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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.

Friday, January 15, 2010



Another of my grandfather's friends from his photograph posted previously was Sergeant William Jack #9569, 3rd (Toronto) Battalion. William Jack was working as a boilermaker in Toronto and active in the 2nd Regiment, Queen's Own Rifles when war broke out in August, 1914. He had previously immigrated from Glascow, Scotland settling with his parents, William and Mary and younger brother, Joseph, in St. Thomas, Ontario. William answered the call when it went out to the men of the Queen's Own Rifles and at the age of 21, he got on the train in Toronto and departed for Valcartier and attestation into the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He trained with the "Dirty Third" on the Salisbury Plains during the winter of 1914/15 and followed them into the trenches of France February, 1915.

William Jack served in "D" Company with the 3rd Battalion and stayed with them through the Battles of 2nd Ypres, Festubert and Givenchy, relatively unscathed. He was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal June 2, 1915 and to full Corporal August 8, 1915. After receiving and returning from 7 days leave in September, William was made an Acting Sergeant and on March 6, 1916 was promoted to full Sergeant with pay. However during the 1st Brigade's stand-to on Hill 60 during May, Sergeant Jack received a severe gun shot wound to his left ankle, fracturing the fibula. He was evacuated to No.3 Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne, thence to England and a series of General and Convalescent Hospitals. Upon discharge, he was taken on service to the 12th Battalion in West Sandling. However it was found that not only could he not march, but in fact had trouble even walking. Subsequently he was brought before a Medical Board at the Canadian Discharge Depot and found to have a permanent disability and "being no longer physically fit for war service" and having "very good military character". He was put on the S.S. Scotian and on landing in Quebec was granted a full discharge on February 10, 1917.
William returned to the family home in St. Thomas. His parents by this time had moved from 131 Erie Street to 151 Myrtle Street. After the war, William Jack married Margaret Colquhoun. They lived at this same family home until William's death on January 8, 1964. He is buried in St. Thomas's Elmdale Memorial Park alongside beloved wife Margaret. William was a proud Freemason and a member of the Ancient Arabic Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (a Shriner).

Some notable NOTES. William Jack was a distant relative of the Californian, David Jack, the founder and developer of "Monterey Jack" cheese. William's younger brother also served in World War One. Sergeant Joseph Jack #529413 joined the A.M.C. #1 Training Depot on July 20, 1917. William Jack is also the grandfather of CEF Study Group Forum member "dwall" Dave of Bradford, Ont.

Special thanks to "tinhutjohn" Sarge CEF Study Group Forum for the grave photo of William Jack.

Sunday, January 10, 2010



Little did I know that when I purchased a single Victory Medal last fall to David Richmond, that I would soon find myself immersed in a tragic World War One personal story.

David Richmond was born June 5, 1882 in the picturesque village of Kings Norton, within the city limits of Birmingham, England to the middle class parents of David, Sr, an Insurance Agent, and Sarah. We know he had at least two siblings; Joseph (who may have been a twin) and Annie. Young adventurer David joined the permanent British Army in 1898 and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, (King's) Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI). This Battalion sailed for South Africa in November, 1899 and fought with distinction through the entire South Africa campaign in several districts. Presumably David fought with them all this time.

He finished his service with the British Army in 1905 and in June of that year he married 18 year-old Minnie Hawkins, a native of Torquay in Kings Norton. David and Nora decided to start a new life in Canada. Perhaps David was given a settlement for his military service or perhaps they already had family there - for whatever reason they settled in the agricultural community of Agassiz, British Columbia, home of many other Englishmen. Nora Hilda was born to the couple May,1906 and William Herbert in August 1907. New-born Constance died June 6, 1909. However on January 22, 1912, 25 year-old Minnie died, possibly in child birth. She was buried in Old Agassiz Cemetery. Immediately 28 year-old David Richmond and his two young children, Nora and Herbert, travelled east and embarked in St.John, NB on the SS Empress of Britain arriving in Liverpool on February 17, 1912. David left his two children with his mother, Sarah, who by now was living in the village of Alvechurch, Birmingham. She was to act as guardian for the next few years.

Not staying in England long, David returned to Canada March 9 on the SS Teutonic determined to continue to forge out a new life for him and his two young children. In the 1911 Census, he is shown as a possible business owner and having two lodgers on his premises, along with his family. We lost track of David until 1916 when he enlisted as Private #696724 in Medicine Hat's 175th Battalion on April 27. On the attestation paper he declares himself to be a farmer, living in Vulcan, Alberta with his next of kin, young daughter Nora still living in England. It is entirely possible he was working for or with an early settler to the area, Dan Richmond.

Before the 175th (South Alberta) Battalion embarked Halifax on the SS Saxonia October 4, 1916, David was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. The battalion was led by Lt.-Col. N. Spencer, consisted of 30 officers and 847 ranks. Several months after arrival in England the 175th Battalion was absorbed by the 21st Reserve Battalion. In order to proceed overseas into battle, David Richmond requested a demotion to rank of Private and on April 19, 1917 he proceeded to France to join the 31st (Alberta) Battalion. His service record states that he was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal immediately upon arrival in order to replace L/Cpl. Harry Garrison #79928, who had won the Military Medal and had been Killed In Action May 22, 1917. He was soon promoted to full Corporal. He served with valour, being transferred on loan to the CCRC and 2nd Division Training School in France, leaving on January 1, 1918 for 14 days leave. Rejoining the 31st Battalion in the field, David either requested or was commanded to attend Army Reinforcement Depot Cadet Training School April, 1918 in Bramshott. He was given a commission to Temporary Lieutenant and taken on service once again to the 21st Reserve Battalion as an officer.

Here his story gets more tragic. David requested in August 1918, and was granted permission to marry. It seems he had met and fallen in love with a British school teacher, 26 year-old Annie Glasscoe, a native of Gresley, Derbyshire. Perhaps Annie was Nora and William's teacher or their Nannie? Nevertheless David and Annie married in early September, 1918 in Kings Norton. Finally Nora and Herbert had a mother!

However on September, 17, 1918, Lt. David Richmond proceeded from England directly to the front and combat duties as an officer, again with the 31st (Alberta) Battalion. By this time, the Battalion, as the entire Canadian Corps, was well into The Final 100 Days of the war.

The 2nd Canadian Division and specifically the 6th Brigade had been given the responsibility during the Battle of Cambrai to advance east of the City. The 31st Battalion in particular was given orders to advance on the town of Thun L'Eveque. This medieval town was interestingly the site of the first recorded use of biological ammunition when in 1340 warring factions used dead horses and other animals to transmit disease. Not much had changed in 600 years! On October 8, 1918 the Germans, determined to make a stand, put up a determined artillery barrage about 1000 yards west of the town, along the entire line of advance. The men of the 31st Battalion marched on and soon came into dense machine gun fire on the high ground in front of the village. It was apparent that the covering battalions to the 31st Battalion's advance on the left had pulled away leaving the flank unprotected. Within minutes six men had been killed. 3 officers and 24 ranks wounded. Our Lieutenant David Richmond, platoon leader in "B" company had fallen, mortally wounded. He was immediately evacuated to #30 Casualty Clearing Station but died here within two hours from a severe leg wound and loss of blood. "B" Company however was able to continue the attack, despite the machine gun fire, and managed to get up within 100 yards of the village.

David Richmond may have dreamed of his immortality and thence his desire to remarry. New bride Annie was left, along with David's mother Sarah, and the children, to grieve David's death. The Memorial Plaque and Death Scroll, along with a widow's Memorial Cross and his Victory and British War medals were eventually sent to widow Annie Richmond. Mother Sarah, also received a mother's Memorial Cross. Presumably David's Boer War medal and Campaign bars still exist. I am proud to own his Victory medal. He is buried in Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. Some day I would like to drop by to say hello and thank-you to a very brave and courageous man.

In researching this story I found as well, on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, a Sergeant Herbert Richmond #1059709, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 61st Squadron who was lost August 29, 1941. I hope this is not David's son but I fear!

Other men in David's "B" Company and possibly in his platoon who were killed in the same action are; Pte. Harold Stanley #2109867, Pte. Howard Pattison #3206141, Pte. Earl Irven #808273,and Cpl.Herbert Gilroy #425550

Special thanks to Annette, "avidgenie" on the CEF Study Group Forum for her family research.