Donald Munro was born in
Tongue, son of William Munro of Scullomie and Catherine Mackay Tongue. They were married in 1886 in Thurso.
In 1911 Census he is at home in Scullomie with his parents and 3 brothers, Hector, Alex and Hugh. Donald emigrated to Canada where he gained employment
with the Canadian Pacific Railway, he enlisted into the Canadian Army at the
outbreak of the First World War. (See also David Campbell, Melness.)
The Canadian Army trained at Valcartier on
the Jacques Cartier river about twenty miles from Quebec, Donald had enlisted
in the 16 Battalion (British Columbia) Canadian Scottish serving
in the 1 Canadian Infantry Division.
The 1 Division sailed from
Gaspe Basin in Quebec on the 3 of October 1914, Donald Munro was
with the 16 Battalion Canadian Scottish in the first wave of
troops to be sent to England. The Canadians left Canada in a thirty-three ship
convoy guarded by eight warships, the convoy was the largest fleet of military
ships ever to have sailed in convoy any where in the world, up until that date.
Most of the Canadian Scottish Regiments served in
the 3 Brigade, which comprised the 13 (Black Watch)
Battalion from Montreal, the 14 and
15 Battalions (48 Highlanders) from Toronto
and the 16 Battalion from Vancouver.
The 16 Battalion was made up from drafts taken from the Canadian
Seaforth Highlanders, 50 (Gordon Highlander) Battalion from Victoria, the 79 Highlanders from Winnipeg and the 91 Highlanders from Hamilton.
The convoy arrived in Plymouth to a huge welcome and when the
Canadians disembarked they were sent by train to Salisbury Plain. The men lived
in tents in a quagmire of mud and rain on Salisbury Plain, an omen for the
state of the trenches they would find at the front. Whilst on Salisbury Plain
‘Cameron’ Company from the 16 Battalion marched the thirty-one
miles into Salisbury
to attend ‘kirk’. When their superiors
asked the men involved why they had done it, the men replied “to keep fit”.
In February 1915 the 1
Canadian Division crossed the English Channel to France
and entered the front line trenches, near Ypres in Flanders.
The Canadians were given a sector of line to hold, between the Ypres/Roulers
railway line and the Ypres/Poelcappelle road; the men found the trenches in a
terrible state, very shallow with thin parapets.
Canadian forces fought at the 2
Battle of Ypres in May 1915, where they were subjected to a heavy gas
bombardment as they held the line. A memorial today, to the east of Ypres in Belgium on the
roads to Langemark, commemorates the Canadian action holding a gap in the line
when French Colonial troops broke under gas attack.
When the Germans launched the first gas
attack of the war the 16 Battalion were in a barn behind the main
line and stood watching as French Algerian troops, streamed past them in full
retreat. The Canadians were then stood to and marched five miles into a gap
left in the line by the French withdrawal. The Canadians filtered through the
line between Mouse-Trap Farm and St Julian then counter attacked the Germans at
Kitcheners Wood, managing to capture four guns taken in the initial enemy
The 10 and 16
Battalions launched their attack at midnight without the aid of machine-guns,
bombs or artillery and men died in there hundreds. The Canadians entered the
enemy trenches at bayonet point, clearing the woods before putting the captured
guns out of action.
The Canadians then dug in under cover of
the mist and fog covering the battlefield in the early morning, as they did
this the battalions took a roll call. A total of about three hundred and sixty
men were still standing of the one thousand men who had left the Canadian
trenches, a loss of seven hundred and sixty men in a ten minute attack.
The objective had been taken and was held
until reinforcements arrived to consolidate the line. The Canadians were then
relieved and withdrawn to the shattered village of St Julian,
as the battalions entered the village they came under heavy shellfire that set
fire to several houses.
In July 1916 the 16 Battalion
was involved in diversionary attacks near Ypres, drawing German troops away
from the British attacks on the Somme. (See
also George W Mackay Melness.)
The Canadians moved to reserve trenches on
the Somme in September, staying in reserve for
the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (15 until 22 of
September 1916). On the 24 of September the Canadian Divisions
moved into the front line and prepared to attack Thiepval.
On the 1 of October the 16
Battalion moved into positions Northwest of the village
of Courcelette, to take part in an
attack on Le Transloy and the village
4:50am on the 8 of October 1916 the 16 Battalion
attacked the German trenches in the pouring rain, taking the enemy trenches on
the Le Sars line from Dyke Road
to the Quadrilateral trench system. The enemy launched a counter attack at 1:20
p.m. and after hard fighting forced the Canadians to withdraw to their original
start line trenches. The 16 Battalion entered Regina Trench
alongside the 13 Battalion (Black Watch of Canada) but were unable
to hold this position and had to retire. (See also Donald Rankine Melness)
Donald Munro fought at the 2nd Battle of Ypres in May 1915 when the Germans attacked for the first time with poisoned gas. He then at Ypres in July 1916 and during The Battle of the Somme at Thiepval and Flers-Courcellette.
Munro was killed in action as his battalion assaulted Regina Trench on the Somme; he was
25 years of age. His body was not recovered for burial once the
fighting was over. He had two brothers who served in the forces during World
War One, Alex served with the Royal Navy and Hugh in the Machine Gun Corps;
they both survived and returned home.
SCOTTISH NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL
420423. L/Sgt. Donald Munro.
Killed in action 9-10-16
COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES
Munro Lance Sergeant Donald.
420423. 16 Battalion Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment). 9
October 1916. Age 25. Son of Catherine Munro of Scullomie, Tongue
Sutherlandshire and the late William Munro.
Lance Sergeant Donald Munro 420423, 16
Battalion (Scottish) Canadian Army has no known grave and is remembered on the
VIMY RIDGE MEMORIAL, PAS DE CALAIS, FRANCE.