491272 Pte. Herbert Mathew Zettell was born in Formosa, Bruce County, Ontario, on 11th May 1892, fourth child to John and Caroline Zettell.

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 answered the call.

9 months after arriving in England on the S.S. Lapland, 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 officially reported as missing after the action on the 2nd. 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 Württemberg", that he was severely wounded (right hip), and was still in hospital.

On August 12th further and still unofficial word was received that he had been taken as a POW and was being held in Duisburg. Official confirmation finally came, on September 6th, that he indeed 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 Zettell was repatriated to England on December 21st, 1918, and returned to Canada on the very ship that had brought him to England (the S.S. Lapland) in early April 1919. He was struck off strength from the 4th C.M.R. with his comrades, on April 12th, 1919. Later marrying Annie Robson, the couple had seven children. Herbert passed away in Kitchener, Ontario, on 4th November 1953, aged 61. He lies at rest in Woodland Cemetery, Kitchener.

Biography credit: David Kavanagh. Thanks go to the John Clark Collection for the image.