On July 26, 2018, the Coldwater Legion lowered its flags to honour Private Herbert James Duddy of Creighton, near Coldwater, who was killed in action 100 years ago while serving on the front lines in France.
Herbert James Duddy was born on May 25, 1886, in Creighton, Ont., approximately 10 km south of Coldwater. He was the son of John and Margaret Jane (Hawke) Duddy. By the beginning of the First World War, Herbert had moved out west while his parents stayed near Coldwater.
On April 3, 1916, he enlisted in Estevan, Saskatchewan, with the 152nd Overseas Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was 29 years old and single. On his Attestation Form he is described as 5 feet 8 inches tall, with brown eyes and brown hair. He identified his religious denomination as Methodist, and his trade as farmer, with no previous military experience.
Following a period of training at Camp Hughes near Carberry, Manitoba, Private Herbert Duddy, regimental number 925603, sailed to England on the S.S. Missanabie, arriving in Liverpool on October 13, 1916. He landed in France on November 28 and soon after joined his front line unit, the 5th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Western Canadian Cavalry), part of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division. Along with the rest of the 1st Canadian Division, Private Duddy and his unit fought in France through the rest of the war. He was awarded his first Good Conduct Badge in the field on April 3, 1918.
On July 26, 1918, during a raid on enemy positions at the Broken Mill, east of Arras, Herbert, employed as a scout, successfully guided the battalion raiders to their objective. During the operation he was hit in the chest and leg by pieces of shrapnel from an enemy shell. He was killed instantly.
Four years later, Herbert's parents would have received the awards their son was entitled to: the 1914-1918 British War Medal; the Inter Allied Victory Medal; a Memorial Plaque (a bronze medallion often referred to as "Dead Man's Penny"); and a scroll from King George V. His mother, Jane, would also have received a "Mother's Cross".
Private Herbert James Duddy is buried at Duisans British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, about 9 km of Arras, France. He is commemorated on page 400 of the First World War Book of Remembrance, located inside the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower in Ottawa. He is also commemorated on the Duddy family stone in the Coldwater Cemetery.
We will remember him.