PRIVATE REGINALD GEORGE BOX
1ST OCTOBER 1918 AGE 24
BURIED: SANCOURT BRITISH CEMETERY, FRANCE
Private Box's inscription comes from a patriotic Canadian song that has become Canada's national anthem and is the source of the Canadian Army's motto - Vigilamus pro te: we stand on guard for thee. It was neither of these things when Private Box's father, William Box, chose it.
Originally written in 1880, in French, the words were translated into English several times before Robert Stanley Weir's version, which he wrote in 1908, was settled on. In 1939 it became de facto Canada's national anthem but was only officially adopted in 1980. Weir himself made various amendments to his original version and changes continue to be suggested and made. This is a version that Reginald Box would have recognised:
Our home and native land.
True patriot love in all thy sons command
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
We stand on guard, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, Glorious and free.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
It's an interesting choice of inscription for someone who was born in England and didn't go to Canada until after 1911 when the census showed him, aged 16, as a 'farm pupil' on a farm in Dymock, Gloucestershire. Box's father, William Box, a jeweller and silversmith in Gloucester, England chose it. Both his sons had gone to Canada and both of them served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force but his eldest son, Charles Henry Box, returned to England before the end of the war having been wounded. It may have been him who influenced his father's choice
Reginald Box served with the 16th Battalion Canadian Infantry and was killed on 1 October 1918 in the capture of the village of Sancourt during the battle for the Canal du Nord.
In 1921 Charles Henry Box and his wife had a son who they names Reginald in memory of Charles' brother.