491272 Pte. Herbert Mathew Zettel was born in Formosa, Ontario, in May 1892.


Although originally destined for the 70th Battalion, Herbert attested in London, Ontario, on September 7th, 1915, and was subsequently assigned to the 33rd Battalion.


At 23 years of age, and a strapping 6 feet tall (1.83m), Herbert was a labourer by trade, single and had no prior military experience when he joined and served with the 33rd Battalion.


Within a year, along with 205 fellow men of the 33rd through May and June 1916, Herbert was transferred to the 4th C.M.R., joining them in the field on May 8th, 1916. He was assigned to 'B' Company in the process.


Although "just in time" to be in active service when the 'Battle for Mount Sorrel' erupted and decimated the 4th C.M.R. on June 2nd, 1916, on the 15th Herbert was reported as missing after the action. On July 3rd Herbert's next of kin received a letter from him, stating he was a POW "in Germany, at Reserve Lazarette, III, Rollschuhbahn, Stuttgart Wurttemberg", and that he was severely wounded (right hip), and was still in hospital.


On August 12th further unofficial word was received that he had indeed been taken as a POW and was being held in Duisburg. Official confirmation came, on September 6th, that he was a POW, now being held in Stuttgart.


What we now know is that during the 2nd of June attack by the Germans on Mount Sorrel, Herbert received a gunshot wound to his right thigh. Whilst endeavouring to cope with that in the rain of explosive shells tilling the land flat and burying and killing so many around him, Herbert was caught in a shell explosion himself, and was struck in the right shoulder by a piece of flying timber. This led to a paralysis of his right arm. As he received very little treatment for it whilst a POW, when examined on his return to England in December 1918, the arm was reported to be in much the same condition as it was when he was blown up in June 1916.


However, Pte. Herbert Mathew Zettel was repatriated to England on December 21st, 1918, and he was struck off strength from the 4th C.M.R. with his comrades, on April 12th, 1919.






Biography credit: Mike Kavanagh