Major Travers Lucas


01 OF.T. LucasPortraitFrederick Travers Lucas was born on February 20, 1883 to a prosperous family in Hamilton, Ontario.  Travers’s father, Richard Alan Lucas, was a successful merchant and financier.  His mother, Agnes, was a daughter of John Young, one of the founders of the Canada Life Assurance Company.  Travers had an older brother, Stanley, who he was quite close to, and two sisters.

There was some degree of a military tradition in the Lucas family.  Travers’s uncle, Henry Frederick Lucas, was a private in the 13th Battalion Volunteer Militia and fought the Fenians in the Battle of Ridgeway in 1866.  Two of Henry Frederick’s great uncles, Major Richard Lucas and Captain St. John Welles Lucas, served with the 29th Regiment of Foot (Worcesters) during the Peninsular War.  Both were awarded medals and clasps by Queen Victoria in 1849.


Both Travers and Stanley were educated at Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario.  TCS was founded in 1865 as an independent boys school.   In those days TCS was intended to be a school that prepared boys for future enrolment at Trinity College at the University of Toronto.

Travers was at TCS for five years.  His time there was full of achievement.  He carried off each year many of the chief prizes open to him.  He twice won the Chancellor’s Prize and was a prefect for two years.  He graduated in 1900.  Older brother Stanley had won even more prizes and was head boy there.  Stanley went on to Trinity College for Mathematics and then McGill for Engineering.

In 1900 Travers went on to Royal Military College, graduating in 1903.  He was Battalion Sergeant-Major during the 1902-03 school year.  His diploma was with honours.  He was awarded the Minto Bronze Medal.  Attending RMC around the same time was Captain Noel Tooker, later of the 54th.  James Vernon Young, a cousin of Travers, entered RMC in 1908.

Wedding 1901

02 OFTLucas Wedding April 1901In those days RMC could not confer degrees, so graduates of the College would study for another year at a degree-granting university.  Before WWI most ex-cadets took up civilian professions, especially engineering. The RMC engineering course was recognized as a qualification to practise the profession; certain Canadian universities accepted RMC graduates to take degrees or diplomas in a final year.  In Travers’ case he went on to McGill University to earn a degree in Civil Engineering.  I think he was a member of the Zeta Psi fraternity (the Zetes) there like his brother.

Travers was a good amateur cricketer.  He had been one of the cricket XI at TCS for three years and had captained the team in his final year at T.C.S.  Similarly, he had been one of the cricket XI at RMC for the 3 years he was there.  Moreover, in 1904 he played for Canada v. United States Philadelphia (making 20 and 12).

Working on the Railroad

Once out of school, Travers became a surveyor for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway.  His older brother Stanley was also working as a surveyor on the GTP, in his case around Fort William.  The GTP had been formed as a rival transcontinental railroad to the Canadian Pacific.  It later was combined with the Canadian Northern to form the Canadian National.

I think Travers’ first job was as Engineer for the Grand Trunk Pacific Docks at Seattle, Washington.  The GTP put a line through to the port of Seattle as an alternative to Vancouver.  The Grand Trunk Pacific dock was built for steamships operated by the railroad.  When it was finished it was the largest wooden finger pier on the West Coast.

Subsequently, Travers worked on the GTP Docks at Vancouver.  Later, he was a surveyor as well as engineer in charge of the construction of the Prince Rupert terminals.  By that time, Stanley was also living in Prince Rupert.

When Stanley had arrived, Prince Rupert was a tent camp and western construction terminal for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway.  To give you one sense of what life was like there Prince Rupert has the most precipitation of any Canadian town or city.

Prince Rupert had been selected by Charles M. Hays, general manager of the GTP, in 1906 as the Pacific terminus of the railway.  The attraction of the location was that it had the deepest ice-free natural harbour in North America and was closer by a day’s sailing to markets in the Orient.  Hays predicted that Prince Rupert would soon rival Vancouver and San Francisco. The prediction set off a speculative boom as city lots carved from the rain forest were sold at auction.  Prince Rupert boomed.  By 1912, it boasted rival theatres, a roller-skating rink and an opera house.

Older brother Stanley became head of the drafting office of the GTP at Prince Rupert.  Then, in 1909, he became assistant city engineer for Prince Rupert.  My impression is that Prince Rupert was a company town, so that various lines were blurred between the railroad and the municipality.

From 1911 to 1915, Stanley was engaged in dry-dock and harbour work in Prince Rupert for the GTP.  I think Travers was there at the same time working as engineer in charge of the construction of the Prince Rupert terminals.

The first GTP train from Winnipeg to Prince Rupert arrived in April 1914.  Ironically, four months later the war in Europe began.  According to my father, with the declaration of war most of the able-bodied men in the area jumped on the first boat to Vancouver to enlist.  I assume Travers remained with the Grand Trunk Pacific until mid-1915.


01a OFTLucas Vernon 1915According to his Attestation Paper, Travers joined the 54th “Kootenays” Battalion on June 9th, 1915 with the rank of Captain.  Prior to that he had been a Lieutenant with the 68th Regiment (Earl Grey’s Own Rifles), according to the “Militia List Canada July 1916”.  Earl Grey’s Own Rifles had been an independent company originally organized April 1910.  They were redesignated the 68th (Earl Grey’s Own Rifles) May 1, 1914 and headquartered in Prince Rupert.  Major Llewellyn Bullock-Webster of the 54th had also been in the 68th.

The 54th Kootenays Battalion had been organized in the summer of 1915 as part of a larger mobilization in response to the need for more troops in France. They were the first battalion formed from volunteers in the B.C. interior. The 54th was based at Camp Vernon, British Columbia.  The Camp itself basically consisted of tents.

03 OFTLucasCEF MusketryCourseIt looks like Travers didn’t arrive at Camp Vernon to join his Battalion, the 54th “Kootenays”, until early October.  I presume he was at least at the Canadian School of Musketry in Rockcliffe, Ottawa in the interim, based on a post card he sent.  He was a Major in charge of “C” Company.

I have about 60 letters that Travers sent home to his parents and his sister in Hamilton.  In them are some good insights into what was going on with the Battalion as it progressed through training and on to the front in France.  I will be quoting from these extensively.

By all accounts Travers was a popular officer.  As Lieutenant Harry Letson of the 54th later put it in a letter to Travers’ mother, “words cannot express the high esteem in which everyone held him.  As a soldier, gentleman and a “pal” we all looked upon him with the highest regard”.  (Letter of July 30, 1918)  Captain T.E.L. Taylor, Adjutant for the 54th later wrote, “We were very much together since joining this battalion at Vernon in Canada.  I was second in command of his company for many months, and a finer and more lovable man I can never hope to meet.”  (Letter of March 13, 1917)

In Vernon 

Travers was good friends with a number of officers of the 54th, including Captain Gerald Moffatt and Major Gilbert Anderson.  As Travers wrote, “I do see more of Major Anderson than anybody else and we knock around together pretty much. He is in command of “A” Company. He is a man of about 44 and comes from Nelson; an Englishman who has been in Canada for thirty years and says he is proud to call himself a Canadian. He was a cowpuncher at first in Alberta and went to Africa with the Strathcona Horse. I think he is just looking forward to the day that he can get back to his wife and kiddies.”  (Letter of September 13, 1916 to Mrs. R.A. Lucas)  Gerald George Moffatt had been born in England and emigrated to Canada in 1894.  He was married and had been an insurance agent in Fernie, B.C.

Off to England

The Kootenays left Camp Vernon in mid-November.  After a steamboat ride to Vancouver, a transcontinental train trip to Halifax and a trans-Atlantic crossing to Plymouth, the 54th settled into Bramshott Camp in early December.  They would be at Bramshott for training until early August 1916, with the occasional tour at Aldershott and Shornecliff.

For the officers training meant various courses.  These included “entrenching, “bridging” at the nearby canal, mining and sapping.  bayonet fighting  There was also”pioneering” course, most of it military engineering. “The first three days of the week I was at Aldershott with Majors Davies and Lee, taking a short course in Grenade work.  It was very interesting and is now getting to be the most important part of all, as it is about the only way of meeting the new conditions of trench warfare.  We were also shown a new kind of trench mortar, which is being held back as a surprise for the Germans in the next big offensive.  It should be very effective.”  (Letter of March 26, 1916 to Mrs. R.A. Lucas)

Training also meant shepherding the men to various courses: “Really I am more bothered by the fact that I have to get up tomorrow morning at half past four to take a party out to the range.  It is about six miles out and as we have to be ready to start shooting as soon as it is light, it means getting up rather early.”  (Letter of January 7, 1916 to Mrs. R.A. Lucas)

The main distraction the Kootenays faced while in England was the threat of being broken up.  In forming the new 4th Canadian Division the powers-that-be were breaking up a great number of battalions and using them as drafts.  The 54th was fortunate to have Col. Kemball as its commanding officer.  Travers certainly had a lot of respect for his Colonel.

“Col. Kemball left on Monday for France for about a month’s instruction, but I think he will be back in a good deal less time than that; anyway we all hope so, as just now is rather a critical time around here with the new brigades being formed.  The Colonel stands very well at Headquarters and knows what he wants and has a habit of staying with it until he gets it.  We are certainly lucky having him, as I am pretty sure we would have been broken up except for him.”  (Letter of April 26, 1916 to Mrs. R.A. Lucas)

Another distraction was the pay question.  The Canadian government was apparently rejigging some of the pay scales for the officers and men.  “It does not really matter to me so very much but it is very hard on the married officers, as it also reduces their separation allowance and a possible pension.  As far as the men are concerned the new regulations do not affect very much those who had assigned part of their pay and so also would be drawing separation and patriotic[?] allowances, but just hits those who had not assigned pay at all.  As Mamma says it is the wives, etc. of the others who are doing all the foolish spending, but they will not be affected.”  (Letter of February 28, 1916 to Mr. R.A. Lucas)

One characteristic that keeps coming through in Travers’ letters is his empathy with the men:  “Good Friday was a holiday except for church parade in the morning, but to the men’s disgust and everybody else’s that was the morning Sir George Perley decided he would come down and see us so everybody in camp had to stay in all morning and line the road while he drove by with Lord Brook in his motor.  Afterwards the officers had to go up and shake hands with him.  It did seem rather ridiculous keeping in about seven thousand men just for that.  I am afraid the cheers were rather feeble.”  (Letter of April 26, 1916 to Mrs. R.A. Lucas)

And later when they were at the front: “Our men were quite happy last night and today as we had at last managed to get our rum ration.  It certainly makes quite a difference to them when wet and cold; I know it warms me up.  I cannot see how anybody can object to it, except some of those temperance cranks who have a bomb proof job far from the firing line.  I know in the trenches we would have appreciated it, as we had a couple of very cold nights.”  (Letter of October 19, 1916 to Mr. R.A. Lucas)

With the 4th Division organized, the 54th was put in the 11th Brigade, but Travers was hoping the 11th would be all Western Canadian like the 10th.  “We still have the 74th and 75th in our Brigade but there is a rumour that we may lose them and are all hoping it is true. They have the usual know-it-all Toronto ideas. However they are just beginning to wake up and discover that there are a few things they have to learn yet.”  (Letter of May 11, 1916 to Mrs. R.A. Lucas)  This from someone born and raised in southern Ontario.

“The latest news today is that our two drafts of 100 each are cancelled and that we are to be reinforced from the 102nd, also a Kootenay Battalion and now on the way over. I hope we will be able to transfer the men we got from the 71st and replace them with B.C. men.”  (Letter of June 18, 1916 to Mrs. R.A. Lucas)

“We still hear that…we are to be reinforced from the 102nd, now on their way across. I am glad to say they are from B.C. and if we can only get rid of the 71st that we had to take, we will be alright. Our men are very clannish and will have nothing to do with Easterners and it is rather a mistake to mix them in a Battalion.”  (Letter of June 26, 1916 to Mrs. R.A. Lucas)

Travers was able to find the time to go up to London quite often.  “I was in London for Saturday and Sunday and as we wanted to do a little shopping. Major Anderson and I went up on Friday evening to get the morning there as all the shops close at one o’clock. We went to a couple of theatres, down to Buckingham Palace in the morning (Sunday) to see the guard mount and then walked over to Hyde Park and watched them riding in Rotten Row…I must say the riding did not impress us much; most of them looked as if they would fall off if they let go of the reins.”  (Letter of April 12, 1916 to Mrs. R.A. Lucas)

He was fortunate that one of his cousins, Florence (Lucas) Ellissen (1876- 1957), lived in London.  Her father was Henry Frederick Lucas, an uncle of Travers’.  Frederick Lucas had moved back to England in the 1880s.  Cousin Florie, as we knew her, was married to Herbert Ellissen.  Ellissen, later Sir Herbert Ellissen, was both a lawyer and a stock broker in the City.  In the early years of the Great War he was a Captain in the Royal Army Service Corps.  According to a medal application, he was stationed in France in 1915 at “V. Railhead Supply Detachment H.Q. 1/Army”.  Cousin Florie worked for the Red Cross in London.  She was in charge of the Canadian Red Cross Society’s Prisoners of War (Records) & Missing Department.  Quite often Travers would have lunch or dinner with Florie or both the Ellissens when Herbert was on leave.  Several times Florie drove Travers back to camp.

A number of Travers’ friends and relations were in the CEF, including Gordon and Lawrence Glassco whose sister Mary was married to Travers’ brother Stanley.  Also cousin Jack Young.  John Hamilton (Jack) Young (b. 1882) was the son of Hamilton Young, Travers’ uncle, and grew up in Hamilton, Ontario.    He enlisted in the 62nd Overseas Battalion CEF in Vancouver on October 25, 1915.  Prior to that he had been with the 6th Regiment (The Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles), a Canadian Militia  infantry regiment at Vancouver.  (Interestingly, the address he used on his Attestation Paper was Rowanhurst in Hamilton, that of Travers’ parents.)  Jack was transferred to the 54th Kootenays in early June 1916 when they were stationed at Bramshott

The officers found time to get away from camp.  Life for an officer was different than for an enlisted man.  “I went down town to Folkstone yesterday afternoon and had dinner there with a couple other officers, and took my things along and stayed at the Grand Hotel overnight, so that I could get a decent bath for a change, and also a change from the meals here.” (Letter of Feb. 20, 1916 to Mrs. R.A. Lucas)

“Major Anderson, Capt. Moffat and myself went out for a good ride yesterday afternoon and dropped in to tea with Capt. and Mrs. [James] Hamilton. He is our medical officer and they have a house a couple of miles from camp. We sent our horses home from there and later on all went in to the “Fox & Pelican” [in Grayshott] for dinner. The country round here is full of these little inns, where you can get a pretty fair dinner.”  (Letter of April 18, 1916 to Mr. R.A. Lucas)  (Pub aficionados will be pleased to hear that the Fox & Pelican is still (c. 2012) going strong.)

By early July 1916 the atmosphere in camp had changed and it was down to business and direct all energies to getting the battalion equipped and over to France as soon as possible.  Most leaves were cancelled, and Majors Lucas and Anderson had difficulty getting up to London to complete their kit.

By early August, the 54th were ready to go.  “It has been a long wait here and we are all sick of the sight of Bramshott and rather glad of the chance of at last getting away.  From what most of them say we will very soon get tired of it in France and be glad enough to get back here, still it is a thing that everyone wants to see for himself.”  (Letter of August 12, 1916 to Eva Lucas Ambrose)


In mid-August 1916, the 54th arrived in France.  From Havre they were transported to Ypres and Flanders just inside Belgium.  Once settled, Travers’ Company ‘C’ alternated between being in the trenches and resting behind the lines, usually in billets.  Early on, conditions were pretty decent:  “We are comparatively comfortable here and live pretty well as the batmen can rustle around and get eggs, etc. for breakfast. Going to bed is quite a simple matter because we still cannot undress here and it is just a case of taking off your boots, lying down and pulling your coat over you. As a great luxury here we can also take off collar and tie. However, I think we are due to move back to the baths in a day or two and they will certainly be appreciated, as it be about two days since we have had our clothes off.” (Letter of September 13, 1916 to Mrs. R.A. Lucas)

After finishing their training in early October, the 54th were moved back into France to an area near the town of Albert near the Somme.  The 54th’s part in the Battle of the Somme lay in the attack on Regina Trench, the nickname for the German lines.

“I have just heard that we have orders to go in to the front line again tomorrow night…I expect on this trip in we will take part in an attack that has been postponed a couple of times. It is really part of a big attack and if all goes well we hope to advance about a mile and a half. Half of our Brigade made a small attack yesterday, which was really part of the whole scheme and I believe did pretty well, taking the trench aimed at and a number of prisoners…From all accounts I don’t think there is much fight left in most of the German infantry, but it is the artillery that is still as strong as ever though they seem to be a little more saving [?] with their shells…The Battalions yesterday had quite a number of casualties among their officers, so I suppose we will have the same. Only about half go in at a time and two of the four Company commanders. We tossed to see who would go in and I am one of the ones to go. I really prefer it that way to go in while I have a Company and also to get it over with.”  (Letter of October 22, 1916 to Mrs. Eva Lucas Ambrose)

It was during this action that Travers received a shrapnel wound to his right hand on October 26th.  He first went to a hospital in Boulogne and then was transferred back to England to convalesce.

Jack Young had been wounded a couple of weeks earlier.  “You may see Jack’s name in as wounded; fortunately it was very slight a small piece of shrapnel in the face and stomach.  He was only off for a day getting anti-tetanus inoculation.  He really had a very lucky escape.  He and I were getting the Company off when[?] being relieved and had just got out of the communication trenches to let a working party by.  I had turned back to see the officer taking over from us and was some distance back, when I heard the shell.  I went back to see what had happened, as I thought it had landed in the middle of the Company.  One quite young boy next Jack was killed and a couple more slightly wounded, so Jack really was very lucky.”  (Letter of October 19, 1916 to Mr. R.A. Lucas)


Travers was invalided back to King’s College Hospital in London where he convalesced until mid-December.  After he was discharged from hospital, he moved into the Hotel Russell near Russell Square in London where he stayed until late January 1917.  “I am staying here now and will probably make it my headquarters while on leave. Florie has moved to the Piccadilly Hotel and they wanted me to stay there, but I had got settled here and my kit scattered around in various places getting fixed up so I thought I would just stay here, though I generally have dinner with them.”  Letter of December 25, 1916

Travers went before a Medical Board in early January and was passed “Fit for general service”.  After some bureaucratic bungling he finally got his orders to return to France and report back to the Battalion in late January.

Meanwhile, several other officers of the 54th were still recuperating.  “Jack [Young] and Major Anderson have both left the Hospital and got five weeks sick leave, though I am sure neither will be fit for active service in that time. Jack has gone to the country for three weeks at Ilfracombe.”  Letter of January 9, 1917 to Mr. R.A. Lucas)

Back to the Front

Travers arrived back in France at the end of January 1917.  He was stuck at the Canadian Base Depot for a few days before going to the front.  By then, the 54th was at Vimy Ridge in the Pas de Calais area of France.

“I have got my old Company back, I am glad to say, though of course there are a great number of new faces among them.”  (Letter of February 10, 1917 to Mr. R.A. Lucas)  Capt. Noel Tooker had been in charge of Company ‘C’ in Travers’ absence.

Conditions at the front were as might be expected.  “The trenches just now are in good shape all frozen, but I am afraid that they will be very sloppy when the thaw comes. The Battalion was in here at Christmas and the mud was very bad. However, we are working on them all the time and improving them.” (Letter of February 10, 1917 to Mr. R.A. Lucas)

“We are back in billets for six days rest, getting here the night before last…As soon as we got here Tooker and I hurried up to the baths and had a fine hot shower, which was a great relief. I had only had my clothes on for seven days, but he had had his on for eighteen! The regular tour now is eighteen days in, that is, six days support, six days reserve, six days front line and then six days rest. On our next trip in we think we can arrange to change our clothes at least when we are in reserve, which won’t be so bad. Baths of course are out of the question.” (Letter of February 15, 1917 to Mrs. R.A. Lucas)

One of the bright spots was an inspection.  “Yesterday [February 14, 1917] the Battalion was inspected by Sir Douglas Haig himself. It was very short, as he was in a great hurry. We just lined the road and he walked down the lines and then we marched past him home…He spoke to each of the Company commanders as he went down the Company and in speaking to me about the Somme he said that the Canadians “had done grand work there”.  (Letter of February 15, 1917 to Mrs. R.A. Lucas)

In the last letter to his parents Travers describes the plans for the raid.  “I wrote you a very short note a couple of days ago telling you and Papa that I was just waiting to go over take part in a big raid on the Fritzes.  As I expected it was called off that night and also last night, conditions not being favourable.  We have to stand by every night until we get the proper conditions and then away we will go.  The waiting around is the worst part of it as of course everybody sort of gets keyed up.  I am the senior officer going over from this Battalion and am nominally in command, though really I have not much to do except look after my own Company [“C”], as each one has its allotted task.  I hope everything goes alright and that it will be a success.  I think everything is in good order as we can get it.  If the show does not come off tonight my Company goes back into front line again tomorrow; we just came down here for a couple of days rest.  I hope the show does come off quickly so that we can get it over with, as it is really giving us an extra tour in front line.”  (Letter of February 28, 1917 to Mrs. R.A. Lucas)

The Final Day

As a preliminary to the later battle at Vimy Ridge, the 54th staged a trench raid against the Germans on March 1st.  However, the Germans were expecting the Canadians, and the raid failed with high casualties.  Travers was killed leading his men.  Also killed were Col. Kemball and Capt. Tooker.  Rather than trying to describe the raid myself I’ll let various correspondents recount the events.  There’s also an excellent description of the raid in Pierre Berton’s book, “Vimy”.

Lieut. Harry Letson of the 54th wrote the following to Travers’ mother in July 1918:  “On about the first of March a large raid and gas attack was planned in which our battalion was to take part along with the 76th and the 72nd Battalions.  Two lieutenants, myself and Lieut. Johnston from Winnipeg along with Major Lucas who was in command of our company at the time “went over” from our “C” Company.  About 3 A.M. we went forward to take up our position preparatory for the attack.  The gas was sent over and all went well for about an hour until some of the gas seemed to be blowing back in our direction.  We ordered gas masks to be put on and shortly after I saw Major Lucas who came to me to compare our time.  The gas at this time made it almost impossible to take off our masks but later your son took his off and we were able to talk.  He gave me a few orders and said that at the set time he would signal me to start with my men.  He then moved down the trench to the position taken up by Lieut. Johnston.

“At five o’clock I saw the signal from the left and we started over.  Moving about the trench had been extremely difficult and dangerous ever since we had taken up our position due to the enemy shelling, but notwithstanding this Major Lucas moved up and down the trench giving directions and cheering the men at great risk to his own personal safety. At five o’clock as we climbed out of the trench it was still quite dark and one was only able to distinguish the men on the right and left as grey shadows.  As soon as we were in the open heavy machine gun fire opened out and we had numerous casualties.

“Our starting point was some distance behind our front line and shortly after we had gotten forward beyond our own unit I was hit.  I had not seen your son since we had left our starting point but heard later how gallantly he led the attack.”

C.H. P. Newcombe, 13th Canadian Field Ambulance, takes up the story in a letter (dated March 3rd, 1917) to Stanley Lucas, Travers’ brother: “…The officer in charge of the burial parties told me how the German officers expressed their admiration for the magnificent way in which the battalion’s men, mentioning Trav and the Colonel in particular, fought their way through a hell let loose right up to the German wire where they were mown down by the terrific fire which was brought to bear upon them.  The officer added how Trav’s death was that of a most gallant hero.  Men I have spoken to in his battalion cannot say enough in his praise.  Death was instantaneous.  His body has been brought in, buried and the spot marked.”

Sergeant P. I. Palmer of the 102nd Battalion in a letter (undated) to his wife in Prince Rupert continues the story:  “…The other battalions of our brigade made an attack on the German trenches and things not working as they hoped, they lost very heavily.  Saturday I went out to the funeral of some of them and although I have attended several since I have been over here, I do hope I need never be witness to another of such magnitude…One of the first bodies we located was that of poor Trav Lucas (Major) a boy from our town…The boys and officers of the battalions are very loud in their praise of the treatment accorded them by the Germans during the armistice, and say they acted like perfect gentlemen throughout; and the German officers were very loud in their praise of Major Lucas.  They asked all kinds of questions about him, if he were married, etc., and said it was a shame to have such a man killed.  Apparently he was shot and knocked down three times and every time got up and continued on over until he fell dead over the wires at the German trenches.  Every time there was a lull in the conversation, the German officers would refer to Major Lucas and say what a fine man he was.”

Travers along with the other officers and men of the 54th killed in the raid were buried in the Villers au Bois Cemetery nearby.  Travers was apparently recommended for a Victoria Cross; however it could not be awarded as his commanding officer (Col. Kemball) had also been killed in the same raid.  News of Travers’ death was kept from his father who was in failing health and who died a couple of weeks later.

Later in the war, Herbert Ellissen was one of the earliest members of the Imperial War Graves Commission.  He was appointed probably in June 1918 and was the Commission’s Controller and Financial Advisor, acting as a sort of general business manager.  He was knighted for his efforts in 1923.  The cemetery where Travers was buried is one of many maintained by the War Graves Commission.

Major Gilbert Anderson did make it through the war and back to Nelson, B.C. and his “wife and kiddies”.  However, he died in 1928 at the age of sixty.  Lieut. Jack Young faded into history.

Stanley Lucas was periodically unwell all during the 1910s. According to one report, he had volunteered for the war, but was rejected, an examination of the heart showing that he was not physically equal to the required standard.  He died in early 1922.  His two sons, George and Gordon, both enlisted in the Royal Canadian Artillery in the Second World War and fought through France and Holland in 1944-45.  Both survived the war.  While they were in England in 1943 and 1944 they were frequent guests of Cousin Florie at her London and Sussex homes.  Florie, by then Lady Ellissen, was back at the Canadian Red Cross Society’s Prisoners of War (Records) & Missing Department.  Sir Herbert was also busy.  He was brought back to the Imperial War Graves Commission in February 1943 as sometime Controller of Administration to advise on post-war organization and reconstruction, in other words, more graveyards.

Major Lucas`s Final Resting Place at Villers -Au- Bois

04 OFTLucasVillers-au-Bois


Trinity College School Archives

“Travers Lucas”, The Roll of Honour of the Empire’s Heroes (Private Circulation, n.d.)

Pierre Berton, “Vimy” (Random House, 2001)

All text and photos copyright of Richard Lucas 2012