72 years ago, during the Second World War, a soldier named Gaston Clermont died. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) knows the date he died and where he is buried. But it seems as if the knowledge is known to all except his family.
Brian Bone found his ID tag, three years ago on a beach close to his residence. His name and his number – 6916813 – were inscribed on the tag. It isn’t known if the soldier was Canadian or French but what is known is that he had family in Montreal, Canada.
Clermont, a rifleman, died when his company fighting alongside a British unit. They was shelled by a German mortar in the Low Countries (partly comprised of the Netherlands and Belgium). Bone, of northern England, didn’t realize until last fall, when he saw a similar item on a historical television program, that he had stumbled upon a military identification tag from World War II.
He’s hopeful of finding the family so if there are relatives in Canada the ID tag can be passed to them. “The tag means more to them than me,” he said.
Clermont is buried in the Netherlands at Nederweert War Cemetery. The tag also had lettering: ‘Dieppe (SI) France, Kathleen.’ There’s nothing to indicate if it’s associated with the raid by Canadian troops in 1942 at Dieppe.
Clermont, 28, was killed on Sept. 23, 1944. At the time, he served with the 8th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, part of the 11th Armoured Division based in London. His death was mentioned by his company commander, Noel Bell, his war memoir published in 1947. Clermont died following the Division’s advance into Holland on a mission to support the right flank of the British offensive in Operation Market Garden, a plan to shorten the war by crossing the Netherlands and attacking Germany from that direction, The Globe and Mail reported.
Bell described Clermont as a Frenchman who had joined the unit following the defeat of France but who didn’t have the prospect of seeing his dream realized – the liberation of his home in the country’s north. But, the registry amassed by the CWGC listed he was the son of Maria Clermont and the nephew of Eugénie Rousseau, both of Montreal.
Bone, 68, was born in 1948. He said he appreciated the men who sacrificed themselves since his uncles and father had also done their duty.