Four of the six dead were members of the 1st University Battalion pictured here just before they left Canada. University of Saskatchewan Archives and Special Collections. B-91.

Great War vignettes

June 2, 1916 was the deadliest day of the Great War for the University of Saskatchewan recruits.

By University Communications

That morning, the Germans launched a fearsome bombardment on the Allied position along the southern border of the Ypres Salient. Canadian soldiers at Mount Sorrel (Sanctuary Wood) bore the brunt of the withering attack and sustained heavy casualties.

One of the Canadian survivors claimed that “the ground just shook like jelly,” while another soldier later observed, “it was a day of obliteration.” The German advance was not driven back and the lost ground was not retaken until June 13—again, at a terrible cost.

Among the dead were six students from the university: Henry Egar, Robert Carlton Grant, Lawrence Homer, Franklin Mager Keffer, Percy Dennington Kisbey, and Joseph Lees Nicholls. All had enlisted at the end 1915 school year. At the time of their death, the oldest was 25, the youngest 20.