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Tuesday, December 6, 2011


One of the soldiers found on the Halifax Memorial addenda tablet (an add-on panel to the Memorial added in the 1980's) while researching Private Adam Sandy was Private Bertie Nackogie. Unlike Private Sandy, Bertie Nackogie was not a victim of the Halifax Explosion in 1917. Rather he was diagnosed with pneumonia while training with the 228th (Northern Fusiliers) Battalion in Camp Borden prior to the battalion departing for England February 16, 1917.

Bertie Nackogie was a 24 year-old aboriginal Ojibwa Indian who called Moose Factory home but was born in the small native settlement of  New Post, Ontario, Taykwa Tagamou Nation, close to Cochrane and present day site of a controversial hydro power generating project. He listed his occupation as "guide and hunter" on his attestation paper signed July 20, 1916 while listing his next of kin as his aunt Annie Sedlion. At that time Dr. A. Wills, the acting Medical Officer for the 228th Battalion considered Bertie "fit for the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force". He again passed medical inspection September 27, 1916 at Camp Borden as the Medical History Sheet in his service file has an entry as "passed" again signed by Captain Dr. A. Wills, Medical Officer. However his Proceedings on Discharge Certificate dated December 26, 1916 and found in his service file signed by Lieut.-Colonel Archibald Earchman never signed by Bertie Nackogie, rather was noted as "the above named-man is discharged in consequence of deceased at Base hospital". His conduct and character were described as "good".

There are no medical sheets or information in his service file. Only a medals' card (Nackogie received no medals as he served in Canada only), standard soldier's ID Rolodex cards, Last Pay Certificate (showing a balance of $60.45 owing to the soldier) and a Casualty Card with the last inscription reading " Died in Hospital, December 26, 1916 - D.O. 270 - 29-12-16". We know now that Bertie Nackogie contracted pneumonia at some point and was admitted to "Base Hospital" Toronto which in fact is believed to be the old Toronto General Hospital located then at 400 Gerrard Street East, Toronto.

Fellow CEF Study Group Forum member Marika Pirie  located a Toronto Star newspaper clipping dated December 27, 1916 and posted it to Nackogie's page on the Veteran Affairs Canada website Canadian Virtual War Memorial. The article describes his burial within Toronto's Prospect Cemetery due to  "the difficulty of transportation by dog train" to his home in Moose Factory. Therefore Private Nackogie does indeed have a known grave - his name should not have been added to the Halifax Memorial, a Memorial that includes the names of men of the Canadian Army stationed in Canada who have no known graves. A simple phone call to Prospect Cemetery confirmed that indeed he was buried in Section 17, Plot 43-46. They stated that no grave stone had ever been erected and a recent visit confirmed this fact.

Believing that the Last Post Fund might take the initiative to install a grave stone I first contacted them, with a copy to Veteran Affairs - their reply was that they would certainly get involved if no other parties were forthcoming. However I also received replies from Peter Mill, Director, Canada Remembers, Veteran Affairs Canada, who in return had copied Gerald Meyer, CD, Inspecting Officer (Works), Commonwealth War Graves Commission (Ottawa) as well as receiving a message from Dominique Boulais, Deputy Secretary-General, Canadian Agency, Commonwealth War Graves Commission. All thanked me for my involvement and confirmed that CWGC were responsible for ensuring that Private Bertie Nackogie has a proper and fit grave marker and that steps will be taken to ensure that one will be installed at his grave location within Toronto's Prospect Cemetery. Gerry also promised to keep me advised of their progress and to notify me when the installation date at the cemetery is established. He also updated me of the progress on locating graves of other Aboriginal names listed on the Halifax Memorial addenda tablet and in which I am interested. Future blogs to follow.

Bertie Nackogie is listed on both a listing of Native Veterans First World War Treaty #9, an on-line list of soldiers that served from the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation (Treaty #9) area in Northern Ontario as well as the nation-wide Aboriginal Veterans Tribute. I have tried to contact the current Chief of the Moose Factory Reserve to inform him of the current status and the probability of a gravestone installation in the Spring but at this time I have not heard back.
A couple of further notes. The 228th Battalion gained some notoriety as they established an ice hockey team, which played in the 1916-17 NHA season. The team playing in military uniforms proved very popular, and was third in league standings with a 6-4 record when they dropped out of the league when leaving for overseas in February, 1917. A scandal arose when hockey stars Eddie Oatman and Gordon Meeking were discharged, both subsequently claiming that they had been paid bonuses and promised commissions in the Battalion to play hockey for the 228th. On arrival in England, the 228th Battalion were renamed the 6th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops. Their Commanding Officer was the same Lieut.-Colonel Archibald Earchman, the man that signed Bertie's discharge papers.


January 31, 2012

With the lack of success in contacting relatives of Bertie Nackogie and after trying to contact First Nation Cree communities in New Post, Moose Factory and Moosonee, I decided to revisit his service file. Because Bertie had signed his attestation papers with an "X" my assumption is that Bertie was illiterate. Therefore his papers would have been completed by a recruiting clerk with the 228th Overseas Battalion in Moose Factory. We all know of names on these records that have been bungled and misspelled. If this was the case with Bertie, is it possible his name was actually Nakogee?

That is a popular Cree surname, still found in the James Bay Cree communities. The town of Attawapiskat that has been infamously mentioned in the news recently has it's school named after a Nakogee family member. There are something like close to 40 family members to be found in the White Pages for Ontario. With this new information I am again contacting the Chief of the Cree Moose Factory, Norm Hardisty, for his assistance in locating relatives. As well I copied Veterans Affairs Canada and the CWGC with this possible new insight.

We have also noted that the Veterans Affairs Canada Virtual Memorial database has amended the listing for Private Bertie Nackogie to show that he is in fact buried within Toronto's Prospect Cemetery. Commonwealth War Graves Commission still have not amended their database as of this date.

Hopefully, more to come....
I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Marika Pirie, who without posting the Toronto Star article (and thousands of other photo and newspaper clippings for other soldiers) locating Nackogie's final resting location would not be possible. As well thanks to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia for information on the 228th Battalion.


April 22, 2012

Thanks to John Long, Nipissing University, North Bay, ON we have received further information on Bertie's background as follows:

"Bertie's father (George) died in 1885, when Bertie was about 3 years of age. His mother (Isabelle, nee surname Michel) died about 1908. Bertie apparently had no siblings. His father was Cree, his mother Anishinaabe (Algonquin or Ojibwa). After his father died, Bertie was probably raised Anishinaabe - although Cree was probably his second language and he would have been told of his paternal lineage".

John also found the baptismal of Bertie as follows, "baptised on June 3, 1884 by Bishop John Horden (Moose Factory Register of Baptisms 1869-1893, No.518".

September 21, 2012


We have now had the opportunity to visit Moose Factory and learn more about the culture and environment from which Bertie Nakogee came. This will be described in a future blog. As well we recently heard from Commonwealth War Graves Commission to state that their budget for this year has been expended however a replacement headstone for Private Nakogee's grave with the correct family spelling has high priority and will be included in the budget for next year.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


As the hours grow closer to our November 11, 2014 Remembrance Day I believe it is time to again remember the young men of our families who enlisted and fought in lands far away in someone else's war and whom returned to live with memories and wounds for their remaining years.

Of the eight soldiers with the surname "Clearwater" listed on Library and Archives Canada's website Soldiers of World War One, Wife Lynn is directly related to five and indirectly related to the remaining three. The two Canadian Clearwaters listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website are brothers, distant cousins to Lynn and have been the subject of previous blogs. All these direct relations were born in or near Huntsville, Ontario.

I have also previously blogged on the life and military service of Lynn's grandfather, Lance Corporal Martin Herbert (Bert) Clearwater #201562 who served in the 1st (Western Ontario) Battalion and who was gassed while fighting with his unit in the Battle of Passchendaele, November 1917. Bert tragically lived a shortened life due to the complications from the gassing. He passed March 23, 1934 at the age of 51 years.
Private Fred Clearwater #408607, Lynn's great uncle, attested to the Northern Ontario 37th Battalion September 15, 1915 in Camp Niagara at the age of 19. He was transferred to Alberta's 31st Battalion August 6, 1916. Weeks later at the Somme, he received a shell wound to the back. Again November 6, 1917 at Passchandaele, like his brother Bert, Fred was wounded receiving a bullet wound to his foot. He was demobilized March 27, 1919 in Toronto having received a Good Conduit badge in the field. He died January 24, 1979 unmarried and is buried in Park Lawn Cemetery, his grave marked by a small flat marker.

Private Gordon Leroy (Roy) Clearwater #451198 another great uncle attested August 27, 1915 again at Camp Niagara directly into Toronto's 58th Battalion at the age of 17. He proceeded with the battalion to France February 20, 1916. He served valiantly in the all the Canadian Corps's battles unscathed and was awarded the Good Conduit badge in the field August 5, 1917. Demobilized in Toronto April 9, 1919 and died November 11, 1969. He is buried in Huntsville's Hutcheson Memorial Cemetery in a grave with his second wife, Vera Rhiness.


Again, I have previously blogged on the lives of Private Robert Clinton Clearwater #115065, who died of TB July 2, 1921 and his younger brother Flight Lieutenant Roy Clearwater, 12 Squadron, RAF killed over Duisberg, Germany October 14, 1944 while piloting his Lancaster bomber during "operation Hurricane".

Brothers of Lynn's grandmother, Mamie Keating, a Huntsville native were: Private John (Jack) Keating #763574 attested into the 122nd Battalion April 17, 1916 in Huntsville, a veteran of 3 years in the 23rd Northern Pioneers militia, released as medically unfit August 18, 1918 at Camp Borden; Private James Keating #763571 attested into the 122nd Battalion April 17, 1916, served with the Canadian forestry Corps in Britain and France, discharged Toronto May 27, 1919; Trooper Howard Keating #4360 attested into the Royal Canadian Dragoons January 9, 1917 at the age of sixteen, discharged as underage January 31, 1917; Private Trueman Keating #408479 attested in the 37th Battalion June 4, 1915 Camp Niagara, transferred to the 42nd Battalion in the field suffering an eye injury from shell explosion June 1916 Ypres area, transferred to the YMCA and 4th CRT before discharging in Toronto April 16, 1918 as physically unfit. Died November 6, 1934.

Of course, the subject of a previous blog was Lynn's great uncle and the uncle to her late father Bill Alexander, brother of Grandfather Aaron, named after Farrier Sergeant William Alexander #104, 13th Light Horse Regiment, Australian Imperial Force. William Alexander succumbed to tuberculosis on a hospital ship returning to Australia December 17, 1917. He was a native of Lisglennon, Co. Mayo, Ireland and had previously served in Gallipoli, Egypt and the Western Front.

Further family members to serve include Private Herbert John Tuffrey #781521 (serving under the alias Herbert Bartlett) a cousin to my grandmother Alice Cody (nee Tuffrey) who was killed in action September 2, 1918 while serving with the 46th Battalion, a native of Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire, and who is buried in the Faubourg D' Amiens Cemetery in France. His younger brother Leonard Tuffrey #341246  attested into the 70th Battery, CFA April 19, 1917 but whom was soon classed as C-1 with poor eyesight and finished the war in Toronto serving with No. 2 CAMC being promoted to rank of Sergeant.

Of course there are also the Fulkerson brothers, Private Stanley Fulkerson #443548 and Private Frederick Fulkerson #443427, residents of Penticton whom I believe were related to my mother, Yvonne Fulkerson. Both attested to and went overseas with the 54th (Kootenay) Battalion. 20 year old Stanley served in the band as a stretcher bearer surviving the war. However younger brother Frederick, 18 years old not so lucky being Killed in Action the last day of the Battle of the Somme, November 18, 1916. His name is perpetuated on the Vimy Memorial in France.

Must do a blog someday on all family members who served in the Second World War. On second thought that will probably take several blogs. Amazing!

We will remember them!  Thank-you all.


"The Toronto Regiment spent the first nine days of August, 1917 quietly out of the line at Les Brebis and Noux-les-Mines, but on the 10th moved into the trenches east of Lens to relieve the 14th (Royal Montreal Regiment) Battalion. Here a suspicious enemy patrolled No Man's Land more daringly than usual, a state of affairs The Toronto Regiment felt in honour bound to stop. By the time the Regiment was relieved by the 13th (Royal Highlanders of Canada The Black Watch) Battalion at 2:40 am on 14 August, the Germans had been chased out of the enemy territory between the lines. The night before the relief, in fact, Sergeant H. Garlick "D" Company, Lieutenant G.K. Holland, and Lieutenant N.A.Keys had all lead patrols up to the enemy's wire and had bombed one German patrol back to the trenches." Battle Royal, A History of the Royal Regiment of Canada 1862-1962, Major D.J. Goodspeed,CD Toronto, 1962

So survives the story of the subject of this blog, Henry Garlick. "Sergeant Garlick was awarded the Military Medal for Bravery in the Field for his actions in leading a Trench Patrol in "No Man's Land in the vicinity of Hill 70 on August 14th, 1917." He had enlisted from the 23rd Battalion in Montreal October 23, 1914 from a draft of the 1st Grenadier Guards of Canada
As so often happens in warfare, a heroic story often  turns  tragic and so it is with our Sergeant Garlick. Four days later during heavy German artillery bombardment Sergeant Garlick was Killed in Action at Hill 70 and is buried in Bully-Grenay Communal Cemetery British Extension, Pas de Calais, France. Aged 25. Son of William and Rose Hannah Garlick, Preston, Lancastershire, husband of Selina Jane Garlick, 77 Meadow Street, Preston. Henry Garlick had previously received a gunshot wound while fighting in the Somme at Courcelette September 23, 1916.
I am proud to possess Sergeant Henry Garlick's Military Medal. It was previously owned by fellow enthusiasts David Bluestein and Gary Switzer. Thanks to both of them for their assistance. Gary has professionally mounted the medal in a framed enclosure. It would be great for the Military Medal to be reunited with his trio (British War medal, 1914-15 Star and Victory Medal) and possibly a Memorial Scroll, Plaque and Silver Crosses.

Henry Garlick had a cousin who was also Killed in Action in the Great War. Private John Garlick #3283, The King's (Liverpool Regiment)/ 8th Battalion, aged 18,  was serving at the Somme the same time as his cousin Henry Garlick and was listed as missing August 2, 1916. His name is perpetuated on the Thiepval Memorial. Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion Killed in Action and buried alongside Sergeant Garlick were: Private Joseph Savage #785048; Private William Kelly #138464; Lance Corporal Herbert Francis #767146; and Private George Laidlaw #788577. Privates John Wignall #757221 (Fosse No.10 Communal Cemetery) and Private Archibald Morris (Vimy Memorial) from the 3rd Battalion were killed that same day as well. As the hours draw near to the 93rd. anniversary of the Armistice November 11, 1918 our wish is that Sergeant Henry Garlick and all the others lying in distant cemeteries. Rest In Peace and thank-you.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


One of the prerogatives of authoring a blog site is that within the grounds of common decency, one can blog whatever his/her hearts desires. Therefore this blog does not fall within the realms of either the Canadian Expeditionary Force or World War One but admittedly does have a CEF connection.
Pilot Officer (Air Observer) John Clements, RCAF

RAF Waddington today remains as one of the Royal Air Force's mainstay airfields. It is currently the home of the RAF's Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Units. They utilize NATO AWACs, flying the E-3 Sentry and Raytheon Sentinel aircraft, and the unmanned MQ-9 Reaper weapon. RAF Waddington is the home of 34 Air Wing, Combat Support Group 2 as well as the base of many flying and non-flying RAF units. It is the home base of the RAF Red Arrows aerobatic display team, the Lincolncolnshire County Ambulance (helicopter), and the only flying Avro B-1 Vulcan bomber. The RAF Memorial Flight Avro Lancaster, Spitfires, Hurricane and Dakota are frequent guests from nearby RAF Coningsby while the field is host since 1995 to the RAF Waddington International Air Show as well as being a nuclear weapon dispersal site. A very busy place and also home to my daughter Beverly, her husband Greg a RAF Corporal, and their young family.

The field was built in 1916 as a Royal Flying Corps training station. Its first occupant was 44 Squadron in 1917 flying Sopwith Camels and commanded by later World War II Bomber Command Leader "Bomber" Harris the Squadron being based here intermittently until 1982. During World War Two, RAF Waddington functioned as a large base for front line Bomber Command Squadrons particularly again 44 Squadron who entered the airbase once more in 1937 and later in the war were the first RAF Squadron to fly the Avro Lancaster heavy bomber. The field is ideally located higher up in elevation from the surrounding fens, positioned a few miles from the English Channel and fast flying times to the Lowland countries of  Holland and Belgium, and facing favourable prevailing winds.

The town of Waddington still maintains its Elizabethan-era charm albeit with a modern grocery mart and take-out food stores. St. Michael's Church,  Three Horseshoes Pub and Market Square still are main destinations within the town as they were during the war. It was in this context that myself and wife Lynn decided to spend a couple of weeks visiting Bev and her young family and tour the surrounding countryside. When arranging our visit I noted that St. Michael's Cemetery was the final resting place to a number of RAF men, specifically one Canadian whose Common War Graves Commission listing showed that Pilot Officer (Air Observer) John Russell Clements RCAF was in fact a native of Milton, Ontario our new hometown.

John Clements was the grandson of one of Milton's first families William Clements and Drusilla Bowbeer. He was born June 8, 1915 as the first son to Captain Russell Matthew Clements and wife Alma Pearl Burling. Russell Matthew had served in the South Africa War (Boer War) 1899-1902 with the Canadian Mounted Rifles at a very young age (b.1884). He was awarded Boer War Land Grant #366. Post war he remained with the local militia unit the 20th Halton Rifles 13 years rising to the rank of Captain. He enlisted in World War One in Ottawa with the Canadian Army Service Corps # 2688437 but returned to Milton to supervise recruiting of the recently raised 164th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. Post World War One, Russell Clements became the town postmaster and fulfilled several town functions at various times.

John Russell Clements spent his early life in Milton attending public school and Milton High School in this picturesque town. He was a 1938 graduate of the University of Toronto and obtained employment in Sudbury's Hollinger mines as an engineer. This is where he was employed when he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in North Bay September 1940. Like most young Canadian men that enlisted in the R.C.A.F., John probably had dreams of flying a fighter Spitfire aircraft into the bowels of Germany. However that was not to be. He eventually ended up as a Pilot Officer (Air Observer) helping to fly large twin-engined Manchester bomber aircraft in British 207 Squadron, RAF out of RAF Waddington September 1942.

The infamous Avro Manchester 2-engined heavy bomber

The Avro Manchester bomber was not one of the Royal Air Force's finer moments. The aircraft was plagued throughout its service with troublesome and underpowered engines however the Manchester with two additional engines eventually developed into the Avro Lancaster heavy bomber - probably the best bomber of World War II. By the end of 1941, Manchester had restricted payloads (8,000 lbs) but mostly were restricted to attacking German naval ports in the English Chanel. By June 1942 they had been totally replaced in active service by their successor, the 4-engined Lancaster.

In this light, No. 207 Squadron Manchester # L7318 was sent on September 15, 1941 on a mechanical mission to Cumbria to assist another Manchester with hydraulic problems. L7318 carried  a flying crew of four, including P/O (Air Observer) John R. Clements #J/5313, RCAF and ground crew consisting of six men for an on board total of 10 as well as spare parts. They were able to repair the ailing Manchester and both took to the air for a return to Waddington. The repaired aircraft landed first while L7318 flew the circuit. "Suddenly and in full view of people at Waddington Hykeham near the Waddington runway apron. Today the location is sited near the town water facilities beside a farmer's field.
P/O John Russell Clements, RCAF, Milton, ON

Both the aircraft pilot F/L Ernest Crump, RAF and observer P/O John Clements, RCAF occupying the right hand seat were buried in Waddington's St. Michael's Church Cemetery. Here they peacefully remain to this day amidst fellow comrades of the First and Second War Worlds. John Russell Clements carries the distinction of being the first casualty from Milton, Ontario in World War II. Many more were to follow.

It is worth noting that both the Canadian Virtual War Memorial and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have John Russell Clements listed as a "Sergeant" while all other documentation I have seen list him as a "Pilot/Officer", a considerable difference, although admittedly I do not have a copy of his service file to confirm or deny his correct rank.

I told you there was a CEF connection. Well here it is. One of the other crew members to lose their life September 15, 1941 in L7318 was Pilot Officer (Navigator) John Patrick Sawyer, R.C.A.F. Sawyer aged 24 and the son of the late Lieutenant Robert Henry and Georgina Sawyer, formerly of Toronto, ON and now of Beaconsfield, Bucks, England. Lt. Robert Sawyer had joined the University of Toronto Training Company with a service number of 490813 June 12,1916, giving an address of 4 Maple Avenue.  He was a "steamship agent" and had previously been employed in that capacity in Nassau, Bahamas where son, John had been born in 1913. Lt. Robert Henry Sawyer transferred  to the Royal Flying Corps later became the Royal Air Force after joining the C.E.F.and was killed presumably in an air training accident August 3, 1918. Thus both father and son lost their lives flying in the airspace over England for the Royal Air Force in the two World Wars.

Friday, June 17, 2011


In a continuation from my last blog concerning Adam Sandy and the Halifax Explosion, the original soldier I was following on the Halifax Memorial was Private Alphonse Gosselin #3056616. His name is included as well on the Omemee, Ontario District War Memorial, the closest village to our former summer residence on Pigeon Lake.

I have submitted and had published the following story about Gosselin and the troopship S.S. City of Cairo in The Maple Leaf, Journal of the Western Front Association, Central Ontario Branch and the fine website on the S.S. City of Cairo authored by Scotsman, Hugh MacLean.

"I first became aware of the troopship S.S. City of Cairo when while recently investigating the 19 World War I names on the Omemee District War Memorial (Omemee, small Central Ontario resort village in the Kawarthas of 1200 inhabitants presently). Omemee has gained some notoriety lately as the former original home of Canada's last remaining soldier, Private Lloyd Clemett (and his 3 brothers) whose former residence was the wooden frame house still located at #10 King Street in the village. Many of the names on the Cenotaph relate to the area's 109th (Victoria and Haliburton) Battalion, based in nearby Lindsay. Omemee is also a boyhood home of Neil Young, who allegedly wrote his hit song Helpless after the living in the village as a young man. It is also the family home of Lady Flora McCrea Eaton, wife of Sir John Craig Eaton. The local elementary school is named in her honour. I was curious about Private Gosselin because as a Military Service Act 1917 conscript, his name was mentioned on the Halifax Memorial and because his date of death was listed as being only 26 days after being drafted in Lindsay, ON . On further investigation of his death date, I found a number of other men that died that same day or close to it also listed on the Halifax Memorial.

Thinking that the Memorial was used only for sailors that died at sea during the two World Wars, I was determined to find the source of the deaths of these young men. I was able to locate a reference to the loss of these soldiers on that date confirming my suspicions in The History of the Canadian Forces, 1914-1919 Medical Services, Sir Andrew McPhail. Here McPhail states in considerable detail that this time period was the peak of the worldwide Spanish Influenza epidemic. I was to learn that on the three troopships that had departed Canada in September, 1918, a total of 99 deaths occurred at sea and many more on arrival in England. These ships were: the S.S. City of Cairo; S.S. Victoria and the S.S./ Hunstead. My man Private Gosselin was 21 years old, a single farm labourer, possibly born in Quebec but working on a farm in Downeyville, a small community near the village of Omemee. He was included in Draft #175, Eastern Ontario Regiment, 1st Depot Battalion consisting of 1 officer and 50 soldiers who boarded the S.S. City of Cairo in Montreal that fatal September. Three of his mates from this Kingston, ON unit also succumbed to the flu while in transit.

The S.S. City of Cairo departed the Port of Montreal on September 26, 1918 with 1075 passengers, the majority of which (1057) were Canadian reinforcement soldiers for the Canadian Expeditionary Force and included six nursing sisters and a number of medical doctors. "Nearly all on board were sick and there were 32 deaths at sea. On arrival 244 flu cases were transferred to hospital, of which 114 were carried in on stretchers". The S.S. Hunstead and the S.S. Victoria had very similar numbers. With a brief stop in the Port of Quebec City September 28, she landed in England Port of Devonport (Plymouth) October 11, 1918".

All the names listed above can be found on the Halifax Memorial, Halifax, Nova Scotia.


Special thanks to Hugh A. MacLean and to Tony Jones for his photos of the S.S. City of Cairo

Friday, June 3, 2011


Funny how military researchers (at least this one) always get easily sidetracked into other topics, sometimes a number of other topics. A few years ago I was researching the village of Omemee's Centotaph when one of the names stood out. Pte. Alphonse Gosselin #3056618 also had his name on the Halifax Memorial as dying Oct. 8, 1918. My findings found he (and a number of others) had succombed to the Asian Flu while on a troopship heading for England. I submitted a short article on this subject to the Editor of the SS City of Cairo website which will be the topic of my next blog.

Then I noticed that the Halifax Memorial, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and in additon to it's 23 panels containing 3112 names of men and women of Commonwealth Forces who have no known grave, had an "Addenda Panel" with 14 names that were presumably added after 1967 when the Memorial was built. Two names again stood out as having died December 6, 1917 a date of notoriety - the date of the Halifax Explosion. Jumping ahead, after receiving his service record from Library and Archives Canada, my suspicions were confirmed - Private Adam Sandy #739267 had indeed been a victim of one of Canada's worst man-made disasters. I am still waiting for the service file of Pte. Charles Caplen #832713. Another fact is somewhat less obvious, both are First Nations natives. In fact of the 5 names listed on the "Addenda Panel" all are Canadian Aboriginal soldiers who apparently have "No Known Grave". Can't understand why the Commonwealth War Graves Commission didn't have that information in November 1967 when the Memorial was unveiled. On his service file is a telephone request from CWGC dated 1982 for information on the man so presumably that is around the time the "Addenda Panel" was added to the Halifax Memorial.

Private Adam Sandy # 739267 had been born in Tuscarora Township, Brant County on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario and was a proud member of the Tuscarora Nation, Iroquois Confederacy. Working as a labourer, his attestation paper claims that he was married, born April 15, 1872 (making him 44 years old at the time of death) and having served 18 years in the 37th Haldimand Rifles, a Canadian militia unit almost entirely comprised of Six Nations natives. He attested into the 114th (Brocks Rangers) Battalion, C.E.F. on January 16, 1916 in Ohsweken listing his wife, Maggie, as next of kin signing the paper with an X signature. Apparently Pte. Sandy accompanied the battalion to Halifax where they departed for England on October 31, 1916 on the S.S. Coronia under the command of Lieut.-Colonel Andrew Thompson also a 37th Regiment veteran.

Now the story gleaned from his service record becomes contradictory. Private Sandy is listed "as a deserter - did not proceed overseas with the 114th". However his pay account was not closed and he is listed as being admitted to Rockhead Military Hospital in Halifax December 26, 1916 and being discharged to duty on January 1, 1917. Again on June 9, 1917 he was hospitalized with infected tonsils until his discharge on June 24. I think either he was asked to remain in Halifax because of his age and/or he was in ill health and was possibly hospitalized when the 114th Battalion proceeded overseas. The Casualty Form in his service file shows that Adam was transferred to the #6 District Special Services Company stationed in Halifax on October 31, 1916. This leads to his presence in Halifax the day of the great explosion of the French munition ship Mont-Blanc in the Harbour after colliding with the Norwegian vessel Imo. At this time we do not know if Adam was on duty or off duty in Wellington Barracks, the home of the Halifax Garrison that was directly in the path of the explosion and suffered heavy damage. Nevertheless Adam Sandy's body was never found or at least not identifiable.

Private Adam Sandy, according to then current regulations, was not entitled to either a British War Medal or a Victory Medal despite making the supreme sacrifice as a soldier of Canada for God, Country and King. His Last Pay Certificate shows that in addition to the normal Canadian soldier's pay of $1.00 per day, he was receiving the extra Service in the Field Allowance of $.10 per day. One would have to conclude that someone considered him employed in a war zone to receive the extra per Diem. His widow was entitled to a Silver Cross, Death Plaque and Scroll however I found no confirmation that they were ever sent out in his file. Maggie did receive the War Service Gratuity for Deceased Soldiers of $80.00 after his death.

The other four natives listed on the Halifax Memorial Addenda Panel are: Private Bertie Nackogie #1006931, 228th Battalion, Taykw Tagamou Nation (New Post, ON), Cree, Died December 25, 1916; Private Charles Caplen #832713, 145th Battalion, Lennox Islands First Nation (P.E.I.), Mi'kmaq, Died December 7, 1917; Private Francois Painted-Nose #1051587, 243rd Battalion, One Arrow First Nation (Batoche, SK) , Cree, Died December 26, 1918; and Private John Bones #820336, 141st Battalion, Manitou Rapids Band (Rainy River First Nation), Ojibwa, Died between 01/01/1919 and 31/12/1919. According to the late Edward H. Wigney in his book The C.E.F. Roll of Honour, the names of these five men collectively have never been recognized by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (until 1982 ) and the four (excepting Private Sandy) all died from disease. THEIR FINAL RESTING PLACES NEED TO BE FOUND AND PROPERLY IDENTIFIED! Their stories need to be told!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Continuing on with our valiant and heroic men whose names are on the World War One Memorial Plaque in St. Canice Cathedral, Kilkenny City, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, I will detail these men by the chronological order in which they gave there lives for God and the King. Several,if not all of these men knew each other however none ended up in the same Battalion. Our next soldier is Private John Willoughby McClean #20795, 10th Canadian Battalion, Died of Wounds, April 23, 1915 near Ypres. John McClean is found in the 1901 Irish Census living with his uncle John Willoughby and his family at #1 James Street, Kilkenny City. The McClean name is common in the North, I think that perhaps John was originally a native of Belfast. The family appears to have all been jewellers and watchmakers - Kilkenny is noted for it's fine jewellery - John was working with his uncle as a "jeweller assistant". When recently in Kilkenny, my wife Lynn purchased a watch from a small jeweller shop on High Street. I wonder? Competition for jobs must have been intense for we find John McClean immigrating to Toronto, Canada April 2, 1906, along with our next Kilkenny casualty, Alexander Cantley on the SS Athenia. We don't hear from John again until he again immigrated into Canada March 27, 1911 on the SS Lake Manitoba this time heading for Alberta. I have not found a reason for his return to the U.K. nor have I found when he returned - possibly a serious family event? He enlisted in Valcartier September 25, 1914 with Alberta's 10th Battalion. John McClean therefore was an original with the 10th Battalion and lost his life on a rather infamous day in Canadian Military history. John McClean's remains are to be found in Poperinghe Old Military Cemetery outside of Ypres. Next we have Private Alexander Alfred Cantley #27049, 15th Battalion, Killed In Action on April 29, 1915. Alexander as previously mentioned probably was a friend of John McClean, born the same year, living on a nearby street in Kilkenny, attending the same church (strange because Alex was a Presbyterian) and originally travelled to Toronto on the same vessel in April 1906 along with Alexander's older brother, Robert. The Cantley family lived near the Kearney Castle, Blanchville Demesne south-east of the City of Kilkenny. Alexander found employment as a prospector in Northern Ontario and joined the 97th Regiment (Algonquin Rifles). When the call went out from Ottawa in August 1914 for volunteers, Alexander was one of the 263 men from the 97th that were assigned to Toronto's 15th (48th Highlanders) Battalion in Valcartier. Brother Robert incidentally, married in 1908 and was employed as an Undertaker in Toronto, moving west by 1916 to Regina, SK with his family. Thus Alexander Cantley found himself on the front line on April 26 with the 15th. The previous day, the battalion had re-entered the line of trenches north of St.Jean in a field beside the main Poperinge-Ypres Road. The war diary claims that "the enemy was quiet" on April 29th with the battalion moving into a reserve position later in the day. The War Diary states that the battalion had suffered 639 in the past week. Alexander Cantley was Killed in Action on April 29 possibly by a sniper. His body was not retrieved on the withdrawal with "no record of burial" being recorded. His name is honoured on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres. History in Remembrance list from RBC (Royal Bank of Canada)
has a listing for John Hempenstall Kearney #25734, 14th Battalion, as follows:
PRIVATE KEARNEY, born in March 1892. Joined the Quebec Bank, Montreal, St. Catherine Street East Branch, September 28, 1913. Enlisted from Montreal, St. Matthew Street Branch, in the 14th (Royal Montreal Regiment) Battalion, August 15, 1914 in Valcartier, Quebec. Killed In Action, June 3, 1916.
The next man from the St.Canice Memorial Plaque was John Kearney. James was born in 1892 in Bangor, Co. Down, Ireland. His father, James, at the time was a constable in the Royal Irish Constabulary. In the 1901 Irish Census the family is found living on Grattan Street in Cork. Still later in the 1911 Census, father James has remarried, moved to #13 West Street, Kilkenny City and apparently retired from the R.I.C. employed as Clerk of Petty Sessions. John, at age 19, now is listed as a lodger in a residence in Carrickmacross town, Co. Monaghan working as a bank clerk. He must have been successful as he is shown as arriving in Quebec aboard the SS Corsican on September 25, 1913. As the page on the RBC website claims he started with the bank in Montreal on September 28 he would have applied for the position from Ireland and soon after joined the Canadian Grenadier Guards. The 14th Battalion was instrumental in a 3rd Brigade counter-attack the night of June2/3, 1916 on Maple Copse and Observatory Ridge positions. A comprehensive account can be found in the Battalion's War Diaries for those dates of the Battalion's brave attack on the German fortified line. Private John Kearney was listed as Missing in Action. He is one of the 72 names listed on the large wooden cross erected in the 3rd Brigade Cemetery in the area and one of 70 N.C.O.s and men killed on June 3. All these remains were later moved to a Special Collective Grave within the Railway Dugouts Burial Ground near Transport Farm Zillebeke. The actual grave locations are unknown therefore Private Kearney's name is honoured on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Several years ago, whilst pursuing my Cody family genealogy, wife Lynn and I found ourselves within the walls of the ancient and beautiful Cathedral Church of St. Canice, Kilkenny City, Ireland. Although still housing a Church of Ireland congregation the Cathedral is now apparently state owned and a National Landmark. Kilkenny is the ancestral home of my Cody Family with the family name prevalent in both Catholic and Protestant parish churches. While touring the interior of the church, we came across a Great War Memorial on a wall that at second look contained a section for Overseas Forces and specifically "Canadian Forces". There were six names inscribed presumably all former members of the parish and all had imigrated to Canada, enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and had perished in the Great War.

The names were: Pte. James C. Bannan; Pte. Alexander A. Cantley; Pte. John T. Jestin; Pte. John H. Kearney; Pte. John W. Mc Clean and Pte. Stephen Stone. It has only been in recent weeks that I have been able to order these men's Canadian service records and research their respective service in the C.E.F. as well as their families in Kilkenny.

32 Kennyswell St., Kilkenny City

Private James Charles Bannan #79897, 31st (Alberta Regiment) Battalion was the son of Joseph and Mary Jane Bannan who in the 1901 Irish Census was living in a row house at 34 Kennyswell Street, Kilkenny which is only a couple of blocks from the Cathedral. Joseph was a former Sergeant in the Royal Irish Constabulary. Together Joseph and Mary had a least six children including boys Samuel, William Timothy, John and James Charles, all of whom immigrated to Western Canada at some point. James was the last to immigrate in March 1913 at the age of 19 on the S.S. Lake Manitoba joining brothers William, Samuel and John all whom had arrived in Medicine Hat, Alberta several years earlier and are found in the Canadian 1911 Census under the surname "Bannon". James however was the first to enlist, attesting November 18, 1914 in Medicine Hat into the 31st Battalion. He listed 3 years prior military experience with the South Irish Horse and his next of kin as father, Joseph, still residing in Kilkenny. James  followed to England with the 31st Battalion on the S.S. Northland May 29, 1915 with the Battalion being sent to France September 19, 1915. The only contrary notation on his service file was for being absent 24 hours July 19 to July 20 - he was docked 2 days pay. On November 6, 1915, the 31st Battalion were serving in the front line in Regent Street Dugouts, Kemmel, having taken over the line from the 28th Battalion that day. The War Diary for that day states "8 K - Heavy white frost. 11 K. Go over to Beaver Hat Overland. One man killed today - shot through the head. 2 sick sent to No. 6 field I Ambulance Dug-outs falling in". That man was Private James C. Bannan. He was interred in Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery with full military honours. Private Bannan was entitled to receive the 1914-14 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal which along with the Death Plaque and Scroll, were sent to his father, Joseph c/o James Green, Kilkenny, Ireland. His mother was sent a Memorial Cross. James's married, older brother William Timothy b. 1887, who had settled in Medicine Hat in 1906 with wife Edna, serving with the 21st Hussars militia enlisted June 24, 1916 in Medicine Hat's 175th Battalion as a lieutenant. This is the same battalion a previous blog subject of mine had also enlisted from in Medicine Hat, Lt. David Richmond, who also tragically died while fighting with the 31st Battalion in 1918. William received a Military Cross September 16, 1918 while serving with the 31st Battalion:
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during a raid on
enemy defences, when he led his platoon with the greatest of courage and skill,
and destroyed several hostile posts, and inflicted heavy casualties. His
splendid example and good leadership throughout afforded great encouragement to
all ranks with him".

Captain William T. Bannan is shown as returning to Canada December 13, 1918 on the hospital ship HMAT Essequibo with multiple fractures. William went on to become a very prominent citizen in Medicine Hat. He continued to serve in the militia in a new re designated Alberta Regiment. Lt.-Col. William T. Bannan into the 1920's when he reorganized the Battalion Band into one of the country's finest military bands. Transferred to the Reserve List of officers in 1926. City Alderman (1922-29), Hospital Board member (1929-1933) and Secretary for the Medicine Hat Chamber of Commerce (1941). Died November 11, 1966 and is buried in Medicine Hat's Hillside Cemetery along with wife Edna (1956), daughter Edna (1982), sister-in-law Elizabeth? (1952), brother George Herbert (1938), brother John Herbert (1964), and brother Samuel George (1960).

A special thanks to CEF Study Group Forum member "censlenov" for his research on this family. Thanks Chris!

I should add that I have decided to delete my previous blog on Sgt John Gratton #63381 and the Gratton Family from Landkey, Devon. I was accused of using a person's photographs from the VAC Virtual site despite them being anonymous and using incorrect biographical information, by a non-blood related distant relative.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011


With our focus on surviving family members and those that are buried in the Western Front cemeteries from World War One, we sometimes forget the 3,835 Prisoners-of-War from the Canadian Expeditionary Force. My grandfather John Cody was one of those men captured by the Germans in Ploegstreert Woods, Belgium October 31,1915. Out of that total 286 of these soldiers were from the 3rd (Toronto Regiment) Battalion. This remains the second highest total by battalion following the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion also from Central Ontario belonging to the 3rd Canadian Division.

Of the 286 men from the 3rd Battalion only 21 were not taken during the Second Battle of Ypres, April 22-May 25, 1915. This battle is noted as being the first poisonous gas attack in history and its results were shocking. The Canadian first division had been rushed in April 22 to bolster the line near the village of St. Julien trying to prevent the German Army from encircling them. Two counter-attacks by the Canadians on the 22nd and 23rd succeeded in stopping the German advance and closed the gap in the line. The following day, the Germans launched a gas attack directly on the Canadian positions and swept across the fields surrounding the village of St. Julien, trapping many Canadians including companies "C" and "D" of the 3rd Battalion who had been rushed up to the front from reserve. Virtually all the men from these two companies were killed, wounded and/or captured.

The majority of the remaining P.O.W.s from the 3rd Battalion were captured on October 8, 1916 during the battalion attempt to capture "the Quadrilateral" and Regina Trench during the Battle of the Somme. Remaining prisoners like my grandfather were captured in different situations throughout the war.

A number of prisoners that were captured were in fact also wounded with several 3rd Battalion POWs succumbing to their wounds while in captivity. Those that ended up in German work camps like Soltau with its infamous salt and coal mines were not so lucky. Fortunately because grandfather was a non-commissioned officer, he was not bound to perform hard labour. However he was constantly asked to work in the mines, he continued to refused and for that was punished and sent to "discipline camps". One of the items I inherited from my grandfather was this postcard he brought home after the war that he had been sent by a fellow prisoner in June 1917 From Minden Camp. An Australian corporal by the name of Allan Speer was obviously was a good friend to my grandfather. I believe the card was sent after John Cody was moved to another camp.

The card is signed "A reminder of Minden & captivity. To my esteemed chum Corpl. J. Cody. Sent with the best of wishes and good luck. From yours sincerely yours, Allan Speer. Minden June 27, 1917 , The Rosery, Jasmine Street, Bowrae, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia".
Cpl. Allan Speer, submitted with
 thanks by Linda Emery

The postcard is a photograph of 24 Australian N.C.O.s all who were named on the reverse and who apparently were captured at various times and ended up in Minden Camp. With the advent of new web technology and digitalized archival data from various sources, we have been able to identify most of the men in the photo as well locate their Red Cross Prisoner of War files, their Australian attestation papers, Australian Army service files and embarkation information. Because I am forever getting contacted by surviving families from the subjects of previous blogs, I thought it might be worthwhile to publish the names and hope that relatives of the individuals might locate this blog and the photo of their family member. Many of these men were captured ( and a number wounded) at Fromelles, Somme on July 19 and 20, 1916. Their names are:
  1. Speakman, Sgt. John #791, 54th Battalion Australian Imperial Force, Captured 20/07/1916
  2. Bowman, Sgt. David McQueen #1715, 55th Battalion A.I.F., 21/08/1916
  3. Davis, H - at the present time remains unidentified
  4. Shirley, L/Cpl. George #3305, 55th Battalion A.I.F., 12/08/1916
  5. Newman, CSM Kenneth Fossey #307, 29th Battalion A.I.F., 20/09/1916
  6. Stewart, Sgt. Donald Singleton #4600, 54th Battalion A.I.F., 12/08/1916
  7. Speer, Cpl. Robert Allan #3138, 54th Battalion A.I.F., 12/08/1916
  8. Mules, Cpl. Robert James #415, 32nd Battalion A.I.F., 20/07/1916
  9. McCurley, Sgt. Robert Thomas #2557, 54th Battalion A.I.F., unknown
  10. Robertson, L/Sgt. Eric Lionel #3516, 53rd Battalion A.I.F., 19/07/1916
  11. Smith, L/Cpl. Percy Carlton #2675, 55th Battalion A.I.F., 20/07/1916
  12. Sargent, Cpl. Foster Hartley #4587, 54th Battalion A.I.F., August, 1916
  13. Robinson, Cpl. William #417, 32nd Battalion A.I.F., 20/07/1916
  14. Cole, Sgt. Oliver Stanley #1321, 29th Battalion A.I.F., 20/07/1916
  15. Stringfellow, Cpl. George Henry #3436, 55th Battalion A.I.F., 20/07/1916
  16. Still, Cpl. Harry Andrew #803, 31st Battalion A.I.F., 20/07/1916
  17. Breen, Sgt. Reginald James #4735, 53rd Battalion A.I.F., 20/07/1916
  18. Stanton, L/Cpl. Dugald Pitta #3427, 53rd Battalion A.I.F., 20/07/1916
  19. Simpson, Sgt. Harold John #2414, 53rd Battalion A.I.F., 20/07/1916
  20. Fitch, Sgt. Ernest Anthony #3166, 5th Battalion A.I.F., 25/07/1916
  21. Wilson, Cpl. John Albert #1133, 4th Battalion A.I.F., 02/03/1917
  22. McDonald, Cpl. John #4278, 54th Battalion A.I.F., 20/07/1916
  23. Wilson, Pte (Cpl.?) Edward Albert #5262, 8th Battalion A.I.F. 18/08/1916
  24. O'Shea, Sgt. Patrick Joseph #642, 20th Battalion A.I.F., 05/06/1916
  25. Austin, Cpl. David Wilson #1652, 20th Battalion A.I.F., 02/06/1916
If you would like any further information on any of these men or can add more information on the few unidentified at this point, I would be pleased to hear from you. The service records for all these men are now available on-line at the National Archives of Australia - World War One soldiers here. They all returned to Australia at different times and presumably returned to civilian life with the scars of having been interred in Germany as well as any wounds they may have received in battle.
There are two fine books that have been written in the plight of Canadian Prisoners of War during World War One. They are:
SILENT BATTLE Canadian Prisoners of War in Germany 1914-1919, Desmond Morton, Lester Publishing, Toronto, 1992
GUESTS OF THE KAISER Prisoners-of-War of the Canadian Expeditionary Force 1915-1918, Edward H. Wigney, CEF Books, Ottawa, 2008
Both can be found at your local library or on
I have been advised by member Leigh from the Great War Forum, that in fact most of he Australian Prisoners of War are from the Australian 5th Division, AIF and were captured at Fromelles, July 20, 1916. He also states that the "Bowrae" referred to by Allan Speer is actually Bowral, a picturesque town about 90 minutes south of Sydney.
As well Great War Forum member" frev" has identified No. 8 prisoner as Sgt. Robert James Mules, #415, 32nd Battalion, AIF and No. 22 prisoner as Cpl. John McDonald, #4278. Many thanks to both.

ADDED JUNE 7, 2014

Dear Bob,
I was delighted to see the photograph on your blog of Australian POWs at Minden during WWI sent to your grandfather in Canada by Allan Speer.  I am almost finished a research project on the soldiers from the Southern Highlands of NSW, where Bowral is located.  Allan Speer is one of nearly 1200 local boys who enlisted from this area, along with his brother Cecil Herbert Speer.  I am particularly interested in the photo for another reason too.  Another brother, David Speer, was a well-known photographer in Bowral.  In nearby Berrima, about 8km away, there was an internment camp for WWI German POWs and David Speer took many pictures of the activities of the internees which he sold as postcards and put into a book of views. This has been digitised by the National Library of Australia:{format:Book}&offset=3&max=15
It may well have been because of his brother’s capture in France and subsequent internment in Germany that he first became interested in photographing the Germans at work and play on the other side of the world.  Certainly Allan had written home to say that he was being treated well and was relatively happy.
Attached is a photo of Allan Speer – not very good, but enough I think  to identify him in your photo as middle row, 2nd from left.  According to articles which appeared in local papers, Allan Speer was captured on 20th July 1916 .
I wonder if you would be willing to send me high resolution scans of the front and back of your postcard?  I am archivist for our local historical society and it would be a fantastic addition to our collection if you would agree to donate a copy of the picture. We hold a very large and nationally significant  collection of images and artefacts relating to the POW camp in Berrima.
I am happy to send you some more biographical information if you are interested.  Your blog is terrific!
Hope to hear from you,
Linda Emery