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Saturday, November 29, 2014



The Boys of the 3rd Battalion who made the Supreme Sacrifice

With the recent release of the fine book, OLD ENOUGH TO FIGHT, Canada’s Boy Soldiers in the First World War, Dan Black and John Boileau, Lorimer & Co. Toronto, 2013, I was prompted to research and document some of the boy soldiers that enlisted, made it to the front lines and were killed while in the service of the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion. It was not my intention to investigate the reasons behind the soldiers enlisting or the methods used in reached the trenches of France and Belgium. Rather I simply wanted to acknowledge the contributions made by these young men in making the supreme sacrifice. As my research over the years has introduced me to a number of young men that also survived the war, I decided to include some of these boys as well. I am not for a moment suggesting that the following soldiers represent the only under aged soldiers to serve in the 3rd Battalion. However I am acquainted with each one of these young men be the either by the act of photographing his headstone, possessing his medals at some point of time, or having read about their service during the course of research at some point in the past. The young men that perished are listed
in chronological order while the ones that survived the war are to found found in alphabetical order.The age range for enrolment in the CEF was 18-45. This was consistent with King's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Militia (1910) para 243. However, KR&O 1910 para 246 also allowed boys of good character to enlist in the militia from 14-17 (or in special cases 13) as bandsmen, trumpeters, buglers or drummers with the consent of their parents or guardians. Since militia officers or units did most of the recruiting, I can understand why minors would be enlisted. Men could not be sent overseas from England unless they were 19 years old or 18 1/2 in 1918. This was a British policy which applied to CEF units in England. Canadian regulations were finally harmonized with the British policy in 1918. A Young Soldiers' Battalion was established in 1916 to hold minors until they were 19 although others were held by the CAMC Training Depot. In February 1917, the 5th Division had over 900 juveniles on strength. To some extent these were theoretical limitations. The degree to which they were followed depended on the unit and how closely the draft was checked before leaving for the continent. Desmond Morton in his book "When Your Number's Up" noted the youngest soldier was ten years old when he enlisted. Unfortunately, he did not provide a source or a name. The youngest verified enlistment that I know of was 258572 William Henry Hugh Hutchinson (also Hutchison) who was born 15 January 1904 and enlisted in the 211th Battalion 23 June 1916. A medical board

Barnardo's House, 1908, 214 Farley Ave., Toronto
recommended 1 December 1916 that he be discharged as underage but he managed to make his way to England and then to France where he served nine months with the 8th Battalion Canadian Railway Troops before his mother (and the CEF) caught up to him. Hutchinson later served with the Canadian Garrison Regiment in 1919. He died in Vancouver 23 November 1969. There are a number of claims regarding underage soldiers who died during the First War, but most of these claims cannot be confirmed. A case in point is 282721 Private W.H. Shortliffe who died 2 September 1918. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, he was 14 when he died. However, his attestation paper states that he was born in January 1894, a date consistent with information from the 1911 Census. This may be the man referred to in a TV program. According to the CWGC registers, there were 385 soldiers aged 15-17 who died during the First World War: age 15 (14) age 16 (75) and age 17 (296). Since most CWGC entries do not provide age on death, there were probably many more - perhaps as many as a thousand. If 18 year olds are included, then the total is 1,412. A problem with this topic is the definition of 'underage'. King's Regulations for the Canadian Militia allowed boys as young as 13 to enlist with the consent of their parent or guardian. However, reinforcements could not be posted to France from England until they were 19 (changed in 18 1/2 in the spring of 1918). Thus a man could be of age in Canada but underage the moment he set foot in England. Enlistment ages also conflicted with the school leaving age which in Ontario, for example, was 14 at which point the child was free to enter the work force. If the factory, why not the CEF? The policy regarding minors took some time be developed, but from July 1917 onwards, all boys under 17 were returned to Canada, those aged 17 to 18 1/2 were posted to the Boys Battalion at Bexhill and those who were 18 1/2 were retained by reserve battalions until they reached the age of 19. Evidently, this issue became a problem in France when requests were made to send back men who were claimed to be underage. I have seen a return from the 34th Boys Battalion in December 1916 that reported 803 juveniles on strength with seven under the age of 14.
" Evidently, this issue became a problem in France when requests were made to send back men who were claimed to be underage. This is a snippet from the Diary of the Canadian Section of the 3rd Echelon at General Headquarters:
Valley Military Cemetery, Vis-rn-Artois, France
"Canadian Section G.H.Q.3/Rd Echelon
1917 August 7
In future the date of birth shown on the Attestation paper will govern,
and the necessary action to withdraw the minor from the firing line will be taken
only on production of documentary evidence in one of the following forms :
i. Birth Certificate.
ii. Sworn declaration by parents before a Notary Public.
iii. The Declaration of a Clergyman or a Priest before a responsible
If the boy is shown to be under eighteen years of age he is to be

returned to England. - If between the ages of 18 and 19 to be sent to an
Army School. On attaining the age of nineteen to be sent to his Base
Depot to rejoin Unit."
The narrative above was a compilation taken from the CEF Study Group Forum threads on underage soldiers authored for the most part by Western graduate student, Richard Holt or “stonetown”. I have included this because I felt it best explains the legalities of the enlisting of young Canadian soldiers.Despite the forgoing age restrictions and limitation, Tim Cook, World War One historian at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, estimates that out of the 424,589 who served overseas in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, as many as twenty thousand underage soldiers made it to Europe, and another several thousand never got to leave Canada. Boy soldiers have been fighting for various causes since the beginning of time. Indeed they (as well as girl soldiers) are still fighting. I believe their reason for enlisting or trying to enlist may have origins different than from those who enlisted of legal age. I think that perhaps “peer pressure” may have played an important part, like the fellows that enlisted from the community of Humber Bay. Humber Bay was a very small community situated in south-east Etobicoke, north of the Lakeshore in today’s City of Toronto, being primarily settled about 1900. Most of the settlers from England were gardeners and farmers that cultivated and divided small plots of land into market gardens raising and selling vegetables and flowers. The children all went to the same school and grew up together as “family”. Thus we have friends in the Reeves Brothers, Arnold Winger and Walter Riches all trying to enlist about the same time. Of course a sense of adventure and a chance to earn a working man’s pay were motivations as well. However it is doubtful a sense of moral obligation to the home country and family, as their fathers may have had. The Barnardo organization and other organizations like Fegan Boys, in England, were active in sending boys and girls to Canada, who were disadvantaged, orphaned, work house and work school tenants. Many worked long and hard hours and were not treated well on the farms they were sent to across Canada. Many enlisted to esccape the hard conditions.
Ploegsteert Woods Military Cemetery, Flanders
It is said the the Barnardo boys sent 6211 to the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Some 531 were killed in action, including young Privates William Edward Tricker and Sidney Currie, in the 3rd Battalion. When the 3rd Battalion was form at Camp Valcartier in September, 1914, most of the draughts from the Queen’s Own Rifles, 10th Royal Grenadiers and the Governor Generals Body Guards were comprised of veteran militia men, many with years experience either in Canada or the United Kingdom. Thus few could be considered “underage”. I found a number of these fellows were eighteen at the time of enlistment but were either weeded out in England or “of age” by the time they served in the trenches. That does not mean there were not any, only that I didn’t locate any. However underage recruits began to arrive as soon as the first major reinforcements for the 3rd Battalion arrived at the front lines on May 5, 1915, from the 23rd Battalion and soon after, from Toronto’s 35th Battalion.
The topic of Boy soldiers has been researched in great detail, both in Britain and here in Canada. As a result a great new book was recently published: OLD ENOUGH TO FIGHT, Canada’s Boy Soldiers With the First World War, Dan Black & John Boileau, James Lorimer & Co, Toronto, 1913.
The following young men, with the exception of the final five, lost their lives while fighting with the 3rd (Toronto) Battalion, CEF in the trenches of France and Belgium. The majority of the attestation papers do not have the correct birth year. I have checked both censuses and birth records to ascertain the correct age. When a soldier was killed, I show the age at death. Otherwise age at enlistment is shown.  The last five either fought with the “Dirty Third” or, in the case of Cedric Reeves, had a brother and friend that were killed in the 3rd Battalion. Private Stephenson is included because I knew of him and his original attempt to enlist in the 234th (Peel) Battalion which fed a substantial draft to the 3rd Battalion, including Privates William Tricker and old friend from Passchendaele, Sydney Churchward.
Private Sidney Currie, 63199 – Born August 7, 1897 in Camberwell, London, England to parents Oswald and Elizabeth Currie. Oswald was a “Pianist” in the 1901 Census, living at 78 Harris Street, Camberwell. They also had children Charles Lee (10), Malcolm (7), Grace (6) as well as Sidney (3). That same year, Sidney and older sister, Grace, at shown as students in Southampton Street School, ending 1903. In 1903, we see Sidney Currie and his older brother, Malcolm sent to Canada as member of a group of 194 youths Barnardo Children on the S.S. Dominion Liverpool to Quebec, destined for Barnardo Homes in Toronto. No record of either boy until Sidney enlists in Montreal’s 23rd Battalion, November 27, 1914. He listed his birth year as 1895 and occupation as “labourer”. Sidney was included as one of 237 reinforcements from the 23rd Battalion in England sent to the 3rd Battalion (along with my Grandfather John Cody #63207) arriving May 3, 1915 as they were in reserve outside of Ypres. Died of wounds July 3, 1915 at No. 2 Canadian Field Ambulance and buried in Maple Leaf Cemetery, La Romarin, France. Age 17.

An on-line Inquiry search found:   
I am trying to locate any members of Owald CURRIE's (b.c1867) family He was blind fron the age of 3 due to Scarlet Fever. He went to a Blind School, married in c1893 to Elizabeth ? she was a widow with one child Charles Lee b.c1890. They had 3 children by 1901, Malcolm, Grace and Sydney and there may have been others. Oswald was son of Oswald CURRIE b. c1845, he was a Naval Sailor, his wife was Rach(a)el SHADBOLT. They married in 1865 and by 1861 Rachel was a widow. As well as Oswald they had a daughter Kate b. 1871 who married a Raphael HUDSON. The family all lived in the Camberwell area for most of their lives. Any help to find them or descendants would be gratefully received. Thank-you

Private Arnold Edward Winger, 404241 – Born October 26, 1896 in Jarvis, Ontario. Enlisted April 5, 1915 in the 35th Battalion, Toronto, ON. He listed his mother, Edith Jane (Nash) Winger, as his next of kin. Father was Edward. Occupation listed as a gardener in Humber Bay, ON and an active militia member. At age 18, he stood 5’5”, with black hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion. He had the tattoo of a flag and two hands on his left forearm. Eight scars on the small of his back, He was a Baptist. Private Winger was included in the early 1st Reinforcing Draft 250 men of the 35th Battalion.  They departed from Montreal on June 4, 1915 on S.S. Metagama meaning that Arnold and many of his comrades received only very minimum training after enlisting and sailing for England. Young Private Winger was one of a large draft sent to the 3rd Battalion in the field on July 17, 1915. Arnold was “Killed in Action” September 23, 1915 while in the trenches in Ploegsteert Woods with the 3rd Battalion. Buried in Ploegsteert Woods Military Cemetery. Age 18.
Private Harry Sherman Pope, 457399 – Born July 15, 1900 Smith Falls, Lanark County, Ontario, young Harry was baptised in the Congregational Church, Danville, Quebec in 1903. Father Alfred and mother, Catherine, I believe were Francophone, despite having an Anglo surname. Harry was the older brother to Frederic and Adeline with the family living 2555 Mance Street, Montreal early 1915. Working as a “plumber”, he joined the 60th (Victoria Rifles), “D” Company on June 15, 1915. Private Pope was in the 1st Reinforcing Draft that sailed August 27, 1915 frm Montreal on the S.S. Scandinavian. On arrival at Shorncliffe this draft was absorbed by the 23rd Reserve Battalion on September 6, 1915. Private Pope was then transferred to the 3rd Battalion reaching that unit on December 12, 1915 in the field. His service record states “Killed in Action, bullet in the head, died on reaching Advance dressing Station of No.2 C.F.A.” in the trenches north of Wulverghem January 8, 1916. He is buried in Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Road Military Cemetery, Flanders, Belgium.  We can see that the young man spent only 31 days in the service of the 3rd Battalion. Age 15. 
Private Wilfred William Payne, 171670 – According to his attestation papers, Wilfred Payne joined the 83rd (Queen’s Own) Battalion in Toronto April 11, 1915. Although he listed being born in 1897, subsequent investigation (1901 and 1911 Census) has revealed that he was actually born in 1900 in Stourport, England. He immigrated May 1912 to Canada with mother Agnes on the SS Virginian Liverpool/Quebec to join his father showing his age as 12. In the 3rd Battalion attack on Regina Trench, Somme on October 8, 1916, Private Payne was reported as “missing” later to be listed as “killed in action. The Commonwealth War Graves Register states “A careful search near le Sars failed to discover the grave. His name and regt. particulars have been included on a Memorial Cross No. 22 which has been erected in Adanac Military Cemetery Memorial Plot Row B”. His name is also inscribed on the Canadian Vimy Memorial. Age 16.
Private William Harold Burleigh, 172103  Born June 23, 1897 in Palmerston, ON , William Burleigh was living in his Grandparents home with mother Florence and other family member in the 1901 Census in Palmerston. Then Private Burleigh has remained elusive until he show up with his attestation paper on August 21, 1915 in Toronto with the 83rd (Queen’s Own Rifles) Overseas Battalion. He listed his occupation as stenographer, single status, ahe 18 years, 2 months and his mother Florence with an address in Rothsay, ON as his next of kin. The 83rd Battalion departed Halifax on the S.S. Olympic April 28, 1916 and arrived West Sandling Camp, England. (a very early draught of 3 officers and 250 other ranks left Canada September 25, 1915) The battalion was absorbed by the 12th Reserve Battalion with large draughts headed to the 3rd, 4th and 4th CMR Battalions.  A large draught of 83rd soldiers was sent to the 3rd Battalion in the field after their disastrous losses in June 1916 at Mount Sorrel. Private William Harold Burleigh was another young soldier lost by the “Dirty Third” on October 8, 1916 from their attack on Regina Trench, in the Somme. He is one of the few identified and buried within Adanac Military Cemetery, Somme, France. Age 19.
Private Russell Lewis Collingridge, 292182  He was born July 3, 1900 in Guelph, ON to Louis and Margaret Collingridge. There were a number of siblings but only Percy Joseph #285301, 220th Battalion, born in 1899 also enlisted. At some point the family moved to 70 Northcote Avenue, Toronto. Young Russell attested into Toronto’s 95th (Queens Own Rifles) Battalion listing his occupation as a butcher wagon driver and his birth date as July 28, 1995. The 95th Battalion 

embarked on the S.S. Olympic from Halifax for England on May 31, 1916. It had strength of 36 officers and 1061 other ranks. On arrival in Shorncliffe, England the 95th was broken up late June for reinforcements for the 1st, 3rd, 75th and 4th CMR Battalions after the Battle of Mount Sorrel. At some point our Private Collingridge were taken on service with the 3rd Battalion, possibly before his 16th birthday. He was a victim of the 3rd and 4th Battalions’ attack on the Quadrilateral and Regina trenches in the Somme on October 8, 1916. In this battle, the 3rd Battalion lost 13 officers and 326 other ranks out of a total of 15 officers and 481 other ranks. Private Russell Lewis Collingeridge was one of only 31 men, along with fellow under age soldier William Burleigh, whose remains were identified and given an identifiable burial. He was buried in Adanac Military Cemetery, Somme, France. Age 16.

Private William Edward Tricker, 1024315  He was born January 18, 1900 in Ipswich, Suffolk, England to Edgar William and Sarah Elizabeth Tricker. In the 1901 Census, the young family is residing in St. Margaret, Suffolk with William having an older sister, Alice, age 2. However in the 1911 Census, William, age 11, is found as an inmate in the St. John Workhouse and School for Boys and Girls, Ipswich with no mention made of the others in his family. We next find 15 year old William E. Tricker as one of a party of 105 young men on the S.S. Corsican leaving Liverpool destined July 1914 for Barnardo Homes in Toronto, ON. We next find William Edward Tricker enlisting in the 234th (Peel) Overseas Battalion September 6, 1916 in West Toronto’s Ravina Barracks with a service number of 1024315. He lists his address as “Alton, ON” a small rural community south of Orangeville and occupation as “Farmer”. His next of kin, unlike most other Home Children who list their employers, is his mother, Mrs. Tricker of Ipswich, England. This incomplete battalion (279 ranks, 15 officers) embarked from Halifax on the S.S. Scandinavian 

April 18, 1917. On arrival in England they were taken in by the 12th Reserve Battalion April 29, 1917. Without having this man’s service record, I don’t have details of his service until November 6, 1917. On that infamous date he participated with the 3rd Battalion in their attack on Vine Cottage guarding the Goudbery Spur, a location that consisted of a number of concrete German pillboxes with concentrated machine gun fire.  Here a Victoria Cross was awarded to Corporal Colin Barron for his attacks during the attack. The 3rd Battalion suffered a total of 240 casualties during this attack of which 87 were either killed or missing, one of the latter being our young William Tricker, who is thought to possibility be one of several unarmed 3rd Battalion soldiers interred in New British Passchendale Military Cemetery, within a couple of hundred yards from Vine Cottage Farm. I believe he is lying next to ex Toronto policeman Sydney Churchward, also from the 234rd Battalion and the familiar soldier with three gold teeth. Private William Tricker’s name is perpetuated on the Menin Gate Memorial, in Ypres. Age 17.

Private Harry John Barrett, 237647 – Born March 31, 1900 in Peterborough, Huntingshire, England to William and Ellen Barrett. The family are shown in the 1901 Census Living in Fletton, Huntingshire with Harry (1), William (2) and Emily (10) as well as the parents. However in 1905, the entire family immigrated (Toronto Beavers) Battalion, Harry John listed his birth date as 1898, marital status single and working as a labourer. However in 1905 the family immigrated to Canada settling in East Toronto, living at 38 Bastedo Avenue. William Barrett, Sr. Died March 27, 1908 in Toronto. Ellen later remarried to a Mr. Attwood. On attesting into Toronto’s 204th (Toronto Beavers) April 26, 1916, The 204th departed for England on March 28, 1917 from Halifax on the S.S.Saxonia. They were absorbed by the 2nd Reserve Battalion, East Sandling,  on arrival, eventually most of the 204th Battalion ended up in Toronto 3rd or 75th Battalions in France. Private Harry John Barrett was transferred to the 3rd Battalion April 17, 1917. Wounded with a GSW right shoulder July 29, 1917, No. 22 General Hospital. Returned to action August 22, 1917. Treated 41 days May, 1918 for V.D. with loss of pay. Returned to duty June 6, 1918. Private William Barrett was “Killed In Action” August 30, 1918 in the 3rd Battalion’s attack on Orix Trench, near Drury. He is buried in a mass grave in picturesque Valley Cemetery, Vis-en-Artois, France. Age 18.
Private Samuel Harry Chickegian, 2393367 – Little is known about either Samuel Chickegian or his family, other than what is entered on his attestation papers his and service record. Supposedly born April 18, 1899 in Arek, Armenian (present day Turkey), he listed his occupation as “soda dispenser”. It is highly probable he was born much later, possibly in 1903. Height was 5’ 3’, weight was 114 pounds. A naturalized Canadian, It appears he was serving with the Service Battalion, Canadian Defence Force, Toronto’s 48th  Highlanders when he attested June 5, 1917 into the newly formed 1st Depot Battalion, 1st Central Ontario Regiment. He listed his mother, Lucile, as next of kin, living at 128 Alfred Street, Toronto. Father was John. However in subsequent documents in the service file, the family is living in a number of addresses in both St. Catharines and Brantford, ON. On October 18, 1917, Samuel was admitted to Base Hospital, Toronto for removal of a “sebaceous cyst” being discharged October 22. He arrived in England in a draft on the S.S. Scotian December 7, 1917 and was immediately assigned to the 5th Reserve Battalion, Sandling then on February 15, 1918 to the 12th Reserve Battalion in Witley. April 8, 1918 Private Chickegian was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, in the field in France arriving at this unit April 28. There are no other notations in his service file until noted as “Killed In Action” September 2, 1918.  Buried in Ontario British Cemetery, Sains-le-Marquion, France. Age 15.
Under Aged Soldiers From The 3rd Battalion and Others That Survived The War (in alphabetical order):
Francel, Archie                  #851114               16           Born 1901            Born USA. Sent home ex France, disch 1918
Frost, Charles                    #63344                  15           Born 1900            Disch after 1 year, 3 months, Reenlisted
Redman, Russell               #427880               16           Born 1900            Spent most of service being treated for VD
Reeves, Thomas               #136500               18           Born 1899            KIA Brother Cedric Reeves #10069  3rd Bn
Riches, Walter                   #285136               17           Born 1899            Served in France. Humber Bay  
Stephenson, Kenneth      #2499687             18           Born 1900            KIA. Enlisted  #1024446, under wt &  height
Thomas, Sherman            #9255                    17         Born 1897           Mohawk native. Wounded Festubert 1915

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