Hugh Dalton Livingston

Unit at enlistment: 
125th Battalion
Volunteered or conscripted: 
Survived the war: 
Date of death: 
August 27th, 1918
Monchy British Cemetery - Pas de Calais, France - II.D.31.
Commemorated at: 
Brant Avenue Methodist Church and Memorial Window, B.C.I. High School Memorial Plaque, Victoria Public School Honour Roll
Birth country: 
Birth county: 
Birth city: 
Hamilton, Ontario
Address at enlistment: 
88 Brant Avenue, Brantford, Ontario
Next of kin address: 
88 Brant Avenue, Brantford, Ontario
Trade or calling: 
Religious denominations: 
Marital status: 
Age at enlistment: 

Letters and documents

Circumstances of Casualty: Killed in Action. Whilst leading his platoon during an attack on Bois du Vert he was hit by an enemy machine gun bullet and instantly killed.

BX August 6, 1918

Lieutenant Hugh Dalton Livingston Safe and Well is the Report – Family Notified that Lieutenant Hugh Livingston was at the Front – Error Somewhere

Mr. and Mrs. W.C. Livingston were overjoyed on Saturday to receive a cable despatch and surprised beyond expression, when the news was conveyed to them that their son, Lieut. Hugh Livingston was safe. The cable was received from Mrs. Hugh Livingston, who is in Guilford, England, and coming later than the official notification which came last Thursday, and contradicting the official despatch, gave ground for the great hope that an error had been made somewhere in the records office, which would be rectified in due time. The relief felt by the parents and family, and host of friends in this city was greatly added to on Sunday when a further cable was received from Major Sweet, announcing that he had visited the records office in London and had found that Lieut. Hugh was alive and well at the front. Further word than this has not been received by Mr. Livingston and the family, although there seems to be no reason to doubt the correctness of the news received both from Mrs. Hugh Livingston and from Major Sweet, both of whom were doubtless apprised of the casualty report earlier in the week and took immediate steps on the spot in England to investigate the official report. The official casualty list from Ottawa on Monday contained the name of Lieut. Livingston, but this was merely the following up of the private advice sent to the parents earlier.    
The private advice is always dispatched to the next of kin prior to the public announcement in the casualty list, and in this connection it might have been thought that the name would have been withdrawn from publication Monday. However, it is regarded as unlikely that the correction of the casualty has come through to Ottawa from London, private cables having come through more quickly.
Mr. and Mrs. Livingston are at present out of the city, having gone on a visit for a brief stay with friends after their most distressing and anxious time. The joyful denouncement was one, however in which hundreds who heard the news on Sunday, joined with the parents in heartfelt relief and sympathy. From the nature of the news received, it seems to be assured that a most regrettable error was made somewhere in official circles, and that confirmation officially of the error will come through in due course. It is understood that the matter is being immediately taken up from Ottawa.

BX September 3, 1918

Second Report of Death in Action – Further Notification Received of Death of Lieutenant Hugh Dalton Livingston

Mr. and Mrs. W.C. Livingston yesterday received official word that their son, Lieut. Hugh Dalton Livingston, had been killed in action on August 27. It was just one month ago that Mr. and Mrs. Livingston received official word that their son had been killed in action July 27. A private message sent from England on Saturday last was to the effect that Lieut. Hugh Livingston had been “reported killed on the 27th instant.”  A few hours later the official dispatch came from Ottawa to the effect that Lieut. Hugh Livingston had been killed in action August 27, 1918. A month ago when the unfortunate error was made, it was a matter of a week or so before a correction was officially received, although private advices confirmed the news that an error had been made and that identity had been mistaken for another Lieut. Hugh D. Livingston. Whether the report from Ottawa yesterday, with its dreadful message is but a repetition of the original error is a matter, which gives some ground for hope by the family and the host of friends of Lieut. Livingston. Cable enquiries were at once sent off yesterday in connection with the reported casualty. Major E. Sweet, who discovered the error a month ago, being indeed of terrible suspense and heart anguish for the parents and family, and word, is being awaited hourly in response to the enquiries, which have been cabled. 

BX September 14, 1918

Confirmation of Death Received – Letters from Lieutenant Hugh Dalton Livingston Pay Tribute to Canadian Boys

Confirmation of the death of Lieutenant Hugh Livingston, son of Police Magistrate and Mrs. W.C. Livingston, was received by them yesterday in a cable from Lieut. C.M. Sheppard, who was also attached to the 116th Battalion, tersely saying "Hugh killed. Writing."

Lieutenant Sheppard had been away from his battalion, being a member of a court, and it is thought that he had just returned to the battalion after completing his work, and had learned for the first time of his fellow officer's death.

This week two letters were received by the family from Lieut. Hugh Livingston, they having been written and posted before his death in action on Aug. 27. In these letters he commented on the wonderful work of the Canadian troops, saying that the Canadian People should be proud of their men overseas, and of what these heroic boys had done. He commented on the strenuous time the troops had had, saying that they had been over the top four times in eight days.

BX September 26, 1918

Details of Death Now Received – Lieutenant Hugh Dalton Livingston was Struck by a Machine Gun Bullet

Mr. and Mrs. W.C. Livingston today received a letter from Lieut. Charles Shepherd giving particulars of the death of their son, Lieut. Hugh Livingston, who was killed in action August 27. Lieut. Shepherd wrote that Hugh was leading an attack on the Bois de Vert, which the Huns held and which was filled with machine gun nests. While advancing, he was hit in the temple with a machine gun bullet, and death was instantaneous. The loss of Lieut. Livingston was felt all through the regiment, as his services had been conspicuous, not alone for gallantry but for long headedness in the preparation for attack and the methods adopted. In one instance given by Lieut. Shepherd, Hugh suggested plans which were adopted by the battalion and which enabled it to gain its objective in a quick manner with little loss. Lieutenant Hugh Livingston was buried near where he fell and his father was advised of where the last sad rites of the battlefield were carried out. The battle August 27 was before Arras near Monchy, a place where several Brantford boys went down.

BX September 6, 1918

Lieutenant Hugh Dalton Livingston Tells of Advance – Letter Received from Brantford Hero Telling of Great Smash

In a letter to his parents from Lieutenant Hugh Livingston, dated Aug. 10, the story of going over the top on August 8 last when the Canadians made their famous smash was told in brief but realistic manner. The officer tells of coming out of the battle as second in command of his company, and the other officers having been knocked out. Nothing but the spirit behind advancing troops could have kept them up, as the battle was hellish from the time it started right through. Reference to the letter was made to Lieut. Roy Brown of this city. Lieut. Livingston states:

“Roy Brown certainly proved a hero. He came out of the show in full command of the company, as the other officers having become casualties. He didn’t receive a scratch and certainly made good.”

Since the letter was written Lieut. Brown above referred to, was taken ill with trench fever and has been invalided back to England. From the report received it would not be surprising if Lieut. Brown was to receive the Military Cross, when the time comes for decorations to be handed out.

Lieutenant Livingston went through the big smash August 8, when the original drive was made and he tells his parents that the Canadians did not know what they were to go into. They were absolutely fed up and tired out in moving from one area into another and had been on tenterhook for such a long time that they were glad the crisis had arrived. The spirit of victory was in the air Lieut. Hugh wrote to his father, and it was wonderful what the troops went through with this spirit moving them.

BX November 22, 1917

Another Military Wedding

Mr. and Mrs. W.C. Livingston received a cablegram yesterday announcing that the marriage of their son, Lieutenant Hugh Dalton Livingston, of the 125th with Miss Florence Alexander, daughter of Mr. John Alexander, Roxborough Street, Toronto, took place at Witley on Tuesday last.  It will be recalled that Miss Alexander sailed from Canada about a fortnight ago in order to participate in this ceremony.

BX September 27, 1920

Memorial Window to Heroic Fallen Unveiled at Brant Avenue Church – Chancellor Bowles of Victoria College Officiated at Official Recognition of Nine Members of the Church Who Gave Their Lives in the Great War – A Ceremony Pregnant With Meaning

In dedication to the nine men of Brant Avenue Methodist Church who gave their lives in the Great War, a memorial window was unveiled in that church at the morning services yesterday.  Rev. Chancellor Bowles of Victoria College, Toronto, gave the message of consolation to the friends of the soldiers whose memory he extolled and Major A.E. Lavelle, D.D., and Major E. Sweet both in uniform, unveiled the window.  The congregation filled the church to the last pew and each one could not fail to receive, from the simple and impressive ceremony, a strong, new motive for keeping alive what Chancellor Bowles called a great and glorious memory.”

Deeply impressive and heart soothing was the whole ceremony.  Rev. J.D. Fitzpatrick, the pastor of the church, was in charge and the choir gave special music, including solos by Miss Reba Force and Miss Margaret Stephen, the latter of Toronto.  The military significance of the event was emphasized by the number of men attending in uniform.  Besides Major Sweet and Major Lavell, places of prominence were given to Col. M.A. Colquhoun, D.S.O., C.M.G., Lieut.-Col. M.E.B. Cutcliffe, Major Jordan, Lieut. K.V. Bunnell, Lieut. Donald Waterous, Lieut. Charles Sheppard, Capt. (Dr.) Leonard Coates, Capt. Dufferin Slemin, Lieut. Fred Pinnell, Capt. Morley Verity and Sergt. James Hitchon, Nursing Sister, Captain Annie Hartley, was also present.

The Decorations

A special committee had spent much time in making the church beautiful, draping the chancel in flags and wreathing maple leaves over the window and around the memorial tablets formerly erected.  Bouquets of mauve and white and pink and white asters were placed on the sill of the window.

The Sermon

Following the solemn prayer by Rev. J.D. Fitzpatrick and the choir offerings, Rev. Chancellor Bowles preached a most impressive sermon.

The dedication of the memorial, said Dr. Bowles, was promoted by instincts of love and gratitude and loyalty that sought to keep in recollection the names of those who were gone, their voices, their faces and the deeds they had done.  Thoughts of them were like a benediction after prayer, for memories such as theirs soothed and elevated and enriched men’s lives and kept them in touch with the living past.  Many memorials were being erected, he said, from simple tablets to costly community halls, churches and arches; yet the outward form mattered little, what counted was the appreciation and admiration of those who raised them.  Every memorial was erected “Lest we forget.”

It was not likely this generation would ever see such another war, it was the grimmest and most awful thing men had ever faced; they had been overwhelmed by its terrible destruction and death.  This ceremony was held to lead others to know its meanings and learn its lesson well – “Lest we forget.”  Drawing his bearers to think of the many elements that entered into the cause of the war, the struggle, said the Chancellor, had written its own inner meaning.  Humanity could live in safety on this earth only as a spiritual and moral force; there must be a right relationship among the nations; men had come to feel the sense of the ultimate value of what was right and what was fair.  “We know what conceptions and ideals moved our boys,” Dr. Bowles went on.  “They had the sense of human value.  Most of them were scarcely young men, they were only boys.  Life had no problems for them yet; the iron had not entered into their souls.  Now they make one small portion of those who like in Flanders’ Fields.  They had not lived their lives as some listening to me have almost done, they poured out the wine of youth, life’s passions; nor” he said, “will you cease to think of them as young and fair.  From the many letters I read written by Victoria College students, I was struck by the cheer and the steadfastness to duty they expressed.  From one I have here, written to the soldier’s mother, before the great struggle of August 8, he concluded, ‘a great triumph will take place and I shall have a part in it.’  Remember”, said the Chancellor in closing “that was the spirit that actuated them through it all.”

The Unveiling

Major Lavell and Major Sweet conducted the unveiling ceremonies, the former giving a brief address and the latter reading the names and drawing aside the Union Jack which covered the memorial window.

In beginning his remarks Major Lavell referred to Major T. Harry Jones, who had so much to do with the memorial window, but who had not lived to see the completion of the work.  He said that out of the many thoughts that crowded in upon his mind there were but three he had time to express.  The first was the sorrow that those present must feel who were nearest and dearest to the men whose names were on the memorial.  This sorrow and perplexity at death was as old as the race.  To this sorrow he had little to give but sympathy.  Possibly if they would find the secret of Calvary and see our Lord’s death as victory and not defeat, they would have light and much comfort.  The second was that the front line areas made a school the like of which existed nowhere else.  It tested, disciplined and changed every man.  They learned to know real values, what was worth retaining and what might be well given up.  The third was that these brave young men having passed through this school that most of those present had not passed through, and therefore knew not, willingly faced death and died doing their duty, which to them was far preferable to mere living.  Could their loved ones here not have faith in their faith and even in their sorrow and ignorance believe in the light seen by those who had fearlessly walked through the valley of the shadow?

Major Lavell quoted from Sir Arthur Currie’s message to the Canadian soldiers, delivered on March 27, 1918.  How true, he said, his finals words had become and how appropriately they had been chosen for the inscription on the window:  “You will not die, but will step into immortality.”

Impressively and clearly Major Sweet read the roll of those whose names were inscribed on the tablet:

Harold Staples Brewster
Alexander Finletter Brown
Hugh Dalton Livingston
Lawrence Wilmot Livingston
Joseph Howard Pinnell
Earl Pettit Pitcher
Harold Brant Preston
Frederick Stanley Schell
Egerton Vaughan

As the window was revealed and the names were called, the notes of the “Last Post” were sounded by Sergeant Beech of the Dufferin Rifles.

The committee of arrangements consisted of Mrs. R.S. Schell, Mrs. W.C. Livingston, Mrs. J.J. Vaughan, Messrs. W.S. Brewster, T.H. Preston, E. Sweet and C.S. Slemin.