Delta filmmaker to tell 'Rich' story

Photograph By Gord Goble

Photograph By Gord Goble

Documentary goes back a century to chronicle First World War soldier

SANDOR GYARMATI / DELTA OPTIMIST 

MARCH 9, 2016 12:00 AM

Producer Kathy Cuthbert and director Cliff Caprani are the driving forces behind Countdown to Sanctuary Wood, which tells the story of Ladner soldier Sidney Rich who was killed during the First World War.  

Local filmmaker Cliff Caprani has embarked on a project about a young Ladner soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice in what was supposed to be the war to end all wars.

Caprani and fellow Delta resident Kathy Cuthbert are working on a documentary about Sidney Rich, who was killed in the second battle of Ypres on June 3, 1916 during the First World War.

Caprani, who has been making films for 15 years and is the director for the project, is fundraising online in the hopes of bringing the documentary, titled Countdown to Sanctuary Wood, to a wider audience.

He said his interest in Rich started when he saw a plaque dedicated to the fallen soldier on the chapel wall at All Saints Anglican Church in Ladner.

"The inscription said he died in a place called Sanctuary Wood and I thought it was very ironic and sad. I started doing dong the research and there was some stuff about him at the museum, which helped... his father wrote a very simple and poignant letter to the church in about 1919 asking, 'Please can I put a plaque on the wall in memory of my son.' That was a lovely piece of written text to find."

The research has been the most fascinating part of the endeavor, Caprani said.

"I have a lovely letter that he (Sidney's father) wrote to his grandmother, 10 days after Sidney died, sort of explaining to her what happened. We got one of those dreadful telegrams, the ones that begin, 'We regret to inform you...,' which must be the worst opening phrase anyone can ever read. All of those things are helping to flesh out the story."

The only son of a pioneer Ladner family, Rich was an early volunteer for the war effort and enlisted in the Motorcycle Scouts. His profession allowed him to qualify for the position of range finder, considered a dangerous one in the army.

When his death was announced in the local paper, he was remembered for his kind and genial manners and as a friend of many.

In addition to the cenotaph at Ladner's Memorial Park, Rich is also memorialized on the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium, a monument dedicated to nearly 60,000 men, many of them killed but their bodies never found.

Caprani said they'll be searching for "the nuts and bolts" of Rich's war record, which is why they'll be using the services of a First World War tour specialist, Stephen Binks, during a filmmaking segment in Europe.

Caprani will travel with Cuthbert, who is the producer, and her two sisters, Barb Wadey and Sue Legault, Rich's grandnieces.

They'll be filming there almost 100 years to the day Rich died.

Binks will walk the group through Rich's war, from training at Shorncliffe to his death in Sanctuary Wood. Over the course of the First World War, approximately 200 men from Delta enlisted and 30 paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The film's release date still has to be worked out, said Caprani. For more information about the film or to make a donation, check sidneyrich.ca.

 

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Rob Severin