2nd Canadian Division
Canadian Expeditionary Force
- John Firman Ashe was born to a Presbyterian family in Upham, NB on January 25, 1891. He was the son of Robert and Emma Ashe. He enlisted in April 25, 1916 in Sussex, NB a little more than a month after his good friend Harry Myles had enlisted. He was 25 years old and in his attestation papers he declared himself to be a labourer and that he had eight weeks of experience with the local militia. He had blue eyes, black hair and he was 5 feet 9 ½ inches tall.
- John was initially with the 104th Battalion as was Harry. They both left Canada on June 28, 1916 on the SS Olympic and disembarked in Liverpool, England together on July 6, 1916 where they trained at Camp Witley. He was transferred to the 26th Battalion on November 28, 1916 upon arriving in France.
- The 26th Battalion was with the 2nd Canadian Division which played a significant role at Vimy Ridge in April, 1917. April 9th was the opening day of the four-day battle. The 2nd Division had great success on this day. They captured and retained all of its objectives. The 26th Battalion was working with the 24th. They took their sector and support line in 12 minutes and captured the Black Line between 6:02 and 6:14. The 26th pushed through in adverse conditions as the weather went from rain to snow to rain again. At some point during this day, John Firman Ashe was wounded and was taken to the No. 1 Canadian Field Ambulance where he died shortly thereafter. His military file indicated that the nature of the wounds was not reported. He died on the first day of battle to take the ridge. He was only 26 years old. Undoubtedly, this was a sad day for his friend, Harry Myles, who had to fight on with a heavy heart.
- John Ashe is buried at the Quatre-Vents Military Cemetery located in Estree-Cauchy, France 16 kilometers north-west of Arras. There are over 100 casualties from the First World War buried there. His family were obviously heartbroken. They paid to have the original wooden cross from his burial site brought home. This cross has been brought out of storage countless times over the last 100 years so that generations of his family could learn of his life and of his sacrifice. The cross along with other personal memorabilia were recently donated to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. The house where these two young men spent part of their youth is still standing. John’s parent’ s headstone bears his name as well along with the inscription “Killed at Vimy”. John’s family very much treasures his memory.