By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement
For several years, the City of Oshawa has had a policy on naming new streets, with an emphasis on names paying tribute to Oshawa’s war dead and veterans. These streets, as well as others which relate to World War I or World War II, are denoted with a poppy on the street sign.
If you’re driving around the Oshawa, southeast of the Rossland/Harmony intersection, you’ll encounter Coyston Drive and Court, named after Robert Henry Coyston who died in 1916.
Robert was born in London, England on 4 March 1892, to Arthur and Clara (Wells) Coyston. The family, which included siblings William, George, Alice, Ethel, and Laura, immigrated to Canada in April 1906, settling in Oshawa, Cedardale specifically. On October 30, 1913, he married Ethel Millicent Hudson, and on December 4, 1914, they welcomed their son, Albert Robert. Less than two years after their marriage, Robert enlisted into the military; his attestation papers are dated 12 June 1915, and they reveal that Robert had previous experience, serving for eight years with the militia. His attestation papers also tell us that he stood at 5 feet 7 inches in height, had a medium complexion, grey eyes, and dark hair.
Robert arrived in France on Mar 16, 1916, serving with the 13th Battalion, Royal Highlanders of Canada. By all appearances, he was seeing success with the army, being promoted to sergeant on July 19, 1916. A few short months later, Robert went missing in action during the Battle of Courcellette on October 8, 1916; he was later declared ‘Killed in Action.’ His wife received a memorial plaque and scroll, and his mother received a Memorial Cross.
After the end of WWI, the Adanac Military Cemetery was established in Miraumont, Departement de la Somme, Picardie, France, the name taken from spelling Canada backwards; as per the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, “graves were brought in from the Canadian battlefields around Courcelette and small cemeteries surrounding Miraumont,” and this is where Robert is laid to rest.
Robert Henry Coyston was one of 134 Oshawa citizens who went overseas in the First World War who never made it home. His name is included on the monument in Memorial Park. He was one of over 60,000 Canadians who were killed during the war.
This November 11 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and is commemorated as Remembrance Day in Canada and other Commonwealth Nations. May we always remember the sacrifices made by those who came before us.