Why is a Canadian soldier buried in Berkhamsted?

In St Peter’s Rectory Lane cemetery, one inscription stands out amongst the twenty-seven war graves there. The service badge is a maple leaf and the text reads “W J Short Canadian Pioneers 16th June 1916 Age 20: Soon to faithful warrior comes their rest”.


Wilfred James Short (1894 – 1916)

According to census records, Wilfred James and Ernest Cecil Short were born in Kentish Town London, sons of James and Florence Short of Ivinghoe Buckinghamshire. In 1911, James was a general labourer working for the Grand Junction Canal company, living with his family in a cottage next to the canal in Berkhamsted, beside the “iron bridge” in Lower King’s Road. In May 1913, William and Cecil took a passage to Quebec where they split up, Cecil to a farm in Ontario and William to Victoria to work as an iron moulder. Both enlisted in the Canadian army. William arrived in France in March 1916 and was helping to improve defences at the front line in the region of St Eloi and Ypres, when he sustained a gunshot wound in his leg and was transferred back to England. General septicaemia set in and he died in July 1916. His body was repatriated to his parents in Berkhamsted, where he was buried.  Just a few months later, in April 1917, Cecil was killed in action aged 20 and buried in the Canadian Cemetery in Neuville France.

Ken Wallis, Chronicle, Vol X, pp.47-55