavy fire of all descriptions, the battalion established a line here, dug in and held it all day until relieved early the following morning.

“Battalion Bombers advancing on the left flank proceeded up Durham Lane as far as possible, then finding that blocked crawled from shell hole to shell hole in file keeping in alignment with the Battalion and dug in on the same line, having lost their Officer, wounded on the way.”

Theodore Schular, age 27, was killed in action sometime over the night of June 2nd, 3rd, 1916 at Zillebeke France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission record shows his name recorded on the Menin gate monument at Ypres, Belgium. This monument was created to memorialize the names of those whose remains were never identified. It may be concluded that Pte. Theodore Schular was killed during the heavy artillery fire and his remains were never found.

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[Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission]

“Altogether the battalion lost in this advance 379 all ranks.

It had achieved what would have been a fine feat for the best troops in the World. The man had come up to unknown ground on an unknown task through miles of country under intermittent shellfire without any loss of morale/ They had achieved through two of the most severe barrages of artillery fire possible to imagine. They had established a line through a bad gap in our defences under the same conditions; prevented any further advance of the enemy to the key of the salient; had reclaimed a large portion of ground written off as lost and had established a line from which a successful attack on the lost positions could be and was eventually launched.”

[Source: War Diaries, 14th Battalion, June 1916]

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Military Records (selected) from Library and Archives Canada []