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15 October 2014
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Lorne- The Canadian Soldier

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Peter Hunter, Lorne Andrew Marr, Arthur Hunter Senior, Arthur Hunter Junior
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Contributed on: 
22 September 2005

The 1st Battalion Argyll and Sutherlands Highlanders of Canada (P.L.) arrived in Uckfield on 6th November 1943. One day just before Christmas that year, I was injured in a road traffic accident on the bridge over the River Uck. My brother, Arthur, and I were on our way home from school, when we were struck by a motorcycle travelling down the hill. The machine was ridden by a despatch rider in the above regiment. I was admitted to the local Cottage Hospital with my left leg broken. The despatch rider, known only by his Christian name Lorne, visited me in hospital and at home frequently after I was discharged. In April 1944, out of my plaster cast but still lame, I stood behind the Police Station with Arthur, Lorne, and our cat Timoshenko, named after the Russian general who saw off the Germans at Leningrad, in order for my mother to take a photograph. My father Arthur Hunter Constable 197 in the East Sussex Constabulary fought on the Somme with the Second Battalion Coldstream Guards, and had been a sniper. Uneasy about the training and discipline of un- blooded troops stationed in the town, he cautioned Lorne as to the vulnerability of despatch riders to marksmen.

In mid July 1944 Lorne and his Regiment left Uckfield without warning for France. My mother later told me that she had heard that Lorne had been killed in action, the circumstances of which were unknown. Some fifty years later in a house move back to Uckfield the photograph came to light, and so in retirement I set about identifying Lorne. Two hundred and sixty seven men of that Regiment were killed, two of whom were named Lorne. Following protracted correspondence with Canadian veterans and Record Offices, there appeared in the September 1996 issue of ‘Albainn’, the Veterans magazine of the Canadian Argyll and Sutherland Regiment, identification of Lorne as Lance Corporal Lorne Andrew Marr B46286, Signals Platoon, who had died at Igoville, France on 27th August 1944. A month later I visited his grave in the Calais Canadian War Cemetery. The veterans however had been unable to prove family history, and the cemetery records did not show next of kin. However several years later a book ‘The Maple Leaf Army in Britain’ by Peter Longstaff- Tyrell included the picture taken in Uckfield in 1944 and my photograph of the headstone in France. As a result of this in August 2004 I received a telephone call from Canada from a relative of Lorne Marr. A year later George Wilkinson, nephew of the deceased, and his wife, visited Sussex and we went to the graveside in France.

Lorne Marr was one of six children, and had had a brother who had volunteered for the Army and had survived the War. Lorne was a dutiful son and prolific letter writer to members of his family. Many of the letters remain, with supporting photographs sufficient to fill three large albums. These included his service training in Canada, garrison duties in Jamaica, preparation for D- Day in the Uckfield area, and his last from France, a week before he was killed, when he was shot riding his motor cycle by a German sniper.

This story was entered on the People’s War Website by Stuart Ross on behalf of Peter Hunter. Peter fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

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