Veteran Stories:
Robert John Clayton

Army

  • Group of soldiers from the 20th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Robert John Clayton is third from the right. Collection courtesy of Mr. Clayton's son, Lorne Clayton.

    Group of soldiers from the 20th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Robert John Clayton is third from the right. Collection courtesy of Mr. Clayton's son, Lorne Clayton.
  • Robert Clayton's cap badge from the 20th Battalion. When he enlisted, he signed up with the 126th Battalion but was later transferred to the 20th.

    Robert Clayton's cap badge from the 20th Battalion. When he enlisted, he signed up with the 126th Battalion but was later transferred to the 20th.
  • Robert Clayton's dog tag, showing his rank of private.

    Robert Clayton's dog tag, showing his rank of private.
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Transcript

My name is Lorne Clayton. I'm the youngest boy in the family. There are eight of us in the family, and I'm the youngest son. There were two sisters and six brothers.

My dad had joined up in Toronto in 1915 with 126th Battalion, and as I believe, he trained for at least nine months. In 1916, he went overseas, and when he arrived (I believe he arrived in France) he was transferred to the 20th Battalion, from the 126th, and sent up to the front, and he fought at Vimy Ridge in 1917. He got an honourable discharge. He was in the service for roughly three years. When he came home, he had asthma. And of course, when many of the returning troops from the First World War came home, apparently he took up a trade, and he was a baker. He raised our family in the city of Toronto. He died in Sunnybrook in 1952, at fifty-three years of age.

I can remember the book that was about the 20th Battalion. There was a piece on him, where in one particular action that they were in, they were sent on an advance patrol, and apparently they came across this clearing. There were roughly, as I understood, about sixty to seventy Germans, and they had apparently surrendered to these men – this advance patrol – and they marched them back into the camp. I took a trip myself in 1993 to Normandy. I went to see the Juno Beach Centre, and on that trip I was able to go into the cemeteries in Holland, as well as Beny-sur-Mer in France, and we were able to go up to Vimy Ridge and see the monument at Vimy Ridge, which was quite a monument to see. It was quite an experience for me to see that monument and see the place where dad fought in 1917. So that was quite a thing for me.

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