Discover the stories and remember the lives of UCC
Old Boys who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the Great War.
Captain William Arthur Peel Durie ’98
Died: December 29, 1917
In the death, in action, of Capt. W. A. P. Durie, Canada loses another gallant officer.
Captain Durie, who was the only son of the late Lieut.-Col. Durie, D.A.G., the first commanding officer of the Q.O.R., was a student at Upper Canada College from 1893- 1898. He left College to enter the Traders Bank, which was afterwards amalgamated with the Royal Bank of Canada, and remained with the Royal Bank until the outbreak of war. He was among the first to respond to the call of duty and went overseas in 1915 with the 58th Battalion. In May 1916, he was shot through both lungs at Ypres, and lay for days at the point of death at the 24th General Hospital at Etaples.
He was later sent to England, but, after six months convalescence he pluckily went back to his battalion in France, having refused a comfortable staff appointment in England, because he felt men were needed at the front. After a few weeks in the trenches, his health failed so seriously that he was sent to the south of France for a month, after which he again rejoined his battalion.
He came successfully through Vimy Ridge, Avion and Passchendaele, winning his captaincy on the field. His brother officers testified to his absolute fearlessness at Avion, when he held captured German trenches until reinforcements came up. At the attack on Passchendaele Ridge, he was complimented by Col. Genet, his Commanding Officer, and also by Major MacFarlane, second in command, who said to him : “You’ve done the best work that’s been done at the show to-day.” He organized a party of stretcher-bearers, and made five trips under heavy shell fire, until the wounded were all evacuated. The battalion went back for their usual six days’ rest, but later returned to the Ridge. As Senior Captain and Company Commander, Capt. Durie held the line, and in the execution of this duty experienced heavy shelling for days until relieved by the 116th Battalion.
During this period he could at any time have returned to Canada on three months’ leave, but this he steadily refused to do, believing he was needed at the front. Shortly before Christmas he returned to London on two weeks’ leave, which he spent with his mother, Mrs. Durie. He went back to France on the 22nd of December and one week later he was killed.
College Times (Summer 1918) pg. 10-12
More information about Captain William Arthur Peel Durie ’99 can be found at:
“One soldier, three cemeteries and a mother who never stopped plotting” (The Star, May 15, 2014, by Katie Daubs)
“What war memorials say about us” (Maclean’s, November 8, 2014, by Brian Bethune)