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Person Details
25 May 1878
Nottingham
He was the eldest son of John and the late Anne Steedman of 23 Sneinton Hollows Nottingham. John Steedman was the headmaster of St Ann's Well Road School in Nottingham. At the time of his son's death John Steedman was living at 14 Gorsey Road, Nottingham.
He was a bank clerk in 1901.
25 Oct 1916
38
1576112 - CWGC Website
443319
Private
Canadian Forces
He served with 54th Bn. The 54th Kootenay Battalion, as it was called, was recruited from the interior of British Columbia from 1st May 1915. Steedman joined up in August. The Battalion was originally based in Nelson, surrounded by the beautiful scenery of the Rockies and the Cascades. It was close to lakes Kootenay (hence the name) and Arrow and surrounded by forests and beautiful farm land. The main industries of the area were lumber, mining, prospecting and farming. A full quota of men was quickly recruited and the battalion assembled in camp at Vernon, British Columbia, for the first time. Training was vigorous and the 54th, by all accounts, soon became a thoroughly good and sound battalion. Interestingly, their battalion mascot was a real life bear called “Koots”. The Companies of the battalion were designated by district and the men broadly allotted to the company representing the area from which they came. The daily round was varied by inspection by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught. Sports and bathing were also freely indulged in. After many rumours the battalion left for England on 15th November, just as the local weather was getting cold making it difficult for the men to keep warm in their tents. It took five days to get to Halifax, the port of embarkation, and the battalion left on the “Saxonia” on the evening of 21st November 1915. The page re-produced in this booklet clearly shows that Vernon Steedman was one of those leaving with the battalion at this time. Eight days later the ship reached Plymouth and the battalion disembarked on 30th November. They were entrained for Liphook in Hampshire, arriving at midnight in the rain. They reached Bramshott Camp, which was still being built. The Battalion was now in for a long wait in England. Much of the time was spent training. Attempts were made to break up the battalion and send the men as drafts to other units, but the commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Kemball, succeeded in preventing this. Eventually the battalion was assigned to 11th Brigade, 4th Canadian Division and, as part of this unit, was reviewed on Hankey Common by both King George V and Lloyd George. Marching orders were finally received on 13th August 1916 and the battalion entrained from Liphook to Southampton, then sailed from there to Le Havre, arriving at 6 am on 14th August 1916. They only stayed in the vicinity of Le Havre for three days before being sent by train to near Poperinghe, in the Ypres area. For the next month they held trenches close to Ypres, experiencing their first taste of the frontline and their first casualties. They lost one officer and sixteen other ranks killed, sixty-nine casualties in all. On 15th September 1916, the battalion moved to close to St Omer, marching much of the way on the pave roads that became so hated by the soldiers of the First World War. They were entrained for the Somme, reaching Doullens on 4th October and from there moved up by short stages to Albert, reaching the town on 10th October. Albert was the main British base just behind the frontline. After arrival, they were directed to an open space called “The Brickworks”, where they had to bivvie in cold, wet conditions. The next day they moved forward and took up residence in “The Chalk Pits” for three days before going into the frontline in front of Courcelette on 14th October. In the frontline their main task was to clean up after the recent fighting and make preparations for a new attack on Regina Trench. They did not, however, take part in the attack on Regina Trench on 21st October. Over the next few weeks the battalion’s movements alternated between the frontline, the Chalk Pits and Albert. It was during this period of holding the line that Vernon Steedman was killed. “Natural Wastage”, as it might be termed, was high in an area such as this where a battle was on going. During the period the 54th Battalion held the line and carried out small scale attacks, two officers and fifty-nine other ranks were killed, two hundred and thirteen casualties in total. The conditions were appalling, with hip high mud in some of the trenches and very bad weather. The men were exhausted by the long marches back to billets which were very uncomfortable with few dry places in which to sleep. Vernon Steedman was killed on 25th October 1916. The original page for that day in the battalion war diary is re-produced for you here. It reads: “Weather fine in early morning. Our artillery opened bombardment at 6 am which lasted 15 minutes. At 7 am 44th Battalion commenced a minor operation with Regina Trench as the objective. Attack apparently failed and 44th returned to their own lines. Enemy persistently bombarded our front lines all day. Lieutenant A G Stanford killed in action. Notice received that operation of 4th Canadian Division postponed for a further 48 hours. German officer and man walked over and gave themselves up. Officer escort struck by shell man(?) missing – other prisoner taken to Brigade HQ. Orders received that we will be relieved by 102nd Battalion on the night of 26th-27th. Casualties: 7 O R (Other Ranks) killed, 34 O R wounded. Captain J H King slightly wounded by shrapnel. Transport lines moved from BRICKFIELDS to TARA HILL.” It seems very likely that Vernon Steedman was killed by the shelling on this day and his body either destroyed or buried and subsequently lost, hence his name on the Vimy Memorial to the Missing. Research Simon Williams
Nottingham Evening Post obituary (abridged) 2 December 1916: STEEDMAN, on October 25th 1916, killed while on duty, Vernon James (Canadians) eldest son of John Steedman, 14 Gorsey Road, Nottingham
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