Charles Reaper‚ the last infantry soldier who saw action at Vimy Ridge‚ died on March 1, 2003 in Winnipeg.
Newspaper accounts say that he came to Canada as an orphan from Scotland and joined the army at the age of 16. A search of The National Archives website shows that he came through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland at the age of 12. He departed from Glasgow on March 30, 1912 onboard the SS Scotian and arrived in Halifax on April 8 when he travelled to Brockville and Fairknowe Home by train.
Normally, the indenture with his placement here in Canada would have remained in place until he reached the age of eighteen, but Charles was in western Canada and enlisted in the Canadian Army at the age of sixteen. How he arrived there two years before his indenture ended is a mystery.
Mr. Reaper was born on July 27, 1899 in Banffshire, Scotland. He claimed that it was his height due to his long legs that allowed him to enlist and see action at his young age.
He was wounded at Vimy but recovered from the shrapnel wounds to fight in the Third Battle of Ypres in Flanders fields.
It is always sad to lose one of our Home Children, but when we lose a war hero it is even more sad.
Many children today know nothing of the wars that were fought and the men who laid down their lives. It is thanks to Charles Reaper and thousands others that we enjoy the freedom that we do today.
Charles Reaper leaves his wife of 69 years and a large‚ loving family.
Our condolences to them all.