Located on the continental divide at the head of Aldridge Creek; north buttress of Fording Pass. High Rock Range, Kananaskis Park, Alberta/BC border. Major headwaters Bow & Kootenay rivers.
Photo: Mount Bolton from the east on Mount Armstrong (Interprovincial Boundary Survey Photo)
During the spring a distinctive broad stripe appears on Mount Bolton when viewed from the east. The stripe is formed because the snow melts off of this section of the mountain prior to the rest and trends from the upper right part of the peak to the to the lower left.
*A hiking route to the summit is described in Gillean Daffern’s Kananaskis Country Trail Guide Volume 2.
PRIVATE BOLTON -A DIFFERENT KIND OF MEMORIAL -by Keith Evans
[Lambert Bolton first came to my attention whilst researching our Bolton family ancestors. The story of his short life appeared to be a suitable subject for my Western Front Association (Norwich & Waveney Branch) newsletter 'The Poppy'.]
I wonder if Lambert Bolton ever imagined when he was working in the Canadian Rockies that his name would live on forever in such a magnificent setting?
Lambert Ernest Stanley Bolton was a second generation Canadian, a great grandson of James and Lucy Bolton who had emigrated from the Tannington area of Suffolk c1818. Born in Wiarton, Ontario 10th June 1888, he was the third child of Rev. Charles Edward and Martha Bolton (nee Bull). After leaving school he spent a year at Medical College, London, Ontario, worked in a Drug Store in Toronto and finally joined the Surveyor General’s Staff in Ottawa.
When Britain declared war, Canada, as a British Colony automatically became involved, with proclamation following on 5th August. Although it did have the right to determine the extent of its contribution its consent can be judged by a qualified offer of troops made on 1st August, this was accepted by the British Government 6th August. By 8th September 32,665 volunteers and about 5000 horses were in the newly opened camp at Valcartier, near Quebec City, which at that time was little more than a collection and organisation centre.
The first contingent of the CEF left the Quebec coast 3rd October arriving off Plymouth Sound late on the 14th, the majority of camps (4 tented, 3 in huts) being on Salisbury Plain. After 16 weeks of training in a miserable English winter 1st Canadian Division finally arrived in France 15th February 1915.
Battlefield experience quickly indicated a need for greater support in order to free up more fighting troops. One of the organisation changes made in 1915 allotted each Division its own Pioneer Battalion whose job it would be to carry out a variety of military engineering tasks. From wheelwrights to masons and carpenters to cooks, they were to be the Canadian army’s skilled ‘handymen’.
Back in Canada Lambert Bolton was employed on a survey of the boundary between Alberta and British Columbia, and whilst there he enlisted. His Attestation Paper with Serial No. 06173 (amended to 155001) was completed in Calgary 9th October, 1915 describing him as a single man, 27 years old, a little over 5¢ 6¢¢ tall, weighing 10 stones 10lbs. He had a 32¢¢ chest, was of dark complexion with hazel eyes and brown hair and his physical development was described as ‘fair’. A Presbyterian, his occupation was given as a Dominion Land Surveyor, a prestigious occupation. His mother Martha was named as next-of kin!
Lambert’s medical history, completed the same day, suggests he enlisted with the C.A.M.C. and immediately transferred to the 1st Canadian Pioneer Battalion. (27th October to 30th November he was on the strength of the C.A.S.C.). His draft left Canada 20th November 1915 arriving 10 days later in England. After little more than 3 months 1st Pioneer Battalion left for France, landing in Boulogne at 14.30 on 9th March 1916, then marching to Osterhove Camp.
Two days later they entrained for Bailleul and then marched to Aldershot Camp near Neuve Eglise. 13th March brought their first taste of front line duty near the Wulverghem-Messines Road. Little more than two weeks later they left Aldershot camp, marching to Godwaersvelde where the next day, 30th March, the Battalion was inspected by Major-General Currie, C.B.
This was also the day that Lambert’s older brother Charles got a phone message through to the Unit with the following request ‘In case of casualty notify son B. W. Bolton, (sic) Dept. of Labor, Q4369 instead of mother, and don’t send papers’. Their father died in 1916 but I’ve yet to find out the exact date; perhaps that’s why his was mother named as next-of-kin?
1st April saw the Battalion moving to billets in Poperinghe. H.Q. and m/c gun section in a Chalet on the Rue de Cemitiere, Transport in the field behind, Orderly room and officers at 8, 13, 15 Rue de Boeschape, C and D Coys. in a warehouse on the Rue de Cemitiere, A and B Coys. at temporary billets on the Rue de Chine. The next day C and D Coys. went to front line billets in Ypres, A and B Coys. moved into the warehouse which became the Battalion rest billets, although I doubt if the troops called them that!
By the end of May 1st Pioneers had been in France and Flanders about eleven weeks and had been ‘initiated’ in the ways of the front line. They had taken casualties, been gassed, shelled, strafed, m/c gunned and snipped. And things were about to take a turn for the worse when, on 2nd June, troops of the German XIII (Wurttemburg) Corps. drove the Allies from Hills 61, 62 (Tor Top) and Mount Sorrel. Four days later they came again, this time at Hooge where they gained most of our trenches, and Hill 60 where they were repelled.
Because of the importance of the lost high ground General Byng and his staff immediately made plans for their recovery, final orders were given 11th June for the attack (The Battle of Mount Sorrel) to start at 01.30 on 13th June. Preliminary bombardment had already been going on for 2 days!
1st Pioneer Battalion War Diaries ‘Special Reports for 10th-14th June’ submitted by Capt. Keefer, A Coy., Lt. H. Earle, No. 1 Party, B Coy., Major H. H. Williams, C Coy. and Major Mansell, D Coy. provides an insight into the role the Pioneers played in this battle:-
10/6/16 A Coy. 11.00 3 Officers+75 O.R’s marched to 3rd Field Coy. CE at H15 c5.9.
B Coy. 10.30 3 Officers+77 O.R’s marched to 2nd Field Coy. CE at G34 d4.
D Coy. 11.00 Lts. Tait-White, Rowe & Cameron+75 O.R’s to H.Q. 1st Field Coy.
For the next 48 hrs. Pioneers and Sappers drilled and rehearsed for their role as consolidating parties for the forthcoming attack. The Officers also reconnoitred the attack area and selected sites for cover trenches. Early in the evening of the 12th June the troops left for the front, the following extracts are from the reports:-
A Coy. 18.30 Capt. Keefer, Lts. Burwash, Scharschmidt+75 O.R’s left for Railway Dugouts arriving at 20.00. At 21.15 moved up and dug in about 20 feet behind our front line trenches on the left of Observatory Ridge Road.
13/6/16 c00.30 Finished digging in. 00.45 Our final bombardment started and we immediately came under heavy retaliatory shellfire from the enemy. c00.15 (sic): Orders from Lt. Col. Buchanan, C.O. 13th Bn. (The Royal Highlanders of Canada) that objective had been taken and we were to move up and consolidate old support trenches from the corner of Vigo and Sackville Street to Observatory Ridge Road. c02.30 In broad daylight we crossed the 700 yds. in skirmish order to our objective under constant shell and m/gun fire. 04.00 The enemy heavily shelled the trench. The rest of the day was spent consolidating or ‘standing to’. We also began to send the men back in small parties. c14.30 The Officers made their way back to 3rd Field Coy. arriving about 19.30. A muster was held that evening.
14/6/16 A further muster was held in the morning before the Pioneers returned to their own billets.
Casualties: 4 killed, 19 wounded, 2 missing.
The report ‘mentions’ Cpl. Roff, L/cpls. Thorburn and Noble.
B Coy. 18.00 Paraded in format of 3 Pioneers to each Sapper+an infantry carrying party of 75 men and a wiring party of 25 men all under the command of Lt. McCusy, CE. Pioneers and Sappers were formed into 3 units of 33 men each under command of a Pioneer Officer. 18.30 Proceeded to site selected for cover arriving at 23.00 where we immediately set to digging cover trenches.
13/6/16 00.45 The party was dug in by the time our bombardment commenced. Under instruction, O/c party remained in the shelter trench awaiting orders from O/c attack (Lt. Col. Leckie, 16th Bn, Canadian Scottish). By about 14.00, no orders having been received, Capt. Matheson, CE ordered our party back to the billets of 2nd Field Coy.
14/6/16 10.30 The party paraded and at 11.30 the Pioneers returned to their own billets.
Casualties: Lts. F. C. Underhill and E. F. Jordan, 6 killed, 10 wounded, 3 missing.
The report ‘mentions’ Sgts. Quinn, A. S. B. Jones and Cpl. Richmond.
C Coy. 13/6/16 23.00 Owing to late arrival of the train I reported to Engineering H.Q. At 23.30 we set off with Major Hartsburg, CE (O/c consolidating parties) for our front line objective, to wire in front of the first line trenches.
14/6/16 a.m. We eventually picked up the wire at Valley Cottage having been heavily shelled several times, losing several men who were separated under fire, and becoming mixed up in the general melee. Arriving at Observation Ridge we were met by Lt. McPhail who advised us that the wiring had been completed at which Major Hartsburg advised me to take my party back to billets.
Casualties: 13 reported.
(Note: C Coy. also sent Capt. Craig and 75 O.R’s to Ypres on 12th June but did nothing until the night of 13th when they fixed wire in front of the first line near Mount Sorrel).
D Coy. 18.00 The parties, under the command of Lt. Burkett, CE left the training ground for Railway Dugouts. 20.30 Moved to line with sandbags and shovels with X trench on left and arrived at 21.45.
13/6/16 01.30 3rd Bn. (Toronto Regt.) under the command of Lt. Col. Allen went over the parapet. 02.15 Consolidating party ordered up to the German front line trench where work began immediately to improve the trench. 02.35 Further orders to move on to the final objective for consolidation. Work was hampered by lack of sandbags. Trench had to be revetted because of the state of the ground. No sooner was this done than an enemy barrage lasting 3 hours destroyed it, this was to continue throughout the day. Afternoon: ‘stood to’ for expected counter attack. During the day Lt. Tait-White’s centre party got mixed up with the flanking parties and worked with them (Lt. Tait-White had been wounded during the course of the battle). 18.00 Lt. Cameron ordered his men back, in small groups, to Railway Dugouts.
14/6/16 01.30 Lt. Rowe received orders to send his men back.
All 3 Officers instructed their men to get back to Railway Dugouts the best way they could.
I can find no conclusive evidence to show which of these Companies Lambert Bolton served in. Casualty Form AF B103 dated 14th June shows his O.C. Unit reported him ‘Killed in Action’ in the ‘Field’ 12th/13th June, however 3 days later the details were changed confirming his death 13th June. It’s probable that his death was suspected but not confirmed until bodies had been collected after the fighting stopped and the front stabilised.
CWGC shows Private Lambert Bolton died 13th June 1916 and is remembered on Panel 32, Menin Gate, Ypres. Lambert’s father must have died earlier in 1916 as his next of kin is shown as Martha B. Bolton of Wiarton, Ontario and the late Charles Edward Bolton.
Private Bolton’s “different” memorial? The Geographic Board of Canada’s “Place Names in Alberta”, published 1928, gives the following description:-Mount Bolton, 8878¢, lat. 50° 20¢, long. 114°; 48¢, after L. E. S. Bolton, D.L.S., of the Surveyor General’s staff, Ottawa; killed in action June, 1916. Located on the continental divide at the head of Aldridge Creek in the High Rock Range of the Kananaskis Park, which straddles the Alberta/British Columbia border.
I would like to acknowledge the assistance given me by Gord. MacKinnon, WFA Central Ontario Branch; Dave Birrell, firstname.lastname@example.org and National Archives of Canada.