The grave of Mark Edward Berton sits in the Belgian portion of Flanders Field. A Belgian man is trying to find Berton’s family (File contributed/ Martijn Wouters)

Belgian man searches for family of fallen First World War soldier from Victoria

Mark Edward Berton attended Victoria High School and has his grave in Flanders Field

A man living in the middle of Flanders Field is looking for the family of a young soldier from Victoria.

Martijn Wouters lives in Belgium in an area full of the graves of foreign soldiers from the First and Second World War.

“There is so much respect for all these war victims,” Wouters said. “They came to fight here, far away from their motherland in a country with which they had no connection.”

Many of these soldiers have no family nearby, so two months ago Wouters decided to join the “Adopt a US Tommy” program, which ask volunteers to look after the graves of fallen soldiers.

Wouters became responsible for the grave of Mark Edward Berton and learned that he’d been born in France, had parents in San Francisco, and attended the Victoria High School in Victoria, B.C.

ALSO READ: CFB Esquimalt nurse selected for national Remembrance Day program

In the First World War, Berton signed up for the Canadian Army. He died on May 30, 1916 at the age of 17.

Since then, it’s unknown if any family members have visited. Now, Wouters is on a mission to find any remaining relatives Berton might have.

“I decided to look for relatives of Mark Berton just to let them know that someone on the other side of the world is visiting the grave of their uncle or grandfather…I think this is a reassuring feeling for them,” Wouters said. “I would like to tell them that he is not forgotten. That we will remember him and that there is a lot of respect from the people who live here for the sacrifice, he and his friends have made.”

ALSO READ: Oak Bay salutes veterans during emotional ceremony marking 100th anniversary of Armistice Day

So far Wouters knows that Berton’s mother and father were Gaston and Jeanne Jacquet Berton, and that they pair lived at 232 10th Avenue in San Francisco, California. Wouters has reached out to the San Francisco city archives and the Victoria city archives, but has yet to hear back.

He also reached out to Victoria High School and was able to attain a portrait of Berton from its archives, but was unable to find any relatives.

Wouters said he feels closer to Berton as he learns more.

“Looking after his grave becomes more and more special. The first time I visited it, it was just a grave like the others with a name on it,” Wouters said. “Now, I have a picture of Mark and I already know a little more about his background, so his grave is no longer like the other graves. You can put a face on the name, it creates a bond.”

Anyone who has information about Mark Edward Berton or his relatives can contact Wouters at martyn.wouters@gmail.com.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

 

Mark Edward Berton was 17 years old when he died during the First World War (File contributed/ Martijn Wouters)

Just Posted

Langford fire douses six fires in two days – five from cigarette butts

‘The world is not a personal ashtray’ says fire chief

BC Coroners Service in early stages of investigation into death of Saanich student

British Columbia recorded 293 deaths of children in 2016, according to 2018 report

No boozing while BC Ferries cruising

Planned June launch for alcohol sales delayed

Saanich school grapples with death of 13-year-old

Teenager died after being struck and pinned by tree while on a field trip near Sooke

Yoga takes over Legislature lawn

International Day of Yoga celebration runs Friday from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

VIDEO: Rare white killer whale captured by drone near Campbell River

The transient orca has been named Tl’uk, a Coast Salish word that means ‘moon.’

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion?

The federal government announced Tuesday its approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline… Continue reading

B.C.-born Carey Price brings young fan to tears at NHL Awards banquet

Anderson Whitehead first met his hockey idol after his mother died of cancer

Nanaimo a prime market for new plane, Air Canada says

Vice-president previews Airbus A220, praises Nanaimo’s growth in passenger numbers

RCMP deploys special unit in Comox Valley to combat organized crime

Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit spends four days targeting organized crime in Courtenay

B.C. temporarily halts resource development to protect caribou

The caribou population in northeastern B.C. has dwindled over the last two decades

Students disciplined after anti-LGBTQ signs posted in Kamloops high school

Vessy Mochikas, SD73’s principal for inclusive education, called incident a learning opportunity

Most Read