John Shiwak’s last resting place in Masnières, France - France Rivet
Newfoundland regiment’s best sniper, some even say, the best in the entire British Army. Unfortunately, John was killed in France in November 1917 at age 28. One hundred years later, there is still confusion about his death. Some say he died on November 20, 1917, others on November 21. Some say he was killed in Masnières, others in Cambrai. Some say he fell when a shell destroyed the bridge he was crossing, others say he was walking along a wall, others say a German sniper eliminated him. What everybody agrees on is that John was buried a few steps from where he passed way. Unfortunately, his remains have never been found. Hence his name being engraved on the Beaumont-Hamel Memorial as one of the NL soldiers without a known grave. In August 2018, I took advantage of my trip to northern France to attend WW1 commemoration ceremonies, to research John Shiwak’s story. I had the privilege of spending a whole afternoon with local WW1 historian Jean-Marie Labre. Together, we retraced John’s last day from where he left that morning, to where he fell, and to where we think he is buried. The purpose of this presentation is to summarize the result of my investigation, to identify the most probable location of John’s resting place, and to give the current status of Mr. Labre’s proposal to put a plaque in John Shiwak’s honour.