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Tuesday, August 5, 2014



"After arriving in France with 27 officers and 956 other ranks on December20 1814, in six weeks of constant trench duty the Regiment had suffered seventy casualties, including five officers. But wastage from sickness had been abnormal, and the Regiment was for a few days nearly 400 men under strength. The arrival of the overseas draft which had been left at Tidworth under Captain Agar Adamson brought the numbers up to 700. (February 22, 1915 - Captain A. Adamson, Lt. Martin, 111 other ranks) But this draft exhausted all the reserves in sight, for the Canadian reinforcements in England were ear-marked for the 1st Canadian Division, now arriving in France. (the privately raised P.P.C.L.I. were detached in England to the 80th Brigade, 27th Imperial division, British Army). In the spring of 1915 there was no system for reinforcing the P.P.C.L.I. For eight months after their arrival in France the Patricias had reason to be anxious about their future. Small drafts from various Canadian sources kept up the number during the spring, and fought splendidly in the 2nd Battle of Ypres; but these were secured with difficulty, and after much suspense."

"Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry was never in any sense a territorial Regiment; although, towards the end of the War, it became one of the five overseas battalions (P.P.C.L.I. and, 2nd, 16th, 21st, 38th Battalions, C.E.F.) which were formed for administrative and reinforcement purposes into the Eastern Ontario Regiment with its headquarters at Ottawa, where the Original Battalion was mobilized.
The personnel of the Patricia's in the field was in fact strikingly representative of every Province of the Dominion and the Yukon Territory. The "Originals" and the "University Companies" which together made up nearly 50 per cent of the strength in the field, were drawn from all parts of Canada; while among the 3000 or more other Officers, N.C.O.'s and men who served with the Patricia's in France and Belgium were representative of more than 140 infantry battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, as well as many men who had first enlisted in sister branches of the Force: the Royal Canadian Dragoons and other cavalry regiments, the C.F.A., C.E., C.A.S.C., C.A.M.C., Signalling Training Depot, etc. Many drafts, especially after the middle of 1917, consisted of small parties from four or more battalions of the C.E.F. which has been assembled at the reinforcement Depots for the Eastern Ontario Regiment.

In January to June 1915 the following units provided drafts for reinforcing the Patricia's in the field:

12th Battalion, C.E.F. (New Brunswick,Quebec,Prince Edward Island)
23rd Battalion, C.E.F.(Victoria,Vancouver,Saskatchewan,Alberta,Manitoba,Montreal,Quebec City)
28th Battalion, C.E.F. (Alberta,Saskatchewan,Manitoba)
30th Battalion, C.E.F. (Victoria, BC)
32th Battalion, C.E.F. (Saskatchewan,Manitoba)"
Excepts from Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry 1914-1919, Ralph Hodder-Williams, 2nd Edition Vols.1 & 2, 1968
"Several times during the first six weeks in the line, the Regiment dropped to nearly four hundred men under strength, Only seventy casualties were killed or wounded and the remainder were from exposure and wet. Captain Adamson arrived with the first major reinforcement draft of 111 men while the unit was in Divisional Reserve and resting (Pt II D.O. 2 officers, 119 other ranks)at Westoutre (22 February). Lack of future replacements were beginning to threaten the continued existence of the Regiment. No formal agreement with the Canadian Defence and Militia Department concerning this matter had been reached when the Regiment was first authorized. A number of battalions from the first Canadian Contingent in England were made into Canadian Depot units. These were to feed the 1st Division when it was committed to the continent. It also became the source of reinforcements for the Regiment until June 1915. In particular the men joining the Patricia's came from the 12th; 23rd; 28th; 30th; and 32nd Canadian Expeditionary Battalions (the last four battalions' men collectively known as the "500 Draft". The 12th Battalion supplied most of the first reinforcement draft led by Captain Adamson). The second source of replacements from July to December 1915, and the one that ultimately saved the Regiment from extinction was the privately raised PPCLI Reinforcing Universities Companies."

From With The Patricia's In Flanders 1914-1918, Then & Now, Stephen K. Newman, Bellewarde House Publishing, Victoria, 2000

We know from the on-line file of Cpl. William Harvey, #51190, that the 27th (Cameron Highlanders) Battalion of Winnipeg also contributed volunteers to the "500 Draft"

Collectively the drafts from the last four units were assembled in Quebec City into one central draft administered by the staff of the 23rd Overseas Battalion and known as the "500 Draft". So the "small drafts" Hodder-Williams refers to (February 22, 1915 - 2 officers,111 other ranks; March 1, 1915 - 8 officers, 146 other ranks; March 27, 1915 - 3 officers, 66 other ranks) were in part, for the most part soldiers from the "500 Draft". These men had sailed from Halifax January 21, 1915 on the S.S. Vaderland with no or very little basic training. As well the majority had no military experience. So one can see that the men in the drafts sent in the February and March drafts would have only the very basic military training, unlike Canadian soldiers later in the war. The "500 Draft" landed in Liverpool January 30, 1915 and were sent to Canadahar Barracks, Tidworth to join the 12th Battalion, which had just been assigned as a reinforcement Battalion to the new 1st Canadian Division which  was about to be sent to France. The February and March drafts were sent to the P.P.C.L.I. from this depot.
S.S. Vaderland (later HMT Southland, 1915) 
Possibly the most noted member passing through the 23rd Battalion coming from the ranks and the one with the most distinguished career and highest ranked officer, was Private Melville Ten Broeke #51456. His service record can be found on-line HERE   Melville Ten Broeke enlisted November 3, 1914 in the 23rd Battalion, CEF in Edmonton and joined the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry from the "500 Draft" as a reinforcement soldier in France March, 1915. Born in India of British parents, the 24 year old Civil Engineer claimed to have belonged to the Bedford Territorials in Bedfordshire, England prior to emigrating to Canada, as well as the Canadian 101st Regiment, on settling in Edmonton. He was commissioned in June, 1916 and rose to the rank of Major before the end of the war. On reorganization of the Regiment as a unit within the permanent Force he was accepted with the rank of Major. At the termination of his period of command in 1932, he retired with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. On the outbreak of the Second World War, he volunteered once again and was appointed to the Command of the Western Regimental Depot. In 1943, after holding a number of Staff appointments, he resigned due to ill health. Died in Victoria 1963.

Circumstances of Death, L/Cpl Walter McKenzie #51268
Although the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was a privately raised Canadian Battalion, it initially was assigned to the 80thBrigade, 27th Division, British Expeditionary Force. As a component of this unit, it entered the trenches on January 6, 1915 in the Dickebusch area of Belgium and began receiving casualties almost immediately. Particularly, because of the poor trench conditions, men suffered terribly in the first tour of duty from “trench feet” made worse by wet weather and from the flimsy Canadian-made boots with which they were equipped. In a period of less than three months, some 238 of their number had either been killed or wounded and another 200 or so were in hospital for “shell shock”. The casualties reached fifty in the first month including several officers. By February 21, the battalion was given a full week of relief and rest at Westoutre. However a few men from the 1st Contingents 12th Battalion, now considered a reinforcement Battalion, were sent to the P.P.C.L.I. in the field.  
L/Cpl Harry Crabtree, #51122, Voormezeele #3 Cemetery
 These soldiers and the "500 Draft" were the only reinforcements the P.P.C.L.I.were to receive until the early summer when specially raised University Companies began to cross the Atlantic. On May 8, 1915, after the infamous Battle of Bellewarde Ridge, the Battalion numbers were down to 4 officers and 150 men before being withdrawn from battle. We can see from the list of 125 reinforcements received from the 23rd Battalion that 46 died while in service of the P.P.C.L.I. and a further 2 were taken prisoners. The majority were wounded in the Battle of Bellewarde Ridge and other actions in April and May, 1915. Many had only been in battle a matter of days before becoming casualties. The reinforcement soldiers from the 23rd Battalion did the P.P.C.L.I. proud - a least 3 Military Crosses were won, a similar number of Military Medals and several bars, 2 Prisoners of War, 3 battlefield commissions, and a future Commanding Officer of the Regiment was guaranteed.
51010 Hart, William Sgt PPCLI Wnd 08/05/15 SOS 12/05/15
51011 Jones, Ivor Pte PPCLI DOW 09/05/15 Bailleul C.C. Ext
51013 Creed, Hugh Pte PPCLI Wnd 08/05/15 SOS 12/09/18
51015 Dorans, Neil Sgt PPCLI Wnd 04/05/15 SOS 07/05/15 Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51021 Lognon, Thomas W. Cpl PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate SA enl QC 36 QC
51025 Jones, Horace J. L/Cpl PPCLI Wnd 08/05/15 SOS 17/05/15 Imp Forces enl QC BC
51028 Mitchell, Robert A. L/Cpl PPCLI KIA 24/04/15 Menin Gate QOR 27 NS
51039 Ashwood, John Pte PPCLI Wnd 08/05/15 SOS 30/05/15 CAMC Mtl ImpForce Eng
51040 Angell, Walter F. Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate Mem. 31 enl Mtl Ont
51074 Brodie, Robert Pte PPCLI Wnd? also see #841225 enl Mtl Royal Navy Eng
51075 Bullen, Richard Pte PPCLI SOS to C.L.P. 09/03/18 enl QC Imp Forces Ire
51076 Burke, John J. Pte PP g 06/1915 SOS 21/06/15 QC ImpForces Eng PPCLI #489
51077 Bowe, James Pte PPCLI MIA 04/05/15 Menin Gate 38 enl QC Kilkenny, Ire
51078 Bradbury, Charles Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 08/05/15 Menin Gate 31 Eng
51079 Barry, John Pte enlist QC C.M.R. b.Eng
51080 Burrows, George W. Pte PPCLI DOW 11/05/15 Bailleul CC Ext
51081 Blair, John Pte enlist QC Imp Forces Eng
51082 Bunting, Frederick Pte PPCLI MM
51091 Cavanagh, Thomas L. Pte PPCLI
51114 Coullard, Frank Pte enlist QC 8th Regiment Royal Rifles Eng
51115 Chrystal, Martin Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 35 Scot
51117 Campbell, Archie Pte PPCLI
51116 Carvosso, James Capt PPCLI MC & amp; bar as Pte com.16/10/16 6 X wnd Cal Eng
51118 Carlyle, John Pte enlist Mtl Terr Eng
51120 Carter, Michael Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 37 enl Mtl QC
51119 Cleaver, Walter Pte enlist Mtl R.C.R. Eng
51121 Cave, Edward Pte enlist Mtl Terr Eng
51122 Crabtree, Harry Pte PPCLI KIA 16/03/15 Voormezeele Enc #3 Cemetery Eng.
51123 Curry, Abraham Pte enlist Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51124 Cawe, Jack Pte enlist Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51127 Dyer, Issac W. Pte enlist Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51128 Davidson, John Pte enlist Mtl 5th Regt. Scot
51129 Donaldson. Herbert Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/18 Menin Gate age 48 ex NWMP India
51131 Duncan, Robert Pte PPCLI see #1251022 age 23 Scot
51141 Denison, Edgar Street L/Cpl 16th Bn KIA 23/04/15 Menin Lark Hill Feb 9/15 35 Ont
51151 Edmondson, Samuel Pte PPCLI MIA MIA 04/06/16 Menin Gate 31 enl Mtl Ire
51152 Illingsworth, Frederick Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 29 Eng
51157 Flannigan, Richard Pte enl Mtl Imp Forces Ire
51158 Farrell, Archie B. Cpl PPCLI DOW 31/10/17 9 Elms Brit Cem 31 enl Mtl Ire
51159 Flynn, Joseph Pte enl Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51168 Dibbs, David Pte PPCLI KIA 04/05/15 Tyne Cot MC age 33 enl Mtl Scot
51171 Gray, Archibald Pte PPCLI
51180 Gallagher, Patrick C. Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 23 Eng
51182 Goodman, Thomas H.W. Pte enl Mtl Royal Navy Eng
51183 Grant, John Pte enl Mtl Nil Ire
51184 Gregory, Cecil Pte enl Mtl Nil Eng
51185 Garner, Harry Pte enl Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51186 Grainger, William H. Pte PPCLI DOW 16/04/17 Boulogne East Cem 1st Rgt 28 Eng
51187 Galbraith, Donald S. Pte PPCLI
51190 Harvey, William L/Cpl PPCLI KIA Bellewerde 04/05/15 Menin Gate Scotland
51215 Heath, Gideon Pte PPCLI DOD 23/03/15 Boulogne Eastern Cem. age 45 Scot
51216 Heath, William Pte enl Mtl C.A.S.C. 22 Eng
51217 Hales, James L/Cpl PPCLI Wnd 04/05/15 TOS 11/05/15 QC 1st GG 42 Eng
51218 Harper, Robert Pte enl QC Terr Eng
51219 Heap, Albert Pte enl Mtl Terr Eng
51220 Henderson, Alfred C. Pte PPCLI KIA 04/05/15 Menin Gate enl Mtl 25 Scot
51221 Harrison, John W. Pte enl QC Imp Forces Eng
51222 Horan, James Pte PPCLI
51239 Joe, Jaquet Pte PPCLI
51244 Johnston, John Edgar Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate enl QC enl QC 25 Eng
51248 James, George O. Sgt enl. QC Imp Forces Eng
51253 Saunders, William Sgt enl Mtl Royal Navy Eng
51257 Wylie, Richard Col Sgt enl QC Imp Forces Scot
51259 Mortimer, Arthur N.B. Capt PPCLI MC enl as Cpl comm. 05/11/16
51267 Worrall, Thomas P. Pte PPCLI enl Mtl IF wd GSW reinlist 08/08/18 4thBn Eng
51268 McKenzie, Walter Cpl PPCLI DOW 17/03/15 Bailleul Com Cem Ed age39 Scot
51270 Palmer, Charles E, L/Cpl enl QC R.G.A. Eng
51271 Scotting, John W. L/Cpl PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate Mem. 32 Eng.
51279 King, George Thomas Pte PPCLI KIA May8/15 Menin 32nd 22 Eng Bluestein medals
51288 Kennedy, Josiah A.C. Lt. PPCLI, comm. Royal Irish Rifles
51289 Kelly, John Pte PPCLI Acc nr Kemmel KIA 21/01/16 Menin enQC 28 Scot
51290 King, G. Pte enl QC Imp Forces Eng
51291 Kirby, William Pte PPCLI DOD 08/02/18 hearfailure Fosse #10 enl QC 34 Eng
51292 Knight, Richard Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate age 29 Eng
51293 Lovatt, Thomas Pte enl Mtl Terr Eng
51294 Lee, Robert Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 27 Imp Foces enl QC age 35 Scot
51295 Lamour, Robert Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate ex 3D gns 32 Ire
51296 Lawrence, Frank D. Pte PPCLI KIA 04/05/15 Menin Gate 33 SA Scot
51299 Longmate, John R. Pte PPCLI 11th Res enl. Tidworth underage Wnd June/15 Eng
51322 McRae, James Pte 16th Bn MIA 20/05/15 Vimy PPCLI Terr el QC age 28 Eng
51323 McPhee, Peter Pte PPCLI
51324 McGuirk, James Pte PPCLI MIA 02/06/16 Menin G Imp Forces enl QC 19 Eng
51345 Mackintosh, Peter E. Pte PPCLI
51346 McGregor, James Pte enl QC Imp Forces Scot
51347 Martin, Joseph Pte enl Mtl Royal Navy Eng
51348 Morgan, D.B. Pte enl QC 20th Horse Wales
51349 Middleton, John James Pte PPCLI DOW 11/05/15 Wimereux Com Cem age 34 Scot
51350 Middleton, J.K. Pte enl QC Imp Forces Scot
51351 Morgan, Edward Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate ImForces enl Mtl 32 Eng
51352 Manson, James Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 21 Scot
51366 Newby, Sidney H. Pte enl Mtl Nil Eng
51369 Olive, John Pte enl Mtl Terr Eng
51382 Pearn, Robert Pte enl QC 102nd Regt 31 Eng
51396 Richardson, Eric Pte enl Mtl Nil Eng
51397 Ramshaw, Robinson W. Pte enl QC Imp Forces Eng
51413 Swan, Harry Hunt Pte PPCLI
51414 Savage, Henry E. Pte enl Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51415 Sullivan, Thomas Pte enl Mtl Imp Forces Eng
51416 Stephen, Alexander Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin G Imp Forces enl QC 27 Scot
51417 Stowe, Edger Pte PPCLI POW 08/0515 MM Escapee 17/09/17 Eng
51418 Stewart, James Pte encl QC 8th Regt Eng
51419 Strachan, Allan Pte PPCLI KIA 15/03/15 Pheasant Wood Cem. Scot.
51420 Sprague, Charles H. Pte PPCLI
51421 Sutton, John Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 MeninG RCHA 38 Calgary Eng %
51422 Scott, Damiel Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 19 Ire
51423 Scott, John Scott Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 33 Scot
51424 Shapcott, William H. Pte enl Mtl 27th Horse Scot
51425 Sharpe, William H. Pte PPCLI POW 2/06/16 rel 22/11/18 32 Nil enl Mtl QC
51426 Stone, Leonard Pte PPCLI
51427 Sullivan, Robert M. Pte PPCLI POW 26/08/18 Rel 07/01/19 Mtl Terr Wales
51428 Smail, Joseph Alba Pte enl Mtl Imp Forces Scot
51441 Stewart, James Pte PPCLI KIA 04/05/15 Menin Gate 33 Ire
51454 Tildesley, Frederick Pte PPCLI
51455 Thornton, Harry W. Pte enl QC Aust. Mil. Eng
51456 Ten Broeke
51457 Tucker, Herbert Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin G Royal N enl Mtl 25 Nfld
51458 Tully, Thomas Pte PPCLI KIA 08/05/15 Menin G uncl.medals IF QC 32 Scot
51466 Upton, Harry Cpl enl QC Imp Forces Eng
51483 Wiltshire, Albert C. Pte enl Mtl Nil Eng
51484 Wilson, Arthur W. SQMS PPCLI DOD 11/05/19 Burton Leonard Church age 45 Eng
51485 Wells, Willoughby Pte enl Mtl Nil Eng
51486 Whiting, Harry Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin G Terrs enl QC 36 Eng
51487 Welch, Thomas L/Cpl PPCLI DOW 24/03/15 Dickenbusch MC 6th Regt Mtl Eng.
51488 Wood, George Pte PPCLI MIA 02/06/16 Menin Gate also 4th Bn 39 Eng
51490 Wightman, Archibald Pte PPCLI
51491 Williamson, George Pte Terrs enl QC Scot
51489 Wood, George Pte PPCLI MIA 08/05/15 Menin Gate 34 Eng
51492 Webb, John H. Pte enl QC Imp Forces Eng
I believe the first casualty to a 23rd Battalion replacement was Private Harry Crabtrre, #51122. From Steve Newman's fine work, With The Patricia's In Flanders, we see:

Crabtree, Harry Private 51122. Born in Rochdale, Lancashire, England Jul 1879. . Served with 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers (Volunteers). Employed as a moulder before joining 23rd Bn 23 Oct 1914. Became a member of the Patricia Reinforcements in Jan 1915 and joined PPCLI in the field in the St. Eloi Sector 11 Mar 1915. He was listed killed five days later on 16 Mar 1915. The enemy assaulted and captured the Mound at St. Eloi on the 14 Mar. The Battalion marched from their Reserve position at Westoutre to Dickebusch and then towards St. Eloi during the same evening. They were to attack and recapture the area West of the Mound in concert with the 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade in the early morning of the 15th. The attack was cancelled after Lt.-Col. Farquhar surveyed the scene after the initial foray towards the German positions. Casualties during this manoeuvre were Lt. Cameron killed along with seven NCOs and men killed. Pte Crabtree was among them. Another two officers and seventeen ranks were wounded. Age 35 (I believe one of the wounded was L/Cpl Walter McKenzie, also from the 23rd Battalion, who died of wounds the next day March 17, 1915)

A special word of thanks to Stephen K. Newman and members of the CEF Study Group Forum especially Jim "jayelbee" and "GrandfatherMichael" for their assistance on this topic over the years.

The listing of men from the 23rd Battalion that were drafted into the P.P.C.L.I. is incomplete and to be considered a work in progress. Any corrections, omissions or corrections would be greatly appreciated.

This blog is a compilation from a number of sources - some of the information may be repeated - I apologize for that.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Although the majority of my blogs usually involve men from the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion, I have a affinity to men from the 23rd Battalion as well. This could involve soldiers from the 3rd, 4th, 13th, 14th, and PPCLI Battalions.So it was with this in mind when I purchased and probably overpaid for the British War Medal of CSM George Edward Geary who was Killed In Action in the field July 8/9, 1916 while serving in the 4th (Central Ontario) Battalion. Subsequently while researching the man on I came across a post and medal photographs from Susan Carlisle who as it turned out, resides in Scotland.Susan and I exchanged communication and she kindly has authored the following details on George's life.
The 1914-15 Star and Victory medal awarded
to CSM George Geary #63395, 4th Battalion
"George was born in 1884 in Bishop Auckland, and grew up in Evenwood a few miles to the south west. He seems to have been an unsettled person. In 1901 he was working as a coal miner, but shortly afterwards he joined the merchant navy only to be invalided out a year later. He said that he then served for a time in the Durham Light Infantry, but I have been unable to prove this. I do know that in 1911 George was working as a contract miner near Penrith, and that two years later he emigrated to Canada. By this time both of his parents had died and his only near relation was a married sister in Bishop Auckland, although he did have lots of cousins.
The outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 found George working as a clerk in Calgary, and he enlisted with the Canadian Army a few months later. It is possible that he was homesick and saw this as a route home, because he named as his next-of-kin a non-relation in Evenwood who could be a girlfriend. The Canadian volunteers were sent to Salisbury Plain for training, where George was transferred into the Fourth Battalion (also known as the Central Ontario Regiment) and started to move up the ranks. Then in 1915 George was given leave prior to departing for active service in France, and set off for County Durham. I do not know where he stayed; what I do know is that he visited a house in Chopwell. He had been invited there by a man called Robert Smith, a coal miner who had enlisted with the Medical Corps despite being a married man and in his late thirties. Robert will also have had embarkation leave in 1915, and the family story is that he ‘brought a Canadian home with him’. So George met Robert’s daughter Margaret, and seems to have fallen in love with her.

CSM George Geary #63395
seated front along with Herbert
Sutcliffe # 63835
The Fourth Battalion embarked for France in February 1915 and moved up to trenches in the northern sector, where the soldiers saw almost continuous action in April, May and June. The next twelve months were relatively quiet, and the Canadians had a routine of eighteen days at the front followed by six days in the rear. Then in June 1916 the Battle of Mont Sorrel began in the Ypres Salient. This was an offensive launched by the Germans in an attempt to divert manpower from the Somme. George was amongst the Canadians deployed against them, and on the 8th of July he was killed.
George was a successful soldier in that when he died he had reached the rank of Company Sergeant Major. He was also posthumously awarded the Military Cross. The citation reads:
London Gazette, No. 29684, 27-7-16 
‘For conspicuous and consistent gallantry when in charge of battalion bombers and when leading patrols. On one occasion he took up a position 25 yards in front of our trenches in order the better to knock out the enemy, and succeeded in doing so, although himself wounded’.
And the Military Cross was sent to Chopwell, because before he died George had adjusted his record and made Margaret Smith his next-of-kin. The 1914-15 Star and the Victory Medal followed after the Armistice.
George Edward Geary is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Belgium. He is one of nearly 55,000 men who had died in the Ypres Salient by August 1917 and have no known grave. He is also commemorated in Chopwell on the plaque inside the Anglican Church, and could be the ‘G.E.Gray’ on the roadside memorial. I searched the North East War Memorials website but could not find his name anywhere else. So it was the Smith family who remembered him.  If that is what George had wanted, then he made the right decision when he changed the name of his next-of-kin. Margaret Smith’s descendants still have his medals today.

George E. Geary arrived in Halifax, Canada July 21, 1913 from Liverpool, England on the vessel "S.S. Mongolian". Ship's manifest listshis occupation as a "miner" and destined for Stellerton, Nova Scotia, presumably the coal mines.

S.S. Mongolian, Allan Steamship Lines, Montreal

Excerpt from a letter published in the Halifax Courier August 27, 1915 from Private Herbert Sutcliffe #63835 referring to Company Sergeant-Major Geary

Sgt Major Geary is in command and seemed to have got it into his head that I was indispensable to the cause so thinking that my sphere of usefulness might be extended somewhat I had no objections except being loath to leave my companions. Geary is an original, serving first in the navy and the army, he then turned his hand to mining. He is something of a philosopher, and we have many discussions in the dug-out. I am general factotum to this gentleman.  

Excerpt from a letter published in the Halifax Courier November 30, 1915 from Private Herbert Sutcliffe #63835 referring to Company Sergeant-Major Geary

   I am sorry to say that Sgt. Maj. Geary is at present placed hors de combat with shrapnel wounds. As a result, I am now in charge of the rifle grenade department. The Sgt.Maj. is in England, he wrote me from Boulogne, saying although he had about 50 shrapnel wounds, only four were very bad.  

Excerpt from a Letter published in the Halifax Courier June 26, 1916 from Private Herbert Sutcliffe #63835 referring to Company Sergeant-Major Geary 
This continued for a time, then the 16th and 13th went over the parapets, bayonets fixed, capturing the positions without much opposition, so effective had been the bombardment. The 3rd and 4th then advanced, for on us devolved the business of holding and consolidating the captured lines, the most trying job of all, for the enemy came back at us with ordnance of all kinds, heavy and light.

We of the Grenade section held ourselves in readiness to repel counterĂ¯·“attacks. We lay in our trench soaked through and through with the pitiless downpour of rain, shivering with cold and pelted with heavies, high explosives and shrapnel, envying the men who were in the charge, for they at least could keep themselves warm. We were all heavily laden with grenades, shovels and sandbags, ready for any emergency. At daybreak German prisoners began to come down, survivors from that hail of fire, most of them youths of 17 or 18 years, some carrying wounded comrades on their backs and otherwise propping each other along. Two stalwarts were carrying out their officer while others carried our own wounded.

Military Cross awarded to CSM
G.E. Geary, #63395 by "The King"
All day we sat low in our trench, escaping with but three or four casualties. My rifle was smashed and rendered useless by shrapnel. As darkness came on we were ordered to move further up, and we passed more than one still form laid by the wayside. Then we, the 4th Battalion bombers, were told off to take a section of trench which had been overlooked in the confusion. Dispositions were quickly made, extra grenades were handed out, and each man received a ration of rum. We were divided into two squads, an officer led one squad and the Sgt. Major the other. Two officers of the 16th were to show us the ground to be taken. We advanced under a hail of shrapnel and high explosive shells, and before we reached our objectives the two 16th officers were killed, our own wounded and others hit. Having lost our guides we were non-plussed and got into an advance trench meanwhile. Here we waited for an hour under a tremendous fire from the enemy. I stood in that trench, one foot over the ankle in mud and the other on some object, which on closer inspection proved to be a dead German, and figured my time was up, for hundred pounders were bursting on every hand.
CSM George Geary, 4th Battalion name on the
Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres
The sergeant-major now in full charge decided to retire to a trench on a certain ridge. Here we lay from dawn till dark again under pitiless rain and no less pitiless shell fire. We lost three men blown out of recognition by one big shell dropped among us, two others had to go out, suffering from shell shock. Towards night to our great satisfaction word came that we were to be relieved. When it was dark, the sergeant-major sent the men a squad at a time, he, three men and myself remaining to hold the trench and receive the incoming bombardiers who were of the 24th Battalion 2nd Division. They came eventually, and we debouched past wrecked wagons, dead horses, and dead men. We managed to get along in a returning ration wagon to a certain railway station where we piled into coal trucks, and were taken down close to our camp, and here we lay to recuperate.  [12 July 1916 Herbert wrote to say that Sgt.Major Geary had died: 63395 Geary George Edward 4th Battalion July 8, 1916. There is a G.Geary on the Menin Gate.

According to the medal card in George Geary's service file, in addition to the BWM, Victory and 1914-15 Star medals which were mailed to fiance Margaret Smith, a Memorial Plaque and Scroll in 1922 and 1921 respectively. No Memorial Cross was issued.

While the Battalion War Diary does not specifically mention the death of George Geary, it has a very comprehensive detailed account of the attack late evening July 8, 1916 and early morning July 9 Mount Sorrel trenches whgich also involved the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion HERE.

A special thank-you to Sandra Davies, Teeside, Tyne & Wear; England for sharing these letters from Herbert Sutcliffe on the CEF Study  Group Forum.

Also a big thanks to Susan Carlisle, Scotland for sharing her profile on George Geary and photographs of his medals.

Thanks to CEF Study Group member Marc Tremblay for allowing me to reunite the Plaque with the British War Medal.