by Kevan Pipe
The names of 48 men from St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in the Glebe who were killed in action in the first and second world wars are poignantly displayed on special wall plaques in the church. Sixteen of these men were killed in the First World War. Sadly, as the years have passed, their personal stories have faded from memory.
The goal of a recently completed four-year church project has been to rectify this. Since 2013, the stories behind each of these 48 soldiers, airmen or sailors have been researched and documented. We began delivering these stories to the St. Matthew’s congregation on the Sunday before Remembrance Day every November since 2014.
The Glebe Report will bring to readers each month from now until November 2018 one of the stories of these 16 young men from the community who fought for the freedom we enjoy today in recognition of the 100th anniversary in 2018 of the signing of the armistice that brought a formal close to hostilities in the First World War. Should you wish to add to the stories of these 16 soldiers and pilots, please email email@example.com.
Here is the first of the stories.
The Story of Albert Edward Cuzner
By Kevan Pipe
Albert Edward Cuzner was born in Ottawa on August 31, 1890 to John and Sara Gee Cuzner. He was one of five children, living first at 523 Sussex Street (now Drive). He attended Ottawa (Lisgar) Collegiate, played hockey on the school senior team and graduated in 1908. He then attended Ottawa Model School (Teachers College) on Elgin Street (now City Hall). Scholastically inclined, he moved on to the University of Toronto from 1909 to 1915, playing rugby and hockey and graduating in Applied Science. He continued with Forestry in 1915–16 and in summer, returned to Ottawa and lived with his brother Willard at 256 First Avenue, attending St. Matthew’s Church.
As a scientist and forester, he had a passion for flying and while in Toronto, he graduated on September 3, 1916 from the Curtiss Flying School. Now a licensed pilot and a most valuable asset to the war effort, he enlisted (#707447) and was shipped to England later that same month with the Royal Naval Air Service 8 Squadron as a Flight Sub Lt. Now piloting the famous Sopwith Camel which he named “Doris,” he entered active duty, flying initially out of Walmer Airfield near Dover on England’s southeast coast.
In April 1917, 8 Squadron was relocated to the Western Front and was involved in the Battle of Vimy Ridge with both bombing and reconnaissance missions. The Royal Air Corps endured horrible losses during Vimy Ridge and later in April. While surviving Vimy Ridge, just 12 days after the Ridge was taken, Flt. Sub Lt. Cuzner took off on a mission and encountered the war’s most lethal German ace, Baron Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron) and what became known as his “Flying Circus” due to his red-painted Fokker triplane.
Flt Sub Lt. Albert Edward Cuzner was caught by the Red Baron on Sunday April 29, 1917 at 19:40 hours and shot down and killed in action, the Red Baron’s victim number 52 of 80. His remains were never recovered from the crash site.
Cuzner of 256 First Avenue was awarded Britain’s Victory Medal and is remembered today in multiple ways. His name is inscribed on the walls of the Arras Flying Services Memorial in the Pas de Calais region in northwest France, along with the names of 1,000 other Commonwealth airmen whose bodies were never recovered. He is also remembered on the Royal Naval Air Service “Roll of Honour” at the University of Toronto Soldiers’ Tower, at Phi Delta Theta fraternity (awarded a Gold Star), at Lisgar Collegiate and at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in the Glebe.
Kevan Pipe is a Glebe resident and member of the St Matthew’s Anglican Church Communications Committee.