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Date: December 4th 1918
N.R. Robertson
Roy Robertson

9th Battalion Canadian Engineers.

[?] Robertson, Esq.,
[?]rio, Canada.
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[?]r Uncle,

I have intended writing you with reference to Eric's grave, but have delayed until I was sure of my facts.

I wrote Mrs. Eric Robertson some time ago, as to the locality in which Eric was brought down, she advised me that it was in the neighborhood of MONCHY-Le-PREUX.

From August 26th.1918, the day that my Division captured MONCHY-Le-PREUX, I was on the lookout for Eric’s grave. I had some of my men search systematically by squares all over that part of the country, but for some time was unable to find it. Two of my Officers located the framework of an old British aeroplane, Bristol fighter type, at a spot Southeast of L’ESPERANCE Corner, on the main ARRAS-CAMBRAI Road, about 2 miles East of VIS-en-ARTOIS, map location P.31.b.8.4., about 600 yards South of the mail L'ESPERANCE Corner, and 200 yards West of the road running North and South.

The iron framework of the plane was still there, and some of the woodwork. The plane was headed in a North Westerly direction, that would be towards our own lines, and the direction would pass slightly North of MONCHY-Le-PREUX, and somewhere North of ARRAS.

Some of the cylinders of the engine had broken free and the wheels of the plane were bent, as if the plane had fallen from a great height. The gasoline tank was burst open, and partly crushed, by the fall. From all the circumstances I would say that the plane had fallen to the ground and then caught fire when the gasoline tank was burst open. I could not see any bullet or shrapnel holes in the tank.

The two bodies had been buried in a shellhole, and a rough square board erected. This had the inscription in German:

"Hier starben den Helden tod am 12-7-1917 durch abschuss von der Erde zwei Britiche Flieger"
 B------ fighter, 23858 B.B.
(in lead pencil, in English)
Which I interpret to read in English --
Here lies the heroes dead on 12-7-1917, through being shot down on the earth, two British Flying Men."

Someone had written in English in lead pencil on this board the following, "B------fighter, 23858 B.B. I made enquiries, but cannot find if this number is correct or means anything, as the War Office has no record of this number as being a plane number.

I wrote to the O.C. of No.11 Squadron, Royal Air Forces, and attach hereto his letter, from which you will see that the map reference which I gave as the place where the plane was found, is that corresponding to their records of where Eric was shot down. He also states that he was shot down by enemy Anti-Aircraft shell fire.

I was also told somewhere, that Eric had been about five minutes flying from our own lines when shot down.

As the date and the locality on the signboard, in German, are the same as those of Eric’s case, and as we could not find any other fallen British planes in this locality, I, personally, am of the opinion that this plane and the grave is that of Eric and his observer, Sgt. Carr. This of course cannot be proved positively, but to my mind is beyond reasonable doubt. Acting on this, I had some of my men make wooden coffins, with brass plates, putting Eric’s name on one and Sgt. Carr’s name on the other, and had their remains removed to the British (Canadian) Military Cemetery at VIS-en- ARTOIS, and buried there with a religious service conducted by our Engineer [?] Capt. Anderson of Orillia, Ontario, who was very obliging in this [?]r, and put himself to considerable trouble to conduct this service.

Capt. Anderson, myself, one of my Sergeants (Sergt. Lane), [?]ne of my Sappers were present at this funeral. I then had the 3rd., Canadian Divisional Burial Officer send his Sergeant, with my Sergeant, and officially register these graves as those of Eric and Sergt. Carr. They are now officially registered, the same as the graves of other soldiers who have been buried in cemeteries. Attached hereto is the official registration slip showing these graves to be in the VIS-en-ARTOIS Military Cemetery at o.23.d.3.7. Sheet 51.b. France. Official number 230, graves as follows:-
                                    Cemetery                 Row    Plot    Grave
Capt. Robertson C.E.  VIS-en-ARTOIS        D         2          16
Sgt. Carr                                  "                       D         2          17

This cemetery is on the North side of the ARRAS-CAMBRAI Road about 300 yards East of the village of VIS-en-ARTOIS, and approximately 100 yards West of the next main cross Roads just East of VIS-en-ARTOIS, graves about 23 yards in from the edge of the North roadside ditch.

I also arranged to have these graves photographed by the official recorder, copies to be sent to you and to me.

I then had one of my cabinet makers make up two large wooden crosses. These were made of very old seasoned oak, oiled and varnished and inscriptions painted on them by a very artistic sign painter that I have in the Battalion. They were left in the natural finish so that the grain shows through, and without doubt, they are the most handsome crosses I have seen in any Military Cemetery in France. I also had a brass plate, with the names and addresses tacked on the back of the cross as possibly being more permanent, I also had the board with the German inscription on it placed at the foot of the graves, as a possible means of future identification. The small official crosses, with the stamped metal tags, are erected by the graves Registration Committee.

I sent you, by mail, a short section of one of the wooden struts of the aeroplane, which you may or may not be disposed to keep.

When on leave the last time in England I called on Mrs. Eric Robertson and informed her that I suspected I had located Eric’s grave, stating of course that I could not be sure. I rather think that she is of the opinion that I am not correct in my deduction, so I have, of course made no attempt to influence her opinion.

I regret the long delay in advising you of this but the various steps taken have of necessity been slow as between each step our Division has moved many miles forward, and our means of transportation are limited.

I am merely stating the facts of this case and will not influence your view as to whether or not these graves are those of Eric and his observer. Should you conclude that they are, you need not worry that Eric was burnt alive, because I am of the opinion that both pilot and observer must have been dead before they even struck the ground.

I am sorry that this letter will arrive in the midst of your Christmas Season, but it may be a certain satisfaction to know something definite.

With my kindest regards to Auntie and yourself.
Your nephew.
(sgd) Roy Robertson,
Lt. Col.
O.C 9th Battalion, Canadian Engineers.


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