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Private Edwin Durham

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Thompson Edwin Durham was born on August 31, 1894 in Sault ste. Marie, Ontario. He attended Central School and the High School, known later as Sault Collegiate Institute. After graduating from the High School in 1914, Durham went to work for the H.E. Talbot Lumbering Compnay in Grandmere, Quebec, to raise money to attend McGill University. Durham's plans were changed, however, when Britian declated war on Germany on August 14, 1914.

Durham immediately volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Force, but a telegraph from his mother prompted him to return home to Sault Ste. Marie and enlist wtih the 51st Soo Rifles under Lieutenant Colonel Penhorwood. On August 20, 1914 Durham was one of the 76 men who left for Valcartier, Quebec for six weeks of military training before leaving for England. Training consisted of route marches, target practice, various drills and sham battles. Once overseas the Canadian contingent set up camp at the Salisbury Plains for more training. The British were unsure as to how this volunteer army of Canadians would perform in battle, so at first they were intermingled with seasoned British troops on the front lines to gain some experience. Durham received his introduction to warfare with the British Forces at Armentieres at the end of February, 1915. The Canadians proved themselves capable and at the beginning of March, Durham arrived in Fleurbaix where the Canadians were to hold a stretch of trench 6,400 yards long during the battle at Neuve-Chapelle. Twice Durham was knocked over by exploding artillery shells, but remained unhurt.