Colonel Charles Herman Vandersluys, DSO, VD, was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, on November 4, 1876, to parents Major Joseph Arthur Vandersluys, VD, and Priscilla Vandersluys. Prior to World War One, Charles and his wife Eva Estella lived in Niagara Falls, where Charles had worked for many years as a director of physical training, beginning at the Niagara Falls Collegiate Institute and then throughout the local elementary schools. Since the age of fifteen he had been a member of the 44th Regiment (later known as the Lincoln and Welland).
At the beginning of the war recruits from the 44th Regiment became part of the 4th Battalion, newly formed at Valcartier Camp on September 2, 1914. Vandersluys was appointed and joined them on September 22, sailing for England as part the First Contingent aboard the S.S. Zealand on October 4, 1914. He was appointed as Staff Captain in March of 1915, and in May of 1916 as Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General, 1st Canadian Division. Mentioned in Dispatches on three occasions, Vandersluys received the Distinguished Service Order on June 4, 1917.
Demobilized August 29, 1919, Vandersluys returned to his prewar work in the Niagara Falls school system. Ending the war as a Major, he continued in service with the 44th (Lincoln and Welland) Regiment, eventually rising to the rank of Colonel.
Charles Vandersluys’ brother Lieutenant John Joseph Vandersluys, MC, also served during WWI, and was awarded the Military Cross on February 1, 1919, while with the 3rd Battalion. Their father, Major Joseph Arthur Vandersluys, VD, served throughout the war as paymaster for the Welland Canal Protective Force.
The letter in the collection was written by Vandersluys to his father at the start of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, April 9, 1917.
Colonel Charles Herman Vandersluys’ service record (Serv/Reg# n/a) can be viewed/downloaded in pdf format through Library and Archives Canada.
Major Joseph Arthur Vandersluys’ service record (Serv/Reg# n/a) at Library and Archives Canada.
Lt. John Joseph Vandersluys’ service record (Serv/Reg# n/a) at Library and Archives Canada.
Government records for the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers Decoration/Volunteer Decoration show listed on the same page both Colonel C.H. Vandersluys and his father Major J.A. Vandersluys as VD recipients (Library and Archives Canada). Previously, as a Sergeant during the Fenian Raids, Joseph Vandersluys had twice been awarded the Canada General Service Medal in 1866 and 1870.