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Friday, January 29, 2016


When one is told that his or her time is coming soon, one's mind starts to wonder and remember places we have been, worked, people we knew and where we lived. So it it is with me. My non physical career with CN Express began when in the final summer after graduating from high school, I was posted to the Bond department located in the bowels of 20 York Street. Here I covered for three weeks or more the Bond department "runner". The job entailed delivering to a variety of steamship companies in downtown Toronto, original ocean bills of lading and checks covering the owed freight. In return I would be given advice notes which could be used to Customs clear and deliver the goods in question or remove the merchandise "In Bond" to a final destination in Canada by the use of CN Express. I thoroughly enjoyed my short time here so when the time came to enter full time

The Foy Building, 32 Front St.W.
employment and after a number of other postings with CN, I started in a junior Customs position with Robert Morse Corp. on Evans Ave., Etobicoke, an importer of tools, machines and industrial supplies. Not long after, I spotted an ad for a "junior rater" at Mid-Continent truck terminal, as the money was better ($70.week as opposed to the $60. I was making), my career started with Robinson & Heath Ltd., Canada's 2nd oldest Customs Broker located at 32 Front St.W., Toronto. Although my initial interview process was with the office manager, I was called back to meet the company's President, a man called Bill Heath. The man had a strict military bearing to him complete with handlebar moustache and bow tie. The interview went well and I become the "Junior rater" rating and assessing the appropriate duty and tax on all parcel post shipments for our clients. It was later that I learned Bill had issued instructions for all new employees to have college experience - little did he know I attended Humber College for only one semester, rarely attending classes and received no marks. Regardless this was the beginning of a solid 11 years with the company, in which time I progressed from the lowest on the totem pole to Branch Manager and eventually moving into sales with use of a company car and mid management. My relations with Bill Heath were always good.
The Gillett Bldg occupied 32 Front St prior to the fire
Other company staff referred as him to "the Major", I believed this to be some sort of comic relief not really thinking of him as an officer although he carried an "air" of superiority to him, or at least tried to. So I worked for the first couple of years 1969-1971 in the Head Office located in an older building near the north-east corner of Front St. and Bay St called the "Foy" building. Although having a modern entrance and elevator, the six story building had an old freight elevator at the rear and old loading doors that had been boarded up. Many years later when the building was being torn down for the new Hockey Hall of Fame and surrounding structures, I removed the 8 foot Venetian blinds from Bill Heath's office and swiped an old metal fire door from the bin. The blinds were installed in our add on room to our trailer parked at Melody Bay. The door was after painting, our front door at 93 Juniper for many years.
Now, 47 years after my hiring: the company; the building; the "Major"; and my career are all long gone! 32 Front Street West, Toronto was at one time near the hub of a thriving dry goods and grocery distribution and manufacturing area of the City. However a tragedy occurred in 1904 with the Great Toronto Fire. A night watchman, making his rounds on a cold and windy night, discovered a fire in a 4-storey brick E&S Currie, neck wear factory at 58 Wellington Street West. He ran up Bay Street and pulled Box 12, located at King, at 20:04 hrs. A normal assignment of 5 hose companies, two steamers, an aerial, the water tower, a ladder truck and a couple of chemical wagons, and the salvage company under the command of Fire Chief

Rebuiulding on Front St. after the fire 1904
Thompson arrived at the scene and went to work. An interior attack from the front was having some effect but the building was ablaze from top to bottom and fire extended into exposure #4, a similar structure. A general alarm was called and the chief and a couple of men took a line in to try and head things off. This is when things went bad. The fire cut them off on the 2nd floor, trapping them upstairs. They tried shinnying down the hose but the chief lost his grip and fell, breaking a leg. He was carted off home and Deputy Chief Noble sent for. Meanwhile, things deteriorated quickly. Warehouses at exposures #1 and #4 started to burn, as the flames overwhelmed interior crews. Flames worked their way quickly over to Bay Street, threatening John Ross Robertson’s Telegram newspaper building. Equipped with window sprinklers and made of concrete, the 10-storey edifice was further protected by a brave group of employees armed with buckets and standpipe houses. In the heat and blinding smoke, they made a successful stand.

George J. Foy Memorial Mount Hope Cemetery
DC Noble had arrived to find a horrifying sight. Even the steamers could not provide a stream capable of penetrating the heat and the crews facing the 30mph wind found the streams snapped off at the nozzle. Soon buildings on the south side of Wellington, opposite the fire, began to burn. Two large warehouses, each a half block deep towards Front, took off, dooming the structures on the west side of Bay and the north side of Front. To make matters worse, stores on the east side of Bay, south of the Telegram, were now well involved. The temperature dropped to 20F and firefighters were further stymied by falling wires and buildings, and hose lines lay abandoned in the streets as the men ran for their lives. With the wind howling and gusting to 55mph the blaze became a firestorm, and at 2230, the mayor sent a desperate plea to nearby villages and several cities with steamers for aid. With the glow readily visible in the night sky, crews from the Junction, North and East Toronto, the Beach and Weston quickly readied their equipment and sped to the scene to back up the weary city boys. Farther afield, special trains were readied in Hamilton, then Brantford, Peterborough, Niagara Falls, London and Buffalo. The large, 6-storey brick Darling Dry Goods emporium on the south east corner of Bay & Wellington ignited and the flames swept down both sides of Bay, taking out large and small buildings alike. On the fringes, desperate firefighters tried to corral the monster as it tried to outflank them, forcing its way across Front. The crews from Hamilton arrived, an amazing 90 minutes after the call. They made a stand at the Queen’s hotel, a large building situated on Front west of Bay, replacing exhausted city and Junction members who knew that losing the hotel would wipe out everything to the west. They were forced to improvise hydrant connections as the threads didn’t match but still managed to get their engines in service and stop the fire from taking the large building. As this was happening, multiple hose streams west of Yonge Street prevented the fire from jumping into the east downtown. They were aided by the employees in the Minerva Building just west of Yonge on Front, who made a stand similar to that at the Telegram. After roaring through the block-long premises of Eckardt Casket, behind the buildings on the south side of Front, the fire attacked those on the West side of Bay, above the lake. Meanwhile, it also marched ever eastward on Front, putting the Customs House at Yonge in peril. It was now 02:00, but the low, open style of Eckhardt’s factory allowed the weary firefighters to set up effective water curtains and they lost just one more building in this area. The crews on Yonge teamed up to drench first the Bank of Montreal (now the Hockey Hall of Fame), then the Customs House, preventing any extension eastward. Below that were the railway tracks, which made an effective firebreak. The worst was now over, and welcome reinforcements in the form of Engines 12 and 13 from Buffalo, along with a couple of dozen firefighters, had now made the scene. They were followed by the contingents from Brantford and London. As the sun rose, the appalling destruction became fully apparent. Almost 100 buildings, most of them substantial 4 to 6 story mercantile and manufacturing concerns, were laid waste. More than $10 million in property losses were incurred, and rebuilding took many years. Fortunately, injuries were surprisingly minor and only one fatality was connected with the fire; that of a workman struck by a falling wall a couple of days later. Even as the ruins still shouldered, burned out merchants were advertising alternative locations and contractors were hauling away debris. An economic boom, spurred by the rebuilding, swept the city and for the first time, the economy and population began growing faster than in Montreal. Improvements to the fire service were also made, with more steamers put into service and the high pressure system built. The building located at least partially on the lot at 32 Front Street West in 1904 was believed to be the E.W. Gillett Co. Ltd. building.
The Gillette Building on Front Street, Toronto

The Gillett Company's ad in The Globe on April 21, 1904, read, "Our entire plant (building and machinery) was totally consumed by the awful conflagration which swept part of Toronto on Tuesday night, April 19th, and we must therefore ask your indulgence for a few weeks. Fortunately we have a duplicate set of machinery stored safely in another building, and this will enable us to turn out goods within a reasonable time. Every Wholesale Grocer in the Dominion has a stock of ROYAL YEAST, GILLETT'S LYE, MAGIC BAKING POWDER, Etc., so we are hoping, by the careful use of goods now in their hands, that no one will be inconvenienced. 'Gillett's Goods Are the Best,' and will be more popular than ever."
Obituary for Bill Heath
I couldn't find what was installed on the lot immediately after the fire, however in 1912 a substantial building designed by Toronto architect Samuel George Curry was built for George J. Foy in 1914. The six floor building was to be named "the Foy Building" after prominent Toronto business man George J. Foy. Foy arrived in Toronto from Mayo, Ireland and building a solid wholesaling business selling cigars and liquors. However he did not live to see the new building as he died at the age of 61 in October 1909.The family built a huge grave monument  in Toronto's Catholic Mount Hope Cemetery. So at some point this became the home of Robinson &
Heath Ltd. Customs Brokerage, who prior to the fire, had resided at 14 Melinda Street (nearby).  
William Livesay Beverley Heath, the Major", came from a very privileged family with ties to other prominent Toronto families. His father, Stuart Beverley Heath, was a Lieutenant in Toronto's 123rd (10th Royal Grenadiers) Battalion in World War One. According to my friend, Dan Mowat, author of a new book One-Two-Three, The Story of the 123rd Overseas Battalion, Royal Grenadiers, CEF, Lieut. Heath went overseas with the Battalion in the Fall of 1916. Here is his report: 

"I do not have much on Lieutenant Stuart Beverley Heath, except that he was one of the first officers to sign up with the 123rd Battalion in December 1915, assigned to 'D' Company, under Major Robert Ferrier Burns Wood, and had a couple of years prior service with the QOR as a Private. I had guessed that family money got him a commission in the 123rd. Just after the 123rd arrived in England, he was transferred to the Canadian Engineers Training Depot at Crowborough, but I don't have enough details to know why (he doesn't appear to have any specialized skills or training to have been transferred as an instructor). He transferred back to the 123rd just as they were getting ready to mobilize to France in January 1917, but for some reason also beyond my grasp at the moment, it appears that he departed the 123rd Battalion for an unknown destination shortly after asschendaele."

Major Robert Ferrier Burns Wood, 123rd Btn.
However we have also found that the mentioned Major Robert Ferrier Burns Wood had married Elsie Heath, sister of Lieut.Stuart Beverley Heath, July 1916, just before the Battalion moved overseas. Elsie was the only sibling of Stuart Beverly Heath. They in turn were the children of  Stuart Beverley Wallace Heath ( 1849-1918) who in turn was one of four sons of Captain Charles Wallace Heath, India Forces. In 1837 the Elmsley family sold the southern 40 acres of Lot 21 to Agnes Heath, a widow, shortly after she and her children immigrated to Canada. Her husband Colonel Charles Heath of the Honourable East India Company Service had died in India. Following his death she relocated her children from India to Switzerland where they were educated before moving to Italy and finally to Canada. On purchasing the 40 acres she named the property Deer Park, lived there until 1846 when she sold the property to her son Charles Wallace Heath. In 1874 Charles Heath sold the property to Weymouth G. Schreiber. Schreiber subdivided it into 52 lots with three streets (one of which he named Heath Street) and registered it as Plan 365. Thus it was into this family that Bill Heath was born.
Robinson & Heath moved several times eventually moving to the Airport and being absorbed into the U.S.A. company Fritz. The Foy Building was torn down in the 1980's for the Hockey Hall of Fame. In the 11 years I worked at Robinson & Heath Ltd., I started my career in Customs and Freight Forwarding being taught skills that remain life long, met a lovely lady at Robinson &; Heath that I have been married for 44 years, fathered two beautiful daughters and purchased a house that was the home of our family for 35 years.

For more information and photos of the Great Toronto Fire visit Archives Toronto HERE.
For more information on the 123rd (Royal Grenadiers) Battalion visit Dan Mowat's excellent website

Monday, January 18, 2016



The massive Battle of the Somme commenced on July 1st, 1916 ending November 18, 1916. It has been described as the most intensive and brutal battle in military history. However it really was composed of a number of smaller battles involving Allied troops from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France against the resilient and determined German defenders in the idyllic French countryside surrounding the valley of the Somme River. Again we will defer to Canadian historian and author, Norm Christie  for his brilliant overview of the battle leading to the Battle of Courcelette on September 15, 1916:
No Man's Land, Courcelette, September 15, 1916
"The Battle of the Somme opened on July 1st, 1916 with a British attack launched along a 28 km front. Ushered in with a two-week bombardment of the German positions, the British expected the July offensive to be an unqualified success. They were on the way to Berlin! But the strategy of a heavy barrage, followed by a general assault, failed. The British Army, on July 1st alone, suffered 60,000 casualties, including 20,000 dead. The shock of this enormous tragedy still holds a place in the consciousness of the British people.

The attack north of the Albert-Bapaume road from Ovillers to Gommecourt was a complete failure. South of the road, where the German lines swung in an easterly direction, the village of Fricourt was captured and the German defences in this "underbelly" pierced. British forces continued their attacks to the north throughout July and August, slowly turning north against heavy German opposition and numerous counter-attacks. By the end of august, the fighting south of and along the Bapaume-Albert Road had reached the outskirts of Pozieres, the highest point on the road. The fighting was severe in the area around Pozieres. Australian forces painfully and expensively drove the Germans from the village, then pushed north and east toward Mouquet Farm and Courcelette. The Pozieres windmill, on the high point directly east of the village, was captured by the Australians at the end of August." The Canadians On The Somme - For King and Empire, Norm Christie, CEF Books, Ottawa, 2007.

Stretcher Bearers and Ambulance, September 15, 1916

So by September 15, the Canadian Corps consisted of three Infantry divisions - 1st, 2nd and 3rd Divisions. The subject battalion of this post, the 31st (Alberta) Battalion were in the 6th Brigade in the 2nd Division along with the 27th (Winnipeg), 28th (Saskatchewan) and 29th (British Columbia) Battalions. The Canadian Corps were asked to make on attack on the village of Courcelette and surrounding area on September 15. It was to be their first major in the Somme. The 2nd Division were responsible for the taking of a strong redoubt 1/2 mile south of Courcelette called the Sugar Factory as well as the village while the 3rd Division's objective was the ground between the village and a location called Mouquet Farm. The Canadians would have the use of a new weapon - six British tanks. The early morning attack towards Courcelette was lead by the 27th and 28th Battalions of the 6th Brigade with the 31st Battalion in support. The 4th Brigade attacked south along the Bapaume Road with the 5th Brigade in reserve. All along the 10 kms of the Canadian attack, objectives were obtained, albeit at high cost. Casualties were high with the battlefields littered with dead and wounded Canadians and Germans. By late afternoon the 2nd Division had captured their objectives of Candy and Sugar Trenches and most of the village of Courcelette. Counter-attacks were made by the Germans over the next few days but the ferocious Canadians held ground. On September 22, the 6th Brigade were relieved by the fresh 1st Division with the village and surrounds finally totally in Canadian hands.
6th Brigade Stretcher Bearers, Courcelette, September 15
At this time we should point out instructions found in the Battalion war diaries for September 14, the Adjutant, Lieut. C.B.Hornby, claimed at 16:00k that "I saw the stretcher bearers and give them final instructions, location of R.A.P. (Regimental Aid Post), etc. 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade is making an attack on the enemy at 6:20k, Sept 15.31st Battalion will support 27th and 28th Battalions and in consequence be somewhat scattered". The "C" Company Sergeant Major J.S. Park ended up commanding "C "Company after all the officers were killed. In his report he stated that " at about 5:00k our wounded were brought from shell holes to this trench during the night, and were carried out this AM by Stretcher Bearer Parties". C company was attached to the 28th Battalion (less one platoon) as

The 2nd Division attack Courcelette, September 15, 1916
an attack Intermediate wave  and Mopping Up Party save one platoon as carrying party. The trench referred to was a German Communication Trench parallel with the Sunken Road. Lieut Norris, in charge of "D"Company supporting the 27th Battalion, stated "I left the trench about 5:15am and proceeded as ordered to X.15 area leaving behind a strong party to assist wounded, under the direction of Lieut.H.P.Morgan who reported to me that all wounded were removed to dressing station". L/Cpl E. Barnes was one of the stretcher bearers and was commended. Needless to say the casualty count for this entire operation on September 15 was extremely high. The list for the 31st Battalion seems rather extensive given the fact that the battalion remained in support mode for the operation.
31st Battalion War Diary September 15, 1916
There were two types of Canadian stretcher bearers (SBs) in the Great War; Regimental SBs and those in the Canadian Army Medical Corps The ones at regimental level were in infantry battalions; traditionally in peace time these men were part of the battalion band and were musicians as well as SBs, but following the formation of Kitchener’s Army in 1914 that gradually began to change and men were selected for the aptitude rather than their ability to play an instrument, with the medical training coming second. Regimental SBs were the first port of call for battlefield wounded; they would search the battlefield for casualties and take them to the Regimental Aid Post for treatment by the RMO – the Regimental Medical Officer – usually a Lieutenant or Captain from the CAMC. From here they would be taken to a collection point where SBs from the CAMC would take over and transport them back to the nearest Advanced Dressing Station (ADS) or Main Dressing Station (MDS). The weight of a wounded man was something to be reckoned with and while in pre-war training SBs practiced in pairs, the reality on mud-soaked battlefields was that it would take more personnel to evacuate each casualty even on relatively good ground; as illustrated here.
Casualty List 31st Battalion, Sept 15
The following is a letter written by the Medical Officer of the 31st Battalion, Captain Harold McGill, to his future wife in Calgary, from the front lines, shortly after the September 15 battle:

The nights however are becoming quite cold and the men find it none too comfortable sleeping out on the ground. The battalion has lately been in 2 heavy engagements with the enemy and we expect to be at it again before long. We apparently have the Huns shifting back but those of us who are engaged in the pushing process have little heart to rejoice after we find so many of our officers and men gone. I suppose though that is the price of victory. In our first engagement I had my batman killed by a piece of shell. In the last show we were in my stretcher bearer sergeant, the finest little fellow in the battalion, had his leg torn off by a shell and died of wounds in the F. Ambulance dressing station. I saw him after he was hit. He bid me good bye saying he had tried to do his work and was sorry he was not able to carry on to the end. It made me feel like a baby to hear him talk like that and I could very easily have made a fool of myself. He was the last one left of the stretcher bearers I brought from Calgary and was known and loved throughout the battalion. It is not so much the loss of him as a stretcher bearer that I feel as the personal loss of a friend. Teddy Barnes was his name and he had brought honours to the battalion by his athletic prowess. I must write to his mother.

So now it is time we introduce the man that inspired this post, Private George Samuel Sharpe #447212. A recent modest purchase of this man's Victory Medal reintroduced me to the Somme and in particular the participation of the 31st Battalion in the Battle of Courcelette. Private Sharpe has proved rather elusive to trace. I managed to find him in the 1891 English Census, age one year, living in Roxton, London England with family. However apparently his father, Arthur Edward Sharpe died in 1895 and George was raised by his mother Elizabeth and stepfather. I found a George Sharpe in the 1911 English census, correct age, as an inmate of the Borstal Youth Institute, Feltham. However I was not able to successfully find him emigrating to Canada. He shows up June 3, 1915 in Calgary, Alberta, enlisting in that city's 56th Battalion, listing his occupation as a blacksmith. The 56th Battalion was authorized November 14, 1914 with the main body (two reinforcing drafts were sent earlier) embarked for Britain from Halifax March 20, 1916 on the S.S. Baltic. The battalion was absorbed into the 9th Reserve Battalion with most members being sent to the 31st Battalion as front line reinforcements. So at some point, Private Sharpe was sent to the 31st Battalion ending up as a stretcher bearer in the Base company. Canadian Virtual War Memorial
The missing of the 31st Battalion, September 15, 1916
Thus he was one of the stretcher bearers, Lieut. C.B. Hornby gave his final instructions to in the afternoon of September 14. After the attack by the 6th Brigade on September 15, Private Sharpe was listed as "Missing in Action". His remains were never identified so he is listed on the Vimy Memorial as having no known grave.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Some of the other men believed to have been members of the Battalion stretcher bearer section and taking part in the battle were: Pte Joseph Saunders, #44619 (KIA); Pte Douglas McDowall, #435438 (KIA); Pte Thomas Simner, #79973 (wounded); Pte William Fraser, #80163 (wounded); L/Sgt Edward Barnes, #79282 (MM) and L/Cpl Thomas Bright.
Stretcher Bearers September 15, 1916, Courcelette
So the actions of the 6th Brigade and 31st Battalion on September 15, 1916, saw the Sugar Factory be captured, Sugar and Candy Trenches in Canadian hands and the village of Courcelette be entered. A success at terrible cost. 318 men of the 31st Battalion gathered the next morning in the jump off trenches, out of a total of 722, over 50% casualty rate. Although the 31st Battalion were relieved in the morning of September 16, the 2nd Division was right back at it on September 25 and again suffered serious losses during the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, September 25-28, 1916. Here are some outstanding Canadian images of the Somme including stretcher bearers. and 

Further details on the 31st Battalion and their actions during the Great War can be found in their excellent History of the 31st Battalion C.E.F., Major H.C. Singer, Calgary, 1938.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016



Canadian author and historian, Norm Christie, has described the Battle of Arras, in his book For King and Empire The Canadians at Arras August-September 1918 as " the Battle of Arras and the breaking of the Drocourt-Queant Line was the greatest military achievement of the Great War." In 9 days of heavy fighting the men of the Canadian Corps broke through 5 successive German defensive lines and cracked the Drocourt-Queant line. Their constant pressure finally turned the northern flank of the impregnable Hindenburg Line forcing the Germans to excavate recently captured territory, from St. Quentin to Ypres in the north."

So it was in this context their my relative, Herbert John Tuffrey lost his life. Badly wounded while attacking the German Line in September 2, 1918, he succumbed to his wounds at #3 Canadian Field Ambulance Depot and is buried within Faubourg D'Amiens Cemetery, Arras.

We will probably never know what brought Herbert John Tuffrey, under the alias, Arthur Bartlett, to the flat, barren Saskatchewan prairie or why he was given two land grants in Plumbridge homesteading at the location NE13.23.18.W3 (the name changed 1922 to Lacadena). He emigrated July 3, 1914 on the Empress of Britain landing in Quebec. We do know he was a cousin of my grandmother, Alice Edith Tuffrey and that his brother, Leonard Tuffrey had emigrated to Toronto with his wife, Annie Lavina, prior to 1914. (see my previous post on Leonard Tuffrey). Herbert John was the third oldest son of Edward and Annie Tuffrey, born 1881 in Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire. Most of the Tuffrey families lived in Bletchingdon or nearby, Weston-on-the Green. So it was a bit of a mystery, to say the least,
Townsend cottages, Bletchingdon, Oxons
when he enlisted into the 128th Battalion on December 23, 1915 in Swift Current, Saskatchewan under his assumed name Arthur Bartlett. He did list his widowed mother, Annie Tuffrey, now living in Maidenhead, Berkshire, as his next-of-kin, possibly unaware of his younger brother living now in Toronto. Stating that he had served previously 12 years in the Norfolk Regiment, I have been unable to verify this statement, although there is no question he served previously in the British Army. The 128th Battalion arrived in England August 24, 1916 aboard the S.S. Grampian with a strength of 32 officers and 1100 ranks under the command of Lieut.Col. F. Pawlett. After arrival most of the men were sent to the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles or the 46th (South Saskatchewan) Battalion as reinforcements. At this point, Arthur Bartlett was an Acting Corporal. However he reverted to the ranks to as Private Bartlett ending up with the latter unit in May 23, 1917 on the Western Front. On August 20, 1917 he received a GSW to his right arm and leg at Lens being hospitalized for two months in England. He was discharged and returned to the 46th Battalion in October 1917. However in the 10th Brigade's assault on Drury, official records state that "while moving forward with his section in an attack and before the objective (Village of Drury, Cambrai) had been reached, this soldier was hit in the hip by enemy shrapnel. His wound was immediately dressed and he was evacuated to No.3 Canadian Field Ambulance, where he succumbed to his wounds the same day (shell wound, compound fracture femur).
Weston-on-the-Green, Oxons cica 1903

According to his CEF service record, it wasn't until December 1922 when an authorization for a name change to Herbert John Tuffrey was sanctioned. At this point we should mentioned that Arthur Bartlett has two "Form of Wills" residing in his service file, one dated April 17, 1917 and one dated April 3, 1918, both substantially different. The first left ALL his real estate and personal estate to his brother, Arthur Henry Tuffrey. The later one leaves all his real estate again to his brother Arthur Henry Tuffrey or his sons, in case of death but also one UK pound per week to his mother, Mrs. Annie Tuffrey "during her lifetime". However his personal estate is left to his brother Arthur Henry Tuffrey, subject to him paying paying out of the estate fifty UK pounds to each of his brothers: William Edward Tuffrey; Harold Tuffrey; Leonard Tuffrey; as well as ten UK pounds to his Aunt Mrs. Thomas Clarke and twenty UK pounds to Mr. George Atcheson, farmer, Plumbridge, Saskatchewan. In addition on the margin of the will, he appointed Arthur Henry Tuffrey and George Atcheson as co-executors. The foregoing seems significant as having no assigned pay and having his pay accumulated and with bond purchasing it appears he had a balance of $600. on his death as well as owning title to the land he had homesteaded in Saskatchewan.
St. Giles Church of England, Bletchingdon, Oxons

However on renewing my interest in genealogy and my Tuffrey Family this past week, I stumbled into solving the huge mystery of why Herbert John Tuffrey had assumed the name Arthur Bartlett on travelling to Canada prior to the war, obtaining a Canadian Land Grant in that name and enlisting in the Canadian Expeditionary Force with this name as well. Apparently during his service in the British Army in 1902, he married an Edith Ellen Springthorpe in Warwick, Warwickshire. Between the years 1901 and 1913, they appear to have had FIVE children together, three males and two females. I did find Herbert Tuffrey in the 1911 UK Census living in Norfolk on the army base and being a groom in the British Army. As well there is an Amelia Mary Tuffrey, born 1918, attributed to both partners, so Herbert must have made a visit home during his hospitalizations in England? I guess Herbert couldn't deal with all the hungry mouths, screaming in the household or whatever. So that sort of explains, at least in part, the name change.

Herbert John Tuffrey was born 1881 to Edward (a baker) and Annie Tuffrey (nee Cotterill) who resided in a row of labourers' cottage in Townsend, near the Red Lion pub. Nearby was my grandmother's family, born in 1889 to Thomas and Annie Tuffrey (nee Jeffkins), baptised in the same parish church, St. Giles. Edward Tuffrey died at the age of 36. Soon after his death Annie took her remaining children and settled in Maidenhead, Berks. Perhaps this was her family home? There was also, living in Bletchingdon as well, an Arthur Bartlett, so perhaps Herbert swiped his alias from his friend. The Tuffrey Family has been traced back to about 1700 living in Weston-on-the Green. The name is common in French Huguenot circles also as Tuffery, Tuffree and various derivatives. As protestants, they were persecuted during the reign of Louis XIV and emigrated to destinations around the world in search of religious freedom. Many landed in England particularly in Oxfordshire where they spread out across the county.

So our mystery as to why Herbert John Tuffrey changed his name to Arthur Bartlett, for the most part, has been solved. Married previously and with perhaps marital and legal problems he may have sought to escape persecution. It is also possible as well he had not completed his 12 year obligations to the Norfolk Regiment, so homesteaded in Canada and always intended to send for Edith Ellen and the children at the right time until the war interceded. Nevertheless he died in the service of his country and needs to be remembered!

Sunday, January 3, 2016



Unlike July 1, 1916 which has had a number of books published with the subject of  that date, including Martin Middlebrook's fine The First Day of the Somme, the last day of the epic battle, November 18, 1916, pretty much remains in anonymity. Save of course for the relatives and friends of the 545 Canadians killed on that date and the thousands more wounded, many maimed for life.

Battle Map Last Day of the Somme Nov. 18, 1916
Yes, the Battle of the Somme has had dozens of books written on that battle, perhaps over a hundred. However to my knowledge no Canadian work has been attempted on the Canadian contribution to the Somme other than a couple of guidebooks from Norm Christie and Paul Reed. I have already posted on this site some posts on the Somme battle and Canadian involvement - see my posts on Frederick Fulkerson, Howard Curtis and the 3rd Battalion history. However with the recent acquisition of a Victory medal attributed to L/Cpl Franklin George Osborne #410574 KIA Nov. 18, 1916, my interest in the last day of this horrific battle has been renewed.
War Diary Nov. 18, 1916 12th Brigade, CEF

The immediate events leading up to this final day centre around a battle called The Battle of the Ancre, 13-18 November 1916, was the final phase of the first battle of the Somme. It involved an attack on the German front line as it crossed the Ancre River, a sector of the front that had first been attacked on the first day of the battle without success. The attack along the Ancre had originally been planed for 15 October, as part of the battle of the Ancre Heights, but had been postponed repeatedly by bad weather. By November the original plan had been reducing in scope from an attempt to push the Germans back up to five miles along the Ancre to one to capture Beaucourt and push the Germans back at most two miles.
Attestation paper L/Cpl Osborne

This was a strong sector of the German front. The first British objective involved an advance of 800 yards and would require the capture of at least three lines of trenches. The next target was the German second line, from Serre south to the Ancre. Finally it was hoped to capture Beaucourt, on the Ancre. The attack would be launched by II Corps south of the river and V Corps to the north, with V Corps carrying out the main offensive. The attack immediately north of the river was to be carried out by the 63rd (R.N.) Division, under Major-General C. D. Shute. Nelson and Hawke). The division captured the German front line despite heavy German resistance. Further north the attack made less progress, and so despite Freyberg’s optimism the attack on Beaucourt was delayed until the next day. 51st Division captured Beaumont Hamel, and 2nd Division managed to capture parts of Redan Ridge, but further north no progress was made. The attack was renewed on 14 November. This time the 63rd Division was able to secure Beaucourt, which fell at 10.30am. The success at Beaucourt encouraged Gough to plan for a more ambitious offensive, but Haig ordered him to wait until after he could return from the Chantilly Conference of 15-16 November.

One final attack was made, on November 18. This began in snow and sleet and descended into chaos. On the right of the line the 4th Canadian Division captured its first objectives, but elsewhere little was achieved.
The attack was a relative success. Beaumont Hamel and Beaucourt were captured, but Serre and the northern part of the German line remained untouched. Once again mud intervened to help the defenders, preventing the use of the few available tanks, and making all communication difficult. All the early successes on the Ancre achieved was the creation of a British held salient on the Ancre, which proved to be a very dangerous area to be posted over the winter of 1916-17.
Going over the top at The Somme

More detail on the final day by the Canadian 4th Division is provided by Norm Christie in his The Canadians on the Somme"Finally on November 11, the newly arrived 4th Division threw three battalions at the completely-obliterated Regina Trench (see post on 3rd Battalion Somme) The 102nd, 47th, (British Columbia) and 46th (Saskatchewan) succeeded in capturing  the longest German Trench ever constructed on the Western Front. It had taken 42 days! On November 18th, 1916 the 4th Division's  38th Battalion (Eastern Ontario), 87th (Montreal), 54th (Kootenay), 75th (Mississauga Horse) and 50th (Alberta) succeeded in capturing Desire Trench, 800 metres north of the obliterated Regina Trench. The 38th and 87th even broke through to Grancourt Trench (not their objective), but were forced to withdraw. The Battle of the Somme was over. The Canadians had suffered more than 8,000 dead for a gain of 2.5kms of mutilated chalky Somme farmland. But the Battle had been a bigger catastrophe for the British Army. They lost 500,000 men!"
Casualty List 38th Battalion Somme

So like my relative 18 year old stretcher-bearer Frederick Fulkerson in the 54th Battalion, Franklin Osborne lost his life in the same attack on the same day, November 18, 1916. On Wikipedia, the 38th Battalion's involvement is described as; "On November 17, the 38th took over a section of front line from the 11th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers as part of the attack on Desire Trench and Grandcourt. The 38th went "over the top" for the first time on November 18 and all objectives were gained. The battalion had about 500 casualties, including 5 officers killed and 11 wounded. The battalion was relieved on November 20, and what was left of it returned to Albert."

From Ken Reynold's excellent blogspot on the 38th Battalion  "Born on 21 November 1893 in Iroqouis, Ontario-son of Albert James Osborne, Iroquois, Ontario-at the time of his enlistment in 1915: trade as cheesemaker; single; no current or previous military service; Church of England; height 5 feet 5 inches; chest of 36 inches fully expanded; fair complexion; grey eyes; fair hair. Joined the 59th Battalion,CEF, on 4 January 1915-transferred to the 38th Battalion, CEF on 10 June 1915 (number 410574)-served with the 38th Battalion during its period of garrison duty in Bermuda-landed in France with the 38th Battalion on 13 August 1916-wounded on 3 November 1916-Killed in Action on 18 November 1916-name inscribed on the Vimy Memorial, France." We know from his Circumstances of Death form that his body was recovered and originally buried map coordinates map 57D R16 3.4.