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Saturday, December 18, 2010


The final soldier remaining to be profiled in my blogs remaining from "The Friends of My Grandfather" photograph I inherited is Company Sergeant Major George Hyde Patrick #63712. He is the man on the extreme left back row. CSM Patrick has also proved to be the most difficult to profile genealogy-wise with an absence of photographs, web material and family histories. According to Cody family stories, my grandfather John Cody a Bridgewater CT resident, read a Boston newspaper recruiting for British and Commonwealth-born recruits for a Canadian Regiment. I have always assumed that this regiment was the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, who apparently used newspapers across Canada and in New York and Boston to look for experienced military men. Thus he set out on a train for Montreal, accompanied by "about 20 other men". I believe George Patrick was one of these other men.

Grave of CSM George Patrick, Villiers Station Cemetery, France
The 20 or men that were on my grandfather's train from Boston were under the impression that they were heading north to Canada to join a new private Regiment being raised to fight join the British with the offer to veterans of good pay, comradeship and the promise of adventure. However on arrival in Montreal the men were to learn that the P.P.C.L.I. had departed some weeks earlier. They were greeted by Captain Robert Bickerdike Jr. from the 58th Westmount Rifles Regiment and other recruiters for the other Montreal Regiments such as the Royal Montreal Regiment, the Royal Highland Regiment (Black Watch) and the Victoria Rifles. Bickerdike was a wealthy Montreal civil engineer and businessman who had helped to finance and form the Westmount Rifles. He was instrumental in recruiting for the 23rd Battalion and 60th Battalion, later joining the 87th Battalion as a Lieutenant, serving in France and rising to command this Battalion. Both John Cody and George Patrick are listed on the Nominal Roll of the draft of 58th Westmount Rifles men that joined the 23rd Battalion. My grandfather, attested October 27, 1914 with Robert Bickerdike Jr as his witness. George Patrick followed five days later.

George Hyde Patrick claimed he was born in Halifax, NS on March 25, 1888. I have found the marriage in 1872 of his parents, Ralph Patrick (30), a printer and native of Pictou, and Annie E. Fenerty (25) daughter of a Halifax book-binder. The parents emigrated to Winthrup. MA soon after their marriage, between 1873 and 1881 and after the birth of Robert William Patrick in Halifax 1873. I believe I have located the family in the 1881 U.S. Census (without George) so I feel George Hyde Patrick, like my grandfather, lied about his country of birth as a citizen of the Commonwealth in order to attest into the CEF. George H. Patrick does show up in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census as living in Middlesex, MA. Nevertheless, on attestation in Montreal he was listed as a twenty-four year old, single, Insurance Salesman showing him mother, Annie E., as his Next of Kin.

Death Penny of George Hyde Patrick
Private Patrick accompanied the 23rd Battalion when they departed Halifax on the newly-built S.S. Missanabie February 23, 1915. By March, the 23rd Battalion were in intensive training at Shorncliffe Camp and being made readied for reinforcing the 1st Contingent who was now serving in the Front Lines. On March 23, 1915 George Patrick was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal. On May 3, 1915 Lance Corporals John Cody and George Patrick were two of 296 reinforcement soldiers to be taken on service with the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion after their devastating losses in the 2nd Battle of Ypres, April 22-28, 1915. From here on, the service of George Patrick was uneventful in 1915. Promoted to full Corporal on June 8, he suffered "contusions and shock" requiring short-term hospitalization June 16. In September, again treatment for eye refraction and eye care. On December 28, George was promoted to rank of Sergeant and early in January, 1916, he received 9 days leave in France. He received a gunshot wound to the buttocks in the action around Mount Sorrel June, 1916 that required a short hospital visit. From this action Sergeant Patrick was "MID- Mentioned In Dispatches for Gallant and Distinguished Service in the Field". On September 19, 1916, George Patrick was promoted to Company Sergeant-Major and Warrant Officer II "C" Company replacing CSM Frank Knight who died of wounds that same day while the battalion was fighting near Courcelette in the Somme.

By December 1916, the 3rd Battalion was in the trenches in the relatively quite area of Souchez when on December 6, Company Sergeant-Major George Patrick was Killed in Action by a German sniper. While in the front line trenches at Souchez, Carency sector, he was "struck in the head by an explosive rifle bullet and killed instantly". The were no other fatalities in the 3rd Battalion that day. Several days later they participated in a daring and successful trench (about 90 men).

CSM Patrick was honourably laid to rest in Villers Station Cemetery, Villers-au-Bois, France. Interestingly, this cemetery is home to the brother of one of 3rd Battalion's most decorated men Lieutenant Edward Slattery as well as brother Private Michael Slattery #458270, 87th Battalion and the remains of four soldiers shot at dawn for desertion.

Birth Certificate George Patrick
George Hyde Patrick's medals as well as the plaque, scroll and memorial cross were mailed to Mrs. Dora H. Patrick, wife, in Arlington, MA. Assigned pay in the amount of $10.00 a month was being sent to a Mrs. H.W. Aitken in Winthrup, MA. Separation Allowance and War Service Gratuity was sent to Dora Hammond Patrick, widow, Arlington, MA. Attestation paper clearly states "no" to being married.

A mysterious man, a mysterious family, and a friend of my grandfather!

Thanks to Gary E. Switzer for filling in some blanks.

***NEW INFORMATION*** December 24, 2010

Thanks to friend Annette Fulford some of the mystery of George Patrick's life has been explained:

Medals of George Hyde Patrick #63712

George Hyde Patrick 23 years married Dora Haskell Hammond on October 31, 1911 in Somerville, MA. Apparently George did not want the fact known that he was married on attesting in Montreal November, 1914.

Harry Wallace Aiken married Elenore Stewart Patrick (George's sister) October 9, 1901 in Cambridge, MA This partially explains who Mrs. H.W. Aiken was. Why he sent a portion of his pay to his sister earlier on instead of his wife remains unknown.

August 20,2011

By the kind generosity of Diane Pentland granddaughter of George Hyde Patrick and husband Bruce, we now include photographs in the blog of George's medals, his Oak Leaf cluster for being Mentioned-in-Dispatches, government correspondence concerning his death and a brilliant photo taken in August, 1945 of his grave in Villiers Station Military Cemetery, France. A special thanks to Diane and Bruce.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I have profiled members from my wife's Clearwater clan in the past and their service during The Great War. I would like to continue with this family and tell the stories of three Clearwater brothers and the Supreme Sacrifice for two of them. Robert Clinton and Ray Lloyd Clearwater were brothers with 19 years separating their births, Robert being the oldest born in Scotia Junction, ON in 1893. Wesley Calvin was between the two in age being born in Scotia Junction in 1897.

The story of the Clearwater family being one of Muskoa's first families has already been told. Scotia Junction was the railway junction where J.R.Booth's 135-mile Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway crossed the Grand Trunk Railway running from Toronto through North Bay. John Wesley Clearwater was a son of Edgar Boviere Clearwater, a Dutch descendant American 1st Family named Klaarwater from the Hudson River Valley and half brother of Floyd Clearwater, former publisher of the Huntsville Forester, town councillor, school trustee and former Postmaster. John Wesley and older brother James Edgar emigrated from Scotia Junction to Manitoba and Saskatchewan respectively with their families to become homesteaders in the early 1900's. It was in McAuley, Manitoba that John Wesley, wife Catherine and the seven Clearwater children settled, moving to Welwyn, Saskatchewan a decade later. Ray was born in McAuley July 9, 1912.

Robert Clinton Clearwater attested to the 10th Canadian Mounted Rifles on December 12,1914 in Moosimin, SK at the age of 31 with a service #115065. Before proceeding overseas with the battalion, he was hospitalized in Portage La Prairie for an appendectomy Nov. 21, 1915. This was to be the first of a long episode of medical problems. The 10th CMR arrived in England on the SS Olympic May 7, 1916 understrength. The men were immediately dispersed to other CMR and Cavalry units. Robert soon after arrival was hospitalized for Influenza. Promoted to Lance Corporal (although later revoked due to "inefficiency") he was transferred to the Canadian Light Horse. This unit later served under the 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade. At various times while in the service of the CLH, Robert was hospitalized for gall stones, abdominal infection, groin abscess, bowel abscess, influenza again, severe back acne, thrown from a horse suffering severe lacerations & sprained foot, and finally in 1919, pleurisy and tuberculosis. He served in France from August 11, 1916 to November 9, 1918 and although his service record does NOT make specific mention, I strongly believe he was gassed at some point. Returning to Canada July 11, 1919 Robert Clinton was admitted to Winnipeg Military Hospital. Presumably his death occurred there in the hospital on July 2, 1921. He is buried in Welwyn, SK Cemetery.

Wesley Calvin Clearwater was working on the family farm and single when he was drafted under the Military Service Act, 1917 on June 11, 1918 in Winnipeg. His service # was 3347566 with a classification of C-2 (fit for service in Canada). He never served overseas. Father John Weley Clearwater was killed in a farming accident November 10, 1935.

Ray Lloyd Clearwater (his name is incorrectly spelt as Roy on both the CWGC and VAC Virtual websites-they have been notified) applied to join the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940. Working the family farm and after waiting over six months he was accepted and entered flying school in Manitoba as a Pilot Sargeant. After a number of postings and training in Canada, he was sent to England. In July 1942 he crashed his Oxford trainer aircraft at RAF No.14 A.F.U. Ossington. He served as a Pilot Instructor in England, based for almost two years mostly at RAF Lossiemouth in north Scotland flying and teaching pilots on multi-engined aircraft. Finally being accepted for overseas service, he was transferred to 12th RAF Squadron, RAF Wickenby in Lincolnshire and promoted to Flight/Lieutenant (Pilot), given command after short training of a MkI Lancaster 4-engined bomber and told to pick his 6 man crew.

His crew were: Flying Officer Henry Watts, RAFVR, Navigator; Flight Sergeant Alan Price, RAFVR, Wireless Operator; Flight Sergeant Robert Clark, RAFVR, Bomber/Aimer; Sergeant William Berry, RAFVR, Flight Engineer; Sergeant Richard Wolsey, RAFVR, Upper Gunner and Sergeant George Walton, RAFVR, Rear Gunner.

Flight Lieutenant Clearwater and crew had flown 11 sorties over Germany, France and Holland from August 25, 1944 until the early morning of October 14, 1944. On this day, they were assigned to Lancaster MkI NF928 for the first time. NF928 had been delivered new to 12th Squadron and by this time had a total of 48 hours on her engines. This sortie was to be called Operation Hurricane in which Bomber Command was to operate 3 different raids on the German industrial city of Duisberg, utilizing over 1000 aircraft for the first time on each raid. Three Lancasters from 12th Squadron based in RAF Wickenby did not come home in the first early morning raid - NF928 was one of the three.

No one actually knows what happened to Lancaster NF928, to Flight Lieutenant (Pilot) Ray Lloyd Clearwater and to the crew of the aircraft. Speculation has the fully loaded airplane being hit by anti-aircraft fire. However 17 bodies were eventually found near the town of Dinslaken and witnesses tell of a huge explosion and ball of fire. It is entirely possible that either two aircraft collided or a dropped bomb hit NF928 from another aircraft and they both exploded. 66 years later relatives of the crew are still trying to determine the cause of the lost of the Lancaster bomber. Witnesses still survive and some of the aircraft wreckage has been recovered. It is an ongoing story that we hope to resolve at some point in the future.

All the recovered remains were eventually identified and interred in Reichswald Forest Military Cemetery, side by side. Mother Catherine passed away about 1948. Wesley Calvin married Francis Mary Jennings after World War One and eventually moved to Vancouver where he died June 7, 1981. There now is a Geo--Memorial location called Clearwater Bay, in Northern Saskatchewan named after Ray Clearwater. Located at 59.01.138 and 108.01.05. So far all attempts to locate the Pilots logbook of Ray Clearwater have been in vain.

I have put together a rough article titled The Farmer That Wanted To Fly with the intention of eventually publishing the entire story of Ray Floyd Clearwater and Lancaster bomber NF928. Would be glad to share it if anyone would like a copy.


June 18, 2013
A newly published book (May 2013) has been released by British publishing company, Flying High Ltd. Written by aviation enthusiast and relative of one of the perished crew members of HF928, Marc Hall, it is titled BOMBER COMMAND, OPERATION HURRICANE and includes the story of pilot Ray Clearwater, the crew of the Lancaster and the trail of events that lead to the destruction of the bomb laden heavy bomber. A worthwhile book for the interested!

Monday, August 16, 2010



My family has spent a great deal of leisure time in the Ontario resort area of the Kawarthas over the last thirty-five years. So when I was presented with an opportunity last year to purchase a beautiful medal grouping from an original 3rd (Toronto) Battalion member born in the picturesque town of Fenelon Falls, there was no hesitation. Stanley Kelly was born July 28, 1895 to parents Charles (1862-1934) and Jane Kelly, both natives of Fenelon Falls. Charles was the town blacksmith living on Francis Street, Jane was his second wife with whom he had four children including an older brother Livingston Charles who may be in fact the Sergeant Charles Kelly #522544 shown here. There is a wooden plaque within the Fenelon Falls Legion with a few names of World War I veterans that attended Red Rock school, on the outskirts of the town. Private Stanley Kelly is the first name listed on the plaque. Young Stanley moved to Toronto for employment as a gas fitter. While living in the city, he enlisted in the 10th Royal Grenadiers militia regiment and when the call went out August, 1914 joined their draft travelling to Valcartier to attest into the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

His story is uneventful except that he was assigned eventually to "D" Company commanded by Captain George Crowther Ryerson and in a platoon commanded by Lieutenant J.K. Cronyn, both scions of famous Ontario families. This company and "C" Company were decimated in the 2nd Battle of Ypres on April 23 near Kitchener's Woods. Capt. Ryerson was killed and Lieut. Cronyn was severely injured. This battle has been described in a past blog. Somehow, Stanley seemed to survive this battle, if indeed he was involved (his duties within "D" company are unknown at this time-he may have been assigned to rear echelon duties).

However, Stanley was not so lucky a few weeks later when the 3rd Battalion was again thrust into battle at the Battle of Festubert in May. Private Kelly was buried in a trench as a result of a shell burst. He suffered "shock" was was sent a divisional Rest Centre. Canadian losses in this battle were 2,468 including 661 dead. He participated a few weeks later in the 2nd Battle of Givency, in June when the 3rd Battalion lost 115 men, killed and wounded. On October 25, 1915, Stanley reported to the No. 1 Field Ambulance near Ploegstreet Woods complaining of knee pain and immobility of his knees. He was sent to a number of hospitals and eventually had cartilage removal operations on both knees. Another operation on his left knee April 1916 to remove a piece of his left tibia. The condition was deemed to have been caused by the shell explosion in May 1915. Stanley was also hospitalized for 3 weeks for Pneumonia at Ramsgate 1916. He recovered and was assigned to the Canadian Army Medical Corps after a couple of Medical Board hearings where he spent the balance of the war serving as a batman and stenography work after training in Bath, at Shorncliffe. He was operated on a second time 1917 for "crossed toes". Apparently he had a painful congenital condition from childhood deformity of his 2nd toes crossing his big toes on both feet. The tendons were cut and he was free to walk in several weeks. Stanley's final hospitalization was in November, 1918 at Bushy Park with Influenza.

Private Stanley Kelly was sent to the discharge Centre in Rhyl, Wales February 1919 returning to Canada on the H.M.T. Belgic landing in Halifax March 10, 1919. He was discharged in Toronto June 5, 1919 as "Medically Unfit" after spending some time in Christie Street Military Orthopedic Hospital.

Not much is documented on the remainder of Stanley Kelly's later life other than he returned to Fenelon Falls, never married and died in 1981 at the age of 84. Then it would appear that Stanley is another young lad that "fudged" about his tender age on his attestation, really being born in 1897 making him 17 years old at attestation. I have not been able to locate any photos of the man (but I am still trying). He is buried in the family plot with his parents and siblings in the town cemetery. Some older veterans at the Legion remember Stanley but couldn't tell me much about him, including his later occupation. Stanley still apparently has distant relatives living in the area. I found mention of his injuries in a news clipping Fenelon Falls Gazette 1915. The town Maryboro Lodge Feneleon Falls Museum has an invoice from Charles Kelly Blacksmith to a town gentleman for "services rendered". His name is mentioned on the Town of Fenelon Falls Memorial which lists all the men in the town that have served in the wars. The grouping that I purchased includes the 1914-15 Star medal, British War medal, Canadian Victory medal, "Services At The Front" pin, "For Services Rendered" pin and an stainless steel identification bracelet with his name, service number and "D" Company inscribed.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010



The seventh of the eight "Friends of My Grandfather" from his photograph and the most difficult initially to locate was Corporal John Alfred Newton #426149. Newton was neither an original 3rd Battalion man nor was he a member of the 23rd Reserve Battalion, like the other seven soldiers. Before I had the service records of the friends, my search for a Corporal Newton went through a number of possibilities on the Library and Archives Canada website of Attestation Papers. Finally deciding there were no other options, I sent away for John A.'s service record and lo and behold, he was indeed our man.

14 Alexandria Road, West Ealing, London, England
John Newton's view from the Vimy Memorial France
John Alfred Newton was born February 11, 1888 in a small Norfolk village by the name of West Rudham to farm labourer father Robert and mother Susanna. The 1901 Census shows him as an 14 year old "Cowboy" farmer with six sisters and an older brother, Issac R. Newton. Apparently in a few years he left the family and spent 6 years with the 3rd Battalion, Norfolk Regiment. At some point, probably about 1910-12, John emigrated to Canada and was employed as a farmer when he enlisted in the 46th Battalion in Weyburn, Saskatchewan on December 24, 1914. Possibly due to his prior military experience, John Newton was sent on the urgently required 1st Reinforcing Draft of the 46th Battalion sailing from Montreal July 5, 1915 on the S.S. Elele. By July of 1915, after the disastrous 2nd Ypres, Givenchy and Festubert the British and Canadian commanders had realized the urgent requirement of tr
ained Commonwealth troops consequently a large number of the recruiting 2nd Contingent Battalions were asked to sent one or two reinforcing drafts well ahead of the main battalion force. As we have seen over and over again, on arrival in England reinforcing draft soldiers, most with prior military experience, were sent almost immediately on arrival to First Contingent units and so it was with Private John A. Newton. On arrival in England the draft from the 46th "Suicide" Battalion was taken on service to the newly forming 32nd Reserve Battalion. By August 28, 1915, Private John Alfred Newton was in the field with the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion, who at the time were in reserve near Ploegstreet Woods. John service record Casualty Sheet's last entry is dated December 28, 1916 in which it states that "Confirmed in the rank of Corporal effective from July 1, 1915".So he was already rightly a Corporal in the 46th Battalion. He actually spent one month attached to the N.C.O.'s School as an instructor, 2nd Army, April 9, 1916 to May 6, 1916.
The objective of the 3rd and 4th Battalions Oct 8, 1916

Except for a 2-day hospitalization February, 1916 for influenza, the only other listing in the Casualty Sheet is "Killed In Action" October 8, 1916. The circumstances of Corporal Newton's death are unknown as is his grave site. His name is commemorated in the Vimy Ridge Memorial. The Battle of the Somme and specifically the involvement of the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion I believe have been previously covered on this blog site. Suffice to say the conditions were horrific. "Of the 14 officers and 481 ranks that went into battle that day attacking a German defensive position known as The Quadrilateral, near Le Sars, only 1 officer (Major A.W.Haddon) and 85 ranks were left". 3rd Battalion War Diary. A complete description of the battle and casualties can be found here on this website.

Sometime in the short time between John Newton's enlistment and his death it appears his father died with mother Susanna becoming a widow and moving to 14 Alexandria Road, Ealing, London. It was here his three World War I medals, Memorial Plaque, Scroll and Memorial Cross were sent. His mother, as a widow, also received the soldier's War Service Gratuity of $180. as well as the balance of his modest wages as Assigned Pay and a small pension. A small price to pay for a valuable and heroic life!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


  At first glance, Sydney Churchward's service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force seems no different from tens of thousands of others who left the United Kingdom for a new life in Canada. Sydney left Buckfastleigh, Devon, England about 1910 with two brothers and travelled to Toronto where he found employment as a machinist. He soon met and married Sadie, a native of Ballymena, Antrim, North Ireland. Sydney found steady employment as a policeman in the City of Toronto while the young family settled in at 236 Weston Road, Toronto. However by 1916, Sydney had seen his brothers and friends off to England to fight in the Great War. The pressure was overwhelming so on September 20, 1917, Syd left his comfortable position as one of Toronto's finest for a Privates position in the 234th (Peel) Battalion, recruiting in nearby Ravina Barracks. The 234th Battalion embarked for England from Halifax on the HMT Scandinavia April 18, 1917 arriving Liverpool April 29, 1917. Soon after arrival the 234th was absorbed by the 12th Reserve Battalion in East Sandling. After several months of training, Sydney Churchward found himself assigned to the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion as a reinforcement soldier in the field near Ypres arriving October 17, 1917. Two interesting items of note: first, one of Syd's witnesses on his military Form of Will was Sydney Francis Chaney, 123rd Battalion and a 2nd Regiment Queen's Own Rifles veteran whose younger brother, James Chaney had been an original 3rd Battalion recruit and survived the war until October 31, 1918 making him one of the last casualties of the 3rd Battalion. Second, Sydney Churchward's attestation paper very specifically mentions under distinctive marks that he had "3 gold teeth, one crown, and one open space on the upper jaw". This dental description of Sydney's congenital peculiarities is to become significant in later years. Private Sydney Churchward soon found himself thick in the horrific Battle of Passchendaele. On November 6, 1917, The Canadian Corps advanced on and took the village of Passchendaele after months of brutal attacks. The 3rd Battalion was to act in two capacities during the battle: first, it was to provide 10 platoons to capture the German strong points of Vine Cottage and Goudberg. This force was to consist of an assault party composed of Syd's "C" Company, two platoons of "A" Company with "D" Company in support. The second role for "B" Company was to support the 2nd Battalion in their effort to take the hamlet of Mosselmarktand the vital Vindictive Crossroads. 88 riflemen of the 3rd Battalion were killed in this action or would later die of wounds in the attack on Vine Cottage and nearby Goudberg. One soldier, Corporal Colin Barron was awarded a Victoria Cross for his brave actions in the taking of Vine Cottage. 20 men have known graves, 56 have nameless headstones with their names mentioned on the Menin Gate Memorial. Private Sydney Churchward #1024345 is one of the latter. However, here is where his biography gets interesting. In 2002, at the request of a local farmer, a group of Belgium enthusiasts called "The Diggers" exhumed the remains of three Canadian soldiers near Passchendaele. With the remains were identifying items linking them to the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion. Most importantly however, one of the skulls had three gold teeth and a gap on the upper jaw. The total story can be found here at THE DIGGERS Syd's journey is far from finished. In the meantime, the three soldier's remains have been re interred in Passchendaele New British Cemetery on June 9,2003. Sydney Churchward's name remains with the 252 from the 3rd Battalion on the Menin Gate Memorial out of a total of some 56,000.


April, 2011
The story of the three re interred 3rd Battalion soldiers is not over. I personally suspected at the time that when the DNA testing was inconclusive and still the soldiers were given a military burial in Passchendaele New British Cemetery, the entire situation was somewhat rushed and more could have been done to identify one or more of the heroic men. Now it appears that others feel the same way. There are several ranking interested parties including Canadian Forces, Queen's Own Rifles Regiment, the Belgium "Diggers"and military enthusiasts such as myself that have started investigating other possibilities to the identity of the three soldiers. One main area of investigation is the finding of a large number of Canadian CEF hat badges, collar badges and identity badges in a leather pouch found on the "person" with the three gold teeth. Several of these badges were from 1st Contingent battalions possibly meaning that the man was a collector and that he was also a member of Canada's 1st Contingent joining in 1914. There was only two men of the 3rd Battalion soldiers lost on November 6, 1917 and one can probably be easily eliminated. More details are on the horizon. Stay tuned!

July, 2012 This week we were able, with the assistance of, to confirm some more biographical information on Sydney Churchward and his family; Sydney married Sadie Wilson in Toronto October 30, 1915. We believe Sadie was a Barnardo Home child. Sydney and Sadie had two children born in Toronto, Dorothy (1916) and Sydney (1917). Sadie and the two children returned to England in 1919 via Portland, Maine.

This week we were also contacted by relatives of Syd from the United Kingdom including a grandson. He confirms that he was never contacted for DNA testing. More to come..............

The inspiration for this story belongs to Adam Saunders, a Major in the 2nd Queen's Own Rifles of Canada Regiment and a Toronto Real Estate agent. Thanks to the story and photographs from "The Diggers" website. The photo of the three graves plus one was taken by myself in 2007 - situated next to the three unidentified soldiers is the grave of Lieutenant Gordon Alan Cockburn, Canadian Field Artillery who lost his life November 8, 1917 while in service with the Royal Flying Corps. Lt. Cockburn was a native of Toronto, living with his parents at 324 Spadina Road when he enlisted in Toronto with the 43rd Battery. Also to be found nearby in the Passchendaele New British Cemetery are the remains of Second Lieutenant Lorne S. Crowther, Royal Flying Corps, the younger brother of Major Beverly Crowther MC, 3rd Battalion, Killed in Action at Hill 60 May 3, 1917. Lt. Crowther was Killed in Action while flying with the 29th Squadron over Passchendaele September 20, 1917. The cemetery itself overlooks the ground of the 3rd Battalion's assault on Vine Cottage.

Friday, June 18, 2010


It has obviously been many weeks since my last blog. Our move to Milton, my back surgery and the every complexities of life have all contributed to my inability to contribute. That should start to change in coming weeks as the "dog days" of summer set in and I find myself with more free time.

I remain committed to profiling brave and heroic men who volunteered to fight for our Canadian freedom and for the motherland Britain. Some of my future blogs will profile men such as West Toronto Policeman and former Mimico resident, Sydney Churchward, who lost his life fighting in the 3rd (Toronto Regiment) Battalion during the Battle of Passendaele, November, 1917. Sydney is pictured above.

Others will include the 4 Dewhurst brothers, one of whom, Samuel Dewhurst was killed September 30, 1918 while fighting with the 3rd Battalion and is buried in Upton Wood Cemetery, France. Also the 4 Keating Brothers of Huntsville,ON distant relatives of my wife by birth, all of whom survived the war, including young (17 years) Howard Keating #4360, who spent 11 days with the Royal Canadian Dragoons. The remaining three Clearwater brothers, again great uncles of my wife, Lynn, all of whom served at the front and suffered terribly on returning home in one way or another.

We intend as well to profile men of the 23rd Battalion such as George Cubitt, Frank Richards, Daniel O'Brien, Leopold Lawless, Patrick Murphy and others who courageously stepped in as reinforcements for the 3rd, 4th, 13th, 14th, 15th, and PPCLI Battalions after these units suffered horrendously during the 2nd Battle of Ypres, April, 1915.

Here's wishing everyone has a great summer!


Sunday, April 25, 2010


Once again I must apologize for being negligent is the posting of my blogs. I have been preoccupied with our pending move to Milton and my surgery later this week. I have again posted the photograph received by my Grandfather, John Cody, from his friends in the 3rd Battalion whilst he was a Prisoner of War during the Great War. We have already blogged profiles on Messrs. Mote, Reeve, Lancey, Jack and Wiles. Please feel free to use our search option on the heading to review these profiles.

The next three friends of my Grandfather are CSM Francis Knight #9459; Sergeant John Newton # 426149 and CSM George Patrick (his friend from the 23rd Battalion)#63912 - they were all killed in action in chronological order in 1916.

CSM Francis Knight
During the action at Mount Sorrel on June 13 1916, he went out under heavy machine gun and artillery fire, and brought in two wounded men. By his coolness, distinguished conduct and conspicuous bravery he inspired his men and kept them going" - R.O. 708. Awarded by General Byng, 22/07/1916; London Gazette 23/08/1916.

According to Gary Switzer, his award was an early one -- he was the fifth 3rd Battalion man to win the Military Medal and was one of 10 soldiers in the 3rd Battalion awarded Military Medals for their actions at Mount Sorrel in June, 1916 along with Major D.H.C. Mason receiving a Distinguished Service Order, Captains H. S Cooper, H.A. Chisholm and C.E. Cooper, Military Crosses, C.S.M. Harvey a Distinguished Conduct Medal and granted his commission.

Francis Knight was the Toronto-born son of Francis W and Julia Knight who resided at 124 Pape Avenue in Toronto's east end. Born in 1886 he listed no occupation or trade on his attestation papers signed at Valcatier on September 22, 1914. He did state however that he had served in the U.S. Navy. Perhaps this is why he got on well with my father, a former U.S. Marine Corps type. Frank and his younger brother, Reuben Knight #3042 were members of the 2nd Regiment Queen's Own Rifles. When the call went out in August 1914 for volunteers to the 1st Canadian Contingent, Francis went along with the draft from the Queen's Own forming the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion in Valcartier. Reuben was too young at this time but eventually saw overseas service in the Canadian Army Service Corps.
Francis Knight started his military journey in the 3rd Battalion as a Private in "C" Company. When training on the Salisbury Plains, he was deprived of 1 days pay in Bustard Camp 21/11/1914 and again in January, 1915 was deprived of 8 days and 10 days pay, along with 8 days detention for being "Absent without Leave" on 2 different occasions. He travelled with the battalion to France in February, 1915 and fought unscathed through the Battles of 2nd Ypres in April, Festubert in May and Givenchy in June, 1915. He was promoted to the rank of full Sergeant in the field June 13, 1915 and to Company Sergeant Major ("B" Company?)June 7 and granted 9 days leave July 7, 1916. Francis received his Warrant Officer Class II June 12, 1916.

By September, 1916 the Canadian Corps and particularly the 3rd Battalion were resident in the Somme and involved in the Battle of Courcelette. From September 15 to the 17th, the 1st Canadian Division was in reserve while the 2nd and 3rd Divisions fought for the town and the main German trench positions around the town, the Sugar Factory (captured by the 21st Battalion)and aided by the Canadians first use of tanks. However on September 18, the 3rd Battalion was ordered to hold a trench position at St. Emile between the Sugar Factory and Courcelette. Francis was one of five 3rd Battalion men who were Killed in Action or Died of Wounds that day. The German onslaught of artillery, shrapnel shells, mortars and snipers was devastating on the men and the town.

The War Diary for the 3rd Battalion on September 19, 1916 states:
Our own artillery firing very short causing us more casualties. CSM Knight wounded. About 50 casualties to date 30 of which have been from our own shell fire.
C.S.M. Francis William Knight is listed as Died of Wounds on 19/09/1916 at the 21st South Midland Casualty Clearing Station, France and is buried in France's Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension.

Thanks to Gary E. Switzer for his help on this one. Credits for the photos as well taken from the Veteran's Affairs Canada Virtual web site.

***UPDATE November 8, 2010***
Since originally publishing this blog, I have been contacted by the great nephew of Francis W. Knight, Marshall Leslie of Toronto. Marshall has kindly provided me with photographs of the 1891 Canadian Census showing the Knight family, the World War One Memorial Plaque from First Ave. Baptist Church in Toronto with 21 names including the name of Francis W. Knight and a recent photograph of the family home at 124 Pape Avenue. Marshall was also kind enough to share some additional information on his great uncle and the Knight Family. Apparently there were 12 children in the Knight Family. Francis was the oldest male and the 4th of the 12 children. Marshall isn't sure of the present location of Francis Knight's medals including the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, Military Medal, Memorial Cross issued to the mother, and the Memorial Plaque and Scroll sent to Frank's father, Frank, Sr. Reuben, the younger brother did survive the war and although enlisting with the Canadian Army Service Corps, did serve for some time in the 3rd Battalion. He died in the U.S.A. about 1972.

***UPDATE December 5, 2010
Apparently the nephew and son of Frank Knight's youngest brother, Ralph, has Frank's medals in his possession including his Military Medal. They are in a safe and well caring home.

***UPDATE December 29, 2010
Ralph Knight, nephew of CSM Frank Knight, has kindly sent photographs of the medals, badges, buttons, insignia he has inherited and had mounted from his uncle including the Military Medal. A beautiful collection! Thank-you Ralph.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Fulkerson being my biological late mother's maiden name, the fact that she was born and raised in Penticton, BC and that the surname Fulkerson is uncommon in Canada, unfortunately led me to some hasty conclusions. There are two brothers with the last name Fulkerson that served with the 54th (Kootenay) Battalion and both of whom lived in Penticton at the time of their attestation in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. At some point I assumed that these brothers were closely related to my mother with the evidence being almost overwhelming. Now, with my new subscription to, I have to reluctantly admit that I may have jumped to conclusions prematurely and in fact there may be no direct relation between my mother and the brothers or if there is, it is generations old. The fact that they shared the same last name and called Pentiction their home, might be one large coincidence!

Stanley and Frederick Fulkerson were the younger sons of Quincy Silas and Perdetta (nee Vaughan) Fulkerson. Quincy, a lumberman and his young family were natives of Muskegon, Michigan - Casnovia and Sullivan Townships and emigrated to British Columbia, presumably in search of employment. They are shown in the 1900 U.S. Federal census in Casnovia and in the 1911 Canadian Census in Penticton. My mother's branch of the Fulkerson family came from Minnesota in the early 20th Century and are descended to the Reverend John W. Fulkerson, a distinguished Pastor in the United Brethren in Christ Church, from Marion, Minnesota. Both branches are direct descendants of Dirck Volckertszen, an early New World settler in about 1623 of New Amsterdam (present day New York) whose last name was Anglicized to FULKERSON.

Palace Hotel, Pentiction (2007)
Quincy and Perdetta quickly became active in Penticton after their arrival from Michigan. In 1911, they took over the Palace Hotel, built in 1906, on Main Street and operated it as a boarding house for regular long-term tenants. The "absence of a bar contributed to it being perceived as a nice place to stay". At one time it may have had as many as 10 rooms upstairs and narrow hallways. The Palace Hotel still exists in 2010 as Penticton's oldest commercial building currently operating as Audio Visions store. It now has a brick fronting from the photo above. Frederick and Stanley both attended the first school in the town. Stanley is shown in the photo of the first graduating class above and apparently was a gifted musician like his father, playing the trumpet and working as a chauffeur. He had impaired eyesight and presumably wore eyeglasses. Frederick joined the the local "H" company of the 102nd Rocky Mountain Rangers Regiment. When war was declared in August of 1914, many of the older boys and men of the town, particularly those of British background joined up with immediately with various units. Frederick however at the tender age of 16  being born February 13, 1898,was not permitted to sign up and remained in school with Stanley, who was a key member of the well-known Penticton Brass Band.

However on May 1st of 1915, the 54th Battalion was authorized by the Militia Department in Ottawa to recruit in the interior towns of British Columbia, with the Head Quarters in Vernon. The battalion assembled in June, 1915 with a 1st Reinforcing Draft consisting of 5 officers and 250 ranks being sent to England in July. By early September, young Frederick was permitted to join at age 17. The battalion, lacking a band, quickly accepted the offer of the Penticton Brass Band to be the official 54th Battalion Band and with that the members of the Pentiction Band were attested into the 54th Battalion en masse including older brother 18 year-old Stanley. Thus both brothers were with the Battalion and Band members when it sailed from Halifax on the S.S. Saxonia November 22, 1915. The battalion was directed to Bramshott Camp after arrival in Plymouth, for training and mobilization. The 54th Battalion was assigned to the 11th Brigade in the newly formed 4th Canadian Division. On August 13th, 1916, the Division was received their marching orders for France and by the last week of August were sharing the trenches near Dickenbusche with fellow brigade members 75th (Mississauga Horse) Battalion, 87th (Grenadier Guards) Battalion and the 102nd (North B.C.) Battalion. However by the second week of October the 4th Canadian Division was moved to Albert for their first serious battle in The Somme.

Frederick had received a short hospitalization in Witley Camp for the measles in February and was granted a 10 day furlough prior to the Battalion proceeding to France. Brother Stanley had been admitted to Connaught Hospital in June for VD but was discharged days before the Battalion left. We know from the service records that young Fred had been trained as a wirier and bomber in addition to his Band duties. Stanley was a Band member as well and probably functioned as a stretcher bearer when required.

Frederick Fulkerson's name on the
Vimy Memorial, France
At the Somme, the first attack by the 4th Division was October 21st on Regina Trench. In the days following, all the battalions of the Division were intensely focused on the total destruction of the Regina Trench complex north of Courcelette. The battle was futile with the Germans well dug in, as they had been for the entire Battle of the Somme. After 41 days of attacking the trench and 500 metres along a 3.7 km front, the Canadians finally took Regina Trench with a monumental loss of life. However on November 18th the 4th Division, including the 54th Battalion, was ordered to capture Desire Trench, 200 yards north of present-day Adanac Cemetery. The attack by the Canadians went well - the British on each flank not so well. By day's end the men were forced to withdraw. Finally the British High Command ordered the end to the Somme Campaign and the last battle was over. This final day of the Battle of the Somme, November 18, 1918 had cost the Canadian 4th Division 1,250 men killed, wounded and missing including 18 year-old Private Frederick Fulkerson. His young body was never identified nor recovered from the Somme battlefield and was officially listed as "Missing in Action". His name is perpetuated on the Vimy Memorial. Interestingly, his medal card states that Frederick IS NOT eligible for the Victory Medal nor the British War Medal, presumably because he had not spent the required time in the field of battle. His mother did however receive the Silver Cross and Decoration and father, the Plaque and Scroll, of fallen soldiers.

Stanley survived the battle and many more. He fought and remained with the 54th Battalion until the wars end with only a couple of short hospital visits including one for the mumps, receiving a Good Conduct Badge on July 7, 1917. The band of the 54th Battalion played at many events and functions, both during the war and after the Armistice was signed. Stanley Fulkerson would have played at many of them. He was treated in February, March, and May 1919 for Pneumonia and Influenza therefore was not able to return home with the few surviving original members (65) of the 54th Battalion. Stanley arrived in Halifax on July 8, 1919 and was officially discharged in Port Arthur, ON on July 12, 1919.

During the war, with the absence of her two boys, Perdetta Fulkerson was active with the Penticton Soldier Comforts Association. This organization raised funds and packed parcels of food, socks and clothing. A Christmas card was sent to every man each year. After Stanley's return home, the Fulkerson's sold the hotel and moved to California, to commence a new life without Frederick. Stanley Fulkerson died in Stockton, California in March 1970.

Thanks Norm Christie For King & Empire The Canadians On the Somme and to R. N Atkinson Penticton Pioneers.

***UPDATE MAY 9, 2011***

This past week I successfully bid on EBay on the Victory Medal for Archibald Scott #463370, 54th Battalion. While not an original member of the 54th (joining the 62nd Battalion in Vernon, BC August 24, 1915) he was an early reinforcement to the battalion. However more importantly he was Killed in Action on November 18, 1916 in the same attack north of Courcelette that claimed the life of my Great Uncle Frederick. Like Private Fulkerson, his name is also perpetuated on the Vimy Memorial.

Monday, March 15, 2010


The next three men profiled from my grandfather's photograph of his friends in the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion, all died while in the service of that Battalion. Chronologically, the first was Company Sergeant Major George Arthur Mote #9389, Distinguished Service Cross, Warrant Officer Class II. George Mote has been rather easy to follow genealogically due to the uniqueness of his name. He also holds the distinction of holding one of the saddest service records I have personally viewed.

George Mote was born August 25, 1888 in the north London suburban town of Islington, Middlesex. (interestedly, a few short miles from the residence of our next profile in Grandpa's picture, Corporal John Newton #426149 in West Ealing, Middlesex and not far from my daughter's residence near RAF Northwood). Son of Arthur Charles and Norah McNamara, after serving in the 1st Middlesex Regiment, George immigrated to Toronto, Canada with his younger brother Edward Mote #192903 in 1908 in search of that old cliché, steady work. Edward found employment as an electrician and George went to work with the T. Eaton Co. as a "corset cutter". He apparently had a "girl friend", Miss. Annie Smith, 784 Queen St. East, Toronto. However, his next of kin and assigned pay were sent to his father, living at 62 Chatterton Road, Finsbury Park, London. Both men joined the 2nd Regiment Queen's Own Rifles in 1913. George followed the QOR's contingent to Valcartier when the war was declared in August, 1914 and was enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force as Sergeant George Mote, service number 9389, CEF. He continued to follow the 3rd Battalion to their training camp on the Salisbury Plains, Camp Bustard, being promoted to platoon Sergeant in Company "B". I have not ordered the service record of Edward Mote.
C.S.M. George A. Mote #9389
During the 1st Canadian Division's and 3rd Battalion's initiation to battle at the 2nd Battle of Ypres on April 23/24, the 3rd Battalion was demolished. If a Canadian soldier wasn't dead, gassed or missing, he was most likely captured or wounded. Because he was attached to "B" Company, 3rd Battalion and not one of the two attacking companies, "C" and "D", Sergeant Mote managed to survive the battle unscathed.

After the battalion was substantially reinforced in early May, with over 200 men including my grandfather, John Cody, from the 23rd Battalion, The "Dirty Third" again took to battle on May 18 at Festubert. Along with the remainder of 1st Brigade, in a reserve position, they cleaned up operations after the 2nd and 3rd Brigades ran into trouble in an ill-timed and ill-planned attack, on May 24 at "the Orchard". For actions in this battle Sergeant George Mote was awarded the prestigious Distinguished Conduct Medal with the following citation from the London Gazette:

Highgate Cemetery, London
For conspicuous gallantry on the 24th May, 1915 at Festubert. In company with another Non-Commissioned Officer, Sergeant Mote volunteered to attempt the rescue of an Officer of his Battalion, who after being seriously wounded, had been left in a place of cover within a few yards of German trenches. They proceeded by different routes under a very heavy shell fire, Sergeant Mote reaching the spot indicated only to find that the Officer was not there. The other N.C.O. lost his life in gallantly making the attempt to rescue this Officer.

The officer in question is Lieutenant Reginald N.C. Craig and the N.C.O. is believe to have been Private Benjamin Irons #10135. Both bodies were not recovered and both names are inscribed on the Vimy Memorial. My grandfather described the Battle of Festubert as the most intense of the several, he took part in.

November 11, 1915, Sergeant Mote was promoted to the rank of Acting Company Sergeant Major, "B" Company and thereafter granted 9 days leave from February 2, 1916. I believe he received his D.C.M. during this leave, from King Edward. On return his service was uninterrupted at the front lines with the 3rd Battalion save for a week attached to the Divisional Grenade School.

However George's luck ran out on June 3, 1916 at Hill 60 in the Ypres battlefield, Belgium.
CSM Mote was in the rear of the leading platoon, "B" Company on the way as reinforcements when a shell burst behind him. He received shot wounds to right shoulder right ankle with an intact shrapnel shell penetrating his spine. He was knocked down, not unconscious, was unable to move his legs
CSM George Mote middle row centre
George Mote remained paralysed until his death. He died at Duchess of Connaught Canadian Red Cross Hospital in Taplow on February 6, 1917 after months of excruciating pain and paralysis. He is buried in a beautiful,serene plot with three military comrades in London's famous Highgate Cemetery.

Very interesting that even though only four of the 315 soldiers buried in Highgate Cemetery, London, have Canadian affiliation, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has chosen the serene grave of George Mote (and his four resting companions)to illustrate on their web profile of the cemetery.

Company Sergeant Major George A Mote was replaced on the battlefield by Company Sergeant Major Frank W. Knight #9459,MM and the next friend from Grandpa Cody's photograph we will profile.

Thanks to Nigel Hillen and Marika Pirie for permission to use their photos. Also thanks to my friends on the CEF Study Group Forum for their assistance in assembling this profile.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


John Babcock was a man well on his way to fulfilling his own "Bucket List". Known as Canada's last surviving veteran of World War One, John Babcock died in California on February 18, 2010 at the age of 109 years. A day which also happens to be my birthday. It is because of this fact that I recently bid on a sports card honouring John Babcock, on E Bay. Little did I know that within hours of my bid and much to my astonishment, I won the item as the only bidder.

John Henry Foster Babcock was a young 16 years old when in Syndenham he enlisted in Kingston's 146th Battalion recruited by equally young brothers Charles and Robert Gowdy #835341 and 835171 respectively. See Norm Christie's interesting stories on these brothers in his excellant King and Empire series here.

Jack went overseas with the 146th Battalion, as did many underaged soldiers, for the Canadian Expeditionary Force was badly in need of reinforcements in 1916. Promoted to Lance Corporal he ended up in the Young Soldiers Battalion along with 1,300 young men, hoping to reach France. Luckily, he never did.

After the armistice was signed, John Babcock was returned to Canada and with the help of the Canadian Government, was taught the principles of an electrician. In the 1920's he emigrated to the United States, never to return to the land of his birth. At the age of 65, he obtained his pilot's licence and was active until his death. The full and complete story of John F. Babcock can be be found here on Richard Laughton's amazing blogspot on the man.

Rest In Peace, John F. Babcock.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


In Part Two of my blog on 2nd/Lt.Alan Reeve, we visit the Captain of the Bristol F2B Fighter, Captain Henry Russell Child, the story of being shot down by the Red Baron and the tragic death of Alan Reeve's brother, Sergeant Frederick Reeve #172285, 19th Battalion, C.E.F.

PART TWO - Like Alan Reeve, Henry Child was a veteran of the Infantry Corps. He was a west London native born March 27, 1895 and coming from a upper middle class family in northwest Harlesden. Early in the war 1914, he received his commission with the 21st (4th Public Schools) City of London Regiment Royal Fusiliers. He entered France November 14, 1915 with that Battalion. This battalion was disbanded April 24, 1916 "as many of the men had gone to take commissions". Later in that year Lieutenant Henry Russell Child obtained permission to take flying instruction at the Grahame-White School in Hendon. He received his Royal Aero Club Aviators Certificate #4188 on Feb. 3, 1917 and eventually found himself posted to the 11th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps in France as a 2nd Lieut. A connection with the 2nd Regiment Queen's Own Rifles and Alan Reeve was the top Ace of 11th Squadron with 30 kills Canadian Squadron Leader Andrew McKeever of Listowel, Ontario, a member of that Regiment while attending school in Toronto and who served with the 58th Battalion in France.

Child was soon promoted to Captain and was matched with 2nd Lieut. Alan Reeve in early 1918 who flew as the Observer in the 2-seat Bristol F2B Fighter/Reconnaisance aircraft. They flew a number of missions together. However on March 27, 1918, Bristol aircraft #B1332 with Child/Reeves aboard was flying a reconnaisance mission over Chuignolles, south of Bray-sur-Somme in the Somme when at 16:35 they were shot down behind German lines. According to author Floyd Gibbons in his The Red Knight of Germany Child and Reeve in Bristol B1332 were the 73rd Victim of the Red Baron, Baron von Richthofen. Although there are several military cemeteries close to the crash site that contain unidentified flyers from the Royal Flying Corps, Child and Reeve are both commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial. There actual graves remain waiting to be discovered.

The twin bother of Lieut. Alan Reeve was Frederick Reeve. Frederick enlisted as a Private in Toronto with the Queen's Own Rifles 83rd Battalion, service number 172285. He embarked with the 83rd from Halifax on the S.S. Olympic. On August 18, 1916, Frederick was taken on service to Toronto's 19th Battalion, being quickly promoted to the rank of Sergeant on March 29, 1917. However, on May 9, 1917 during a period the 19th Battalion held the trenches near Dickenbusch in "Spoilbank Trench", he was listed as Missing In Action. His name is commemorated with honour on the Vimy Memorial.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


When I first started researching the Non-Commissioned Officers in my grandfathers photo from his friends in the 3rd Battalion, little did I know there would a direct connection to the infamous Red Baron. This profile of Alan Reeve admittedly is one of the more interesting ones I have done.

PART ONE - The Reeve family that resided at 1816 Gerrard St.E., Toronto in August, 1914 had immigrated from Cambridge, England about 1905. The family however, is shown as living at 167 Major Street on the 1911 Census with Charles father, Charlotte mother, Harold son and Maud daughter. This is very close to the University of Toronto - our man Alan Reeve may have attended the school for a year or two but at this time did not reside with the family. Nor did his brother Frederick, who also listed his birthday as November, 1894. It is entirely possible the two brothers Alan and Frederick were twins.

Alan and Frederick Reeve were both members of the 2nd Regiment Queen's Own Rifles militia. Alan joined the draft leaving Toronto for Valcartier and ended up as a Private in "C" Company, 3rd (Toronto) Battalion. Brother Frederick later joined the QOR's 83rd Battalion and was Killed in Action May 9, 1917 while serving with the 19th Battalion in France. This family and brothers are not to be confused with the Reeves Family one of whom also enlisted in the 3rd Battalion (Pte Cedic Reeves #10069) and who will be the subject of a future blog. Alan followed the "Dirty Third" through their Salisbury Plains training and into the trenches in February 1915. He was unscathed from the activities of 2nd Ypres in April, 1915 and promoted to rank of Corporal on May 23. He was hospitalized in July for a short period with Enteritis and in August attached to 3rd Field Company, Canadian Engineers for a week followed by Bombing School. January 9, 1916, Alan Reeve was promoted to full Sergeant in the field. On May 30, 1916, he received a blighty in the form of a severe gun shot wound to his right arm and admitted to hospital in England. Discharged to 12th Reserve Battalion, West Sandling in August 1916 and thence seconded to the Pay Office in London. In March 1917, Sgt. Alan Reeve was sent on command to Officer's Training College, Bexhill and in April was Gazetted as a Temporary Lieutenant. He was sent back to the 3rd Battalion as an officer replacement in the field May 26. In September Alan was attached to the Royal Flying Corps as an observer and sent to London for a one-month course. By November 11, 1917 2/Lt Alan Reeve was seconded for duty with 11th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps in the field in France. A famous Canadian Ace who also flew with the 11th Squadron was Listowel-born Major Andrew Edward McKeever, D.S.O., M.C. and Bar, Croix de Guerre who had 30 kills by wars end. McKeever coincidentally also came out of the ranks of the Queen's Own Rifles and apparently was a crack marksman serving in Toronto's 58th Battalion before being recruited for the R.F.C.

Alan was granted 14 days leave in England on March 1, 1918. On March 24, 1918 he was reported as Missing In Action while flying as the observer to Captain Henry Russell Child in a Bristol F2B (#B1332). The two were flying a patrol over the town of Chuignolles, Somme, south of Bray-sur-Somme, when at 16:35 they were supposedly confronted and shot down by Squadron Leader Baron von Richthofen as The Red Baron's 77th kill. Richhofen was only to fly for a few more weeks and score only three more victories before being shot down himself over the Somme on April 21, 1918.

2nd/Lieut. Alan Reeve and Captain Henry Russell Child have no known grave. Their names are commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial in France. I often wonder if there are graves in the area marked "A Unknown Flying Officer of the Royal Flying Corps" and if they might be identified.


Thursday, January 28, 2010



The subject of this profile has been rather difficult to study due to his common surname and being a resident of the United States. As a native of Oldham, Lancashire, England, 34 year old Percy Jones and his wife Fannie, immigrated to the United States at some point prior to the start of the Great War. They settled in Fall River, Mass at 77 Eastern Ave. and later 164 Elm Street with Percy taking up the occupation of storekeeper. I have not found evidence of any children to Percy and Fannie. Apparently the lure of fighting for his native country was overwhelming with Percy possibly answering the advertisements in American newspapers for British subjects to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Consequently in the summer of 1917 Percy boarded one of the frequent trains leaving Boston for Montreal, leaving Fannie to "watch the shop" so to speak. On arrival he was directed to the 4th Military District Mobilization Centre where his medical testing took place on July 26, 1917. He was placed into Category A-2 (for service only in England) because of his height of 5'1 1/2" and declining eyesight with the comment "Slight defects but not sufficient to cause rejection". From here he again boarded a train for the huge army camp at Valcartier. We know that Percy Jones was drafted into the 249th (Saskatchewan) Battalion who were short of recruits leaving Regina and who had made a recruiting/training stop in Valcartier before boarding a ship in Halifax for England. Headed by Lieutenant-Colonel C.B. Keelyside, the 249th finally departed Halifax February 21, 1918 with Private Percy Jones in tow along with 15 officers and 708 other ranks from all corners of Canada and the United States. On arriving in England aboard the S.S. Saxonia, the entire 249th Battalion was absorbed by the 15th Reserve Battalion in Bramshott. On June 1, 1918 Private Henry Jones proceeded overseas to join the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Battalion. So much for being classed A-2! On August 8, 1918 Henry was sent to the 5th (Saskatchewan) Battalion in the field in France. The War Memorial in Oldham, Lancashire has in excess of 2,000 names with no transcribed listing as yet. However I would have to think that Percy Jones would have his name upon it for posterity.

In an intense battle by the 1st Canadian Division and the 5th Battalion on September 1, 1918 outside the village of Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt, Private Henry Jone was listed as "Missing After Action". The description of his loss on the CEF Burial Registers reads as follows: "Killed In Action; While taking part with his Battalion in a counter-attack on enemy positions east of the Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt-Dury Road , he was hit in the head and body by shrapnel and killed about 11:00am on September 1, 1918". His status was changed to "Killed In Action" on September 11 when his body was recovered from the battlefield. In total the 5th Battalion's casualties for this one day (September 1st) were 10 officers and 225 ranks. Company "A" led the attack with "D" Company in support and "B" and "C" Companies in reserve. By the day's end, "A" Company ceased to exist and all companies had been committed to the battle. A full description is available in the War Diaries. After Henry's body was recovered, he was buried in a mass grave in Upton Woods Cemetery, along with about 50 other soldiers from the 5th. Upton Woods, which I visited in 2008, is a very serene and out of the way locale. Many men from the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion are also buried here - I will try to feature one or two in future blogs. Reading battle accounts for Cagnicourt and the surrounding area one comes to the conclusion that during this time frame, fighting was brutal with the German army trying to tactfully retreat back to their homeland and just survive the war. The terrain is basically flat with little geophysical features other than wood lots (Upton Woods) and the ever present canals.

The War Diary on-line Library and Archives Canada website for the 5th Battalion has a lengthy description of this battle should anyone be interested. After receiving word of Henry's death, it appears Fannie Jones returned to England and at least for a while was residing Bk.46, Rothsay Road, Blackpool, Lancs. Percy Jones was not eligible for the 1914-15 Star but a British War Medal and Victory medal, as well Widow's Silver Cross and the Death Plaque and Scroll were issued to his widow. I am now the proud owner of the BWM. The loss of another brave soldier fighting for his country!

Saturday, January 16, 2010



The last of the three Sergeants from the photograph of the eight 3rd Battalion Sergeant friends of my grandfather, Cpl. John Cody, to survive the war was Sergeant Albert William Lancey #9575, 3rd (Toronto) Battalion. Albert Lancey had been born in Bristol, England in 1888. At some point, probably between 1910 and 1914, he immigrated from England to Canada and worked as a plumber at Polson Iron Works in Toronto, boarding at 7 Dean Street. He was actively involved with the 2nd Regiment, Queen's Own Rifles of Canada. On declaration of war, the single, 25 year old joined the Q.O.R. contingent headed by Lt. Col. Mercer for Valcartier where he was attested as a private into the 3rd Battalion, C.E.F. on September 22, 1914. Like his chum, William Jack, Albert served the 3rd Battalion through a number of early battles is 1915 and 1916 unscathed. At this point he listed his next of kin as his father, F. Lancey, living at 30 Horne Road, Ilfracombe, Devon, England.

Albert Lancey had served three years in the Territorials in Devon, prior to emigrating to Canada so promotions came fast. First to Lance Corporal May 11, 1915. Then full Corporal June 30, 1915. Soon after being granted 7 days leave Corporal Lancey was promoted to full Sergeant January 1, 1916. Again serving through the Battle at Mount Sorrel in June unscathed as a Platoon Sergeant with "C" Company. However during the Battle of the Somme when the 3rd Battalion were in the trenches about 500 yards to the right of Monquet Farm and between the 49th Australian Battalion and the 2nd Canadian Battalion on September 9, 1916, our Sergeant Lancey's luck came to an end. "C" company and Lancey, were severely mauled. Sergeant Lancey was buried by an artillery shell and badly concussed. He also suffered burns and lacerations to his back. Other members of the 3rd Battalion killed from this action include Sergeant Arthur Nottingham, MM #63678 and Lieutenant E.C. Harvey, DCM,MM #9456.

Sergeant Lancey was evacuated to England and spent 3 months in several hospitals convalescing from his wounds and apparent shell shock. He spent most of the remainder of the war training new troops in the 1st Central Ontario Reinforcement Deport (CORD). This service was interrupted in June, 1917 when he was granted permission to marry Dora Jennings Gordon at the church in St. Leonards, Kent. His wedding was attended by a number of his chums from the 3rd Battalion.

Shortly after returning from his marriage, Sergeant Lancey was posted to 12th Reserve Battalion, East Sandling and it was here he spent the remainder of the war in training mode. Wife, Dora, boarded in Hastings much of this time. June 21, 1919 he was stricken off service and taken off service Military District #3 Rhyl. Presumably he was part of the disciplinary team. At this time Dora appears to be living with his parents in Illfracombe. Later sent on "RTC" with dependants in Devon. (his wife and parents). He returned to Canada, presumably with his wife, on the S.S. Baltic August 13, 1919 and landed in Halifax. He was discharged August 28, 1919 in Toronto and listed his intended residence as 176 Major Street, Toronto. See photo at top. At some point soon after they moved to 353 Harbord Street, Toronto. See lower photo.
Sergeant Albert Lancey died in Toronto March 31, 1964 and is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery. The Canadian Department of Veteran's Affairs installed a grave marker with the simple wording "Sgt. Albert William Lancey, 3rd Battalion, Date of Birth Oct. 11, 1888". Wife Dora died February 1, 1971.

NOTES: There are several clips in the Toronto Star concerning this man and his military and medical status as well as his obituary.

As well on THE MEMORY PROJECT Digital Archive is a Recording Transcript from his daughter, Mollie Lavelle. It can be found at this link. A transcript follows:

"My name is Mollie Lavelle. I am the only daughter of Albert William Lancey. His number, I'm almost positive, was 9575. He was a member of the Toronto Regiment, 1st Battalion, "C" Company. He fought the whole world war battles at Ypres, Somme and Vimy. He entered as just an ordinary soldier and he became a Sergeant.
He had many, many friends who had come from England when they were quite young – seventeen years of age or so – and stayed here for a few years and joined the Canadian Army when the war was declared. None of them were badly injured. He did have a back injury, for which he received a small pension. But he lived very, very well until he was seventy-five years of age.
He was a fine, wonderful man. A good father, and I couldn't say anything about him that wasn't good. He gave us a very good education, my brother and I, who was a dam-buster in the Second World War and awarded the DFC. His name was George Lancey. He was with the dam-buster squadron.

My father told us a few tales of the war. They were all about the good friends that he had and how wonderful the people were to them. He was married in 1917 to my mother, who was English, and he had returned from France just for the wedding. He was married on June the 30th, 1917 and I have a wonderful picture of their wedding, with the Colonel giving him what looks like a present of money or something, and all the men standing around with big smiles on their faces. It's a wonderful picture. He had to back to France, and he was there when I was born on January the 24th, 1919. He came home from France when I was three weeks old. They came to Canada in September 1919 and arrived in Halifax with all the other soldiers, and were interrogated there. They then came up to Toronto, where he resided for the rest of his life."

*** MAY 3, 2011 ***
I have been successful in securing Sargeant Lancey's 1914-1915 Star at a public auction. Will be proudly displayed.