Distinguished Sask. First World War soldier honoured with memorial

It was an emotional day Thursday for the McAndie family as their relative, Capt. David McAndie, was recognized for his distinguished service during the First World War.

Coulee named after Capt. David McAndie, a decorated member of the 10th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force

Capt. David McAndie fought in some of the First World War's worst battles, earning numerous commendations. (Provided by the McAndie family)

It was an emotional day Thursday for the McAndie family as their relative, Capt. David McAndie, was recognized for his distinguished service during the First World War.

On Thursday, a coulee close to McAndie's homestead near Assiniboia, Sask., was dedicated to the former captain of the the 10th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, who died fighting overseas in 1918. The dedicated land looks out on Lake of the Rivers.

For Wendy McAndie, seeing the land dedicated to her great-uncle was a tremendous honour. 

McAndie was originally from Scotland but enlisted while homesteading near Assiniboia. (McAndie family/Supplied)
"You can't describe it. I mean, the thrill is just enormous to think that he will be remembered forever, and that our name will be up there forever. It's certainly a real privilege," she said.

Growing up, she didn't hear much about the soldier's time fighting, but she always knew he was her father's hero. 

The McAndie family plan to go to the coulee sometime next year to "take some pictures, have a look and probably cry and have some memories," said Wendy McAndie. In fact, she's hoping that a cousin from Scotland will also be able to make it.

McAndie was originally from Scotland but enlisted with the Canadian forces. 

Capt. McAndie was nominated for the geomemorial by Lt.-Col. Peter Boyle, the curator at the Calgary Highlanders Museum, which catalogues and documents the force with which McAndie served as a captain.

"I think that he exemplifies what a Canadian was in the early days of this province and of the country," said Boyle.

"He came from Scotland, like so many people did from the old country, but he became part of the fabric of the land and then when his country called he went to war and he paid the ultimate sacrifice, fighting for Canadian values."

Boyle said Capt. McAndie was one of the battalion's most decorated officers, having fought in some of the First World War's bloodiest battles.

"The Battle for Vimy Ridge, the Battle of Hill 70, Passchendaele, he fought at all of those and was awarded for gallantry at all of those battles," he said.

McAndie earned his Distinguished Conduct Medal at the Battle of the Somme in the fall of 1916. A sergeant at the time, he took over his platoon after his officer had been killed.

Nearly 400 members of the 10th Battalion lost their lives in the fighting at Vimy Ridge in 1917. McAndie was noted by his superiors there for leading his troops forward. McAndie also earned the Military Medal soon after the fighting at Vimy.

Capt. McAndie was killed by a stray shell in 1918 after his distinguished military campaign. (McAndie family/Supplied)
On Aug. 8, 1918 he earned his Military Cross. That day saw the greatest advance of the Canadian Corps during the war, advancing 13 kilometres. The soldiers made it further than Australian or British forces that day, and inflicted several thousand German casualties, according to Boyle.

But one week later, McAndie was killed behind the lines by a stray shell.

"Somebody who led, was at the front of his section, the front of his platoon, the front of his company throughout the war — and then to be killed by a stray shell near headquarters is so sad," said Boyle.

"Day after day he led his forces and he just exemplified what a military leader is, in my opinion." 

His final resting place is on the Somme battlefield in near Arras, France.

"War is an ugly thing," said Wendy McAndie.

"Hopefully by seeing these sacrifices and names displayed around the province … it will be a reminder that we don't want to go there again." 

With files from Stefani Langenegger