Sabatino, Joseph

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MILITARY HISTORY

Gunner Joseph Sabatino – 304030 – ACTIVE SERVICE (World War I)

On October 22, 1915 Joseph Sabatino completed the Attestation Paper for the Canadian Army (Expeditionary Force). He was 21 years, 1 month old when, as a single man, he enlisted for the duration of the War. Joseph was born in Cornwall, Ontario and gave his birth-date as September 30, 1894. On his Attestation Paper, Joseph indicated: ”he did not presently belong to an Active Militia and that he had never served in any Military Force”. There is nothing on his File to indicate where he was educated or to what level. As far as his Trade or Calling is concerned, he lists Laborer. Joseph was 5′ 6½” tall, with a 34½” chest (expanded); his weight is listed as 140 pounds. He had a dark complexion with dark eyes and dark hair. Medical Records indicate that he had no medical issues and was considered to be in ”excellent physical condition” and as such he was deemed fit for Overseas duty with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His next-of-kin was listed as his father Donato Antonio Sabatino of Lakefield, Ontario. Joseph signed the Oath and Certificate of Attestation on October 22, 1915 at Camp Barriefield, located at Kingston, Ontario. The Certificate of Magistrate was signed by the Justice on October 30, 1915. On November 6. 1915 Joseph was taken-on-strength with the 33rd Battery, Canadian Field Artillery (CFA). Gunner (Gnr) Joseph Sabatino was assigned Regimental Number 304030.

At this point in the War the idea was to get the newly enlisted men to England as quickly as possible and finish their training over there. Between October 22, 1915 and December 21, 1915 Gnr Sabatino could have been trained at Camp Barriefield or Camp Valcartier, Québec, which was the main Training Base in Canada, at the time. It is worth noting that the Camp Valcartier had been expanded in 1915 to include an Artillery Range.

Gnr Sabatino probably embarked, from Québec City, Québec approximately December 19, 1915 aboard the SS Missanabie, disembarking in England on December 29, 1915.

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On December 29, 1915 upon disembarkation in England, Gnr Sabatino was taken-on-strength at the Canadian Training Camp at Shorncliffe, Kent County, England.

There are no entries in the Military File from December 29, 1915 and July 5, 1916. His time would have been spent in training. The Canadian Field Artillery War Diaries do not cover this period because he was not in a combat theatre yet.

On July 5, 1916 Gnr Sabatino embarked for France to the Canadian Base Depot with the Reinforcement 4.5″ Howitzer Brigade. He disembarked in France, on July 6, 1916 and he was attached to 1st Canadian Division, 2nd Brigade Canadian Field Artillery, 1st Division Ammunition Column (CDAC). On July 10, 1916 he was posted to the 4th Canadian Division, 3rd Brigade Canadian Field Artillery and on July 11, 1917 Gnr Sabatino was taken-on-strength with the 3rd Canadian Artillery Brigade, 10th Field Battery, which was attached to the 1st Canadian Infantry Division.

The 3rd Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery was comprised of the 10th, 11th and 12th Field Batteries plus the 9th Howitzer Battery. Each Battery had 6 Artillery pieces; the Field Guns could have been 75mm, 13-pounders, 18-pounders. The Howitzers could have been 155mm, 152mm, 105mm, 4.5″, 6″ or 8″. A total of 24 Artillery pieces which provided a lot of firepower.

There are no entries in Gnr Sabatino’s File from July 11, 1916 to what appears to be October 29, 1917, or from November 17, 1917 to September 27, 1918. Based on this, the movements of Gnr Sabatino and those of his Unit were tracked through the reading of the 3rd Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery War Diaries.

The 3rd Brigade (Bde) was at Kruistratt, Belgium some 7 miles from Ypres on August 14, 1916. They made a series of moves through Belgium into France settling in the area of Albert on September 5, 1916. September 11, 1916 they were at La Boisselle where they were engaged in some limited action. On September 25, 1916 they moved to Pozieres where they stayed until the end of October. On October 28, 1916 they were at Courcelette where they remained until the end of November. Two things can be said of their stay at Courcelette: first it appeared to have rained for the entire month of November and secondly they were in ”continuous action” for most of this period. From December 1 to 31, 1916 the 3rd Bde was in the area around Camblain – Chatelain ”looking after men, horses, and vehicles”.

January 1917 was very cold, with the 3rd Bde still in the Camblain – Chatelain area. On January 24, 1917 the 3rd Bde relieved the 5th Brigade at Aix -Noulette in the north of France. February was relatively quiet and warmer. February 11th, 1917 was the 2nd Anniversary of the 3rd Artillery Brigade’s departure from England. On March 10, 1917 the 3rd Bde moved to the area of Neuville – St. Vaast. The day was spent ”registering the guns and taking calibration shots” and working on gun positions. On March 12, 1917 it is indicated that ”all guns were firing both day and night at German positions”. An entry indicates ”there was so much rain during the last part of the month that the trenches and gun positions were impassable due to the mud”. On April 8, 1917 there was heavy shelling of ”the enemy back country” by the guns of the 3rd Bde. On April 9, 1917 the Canadian Infantry assaulted ”500 Crater” – 1,500 yards north of Ecurie. By 4:30 PM, all the guns of the 3rd Bde had been moved forward and were laying down a heavy barrage on enemy positions. ”Every effort was made to keep the flow of ammunition moving to the new gun positions”. On April 14, 1917 the 3rd Bde was moved to Farbus Wood (south end of Vimy Ridge). May 7, 1917 the 3rd Bde was moved to Bois de la Ville. The rest of May appeared to be a relatively quiet month for the 3rd Bde.

June 1, 1917 the 3rd Artillery Brigade was attached to the 4th Canadian Infantry Division.

June 4, 1917 guns of the 3rd Bde were moved to Vimy. During the next several days there were heavy bombardments, by both sides, on Artillery gun positions and Infantry trenches. On June 11, 1917 the 3rd Bde was moved to the rear near Neuville – St. Vaast. In the rear, ”the 3rd Bde held a sports day, were entertained by Regimental Bands and had all ranks lunches and dinners”. On June 24, 1917 the 3rd Bde moved back to the vacated positions on Vimy. All in all July was a quiet month for the 3rd Bde. There were some exchanges of light barrages at ”targets of opportunities”. There were also a few reports of enemy fired gas shells in the area. August 1917 started out quiet but changed on August 15, 1917 with the 4th Canadian Infantry Division’s Operation against Hill 70 for which the 3rd Bde provided Artillery support. Heavy barrages were laid down on enemy wire and trenches. Artillery activity, for the 3rd Bde, would remain active until the end of the month. September 1917 began with the 3rd Bde still at Vimy. From September 5 to 8, 1917 ”the enemy put on a concentrated barrage of gas, shrapnel and high explosives on Battery positions, as well as the front line areas”. The 3rd Bde responded with a heavy barrage of ”enemy back country”. September 17, 1917 the 3rd Bde moved to Ablain – St. Nazaire where time was spent caring for the horses and men. On September 23, 1917 the 3rd Bde was moved to Givenchy where for the rest of the month was spent exchanging barrages with the enemy. October 1, 1917 the 3rd Bde was back at Ablain – St. Nazaire, where it would stay until moving to Annezin October 12, 1917. It would move to the area of Godewaersvelde, France (area of Ypres) on October 15, 1917 where they took up positions. The positions were shelled continuously day and night. It was noted: ”Owing to the lack of suitable material, the swampy ground and heavy shelling, it is impossible to do anything towards providing bombproof shelter for personnel or even cover the guns. This is without doubt the worst position the 3rd Bde has ever been in. There is absolutely no cover for the men for several hundred yards, but the boys are carrying on in-spite of the conditions”.

Based on the heavy and continuous enemy bombardment attempts were made to withdraw, but heavy mud made the task impossible. On October 28, 1917 the 3rd Bde was moved to Frezenberg, Belgium. Casualties for the month were reported as follows: Officers – killed in action 2, wounded 4, gassed 0, missing 0, wounded at duty 2, for a total of 8. Other Ranks – killed in action 14, wounded 110, gassed 4, missing 1, wounded at duty 8, died of wounds 17, for a total of 137.

There are two entries in the File indicating that Gnr Sabatino was granted a Leave which could have been from October 29, 1917 to November 11, 1917.

November 1917 opened with a ”heavy preparatory Artillery bombardment of enemy positions using a creeping barrage”. Basically, in creeping barrage, the Batteries would lay down a line of fire along a specific line. After a specified amount of time (2 to 5 minutes), the barrage would lift and move forward a specified distance (100 to 500 yards), then repeat. This pattern would continue several times until there would be a pause and then reverse the barrage on a shorter time period and shorter distance. This pattern was repeated at various times of the day from November 1 to 5, 1917. The idea of a creeping barrage was to place a curtain of fire just ahead of the advancing Infantry and thus keep the enemy pinned down. The reversal of the barrage was referred to as ”waltz fire”. The idea was to catch the enemy as they rushed forward to reinforce the fired upon trenches once the initial barrage had moved on. This was part of the Second Battle of Passchendaele. From November 6 to 12, 1917 there were Artillery barrages between the two sides, with the Germans often using gas shells and high explosives. 3rd Bde casualties during this time were heavy. On November 13, 1917 it was reported that it was a fine day as the 3rd Bde began its march to Caestre, France. Now began a series of daily moves, eventually taking them back to Vimy on November 18, 1917. The rest of the month was spent in relative quietness. December 1, 1917 the 3rd Bde was at Haillicourt, France in a rest area. The days were spent recovering from their ordeals on the Line, looking after horses, the men, attending church parades, and training. On December 22, 1917 they were back at Vimy where they spent the rest of the month in relative quiet.

January 1918 began with a very heavy bombardment of the 3rd Bde’s gun positions and Front-Lines, by the enemy. The rest of the month, up to January 20, 1918, was spent in exchanges of ”harassing fire”. On January 21, 1918 the 3rd Bde moved to Lievin where they spent the first few days preparing their new gun positions. February was a relatively quiet month with both sides intermittently exchanging harassing and retaliation barrages. March 1918 followed the same pattern with only light exchanges of harassing and retaliation barrages. On March 29, 1918 the 3rd Bde moved to Frevin Capelle, France and then on to Roclincourt on April 1, 1918. Some ”registration and calibration shots taken as the 3rd Bde settled into their new positions”. The rest of the month was relatively quiet. May 1918 the 3rd Bde was on the move through Ecurie to a rest area located at Vandelicourt, France. Here the 3rd Bde undertook training and going through various maneuvers. On May 22, 1918 they moved to Bajus, near Pas de Calais. June was a continuation of training, maneuvers, church parades and reorganizing. On July 1, 1918 – Dominion Day ”was very fine and warm”. ”The day was fittingly celebrated by a great athletic meet held by the Canadian Corps. Sports of all kinds were put on and keenly contested by the winners of the various Divisional meets. As almost the entire Corps was out at rest in the area, the crowd numbered 50,000 and without doubt was the greatest outing Canadians have had in France and probably the most representative gathering of Canucks ever held. About 500 men from 3rd Artillery Brigade attended. Considerable pleasure was added by the presence of Sir Robert Borden, His Royal Highness – the Duke of Connaught, Sir Douglas Haig, General Foch, Sir Arthur Currie – the Corps Commander and many other notables”. July 11, 1918 the 3rd Bde was on the move back to the Front-Lines along the Arras – Mont St. Eloi road near Maroeuil and finally back to Roclincourt. The rest of the month consisted entirely of ”harassing fire during day and night, destructive shoots on trenches and strong points”. August 1, 1918 the 3rd Bde began a series of secret nightly moves. The moves were so secret only a very few of the most senior Officers knew the destinations. First stop was Vandelicourt, followed by Orville on August 2, 1918 St. Accart Farm – Foret de Vignacourt on August 3, 1918 Bovas Woods on August 4, 1918 where they stayed until August 7, 1918 when they moved to Domart sur la Lac and their final positions. All daylight activities were strictly limited as they did not want to be seen by German Spotter planes. Along with the 3rd Canadian Artillery Brigade were thousands of Canadian troops, British tanks and supplies; also moving only at night. On August 8, 1918 at 4:30 AM – Zero Hour, the Battle of Ameins began when the Infantry attacked across No-Man’s-Land behind a creeping Artillery barrage, supported by tanks, cavalry, armoured cars, and tactical aircraft. As quickly as the Infantry advanced and cleared German trenches the Artillery moved their guns forward as well keeping constant pressure on the retreating enemy. The attack had caught the Germans so completely by surprise that by the end of the day the Canadians had advanced 8 miles. Through the night of August 8/9, 1918 the 3rd Bde had moved to an orchard near Beaucourt en Santerre. On the morning of August 10, 1918 they provided a rolling barrage in front of a group of advancing British tanks, the barrage lifting 200 yards every 5 minutes. On the night of August 10, 1918 the 3rd Bde moved to Rouveoy. During the day the 3rd Bde fired on targets of opportunity. The 3rd Bde suffered a number of casualties on August 10, 1918. Harassing fire was carried out by the 3rd Bde against enemy positions through to August 13, 1918. August 13, 1918 was spent in bringing Artillery shells forward. From August 14 to 24, 1918 the action was fairly light with ”sniping shots and harassing fire laid on enemy targets of opportunity”. On August 25, 1918 the 3rd Bde was withdrawn to Cayeux en Sauterre, followed by Foutencourt on August 26, 1918 and then Vis en Artois along the Arras – Cambrai road on August 31, 1918. September 1, 1918 the 3rd Bde carried out calibration and registration shoots with the Germans responding with gas and high explosive shells throughout the day. On September 2, 1918 the entire 3rd Bde was ”leap frogging” forward in support of the advancing Infantry. Between September 2 and 7, 1918 the 3rd Bde was involved in Artillery duels with the enemy resulting in heavy casualties. On September 7, 1918 the 3rd Bde was withdrawn to Duisaus for rest and regrouping. They would remain here until September 21, 1918. During this time ”they bathed, were issued clean clothes and got as much rest as the routine and work duties would allow”. On September 23, 1918 the 3rd Bde moved to Croisilles, followed by Bullecourt & Noreuil area on September 25, 1918 and finally on September 26, 1918 to Moeuvres.

On September 27, 1918 Gunner Joseph Sabatino’s name appears on the 3rd CFA Brigade Casualty Report as ”Killed in Action”.

An entry in the 3rd Artillery Brigade War Diary for September 27, 1918 indicates the following:
”Zero Hour – 0520 Hours – Full details of the Show from this date are given in the attached Appendix, The Cambria Show prepared by Col. J.A. Macdonald DSO. What follows is a brief summary of the Operations. 3rd Bde did not take part in the barrage until it reached the Red Line. At 0630 Hours, the Batteries moved forward from their rendezvous locations across country to positions near Moeuvers. Positions occupied. 3rd Bde opened a barrage from Red Line to Blue Line at 0830 hours supporting the 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade (CIB). The 10th Battery (Gunner Joseph Sabatino’s Unit) was detailed to go in close support of 11th CIB. At 1300 hours, after completion of barrage on the Blue Line, the 3rd Bde fired on the Odlum barrage – 3rd Bde right half, 4th Brigade left half. The 3rd Bde moved forward about 1400 hours, in Sections and took up positions North East of Quarry Wood. Positions occupied. In the evening, at 1930 hours, the Odlum barrage was put on again and, from German prisoner statements, was mainly responsible for the breaking up of enemy proposed counter attacks. The 3rd Bde remained all night in above positions”.
What follows is the wording of the ”attached Appendix” referred to above: ”BATTLE OF CAMBRIA, WAR DIARY – 3RD BDE, CFA – Period Sept. 27th to Oct. 2nd, 1918”.

”At zero hour 5:20 A.M. on the morning of the 27th Sept. 1918, the 3rd Brigade was in mobile reserve ready to move forward to pickup barrage at the RED LINE and carry it through to the final PROTECTIVE Barrage on the BLUE Line. All preparations such as wire cutting on the Hindenburg Line, bridging of same and reconnaissance of roads and possible routes into positions selected by observation from out front line, were completed before zero hour. The Battery Commanders went forward as soon as possible after zero hour and selected their positions. Following, about 7 A.M., the Batteries galloped through the barrage and took up positions immediately left of the Canal du Nord near Moeuvre, which before zero hour had been ‘No-Man’s-Land’. All Batteries were connected by telephone to Brigade H.Q., by 8 A.M. Some of the Batteries were in position before the leap-frogging Infantry had passed through their positions. The above performance by the 3rd and 4th Cdn Division Artilleries was commented upon by Senior Staff Officers as being the finest Artillery performances of the War. After the 11th and 12th Canadian Infantry Brigades had reached the BLUE LINE it was learned that the situation on our right was far from being satisfactory. The 63rd Naval Division being held up on their first objective by strong Hindenburg Switch east of Moeuvre and the trenches running east and west on the southern edge of BOURLON WOOD. It was the firm opinion of the Infantry that this holdup could only be a temporary one as the 11th CIB, were at that time in possession of the whole of BOULON WOOD and threatening FONTAINE-NOTRE-DAME from the North East. After 12:30 P.M., the 3rd and 4th Brigades pushed further forward across the Canal and took up positions East of the RED Objective. 3rd Brigade Headquarters moved with Brig-Gen Odlum to the CRUCIFIX, just West of BOULON WOOD at 9:30 A.M. During the afternoon, the situation remained more or less obscure, the 12th CIB meeting with strong opposition from enemy machine guns in the Sunken Road and Railway Embankment North East of BOULON. Batteries carried out harassing fire within their own zones and concentrated on getting their ammunition dumps up to 500 rounds per gun. This was accomplished under difficult conditions before 6:00 P.M”.

The Red Line was the jumping off point (trenches) for the Canadian Infantry. The objective for the day was the Blue Line, some distance across ”No-Mans-Land”. The barrage that the 10th Battery laid down was a ”creeping or moving barrage” which was utilized by the Canadian Artillery. The Artillery shells landing just a few yards ahead of the advancing Infantry. The 10th Battery was the one to which Gnr Sabatino was assigned. The reference to the Odlum barrage was a reference to the 3rd Brigade Commanding Officer Brig-Gen Odlum.

This Battle of Cambrai was actually the 2nd Battle of Cambrai which took place from September 27, 1918 and 0ctober 9, 1918 and was part of the 100 Day Offensive carried out by Allied Armies. On September 27, 1918 22 Allied Divisions (mostly British, Canadian, and French) backed up by 25 more Divisions following Artillery barrages began an advance on a 13 mile wide front.

The 4th Canadian Division and the 3rd Artillery Brigade were involved in a specific phase of the Battle which is referred to as the Battle of Canal du Nord. This Battle went on from September 27th to October 1, 1918. According to the 3rd Brigade War Diary there were 21 casualties on September 27, 1918: 3 killed (Gunner Joseph Sabatino was one), 17 were wounded and 1 was reported missing.

What follows is the actual account, written in France October 11, 1918 of how Gunner Joseph Sabatino’s was killed: ”I happened to be with poor Joe, when he met his death. He was going to help a wounded comrade when he was hit in the head by a rifle bullet. He never spoke. In fact, it was so sudden that I thought that he had dropped on the ground to escape shell fire. I spoke to him and received no answer. I lifted him up and saw, at once, that he was gone. It was impossible to get the body away at the time, but the next morning, September 28, 1918 we went up again and took the remains back out of the shell fire and buried him well behind the lines. We erected a neat wooden cross with his name and number on it”.

Gunner Joseph Sabatino is now buried in the Moeuvres Communal Cemetery on the north-east corner of the Village on the road to Inchy, France. Gunner Sabatino’s name appears on page 496 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.

During the first six days of this 2nd Battle of Cambrai, from September 27 to October 3, 1918 during which the Canadians battled for the Canal and the high ground around Cambrai 13,600 Canadians were killed or wounded.

The Memorial Cross was sent to his mother Mrs. Margarita Sabatino, in Lakefield. The Memorial Scroll was dispatched on February 1, 1921 and the Memorial Plague was dispatched July 7, 1922; these items usually are sent to the father.

Based on his Military File, Gunner Sabatino served a total of 2 years, 11 months and 5 days with the Canadian Expeditionary Force: 2 months in Canada, 6 months and 15 days in the UK, and 2 years, 2 months, and 22 days in France.

There is no mention in the File with regards to what Military Medals that Gunner Joseph Sabatino was eligible to receive or was awarded. Based on his Military Service, he was awarded the:
British War Medal; and
Victory Medal.
He would have also received the CEF Class “A” War service Badge.

An excerpt from an article in Maclean’s by Barbara Ameil, September 1996:

The Military is the single calling in the world with job specifications that include a commitment to die for your nation. What could be more honorable.

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PERSONAL HISTORY

JOSEPH SABATINO

Giuseppe (Joseph) Sabatino was born September 30, 1894 in Lakefield, Ontario, son of Donato “Donald” Sabatino of Lakefield and Margherita Minicola. He went by the nickname “Joe”.

Joe worked as a labourer at a Saw Mill and a Clerk at Leonard’s Hardware Store. Joe was a well-rounded athlete playing on championship hockey and softball teams during his teen years. Joe was a member of the Cavendish Lumber ball team and the Lakefield Championship Hockey teams around 1910 – 1915.

Joseph Sabatino was killed-in-action at the Battle of Canal du Nord on September 27, 1918. The battle took place in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, along an incomplete portion of the Canal du Nord and on the outskirts of Cambrai, France.
THE JOSEPH SABATINO FAMILY OF LAKEFIELD

Joseph’s paternal grandparents are Donato Sabatino and Congi Rogers; his maternal grandparents are Fillippo Minicola and Lucia Ronga.

Donato had become a skilled cement mason and had attained the level of foreman in his hometown. He sailed for America in 1883 out of the Port of Naples and arrived in New York on March 24, 1883. Donato immigrated to Canada in 1884 and travelled to Belleville, Ontario where he secured work with the Grand Trunk Railway. It was during this time that Donato met Margherita Minicola.

Joseph’s parents, Donato (Donald) Sabatino, born February 25, 1859 in Foggia, Italy and Margherita Minicola, born October 27, 1865 in Roseto, Italy were married in Peterborough, Ontario on January 10, 1888 in St. Peter’s Cathedral. Margherita (Marguerite) Minicola had immigrated to Canada, with her mother and the rest of the children, in September 1886.

Donato and Marguerite had 10 children: Domenico Michael (Mike), born October 14, 1887; Philip Antonio (Tony), born September 23, 1890; Janette Concetta, born July 24, 1892; Giuseppe (Joseph or Joe), born September 30, 1894; Lucia (Lucy), born December 7, 1896; Maria (Mary) Rose, born December 14, 1898; twins – Giovanni (John*) born January 10, 1901; Luigi (Louis), born October 24, 1902; twin boys – Pictro (Peter) and Micelo (Michael) Sabatino were born June 28, 1905; a couple weeks later Peter died on July 11, 1905 and Michael died July 14, 1905. *Johanna was listed as a 3 months old son in the 1901 Census. The 1911 Census has “John” listed as an 11 year old son. It is believed that “Johanna” was an error due to pronunciation.

The Sabatino family lived in Belleville and Cornwall, Ontario before moving to Lakefield around 1900. They lived in a large house at 34 Albert Street [at the corner of Rabbit and Albert Streets]. By 1905 a large addition was added to the home; when the children began to leave home the addition was converted to a Boarding House for Italian workers at the Cement Plant.

According to the 1911 Census the Sabatino family of 9 was living at 1 W. Rabbit St.; there were also 9 Italian lodgers living there too. Donato was a labourer working at a Saw Mill, Domenico Michael was a labourer, Philip Anthony was a Conductor and Joseph was a labourer.

Dominico Michael married Carmine (unknown); Janette Concetta married Pat White (Pasquale Bianco) in Lakefield October 12, 1909; Lucia (Lucy) married Michael Lucano in Lakefield on September 14, 1915; Maria (Mary) Rose married Francis Peter Asta in Lakefield on November 20; 1917; Giovanni (John) married Margaret Bissenette and Luigi (Louis) married Iva Agatha Windsor in Lakefield on July 29, 1927.

Note: Giovanni (John) Sabatino and Margaret Bissenette had two sons: Eugene Sabatino who married Ruth Lachmund and Joseph Sabatino, a retired school teacher, married Marianne Leonard, a sister of Barbara Heffernan’s (nee Leonard).

The following article appeared in the Katchewanooka Herald in 1918:

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Lakefield Soldier Was Killed
While Helping Wounded Comrade
Gunner J. Sabatino Was Hit in the Head With a Rifle Bullet —
The Grave in France.
Particulars are given in the following letter of the death of Gunner Joseph Sabatino, who lived in: Lakefield, and enlisted with the 10th Battery, C. F. A. He was killed on September 27, 1918. The letter was written to Miss Ray of Lakefield.
France, 0ct.11, ‘l8
My Dear Miss Ray —
I can hardly tell what makes me write this letter to you. It must be that I have often heard J. Sabatino speak of you, and if you would read this letter to his mother, it may help her in her hour of sorrow.
I happened to be with poor Joe when he met his death. He was going to help a wounded comrade when he was hit in the head with a rifle bullet. He never spoke. In fact it was so sudden that I thought that he had dropped on the ground to escape shell fire. I spoke to him and receiving no answer I lifted him up and saw at once that he was gone.
It was impossible to get the body away at that time, but the next morning, September 28th, we went up again and took the remains back out of shell fire, and buried him well behind the lines. We erected a neat wooden cross with his name and his number on it.
Believe me, Miss Ray, A. better soldier than Joe will be hard to find. He was everybody’s friend and very popular in the battery. We all feel the blow keenly. I knew him since he first came to France, and in all my experience I never once saw him ill tempered. He was ever willing to help everybody, and we all know that we have lost a true friend.
If there is anything else I can do to get the location of the grave, etc., I will only be too glad to do anything in my power. Hoping that this war will soon end. I remain,
Yours truly,
Gunner C. Shoebottom,
10th Battery, C. F. A., France

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