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Wednesday, February 24, 2010
LANCE CORPORAL PRIVATE JOHN (JACK) BABCOCK #835571
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.