Belgian Soldier enlists in 123rd Battalion CEF to Avenge Kin
Wednesday, April 05, 1916
Transcribed by: M. I. Pirie
Pte. Julius Devolder enlisted in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1915 with the 123rd Battalion, and then enlisted again in Toronto in 1916 with the 238th Forestry Battalion. He was born in Muelebeke, West Flanders, Belgium.
TO AVENGE HIS KIN
Belgian Soldier's Whole Family Almost Wiped Out - He Enlists Here.
If the strong right arm of Pte. Julius Devolder, of the 123rd Battalion, ever comes within smiting distance of the Germans only the death which they have meted out to others of his countrymen will stay its power. For the blood of a slaughtered Belgian household--his own kith and kin--cries out for vengeance, and his is the self-appointed task to exact an eye for every eye and a tooth for every tooth.
Of the former eleven members of his father's household only himself and one sister survive. The other nine--his aged parents themselves, three sisters and four brothers--were slain in the German invasion of his country. The father and mother and the three sisters, Mary, ?odel, and Augusta, died together in the one house at Langemarck, destroyed by a German shell. Two of the brothers, Arthur and Emmeul, soldiers, both died in a bayonet fight against their foes at Ypres. The other two, Gust and Frank, also soldiers, fell at Antwerp.
Word of these happenings came to Julius Devolder at Chicago in a letter from a Belgian cousin. Julius had left home twelve years before, a youth of 18, to make his way in the new world. He secured employment as a carpenter and rapidly advanced to the position of foreman. Five years ago he paid a return visit to the home of his childhood. It was the last time he ever saw it or the friends who lived there. Coming back to America, he followed his trade and lived with a married sister, Emma, in Chicago, until the outbreak of war. Then came his cousin's letter. The cousin is himself a soldier. At the battle of Langemarck his right arm was shot away as he crawled through the maelstrom of firre toward the French lines. At the same time and place his two parents also were killed in their home by shell fire.
Swearing an oath of vengeance against the slayers of his kin and countrymen, Julius Devolder, now a man of thirty, gave up his position, bade his sister good-bye, and came post haste to Canada to enlist, as the readiest and most effectual means of getting face to face with his enemies. Hence he is with the 123rd, the only Belgian serving with a Toronto Battalion, it is believed, and impatiently awaiting the day when his unit will go to the battle front.
Of his dead relatives he has not even a picture other than the pictures of memory. The only family group brought to America is in the possession of his sister, and it is so priceless now that they would scarcely dare trust it to the mails. At the request of his many friends here he had his own picture taken only a few days ago. It may some day be a treasured memento, too, for Pte. Devolder says that if only he can accomplish the purpose of his going, he will die content by the graves of his countrymen.
The original article included the spelling as Devolgar, however, the attestation uses Devolder.