Torn apart by war

Pictured are Beatrice Lick and Pte. Thomas P. Shearer.

This week’s edition of the Leader features two stories of how one local family was touched by the First World War.

The first story tells of Pte. Thomas P. Shearer, a Davidson resident who died in action at Passchendaele, Belgium on Oct. 30, 1917, one hundred years ago last week.

Among those he left behind was Beatrice Lick (1892-1987), a schoolteacher in Davidson to whom he had proposed marriage. Included in this week’s paper is a letter written by Beatrice to her aunt in Winnipeg, shortly after receiving the news of Thomas’s death.

The second story is about Cecil Lick (1895-1968), who served overseas during the war. He survived and returned home to farm in the Davidson area, but carried the psychological and physical trauma of the war for the rest of his life.

Both stories were submitted to the paper by Donna Longley of Victoria, B.C., who is the great-niece of both Cecil Lick and Beatrice Lick.

We thank Donna and her family for their contributions and trust that our readers will appreciate these personal stories of the war’s impact. 

Submitted by Donna Longley

One hundred years ago, Thomas Pitcairn Shearer, a 23-year-old resident of Davidson, Sask., was killed in action in the muddy trenches of Passchendaele, on Oct. 30, 1917. 

Pte. Thomas Shearer, Regiment No. 114095, was born Dec. 19, 1893, in Linlithgowshire, Scotland and immigrated to Canada as a young man.  While in Scotland, Thomas served for three years with the Sixth Black Watch (Royal Highlanders), a militia based in Perth, stationed to defend the Scottish coastal area.

Thomas moved to Canada and landed employment with the Royal Bank in Winnipeg. Later he was transferred as a bank clerk to the Davidson, Sask., branch. While working in Davidson, he met a young teacher, Beatrice Lick. 

Her parents, William and Mary Jane Lick, farmed in the Davidson area and had four children: Beatrice, Cecil, Florence and Robert. 

Beatrice was bright and obtained her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Toronto. She enjoyed teaching and “Tommy” Shearer was her brown-eyed beau. Thomas proposed marriage to Beatrice before he left for Europe, but she could not decide whether or not to marry him at that time. 

Pte. Thomas enlisted in the Canadian military in Saskatoon at the age of 21 in June of 1915, to eventually become a member of the Fifth Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles Quebec Regiment. At 23 years old he was bravely present at Vimy Ridge, Ypres and Passchendaele, where he was ultimately killed in action. 

Thomas’s tragic death is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Leper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, which bears the names of 55,000 men who were lost without trace during the defense of the Ypres Salient in the First World War.   

Beatrice Lick lived from 1892 to 1987 and never married following Thomas’s death. During her long career, she taught in rural schools throughout Saskatchewan and was considered the “best teacher” by her students.

Today, an annual $2,000 scholarship is offered in her name through the University of Saskatchewan by “the friends of the late Beatrice Z. Lick,” for studies in English language and literature. Beatrice’s descendants kept the touching letter she wrote to her Aunt Emily in Winnipeg, after receiving word that her beau, Thomas Shearer, was killed in action at Passchendaele. 

To read Emily’s letter as well as the story of Cecil Lick, see the Nov. 6 edition of The Davidson Leader, or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.

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