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Discover the stories and remember the lives of UCC
Old Boys who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the Great War.

Captain John Alfred Benjamin ’08

Died: July 5, 1916

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Captain John Alfred Benjamin, 9th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment, was killed in action on July 5th, 1916. He was the only son of the late Alfred D. Benjamin, for many years resident in Toronto, and of Mrs. Benjamin, now of 81 Inverness Terrace, London, England.

Born at Toronto in 1892, he was educated at Upper Canada College, where he became head of the School and obtained the Governor-General’s medal. He then attended Clifton College, England, and later became a scholar at Clare College, Cambridge, where he took his B.A. degree in June, 1914.

He joined up on the outbreak of war, and was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant September, 19 14, received his second star March, 1915, and was promoted Captain in July, 1915. Amongst the various tributes to his memory, his late Commanding Officer wrote :

“He was one of my best and most able of officers. I shall always remember his gallant bearing during our first real operation on the night of August 7th last year when we were digging a trench only eighty yards from the German trenches, and how he encouraged the men by his bearing.” Extracts from letters received from his brother officers at the front read as follows :

“He was one of the most high principled and unselfish men that one could possibly meet. He always sunk his own grievances or disappointments and championed the cause of others, and there was no officer in the Battalion who took more trouble about the welfare and comfort of his men. He was absolutely without fear and never had the slightest thought for his own safety, and the hotter the action the cooler he seemed to become. His bravery was notorious and the men would follow him anywhere.

It is no secret that he earned the Military Cross more than once, and if he had been of the pushful and selfish kind he might have had the ribbon to wear. He was certainly the cleverest officer and the finest fellow in the Battalion, and nobody was more popular, in fact he was beloved by both officers and men. He was always jolly and full of fun, and there was never discomfort so great or danger so serious but he would pass a joke. He was extraordinarily conscientious ; if he thought a thing was right he did it and it did not matter what happened. He was killed gallantly leading his men against a Hun bombing attack down an advanced sap and died, as always, doing his duty.

College Times (Summer 1916) pg. 8-9

More information about Captain John Alfred Benjamin ’08 can be found at:

Upper Canada College Roll of Service 1914-1919

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The National Archives