The following is an article written by Paul Quinney, dedicated to his grandfather, 1027058 Pte. Cyril Wesley Quinney.

Appearing in the Remembrance Day edition of the Orono Times, it is shared here in full by permission of the author.

On an early June morning in 1916 a young farm boy made his way into Bowmanville Ontario headed for the Canadian Army recruiting office. There he signed his attestation papers and joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) intent on fighting for King and country on the bloody World War I battlefields of Europe.

That young man was my grandfather - Cyril Wesley Quinney. Cyril's story is not unique. When he signed up with Bowmanville's 235th Battalion he was just another of hundreds of young men from the Bowmanville area who had volunteered to serve their country. I suspect he would have scoffed at the idea that 93 years later his story would appear in a newspaper.

I have often wondered why my grandfather joined the CEF. When he volunteered he would have known that thousands of young Canadians had died and many more had been maimed in some of the most infamous battles in Canadian military history - Ypres, Festubert, Loos, St. Eloi and Mount Sorrel. Was it youthful bravado or a taste for adventure? Was it the pressure most young men felt to do their duty to their country? Perhaps it might have been a sense that what he was about to do was part of something larger than himself - an opportunity to make a difference in the world - a chance to stand up for what was right.

I will never know what drove my grandfather to serve, but it was probably no different than what motivates several thousand young Canadians serving in Afghanistan today. Whatever accounted for the line-ups outside army recruiting offices across Canada in WWI is probably the same thing that now explains the waiting lists of young Canadians hoping to be assigned to Canadian combat battalions in Afghanistan.

I can only imagine my great-grandmother's fear for her 19 year old son when she learned he had signed up with the CEF. For I too am the parent of a 19 year old boy and therefore cannot help but feel an emotional connection to her across the many decades that separate us.

Most soldiers rarely speak of their wartime experiences. Cyril was no exception. As a young boy I asked him to tell me about the war but all he would acknowledge was that he had been a soldier, he died when I was just 8 years old and I would never have the chance to speak with him about what he had been through during the Great War.

I would not think of my grandfather's war time experiences again for over 40 years until seemingly by chance, my wife gave me a Christmas gift of a two volume history of Canada fighting WWI. The two volumes - "Canadians Fighting the Great War" - "Volume 1 - At the Sharp End" and "Volume 2 - Shock Troops" written by Tim Cook the Canadian War Museum's WWI Historian, took me back to my grandfather and I began to wonder where he had served.

My curiosity led one Saturday evening to a chance online visit to the National Archives' WWI records from the comfort of my living room. With the touch of a finger I searched the Archive's database and up came my grandfather's army service file. On the screen before me was my grandfather's signature placed on his attestation papers over 93 years before. As I stared at the screen I felt for the first time in years the presence of my grandfather and a personal connection to one of the great chapters in Canadian history.

According to his service record, Cyril arrived in Liverpool in May 1917 and from there was assigned to the 134th Battalion at Camp Witley. That Canadian camp in Surrey housed Canadian troops in both the First and Second World Wars. It is likely the one that his son and my father - Howard Quinney - passed through 25 years later on his way to join the Canadian Army in Holland during WWII.

At Witley Cyril went through months of intensive training waiting for a call to the Western Front. That call came on February 28th, 1918, when he was assigned to the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles (4th CMR). He joined the unit near Arras, France on March 18th, 1918.

I have often wondered what Cyril must have thought when he arrived in France. Along with all the usual feelings a young solider moving into harm's way would have had, I can't help but think he must also have been a little awestruck. By the time Cyril joined the 4th CMR at the front, Canadian troops were walking with a swagger and had a well deserved reputation as the Imperial Army's elite shock troops. German war diaries noted that when they saw Canadian regiments moving into forward trenches there was sure to be a fight.

The 4th CMR was a storied regiment that had taken part in iconic Canadian battles at Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele - victories that make up part of the creation myth of Canada. Cyril could not have understood the significance that Vimy would come to have in the development of the Canadian sense of nationhood in the years to come. Nevertheless, in listening to stories about Vimy from his new mates in the 4th CMR, Cyril would have understood what Canadians drawn from every part of the country could accomplish together. He would have shared in an emerging pride in being Canadian and the growing sense that though barely more than 50 years old, Canada was becoming a distinct country - no longer a mere extension of Britain. He would have been the first of my family to feel pride in being Canadian - something I and my children take for granted. And something that 3,598 young Canadians paid for with their lives at Vimy Ridge.

In the five months that Cyril spent at the front he would have seen some of the bloodiest battles in which the Canadian Corps was engaged in the final days of WWI. The first few months of Cyril's brief time at the front were quiet with his routine consisting of seemingly endless training exercises for battles to come. The first of these would be the Battle of Amiens from August 8th - 14th, 1918.

At Amiens Cyril witnessed the beginning of the end for the German Army. German forces suffered a stunning setback there, largely at the hands of the Canadian Corps who met and defeated elements of fourteen German divisions. During the Amiens campaign Cyril probably encountered gas attacks, hand to hand combat, machine gun fire and artillery bombardment.

With Amiens behind him Cyril would have continued on toward Arras where his war would come to an end on August 28th, 1918 near the little French village of Boiry. There he would suffer a wound to the neck fighting in the Battle of Arras that raged from August 26th - September 5th, 1918.

In May this year I was fortunate to be able to take a weekend away from a business trip to Belgium to retrace Cyril's march with the 4th CMR from Amiens to Arras. After visiting the Vimy Ridge Memorial I drove the old Arras-Cambrai road following in the footsteps of my grandfather seeking a connection to him and his wartime experiences.

Along this ancient road just past the Vis-en-Artois Cemetery and Memorial to Commonwealth troops, a simple little direction sign indicating "Boiry" led me down a narrow country road winding through newly planted fields. I headed up a gentle ridge toward Boiry and passed through the little village. There I stopped and looked down upon the surrounding fields as perhaps Cyril may have done over nine decades before.

My view that day was of the beautiful French countryside. Little farming villages, each with a church spire reaching skyward dotted green and yellow fields as far as the eye could see. Off in the distance I could see the tranquil Vis-en-Artois Cemetery where some of the 760 men resting there were killed on August 28th during the Canadian attack on the Fresnes-Rouvroy Line in which Cyril participated.

I then began to think about what Cyril would have experienced during his time at Boiry. From my vantage point Cyril would have seen thousands of troops on the move, smoke and earth rising up from exploding munitions, cratered fields and destroyed villages. In the background behind him much of Boiry, including the beautiful church in the middle of the village (now restored and the pride of the villagers), would have lay in ruins.

On August 28th at Boiry the 4th CMR was part of the Allied effort to break through the Hindenberg Line - a series of German trenches some 30 kilometres deep along the Canadian section of the Western Front. It was the most heavily defended part of German defenses along the front. The German high command knew they would have to hold it or lose the war. The 4th CMR was assigned the job of breaking the formidable Fresnes-Rouvroy trench making up part of the Hindenberg Line.

At 11:00am on August 28th - zero hour - the battle cry went up signalling Cyril's platoon to charge forward toward the desperate young Germans solidly entrenched along the Fresnes-Rouvroy line. With bayonets of 12 inch steel fixed at the end of their rifles the 4th CMR covered over 6,000 yards being shelled by German artillery as they made their way toward the trench. At they approached their objective they would have fired into the trenches, slashing and stabbing their way forward through mud, barbed wire and German machine gun fire.

I know from family lore that as he drove forward toward the German trench Cyril came face to face with a young German soldier. The young man had Cyril directly in his site and fired his rifle. The bullet grazed Cyril's neck but continued on and struck another young Canadian standing directly behind him. That boy died instantly. I never heard what happened to the young German soldier.

With a wound to the neck Cyril was evacuated to a Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre behind Canadian lines. From there he was sent back to England to recover. With Armistices declared 10 weeks later, Cyril was sent back to Canada and was discharged from the army in January 1919.

My grandfather died in 1966, the father of seven children and grandfather to many more. In civilian life he worked on the Grand Trunk Railroad until he retired in the late 1950s. He was a proud man and enjoyed life to the fullest. I loved my grandfather and remember countless hours he spent with my brother and me when we were young boys.

It is hard for me to think of my grandfather as a warrior. Whatever he had experienced in the Great War had been kept from all of us. If it had affected him we did not know it. Yet his story is not unique. It was ordinary Canadians like my grandfather who made the sacrifices in the Great War that secured victory and helped forge this great country of ours. My family remembers his sacrifice with love and pride - 90 years on.

Lest we forget.

Credit and many thanks go to Paul Quinney for the above article.