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Thursday, June 26, 2014

SAPPER HUGHIE NORVAL POWLESS #690315, MOHAWK ABORIGINAL

SAPPER HUGH NORVAL POWLESS #690315
 
For tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousand of volunteer soldiers enrolled in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First War, they did not partake in bloody battles, suffer live ending gun shot wounds, become maimed for life or die of some fatal disease. The vast majority volunteered to serve their term, employed in a wide variety of non-infantry/artillery Canadian Corps and returned to Canada to restart lives and raise families. So it was with my topic of this blog, Hughie Norval Powless, a Canadian-born Mohawk native who left school at the age of 15, married and had a son by the age of 21, while after the war providing for his family the best he could with a variety of jobs and addresses. What made Hugh a little different than most others and possibly to ensure consistent income, he enlisted  in World War II. No doubt this action was also due to Hughie's proud Mohawk warrior heritage.

The World War One and Two medals issued to H.N.Powless
So when I found the grimy and tattered grouping of six medals on Ebay several months ago covering two World Wars, named to a Powless family member, I had no idea that either I would be taking on such an interesting story or that in fact, these medals had been issued to a Canadian Mohawk soldier. I was familiar with the name from my youthful short lived lacrosse career. After a short research period I found enough information on the man to confirm my suspicions that indeed this fine grouping of six military medals (2 -WW I; 4 - WWII) over two wars was indeed issued to Hugh Norval Powless, a native of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, west of the town of Deseronto on Ontario's Bay of Quinte. Nor would I know that Hughie's World War II service would turn out to be more interesting than his World War I service.
 
Hughie Powless Canadian Army (Active) 1939
Hugh Powless was born on January 5, 1896 on the Tyendinaga Reserve to parents John Powless and Margaret (Maggie) Brant, one of at least six children. The family in the 1901 census are shown as living on a farm on the reserve however 10 years later in the 1911 Census they are alone with the children gone. Apparently, Hugh Powless was sent to Six Nations to attend the Mohawk Institute in what is now the Woodland Cultural Centre. His name is inscribed on the Centre's Memorial Plaque (along with member of the Lickers' Family, whom I have blogged previously) Hugh Powless later shows up as living in Hamilton, ON, and serving in the 13th Regiment (RHLI). By Hughie's attestation in 1916 to the 173rd (Highlanders) Battalion, he is working as a carpenter and claims three years service with the 13rd Royal Highlanders Light Infantry. However Hughie's Casualty Form states that he was transferred to the 215th Battalion before leaving Canada to "close out the Regiment". Shortly before departing Canada, Hugh Powless married Louisa (Lula) Ethel English, daughter of John English and Ester Ethel Sherry, living in Jordan Harbour, west of Hamilton. Before his departure from Canada, son Francis Norval Powless had been born. Hughie embarked Canada April 28, 1917, arriving England May 7, 1917 being assigned to the 2nd Canadian Reserve Battalion in East Sandling. Two weeks later our man was again transferred this time to the 125th Canadian Infantry Battalion in Witley. His record jumps to March 15, 1918 at which time Hughie was sent to the Canadian Railway Troops Depot in Purfleet. One week later, he was assigned to the 7th Battalion, C.R.T. in the field in France April 4, 1918. Sapper Powless spent several of weeks hospitalized with pneumonia July 1918 and treated two weeks for "extreme" diarrhoea September 1918 which seemed to be an ongoing concern.  By January 1, 1919, Hughie had been posted to the C.R.T. Demobilization Depot in Knotty Ash (Liverpool) for return to Canada on the HMT Scotian, St. John, NB ultimately being discharged May 22, 1919 as "medically unfit" and receiving out patient treatment in Hamilton.  For his service in World War I, H.N. Powless received both the Canadian Victory medal and the British War Medal.

Present-day Woodland Cultural Centre previously the infamous
Mohawk Institute, 1828-1970
The between war years were difficult for the Powless family. At various times, Hughie work at a number of jobs, including quarry labourer, truck driver, teamster, metal riveter, and chauffeur. Lula and Hughie had three more children and changed addresses frequently. His militia service guaranteed a small source of regular income. When war was declared, 44 year old Hughie Norval Powless mobilized with his city's Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada August 26, 1939. Promoted in the Regiment to rank of Corporal September 28, 1944 he formally attested to the Canadian Active Service Force  as B-88317 on December 11, 1939, with Category "A". Here is where Hughie's service get particularly interesting. For this same day he was assigned to #2 District Depot in Toronto, two days later be transferred to 1st Petrol Company (1st Canadian Division).Six days later, Private Hugh Norval Powless embarked with his unit from the Port of Halifax for England. Hugh had returned to the land he had visited last +20 years ago in another war, this time with the 1st Brigade Group, 1st Canadian Infantry Division. Most of Hughie's time was spent training. He was briefly hospitalized Connaught Hospital Aldershot in February and qualified as a Class III driver.


Hughie and Lulu Powless
 
Private Powless's record shows that June 3, 1940 he embarked Plymouth, England for Brest, Brittany, France. He disembarked the next day in Brest.The same day he re-embarked in Brest.. On June 16, 1940 he dis-embarked in Plymouth. This abnormal sequence of events was in fact the ill-fated reaction by Great Britain and a 2nd British Expeditionary Force to counter the Germany invasion of France in the south of the country after the original British Expeditionary Force was evacuated at Dunkirk.  It included the Canadian 1st Infantry division and Powless's 1st Brigade Canadian Group which had landed in Brittany and was immediately withdrawn because of Germany's rapid advance in France. The entire division never actually made it to France, only individual units. The Canadian Brigade was forced to abandon most of it's vehicles, but it was able to save all it's artillery. The withdrawal action was called Operation Ariel and can be read in more detail HERE. The entire operation and background involving the 1st Canadian Infantry Division and their actual and intended actions on the Continental in 1940 can be read in great detail in Six Years of War, Colonel C.P.Stacy, Queen's Printer, 1955, Ottawa. Hughie continued training in the UK with the 1st Division. He was attached to the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade November 16 and January 1-9 was granted privilege leave in the UK. On return he was assigned to 1st Canadian Petrol Park. His record shows being assigned to "Driver & Maintenance Camp", UK May 1941 while in July 1941 he was sent to the Canadian Army Service Corps holding unit in Bordon with an "E" category at his own request in order to facilitate a return to Canada in order to serve his military obligations closer to home. Hughie headed home in August and was attached to duty as an Officer's Mess waiter at the Canadian Army Training School in Hamilton, in order to be closer to his young family. However Private Powless was involved in a Court of Inquiry June 1942 in which he fell breaking his leg while "running to catch a streetcar home while on a pass after work at 23:00". It appears Hughie was found at fault as he was subject to repaying $51.93 for cost of hospitalization, his pay; allowances while off work and his dependants' allowance. He continued in this service until his discharge from the Canadian Army (Active) on October 3, 1942 due to being "unable to meet the required military physical standards".

For his service in World War II, Hugh Norval Powless received: the Canadian War Medal 1939-1945;  Canadian Defence Medal; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with clasp; and for active service on the Continent, the campaign medal 1939-45 Star. After the war Hughie and family continued to live in Hamilton on York Street, working as a truck driver (1949 age 53) He is later show as living on both Rebbecca St. (1963 age 67) and Park St. (1972 age 75). However the story of Hugh Norval Powless seems to end January 1978 with his death in Pomona, Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A. Trish Rae, researcher at Tyendinaga advises that "Hughie Norval Powles, wife Lulu Ethel and children Francis Norval and Healthena enfranchised as a family 27th July, 1922. Enfranchised files are restricted so I don't have the file itself. I have the family on a summary list of enfranchisements for MBQ".

At this point I need to comment once more on the interest factor in completing this blog. In researching the founding of Tyendinaga and Six Nations, I found myself reading volumes on Aboriginal roles during the American War of Independence, War of 1812 and subsequent uprisings. Books and papers on Joseph Brant, Mohawk families, Canadian Army in WWII and the settlement of Southern Ontario were consulted, the net result increasing my knowledge factor of Canadian History substantially.

As well I need to warmly thank and express my appreciation to the following people for their knowledge and contributions: Tammy Martin, Volunteer Researcher at Woodland Cultural Centre; Amanda Hill, Archivist, Deseranto Archives; Paula Whitlow, Museum Director, Woodland Cultural Centre; Trish Rae, researcher at Tyendinaga.

 
 


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

BRAVE MOHAWKS IN THE 3RD (TORONTO REGIMENT) BATTALION

THE THREE THOMAS BROTHERS OF SIX NATIONS


Six Nations Honour Roll, Brant County


Ontario Death Certificate Sherman Thomas



















Because of my previous blog on Private Adam Sandy, a volunteer researcher at the Six Nation's Woodland Cultural Centre by the name of Tammy Martin contacted me to inquire if she could obtain a copy of his service file as well as his attestation paper (which was not on-line). In the course of communicating she mentioned that she was researching the World War One soldiers on the Six Nations War Memorial in Ohsweken, Ontario and was having difficulty in identifying five of them beside Private Sandy: they were George Peters; Hiram Martin; Wm W. Johnson; Sherman Thomas and James Wilson. I selected one of the names as being slightly familiar and was able to identify Sherman Thomas as Private William Sherman Thomas #9255, an original member of the 3rd Battalion having attested September 23, 1914 in Valcatier and a pre-war member of the 2nd Regiment Queen's Own Rifles militia. His attestation paper is  located here. However in looking at his attestation paper and service record, there is no notation whatsoever to say that William Sherman Thomas is a Mohawk native born and raised on the Six Nations Reserve. Furthermore his date of birth from a number of sources has been proven to be October 1897 thereby making him all of 17 years old when he enlisted. The record of Sherman is unremarkable save for a couple of minor disciplines in Bustard Camp; overstaying a pass by 12 hours 03/11/1914 and being absent from a morning parade 05/02/1915 before the departure for France.Sherman was assigned to "A" Company and therefore somewhat immune to the disaster awaiting the battalion April 22-24, 1915 at St. Julien, 2nd battle of Ypres. However the young man's luck was to run out May 28, 1915 at the Battle of Festubert.

According to Norm Christie in his book Other Canadian Battlefields of the Great War, CEF Books, Ottawa, 2007, The Battle of Festubert, May 15th to May 25th, 1915 can be described as follows:

"It was one of a series of battles fought by the British Army in 1915 (the others were Neuve Chapelle and Aubers Ridge) to assist the French Offensives north of Arras.It was Canada's first big action after losing 6,000 men in the 2nd Battle of Ypres. The newly replenished Canadian battalions (including of course, the 3rd Battalion) has a supporting role to the main British and Indian assaults.After the first day of fighting they were ordered to attack over very difficult terrain in the face of superior German machine-gun and artillery fire.Remarkably they managed to move the line forward and achieve what was asked of them at the cost of 2,500 casualties." William Sherman Thomas was one of these casualties."

Here Private Thomas received a very severe gun shot wound to his right eye. He was admitted immediately to the 4th General Hospital in Versailles. The official Medical Report reads "This mas was struck in the eye on May 28th,1915 while in the trenches at Festubert. He was brought back to hospital and on June 9, 1915 at Queen Mary's Military Hospital, Whalley, it was found necessary to excise the eyeball". Subsequently a medical board obviously found Sherman Thomas "unfit for further duty".He was struck off strength for discharge in Canada by the Pensions Board returning to his homeland on the S.S. Scandinavian. He was officially discharge at the Discharge Depot in Quebec December 29, 1915, intended residence as 1104 Dufferin Street, Toronto, occupation as a clerk. 

Veteran's Death Card submitted by Arnie Kay
Somewhere between the beginning of 1916 and July 1917, Sherman Thomas gained employment as an Immigration Officer on the ferry boat operating between Buffalo, New York and Fort Erie, Ontario. Following are newpapers account of his demise kindly submitted by Brantford historian and CEFSG member Geoffrey Moyer:
Brantford Expositor July 17, 1917
Thomas, William Sherman (9255) 
Indian Veteran Was Laid to Rest – William Sherman Thomas Accidentally Drowned After Return
The funeral took place yesterday afternoon of William Sherman Thomas, a Brant County Indian, who was recently invalided home from the front and met his death by drowning about a week ago. Thomas went overseas with the first contingent. He lost an eye at the front and was invalided home. Since his return he was employed as an immigration inspector at Fort Erie and was drowned a week ago today. The fatal accident occurred while he was boating, he having lost his balance. The funeral yesterday was from Oakland to the Ohsweken Baptist Church. The 37th Battalion band participated in the last sad ceremony. Rev. M. Siple, pastor of the Baptist Church, conducted the service and he was assisted by Rev. Mr. Rodgers of the Oakland Methodist Church. The funeral was very largely attended. Charles Thomas, a brother of the deceased hero, who was only 19 years of age was killed in action at the front. 

Brantford Expositor July 19, 1917
Thomas, William Sherman (9255) 
On Monday afternoon the funeral services of the late Pte. Sherman Thomas, whose death occurred by accident at Fort Erie last week, were conducted from the home of his parents here and were attended by a large number of sympathizing friends. Soon after the outbreak of war Sherman and another brother both having graduated from a commercial course at college in Toronto, enlisted for their country’s defense. A few months ago the parents and family received the sad message that one of their boys had been killed in action, while Sherman, had been wounded, having lost one eye. After being discharged from the convalescent hospital in France he was returned home to Canada and was appointed immigration officer on the Buffalo-Fort Erie ferry. Since he was wounded he has been subject to heart trouble, and it is supposed while in a faint overbalanced over the rail, and after several days’ search his body was recovered. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas and family have the heart-felt sympathy of the entire neighbourhood in their double grief. The services were conducted by his former pastor, Rev. Mr. Robertson of Toronto, assisted by Rev. R. Rogers. Interment being made in the family plot of Ohsweken cemetery.
 
Brantford Expositor July 19, 1917
Thomas, William Sherman (9255) 
Sherman Thomas formerly of Toronto, drowned at Fort Erie, was wounded at the front the first year of the war. He lost an eye and was invalided home. He was appointed inspector of immigration at Fort Erie. One brother, Charlie, was killed in France, and another one is still at the front. So far, the Six Nations has lost to date about ten men since the war started. 

Equally interesting is that that Sherman joined the QOR draft to Valcartier August 1914 with older brother (b.1895) Charles Arthur Thomas #9254, who likewise was living and working in Toronto but both being native Mohawks born on the Six Nations Reserve. Both were assigned to #1 Company and were Queen's Own Rifles militiamen following the heritage of their brave Mohawk ancestry. However, Charlie, whose attestation can be found here, was even more unfortunate than his younger brother. For on June 8, 1916 during the Battle of Mount Sorrel, Charlie Thomas was killed in the trenches. Like his kid brother, Charlie had been deprived of one day's pay for overstaying his leave pass on November 3, 1914. I have a feeling the brothers were very close and that Charlie was looking out for Sherman at all times. Other than admission to 1st Canadian Field Hospital for a few days in June 1916 for defective teeth, Charlie seems to have survived his brother's injury and the 1915 battles rather well. He was granted 7 days leave in the field November 8,1915. On return he was attached to 1st. Canadian Infantry Brigade Machine Gun School returning to his unit December 4, 1915. The next notation on his Active Service-Casualty Form reads "Killed In Action about 2:30 p.m. by a shell June 8, 1916". Unlike many of his comrades, Charlie's body was recovered and identified - he lies to this day in Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, Belgium. His page on the Veteran Affairs Canada Virtual War Memorial can be found here.

Pte. Charlie Thomas #9254, 3rd Battalion
Charlie and Sherman were sons of Elias and Charlotte Thomas, who in the 1901 Canadian Census are to be found farming with their young family on the Six Nations Reserve, Tuscarora Township, south of Brantford, Ontario. However in the 1911 Census they have moved to Townsend Township, Norfolk County, near the village of Scotland, Ontario. At this time their children were listed as: James F.; Norman; Olive; Wellington; Charlie and Sherman. It is notable as well that later, possibly in 1919, family members  Elias, Norman, Francis and Wellington had applied for Enfranchisement. Another son, Joseph Wellington Thomas, enlisted in Winnipeg May 1916 while working as a "farmer" into the 221st Battalion with service number 288616 here, however it is not believed that he made it overseas. Wellington succumbed to tuberculosis February 23, 1923 and like younger brother, William Sherman, is buried in a family plot at Oshweken Baptist Church Cemetery. The remaining family are buried in the Scotland (Oakland) Cemetery, Oakland Township. Brant County.

Kim Fotheringham has kindly added the following genealogical information:
Also for Thomas I had a look at Joseph Wellington Thomas (or Wellington Thomas). This is the brother who was the death informant for Sherman, he signed up in Winnipeg survived the war only to die of TB in 1923. Sister Olive was the death informant for him and she says he’s buried in Oakland so I had a look there and in Oakland Cemetery: 
Photo by Tammy Martin
Thomas, Eliza (Car), d. 18 Jun 1936, 86 yrs, w/o Squire Thomas
Thomas, Father, b. 1856, d. 1928 (This is Elias – Kim)
Thomas, Frances, b. 1891, death date not cut (Frances Olive, sister of Wm Sherman – she married a man named Armstrong but was widowed by 1950, she may be buried with her husband in T.O. – Kim)
Thomas, Joe, b. 1926, d. 1944
Thomas, Mother, b. 1857, d. 1924 (This is Charlotte – Kim)
Thomas, Norman, b. 1887, d. 1961 (Brother of Wm Sherman - Kim)
Thomas, Squire, d. 18 Apr 1903, 66 yrs, h/o Eliza Thomas (Car)
Thomas, Wellington, b. 1894, d. 1923 (This is brother Joseph Wellington brother of Wm Sherman, died of TB - Kim)
*EDIT*
According to Tammy Martin, Joseph Wellington Thomas died February 27, 1922 and there was another Thomas son, Lawrence, born 1880 and died 1899.

I feel that in light of the newspaper reports claiming Sherman's drowning was due to fainting from heart problems related to his service and the fact that the person or persons responsible for the information contained thereon the Six Nations Memorial plaque including "Sherman Thomas" on the plaque in 1919 for the unveiling by the Prince of Wales that this man should be considered for inclusion in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database and on the Veteran Affairs Canada Virtual War Memorial.

There is no question that young William Sherman Thomas would have been suffering from what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Fighting in the trenches at the tender age of 17, coming from mainly a rural environment and surviving through three of the most intensive battles the Canadian 1st  Division was to meet in the First World War plus of course, losing an eye and then learning of the violent death of his beloved big brother would have been devastating! The newspaper reports that Sherman Thomas was boating and that his body was not found for several days which would indicate that there were no witnesses. Therefore it is entirely possible that the young man took his own life while trying to deal with his demons. Regardless of how he drowned, most definitely his death by drowning was directly related to his service in the war. His death at his own hand would have been no different that the death at their own hands that is occurring in the ranks of our returning young men today from Afghanistan. He should be recognized by the VAC Virtual Memorial and the CWGC.

This blog would not have been possible without the kind assistance of Kim Fotheringham, Tammy Martin, Geoffrey Moyer, Arnie Kay and Gary Switzer - Truly a team effort!
Unfortunately we have not been able to locate a photograph of any of the Thomas family.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

SIX NATIONS IROQUOIS LICKERS FAMILY


THE SIX NATIONS FAMILY OF MRS. ELIJAH LICKERS 



Grimsby (Ontario) War Memorial with Lickers
Due to the kindness of Chris Wright of the CEF Study Group Forum and Michael Johnson, British Medals Forum, I was able to recently acquire the British War Medal of Joseph Lickers, #210512. Joseph had enlisted in the 98th Battalion in Welland, ON on November 5, 1915 giving his birth date as June 9, 1881 with a next of kin as wife Emma Jane. Eventually Joseph and Emma Jane Davis had six children: Abraham; Gordon; Leo, Isabella; Edward and Lyall. Present address at the time of enlistment was Jordan Station listing his occupational as "labourer" but other sources have him as a fruit farm worker in Grimsby. Most importantly Joseph was born in Brant County, Ontario with further research proving him as a member of a well-known  Six Nations famous Iroquois fighting family. He gave his previous military experience as 7 seasons with the 37th Haldimand Rifles and currently with the 44th Regiment. Private Joseph Lickers accompanied the 98th (Lincoln and Welland) Battalion when they departed Canada July 8, 1916 on the S.S. Lapland bound for England arriving July25.
Private Wilfred Lickers and unknown women
After a number of months training, the 98th Battalion was broken up for reinforcements for Central Ontario battalions therefore Private Joseph Lickers was sent to the 58th Battalion, in the field in France on September 9, 1916. He was diagnosed class P.B.(Permanent Base) with flat feet that same day C.B.D. arriving 58th Battalion September 27 while the unit was fighting in the Somme. On October 8 Private Lickers was listed as "Missing In Action" but the Casualty Form has him as having been admitted to #3 Canadian Stationary Hospital with a serious gun shot wound to the right thigh and leg on October 10. Transferred that same day on the H.S. Austrian to C.C.A.C. Shoreham-on-the-Sea thence Whitchurch War Hospital, Glamarganshire. After spending some months hospitalized in the Ontario Military Hospital, Orpington, Private Lickers was invalided to Canada on the H.S. Araguaya June 11, 1917 finally ending up in "D" unit M.H.C.C. which is a Toronto hospital located on or near college Street for further treatment being discharged in Toronto January 16, 1918 as unfit. His service record claims his death as occurring November 21, 1952.

Mrs. Elijah Lickers, mother of 22 children
Where this story becomes even more interesting however is with the Licker Family, particularly Joseph's mother Mrs. Elijah Lickers.

"Another well-known old Iroquois fighting family, the Bearfoot Onondagas, has a distinguished war record. The present tribal head of this family or clan, under the ancient system of maternal descent, still extant among the Iroquois, is Mrs. Elijah Lickers. Four of her sons, two grandsons, and a son-in-law enlisted, and of these a son and a grandson were killed in action. One of this family went overseas with the original 48th Highlanders of Toronto (15th Battalion), and was the first Indian to join a Highland battalion. He was taken prisoner on April 23, 1915, and remained in Germany until the cessation of hostilities". All About Canada, The Canadian Indians and the Great World War, www.canada.yodelout.com

Lickers, Will Foster;27220; Pte;15th Bn; POW Apr.22-24/15;Released Oct.4/18; died Tor Apr.18/38 pneu , (age 28) Guests of the Kaiser, Prisoners-of-War of the CEF 1915-1918 Edward. H. Wigney.

Lickers William, #210561, age 21, 58th Battalion (98th Battalion), KI.A. Oct.8, 1916, buried ADANAC Military Cemetery, Somme, France, Son of Ellen Harriett John (formerly Lickers), and the late Elijah Lickers.

Lickers, Thomas, #452459, age 23, 2nd Battalion (58th Battalion), K.I.A. April 26, 1916, Menin Gate (Ypres) Memorial, France.

Lickers, Percy Roy, #739242, age 24, 107th Pioneers (114th Battalion), K.I.A. August 7, 1917, Bully-Grenay C.C., British Extension, France. Husband of Edna Maud Lickers.

Lickers, George, #1288769, age 20, C.E.Depot, Rejected because of Lupus and T.B. Mother Mrs. Harriet John.

Lickers, Wilfred, #739240, age 20, 3rd C.E.Battalion (114th Battalion 107th Battalion Pioneers). Father is George Lickers (wages to Indian Guardian)

Lickers, David Andy, #211087, age 24, 98th Battalion. Mother is Mrs. Harriet J. Lickers.
Adams, George, #210061, age 28, 98th Battalion, Wife is Rachel Lickers.

Private Percy Roy Lickers
 
It is not my intent nor the topic of this blog to explore early Canadian history, British-American conflicts or First Nation history, nevertheless it is the obligation of every Canadian to study these subjects. Nevertheless most of the Six Nations (Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk, Tuscaroras and Cayuga tribes) comprising the Iroquois Nation of Northern New York State were loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolutionary War. With the Americans victory and establishment of the Republic in 1776, British Loyalists and loyal Iroquois, led by Mohawk warrior leader and statesman, Joseph Brant, fled for the Niagara Frontier and the Canadian border. The Governor of Canada by 1778 was Sir General Frederick Haldimand  who was instrumental, after convincing by Joseph Brant, in agreeing to compensation to the loyal the Six Nations tribes. According, a tract of land was granted on the Bay of Quinte, on the north shore of Lake Ontario called Tyendinaga where many loyal Mohawks settled. Brant again approached Haldimand for further concessions who gave a formal grant in the name of the Crown of some 1200 square miles on the Grand River, Ontario. In due course, the town of Brantford was founded (named after the Chief) which became the headquarters of the dominant Mohawks. Shortly after the grant was formalized, loyal Six Nations families from New York began settlement in the agreed 6 mile wide border along the length of the Grand River from origin to it's mouth.

The Lickers Family, an Onondaga first family were one of these originals settlers with the Haldimand Proclamation. Onakarondoh Elijah Vickers (Ona-ka-ron-doh or Elijah Vickers) born about 1760 was the first family member I found. He may have been named after a prominent Anglican pastor with the name changed to Lickers by clerical error. Elijah married Lydia Lewis who in Onondaga tradition was "Clan Mother" in 1810. Elijah as well as a George Vickers fought in the War of 1812 for the British. Two Vickers warriors, Abraham and John, fought in the Patriot Rebellion of 1837-8. So the family's military tradition does not run shallow.Today approximately 40 family members live on or in proximity to the Six Nations Reserve. A couple of members applied for Veterans Land Grants nearby. Family patriarch Elijah Lickers was born in 1835 dying in 1910. He was the father of Joseph Lickers while marrying three times: wives Lydia Cornelius; Rachel Delaware and Ellen Harriet Owens, Joseph's mother. Ellen Harriet Owens, the woman in the photograph, was married at least twice, to Elijah Lickers and Alpheus. This information could help account for the 22 children claimed by Harriet, as some may not have been hers although I have a record of her having 14 with Elijah Lickers including Joseph, William, George, and David from the above list. At least one family member served in World War Two.

Tammy Martin has kindly sent me a chart of the Roll of honour located in the Chapel of the Mohawk Institute of the young men that attended that Anglican boarding school. On it are the names: Private Foster Lickers; Private George Lickers; Private Joseph Lickers; Private Thomas Lickers (KIA); and Private William Lickers (KIA). As well is the name Private Hugh Powless, the subject of a future blog and a Mohawk born in Tyendinaga, Bay of Quinte. The former Mohawk Institute now houses the Woodland Cultural Centre.

I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Tammy Martin a volunteer researcher for the Woodland Cultural Centre www.woodland-centre.on.ca as well as Marika Pirie for her Toronto Star photograph and the author ? of the Lickers Family Tree www.weeweequebec.tripod.com for genealogy family information.


 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

3RD BATTALION DURING THE 2ND BATTLE OF PASSCHENDAELE, OCT.26 - NOV.10, 1917

 
The 3rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force and the 2nd Battle of Passchendaele, October 26 - November 10, 1917
 The word Passchendaele invokes a feeling of helplessness, terror, horror, mud – all the vulgarities of war – still 100 years after the battle. The British Army commenced a major offensive the Germans at the end of July 1917. The goal was to break the German grip on the Ypres Salient and the Channel posts by seizing the Bellevue Spur and the village of Passchendaele, the village and its surrounding countryside controlling the heights overlooking Ypres. Initially the British attacks met with some success capturing ground lost in 1915. However the attacks soon ground to a stop and by August rains came with the low-lying countryside becoming waterlogged. The villages of Langemarck and St. Julien were recaptured August 16 however between July 31 and August 31, the British suffered 70,800 casualties. British and Anzac attacks were renewed in September and October resulting in the capture of Polygon Wood, Gravenstafel, Poelcapelle and Zonnebeke however by October’s end all had been lost, with the exception of Poelcapelle, However in the worsening weather, the British High Command called in the Canadian Corps led by Sir Arthur Currie, to achieve success where others had failed AGAIN!
The Canadian Corps headed by Currie, after intensive planning, were to attack in three waves each with objectives on October 26, October 30 and November 30.  The plan included an upgraded transportation system, artillery placing and extensive communications, all of which were required to be in place prior to any attacks. The rain and resultant mud were omnipresent however everything had to be in place prior to any attacks By October 26 all systems were go with the Canadian Corps ready to go over the top with the overall objective being the Passchendaele Ridge. The 3rd Canadian Division would attack the Bellveue Spur directly, south of the morass of the Ravebeek River, the 4th Canadian Division would attack up the Passchendaele Spur towards the village. In the later stages the 1st Canadian Division would replace the 3rd Division while the 2nd would replace the 4th.  By October 30, the 4th Division had success on the Ridge however the 3rd Division was short of it’s goal and had paid a heavy price. However the Passchendaele Ridge was now under Canadian control.

SECRET ARTILLERY MAP FOR PASSCHENDAELE
NOVEMBER 6, 1917
 The 1st Canadian Division entered the fray early on November 6 proceeding farther along the Bellevue Spur with Passchendaele Village within their grasp. The 1st and 2nd Battalions captured Mosselmarkt and the small ridge north of the village. Now the 3rd Battalion was assigned the northern flank and the capture of a number of German strong points including Vine Cottage.
The 3rd Battalion left six officers and 108 other ranks out of the battle and with the transport lines. On the morning of November 4 “C” and “D” Companies were positioned in the Wurst area with “A” And “B”Companies taking their place when “C” and “D” moved into the line that evening. Battalion HQ and First Aid station was positioned at Kronprinz Farm. Most of the low lying land was either under water or covered deep in mud. By day’s end “D” company was at Yetta Cottages, “A”, “B” and “C” Companies were in the line. General Currie’s plan for November 6 called for the 1st Division was to capture the Green Line within 1000 yards of Graf Farm including Mosselmarkt, Goudberg and Passchendaele. The 3rd Battalion on the Division’s left flank, was set to act in two capacities. First it was to provide an attacking force of 10 platoons to capture Vine Cottage, a German strong-point guarding the Goudberg Spur some 350 yards south-east of Vapour Farm. This force was headed by Major Mason and consisted of “C” Company and two platoons from each “A” and “D” Companies. The Battalions second role was to provide “B” Company and the other two platoons of “A” Company, as a supporting force for the 2nd Battalion, on their right.
PTE. THOMAS ASHDOWNE, #427646, KIA NOV.6,1917
POELCAPELLE MILITARY CEMETERY, PASSCHENDAELE
 At 8:00am Intelligence patrols were sent out and shortly after casualties from the “Hood” Battalion passed back through the lines. During the day also, Headquarters for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions was consolidated at Waterloo House, a large pill-box at the base of Gravenstafel Ridge. At 6:00pm, an intense artillery barrage fell on “A” Company killing six and wounding 13 including Major Hutchinson. At midnight all 16 platoons involved were in place for the attack, at Vanity House, at Yetta Cottage and on the Bellevue Spur. At exactly 6:00am the guns opened up and the men began to move forward into the marsh in front of Vine Cottage. The two main attacking parties advanced their pace quickening when the barrage had lifted, supported by Stokes mortars. Lieutenant Lord’s platoon, attacking Vine Cottage surprised the enemy and with the sentries eliminated, they pressed on. One concrete pill-box was captured with 40 prisoners along with two other strong points. However one concrete pill-box remained in this sector and held up the advance. Corporal Colin Barron was able to get close enough to toss bombs and eliminate the post. For this brave action, Barron was awarded the Victoria Cross. Many more machine guns had to be silenced, one at a time in the drizzling rain with ammunition running low, captured German machine guns being turned on the enemy. After Vine Cottage had fallen, what was left of the attacking force closed up on the final objective. By now Lieutenant Holland had been killed, Lieutenants Lord and Shill wounded, and many other casualties. The 58 enemy prisoners captured were held at Vine Cottage until dark then used as stretcher bearers to the rear. By 12:30pm word had been received by Major Mason that all 3rd Battalion objectives had been captured and their line ran through Vanity House to the left flank and the 2nd Battalion. During the day and evening, British artillery and defensive fire were required as well as stretcher bearers  from the 15th Battalion 48th Highlanders. Later two platoons of “D” Company reinforced the decimated “C” Company in the line. However by 9:30pm Passchendaele Ridge had been reported captured by the 2nd Battalion who were in touch with the 1st Battalion.. The remaining companies supplanted and consolidated the positions during the day and into the night.

A STRONG POINT IN PASSCHENDAELE BELIEVED
TO BE VINE COTTAGE
The next day (November 7) was spent improving defences, evacuating the wounded, burying the dead and supplying carrying and working parties. Between November 5 and 8, the 3rd Battalion suffered a total of 240 casualties, of which 87 were either killed or missing, including 8 officers killed.


PRIVATE JOHN FIELDER, #10027 - A 3RD BATTALION ORIGINAL
 
 In 2007,  a local group called the Diggers, found and helped to excavate three Canadian soldiers from the cart path along Vine Cottage which were identified as soldiers from the 3rd (Toronto Regiment) Battalion. One of the soldiers had unique gold teeth. The three soldiers were given military burials in Passchendaele New British Cemetery. I believe the three men were : Private Sydney Churchward, #1024345, a Toronto policeman; Private William Tricker, #1024315, a 17 year old Barnardo Boy and Private John Fielder, #10027,  a 3rd Battalion original from 1914.
 
THE PASSCHENDAELE LANDSCAPE, NOVEMBER 1917
 
Photos courtesy of Marika Pirie and Library & Archives Canada
Bob Richardson  (416) 434-7784   mustangbooks@hotmail.com

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

3RD BATTALION AND THE BATTLE OF MOUNT SORREL, JUNE 2-14, 1916


The 3rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force and the Battle of Mount Sorrel, June 2 – 14, 1916

The Battle of Mount Sorrel, in the grand scale of War World One was a relatively insignificant albeit bloody and vicious battle. In the short period of twelve days, over 9,600 Canadian soldiers were killed, captured or wounded, the newly arrived 3rd Canadian Division was demolished,  Divisional Commander and former 2nd Regiment Queen’s Own Rifle militia man Major-General Malcolm S. Mercer was killed, a Brigadier General was captured and 5 of the 12 Battalion commanders was killed or captured.  However for the 3rd (Toronto Regiment) Battalion, as we will see, the battle was a success in cementing the comradeship and fighting spirits of over 1000 individuals into a single, dangerous and efficient fighting unit. According to British Official History of the War, the Battle of Mount Sorrel was “the first Canadian deliberately-planned attack in any force resulted in an unqualified success” and the 3rd Battalion played an integral part.
Company Sargeant Major Francis G. Nagle
#63672 Loyola College KIA 13/06/1916
 

Private Frederick Davis #9311
Sanctuary Wood Cemetery
and Menin Gate Memorial

The Battle of Mount Sorrel (sometimes also called the Battle of Hill 62) was a localized conflict of World War One between three divisions of the British Second Army and three divisions of the German Fourth Army in the Ypres Salient, near Ypres, Belgium, from June 2 to June 14, 1916. It started as a result of the German Army wanting to divert British troops from an obvious observed buildup in the Somme. The XIII (Royal) Wurttemberg) Corps and the 117th Infantry Division attacked an arc of high ground positions defended by the Canadian Corps. The German forces initially captured the heights at Mount Sorrel and Tor Top after an intense artillery barrage before entrenching on the far side of the ridge. In the following days a number of attacks and counterattacks by two divisions of the Canadian Corps, supported by British artillery recaptured most of their former positions at great cost.
After the initial German attack on the 3rd Canadian Division June 2, the failed Canadian counterattack of June 3 and a second German attack June 8 involving exploding four large mines under trenches of the 2nd Canadian Division, a whole scale attack was ordered by the Commander of the Canadian Corps, Sir Julian Byng. Major-General Arthur Currie, as Commander of the 1st Canadian Division, including our 3rd Battalion and the 1st Brigade was ordered to plan a careful attack involving infantry, artillery, deception and specialized forces in composite units, on Mount Sorrel and Tor Top. Brigadier-General Lipsett in turn was ordered to attack with the 1st, 3rd and 8th Battalions from his 1st Brigade, on Mount Sorrel. The 3rd Battalion was chosen to conduct the actual assault with the other Battalions attacking other high ground along the front to with the goal to retake the original front lines.
Private Ovila Dion #416490
Sanctuary Wood Cemetery
With Lt.-Col. W.D. Allan in command of the 3rd Battalion and Major D.H.C. Mason second in command, late on June 12 the artillery concentration stopped and “B” and “D” Companies moved up to their jumping-off trench. By 10:00pm “B” and “D” were in position, with “D” Company on the right, “A” Company in the centre, and “C” Company on the left. “B” Company was in reserve to the right of “D”. Smoke diversions were launched from the left flank made more effective by heavy rainfall. The attack was launched 1:30 am June 13 after the lifting of the artillery barrage through knee-deep mud, putrid shell holes, tree stumps, and remnants of enemy wire with patches of tangled undergrowth all through pitch black of night.
Very little opposition was encountered by “D” company on the right, who were soon in the German trenches using bayonets liberally. “C” and “A” Companies however were met by heavy opposition by rifle and machine-gun fire. Substantial hand-to-hand fighting took place with the enemy finally driven out of his trenches. By 2:00 am red victory flares could be seen above Mount Sorrel and the target 3rd Battalion trenches. “B” Company followed along minutes later under heavy counter fire to consolidate the captured German front line. As they continued on down the far slope the trench disappeared and the forward motion was halted with numerous casualties taken. Reinforcements and supplies were requested and given by a company from the 1st Battalion and a squad of Pioneers. At the same time the attacking Toronto Battalions continued on from the original positions to the second enemy positions taking out threatening enemy machine nests. Lt. H. Gordon led his platoon taking the enemy position being killed immediately afterwards. The crest of Mount Sorrel was taken by bayoneting and hand-to-hand combat. Close to 70 German prisoners were taken. Once the final positions were taken, consolidation was begun immediately with great difficulty. The combination of shell holes, heavy rain and the darkness meant that the new front line was actually built some distance inside the old German position. A continuous trench was impossible so bombing posts were installed at intervals in shell holes.
L/Cpl D'All #63260
40 years old, Married
Menin Gate Memorial
From 2:30 am on the 13th, the Germans commenced an intense bombardment on the new Canadian line with the heaviest concentration on Mount Sorrel and the original Canadian front line. Substantial casualties resulted from shrapnel and high-explosives. Digging, patrols, and wiring were the norm all night while the regimental band acting as stretcher bearers removed the wounded. By morning small but valiant group of 3rd Battalion survivors remained on the summit of Mount Sorrel.  German counter-attacks were stopped at 6:45 and 9:00 am with well placed artillery replies. With bombs, grenades and small arms ammunition running low, urgent details from Battalion Headquarters were required. A reinforcement company from the 1st Battalion was sent out to help “A” Company deal with the harassing Germans soon to be followed by two more 1st Battalion Companies who helped consolidate and hold the position on Mount Sorrel. When Major Mason had been wounded for the third time, command reverted to Captain Van der Smissen. Lt.-Col. F.A. Crieghton, 1st Battalion, then took over operations on Mount Sorrel. The German artillery assault on the heights continued into the afternoon with Captain McNamara, Lieutenants Grasett and Weston being killed. Casualties continued until finally at 11:00 pm that evening, the 3rd Battalion was relieved on Mount Sorrel by the 8th Battalion. During the transfer Captain Van der Smissen was killed, Lt.-Col. Creighton mortally wounded and Lt.-Col Harold Matthews, 8th Battalion seriously wounded all by the same shell. By midnight all the survivors of the 3rd Battalion had been evacuated from Mount Sorrel. 
Trenches of Mount Sorrel, 1916
 The attacks by the Canadian Corps all along the line on June 13 and 14 had been extremely successful. The 16th 13th and 58th Battalions had all enjoyed success in securing their objectives, however at heavy cost. 1st Division casualties for the assaults stood at 1214. The cost to the 3rd Battalion had been high. Casualties totalled 16 officers and 399 other ranks of whom five officers and 132 other ranks either killed or missing. Like 2nd Ypres, the vast majority of the killed and missing were never to be found and identified. Most have their names inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial. A handful of men were identified some time after the conflict and reburied in Sanctuary Woods Cemetery while still having their names on the Menin Gate Memorial. Brave men all!
 





Photos courtesy of Timothy McTague, Battle Royal, Veterans Affairs Canada, and Library and Achives Canada
Bob Richardson  mustangbooks@hotmail.com     (416) 434-7784

Thursday, February 27, 2014

3RD BATTALION AT 2ND BATTLE OF YPRES, APRIL 22 -26, 1915


The 3rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force and the 2nd Battle of Ypres
 April 22 – 26, 1915

The Second Battle of Ypres in April 1914 represents Canada’s introduction to modern warfare. It is the first use of Chlorine gas as a weapon of destruction, the first battle  involvement of Canadian troops in World War One and resulted in the death of over two thousand Canadians in four days. Our own 3rd (Toronto Regiment) Battalion played an integral part in the Battle.

Kitchener's Wood near St. Julien, Ypres Salient
 
By April 22, 1914 the 18,000 Canadian troops of the 1st Canadian Division were established in shallow trenches (2nd and 3rd Brigades) and in reserve (1st Brigade that included the 3rd Battalion) along a line that ran from 50 metres north of the Ypres-Poelcappelle Road, four miles (6km) to the Gravenstafel-Passchendale road. On the right were British troops and on the left, French Colonial troops. The Battle started when German troops, after waiting days for ideal conditions, released the contents 5,500 cylinders of lethal Chlorine gas opposite the French and on the flank of Canada’s 13th Battalion. Leaving an open left flank the 13th and the remainder of the French Colonials did everything possible to stem the tide of onrushing German soldiers in the enlarging gap in the Ypres Salient. All immediately available Canadian units were moved up. For the next 24 hours an intense battle ebb and flowed as the Canadian 1st Division was ordered to hold the Germans at all costs otherwise Ypres would be taken with nothing stopping the Germans from rushing to the English Channel.
Late on April 22, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 1st Canadian Brigade were ordered to move up  to reinforce  and be prepared to launch an attack with the 16th and 10th Battalions respectively in Kitchener’s Wood and join up with the 13th Battalion holding the village of St. Julien. At this time the 1st and 4th Battalions were moved from reserve as well and ordered to recapture (unsuccessfully) the east-south ridge south of Pilckem village, known as Mauser Ridge. By early morning of April 23, “A” and “B” Companies of the 3rd Battalion  had dug in for the night along the roadside and right angles to the new G.H.Q. Line between the original Canadian front and the Yser Canal, along  with four fellow Canadian companies and two British battalions. “C” and “D” Companies settled in farther east. The 2nd Battalion had come to the aid of the suffering 10th Battalion with a remaining company settled on the right flank of the 16th Battalion. However there was a 500-yard gap in the line between the Company from the 2nd Battalion and the 13th Battalion holding St. Julien. “C” and “D” Companies of the 3rd Battalion under command of Major A.J.E. Kirkpatrick were ordered at 4:00am to fill that gap, ”C” Company under command of Captain J.E.L. Streight and “D” Company under Captain C.E.H. Morton. Objective was a German trench  some 400 yards in length about a mile and a half away.  The two companies advanced through a deadly barrage to a position north of Vanheule Farm. From here they crossed an open field swept by machine gun fire. They captured their trench after fierce hand-to-hand combat losing 500 men of their 750  with 250 remaining after the battle. By the time they had plugged the gap between the 2nd and 13th Battalion troops, the two 3rd Battalion companies had been sadly depleted however the line was unbroken from the crossroads east of Keerselaere south-west to Oblong Farm (north of Keerselaere there was still a mile gap eventually to be filled by the 7th and 15th Battalions).                                                                                               
 
Pte. Frederick Blacklock, T.Eaton Co
At 8:30 on the morning of April 23, orders were received to move “A” and “B” Companies and it’s machine gun detachment to the G.H.Q. Line trenches to the left of the 3rd Brigade H.Q. at Mouse Trap Farm. “C” and “D” Companies remained sustaining casualties and in perilous situation. That evening (April 23) the 3rd Battalion still held the front  west of St. Julien and the G.H.Q. Line near Mouse Trap Farm. During the night supplies were sent in, repairs made and wounded brought out. However before morning and after an intense artillery barrage, the Germans again released deadly Chlorine gas along the Canadian north-west portion manned by the 8th and 15th Battalions. The result was a small arms German attack that opened another hole in the Canadian line. The news of this attack was directly relied to the detached companies of the 3rd Battalion. Soon the St. Julien line was also under attack with “C” and “D” Companies instructed at 4:30am to hold the line at all costs. The artillery attack was intensive all along the line. At 8:30am orders were received at 3rd Battalion H.Q. to send 2 officers and 100 men to fortify the garrison manned by the 13th and units from the 7th and 15th Battalions in St. Julien. Led by Captain L.S. Morrison and Lieutenant W.E.Curry their orders were to provide a rearguard while what was left of the 13th Battalion retired. In the meantime, “C” and “D” Companies facing repeated attacks were running short of ammunition and healthy men. Overwhelming numbers of Germans began to approach from all sides as the right and left flaks gave in with retirements of the 7th, 14th and 15th Battalions. By 12:20 pm St. Julien was reported as being overrun. With the massing of German troops in the direction of Langemarck about 300 yards away and the retirement was mentioned. Orders were given by General Turner, Division commander gave instructions for the all Battalions to retire and fortify the G.H.Q. Line. The remaining men from “C” Company were in no position to retire due to being wounded and surrounded on three sides by machine gun fire. “D” Company fought on. At 3:30 pm, April 24, the few surviving members of 3rd Battalion’s “C” and “D” Companies, including Major Kirkpatrick and Captain Streight, were completely surrounded and captured. Only 43 wounded men from these two companies escaped death or capture. The 100-man party under Captain Morrison fighting in St. Julien divided when the retirement order came in.  Lieutenant Curry and 27 men withdrew with the 14th Battalion however the remaining 70 or so totally disappeared never to be located dead or alive! Some of us remained convinced there is a mass grass of 3rd Battalion men buried very near to St. Julien remaining to be discovered.
Men of the 3rd Battalion Menin Memorial 
In the next few hours masses of British troops were rushed to the Ypres Salient. A new British attack was launched late on April 24th from Mouse Trap Farm on Kitcheners Wood and St. Julien unsuccessfully. The line was reinforced but substantially shorter after the 2nd Battle of Ypres, however Ypres was saved and the line held almost totally responsible by the Canadians. The 3rd Battalion more than valiantly held their  own – the Canadian 1st Division was gradually withdrawn into reserve.  Late on April 25, the 3rd Battalion was relieved by the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders. A few days later (May 5) after resting in bivouac near Vlamertinghe the 3rd Battalion received 362 reinforcements from the 23rd Battalion (including my Grandfather, Corporal John Cody).
Between April 22and 30, the 3rd Battalion suffered losses of 19 officers, including four company commanders, and 469 other ranks. A total of 268 men from the 3rd Battalion were captured in St. Julien by the Germans and remained in captivity until the war’s end. Most of the men listed officially as killed were originally missing in action and have no known graves. Their name are inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres.

 
Bob Richardson  mustangbooks@hotmail.com     (416) 434-7784

 Thanks to Marika Pirie and Library & Archives Canada for photographs.

 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

L/CPL CHARLES FENTON HOLT , A CANADIAN FIGHTING FOR BRITAIN

LANCE CORPORAL CHARLES FENTON HOLT, #G/6827, 6/THE BUFFS (EAST KENT REGIMENT)


The Holt Family name is synonymous but not exclusive to the weaving industry in the Midland district of England. Specifically the family "Holt" can be traced back to 1626 when Charles Holt of Balderstone Hall, Rochdale was mentioned as a freeholder farmer and weaver farming thirty acres around the Hall. The Holt Family remain known in Rochdale to this day.
Alice Holt, born 1877, Rochdale, Lancashire, England
On March 25, 1869 James Holt, 23, born about 1846 whose father was John, a cotton carder living on Vicar's Move, married Alice Holt, 18, whose father was John, a ginger beer manufacturer living on Stoney Field in St. Chad's Parish Church, Rochdale. Jame's occupation was listed as a "woolen slubber". Sometime after their marriage and the English Census in 1871 they emigrated to Canada with young daughter, Alice, where they settled in Thorold, Ontario. Here James found employment with Robert MacPherson and his bustling Thorold Woolen & Cotton Mfg.Co. The couple had two more children, William Edmund (b.1884) and Charles Fenton (b.November 23,1885). Young Alice died December 23,1876 at the age of 10 being buried in Lakeview Cemetery. Thorold after a service at the family's home on Pine Street. Cause of death at this point remains unknown as is the actual burial site.Shortly afterwards the family apparently returned to England where James died in 1897.

The Thorold Woolen Cotton Mfg. Co.
 


Charles Holt can be found in both the 1901 and 1911 English Censuses as living with his mother in Rochdale, being single and employed as a "cotton mule piecer". The family was living in the same Rochdale neighbourhood as their original 1600-era ancestors. With the start of the Great War, Charles attested into Kitchener's Regular Army, Cavalry of the Line in Rochdale September 5, 1914. At that time he gave his birthplace as Toronto, Canada. After training, Private Charles Holts was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment). Home address was given as 65 Broad Lane, Rochdale with his next of kin his mother. Sent to the battlefield June 1915 with the 6th (Service) Battalion of the Buffs, Charles was wounded and suffered shell shock April 4, 1916. Returning to his unit, he was given 10 days leave in England December 1916. Other than his promotion to Lance Corporal there is no major notations on his service record until July 12, 1917 when the notes read "Killed In Action".


Lance Corporal Charles Fenton Holt
With the assistance of battle diaries and the Regimental History, we learn the following details of the fateful day in question:

"On the 1st July the 6th moved from Arras to the Wancourt Line, on on that date it mustered 33 officers but only 483 other ranks. While in this sector it was sometimes in front, sometimes in support and sometimes further back.

Amongst the various excavations on this region is what is known as "The Long Trench" which, commencing about 1,200 yards south of Keeling Copse, runs southward and is continued in that direction by Tool Trench. In this long work was the 6th Battalion on the 10th July, when it received orders to raid the enemy's shell holes east of Tool Trench at 7:30 a.m. the next day. The enemy, however, had made his own plans and, taking the initiative himself, attacked at 5:00 a.m. after an exceptionally heavy bombardment of guns of all sorts and sizes, smoke and liquid fire being also used. This heavy rain of projectiles was directed not only on Long and Tool Trench's, but also on the supports. The infantry attack was directed mainly on Long Trench, and the Germans managed to penetrate at one point after feinting or making a holding attack along the whole front of it. Having effected his penetration he rapidly deployed and occupied shell holes in our rear or on our side. 2nd Lieut. Stevens, who was holding a post nearby, at once realized the situation and organized and carried out a counter-attack along Long Trench, and almost at the same time L/Cpl Edgington and two men, who were all on duty with the 37th Brigade Sniping Company, seeing that the attack was serious, at once dashed up to ascertain the true situation. These three went up Long Trench for three or four hundred yards till they reached the point where the breakthrough occurred. Here, of course, they came across a lot of Germans who hurled bombs at them. The corporal, however, was a good and resolute Buff soldier, and he, potting one of his own men in an advantageous position in the trench, with the other commenced to erect a block or stop in the work.He was soon joined by 2nd Lieut.Stevens and another  man, and between them they consolidated the block and opened fire at close range on a number of the enemy. About two hours and a half later on, the Buffs tried a counter-attack which was duly preceded by artillery preparation, but it failed owing to the heavy machine-gun fire it was subjected to. The enemy's aeroplanes were very noticeable during this affair, flying low over our lines all day, particularly during the attack. 2nd Lieut Gunther was killed, as were 9 men; another officer and 26 men were wounded, and there were 30 missing. Long Trench was recovered a week later the the 35th Bridge and the Royal West Kent Regiment."

 Buersil & Balderstone War Memorial, Rochdale, England
A British War Medal, 1914-15 Star and a Victory Medal were are sent to the next of kin, with the Victory medal following the other two, several years later (1921) presumably as his qualification was being assessed. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists the death of L/Cpl Charles Fenton Holt occurring July 12, 1917. However given that the Battalion was in reserve that day, his death must have occurred July 10, 1917. He has no known grave and therefore is perpetuated on the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France. The Veteran Affairs Canada Virtual Memorial database website includes his information despite the fact he did not fight in Canadian forces. His name is inscribed as well on the Buersil and Balderstone War Memorial. There is also a beautiful war memorial in Thorold however at this time I am unsure if L/Cpl Holt's name is on it. It should be as he was born in the town!

Special thanks to Ray & Melanie Holt, Rochdale, England and to British War Medals Forum members "lovey" Jamie & "Steffan" Stefan for photos and information.