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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!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting about Adam SANDY. I had been looking for information about him and was unable to find anything!