Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jesse Carl Biggs

Jesse Carl Biggs #7172 is an interesting case of a man who served in both the  South African, and First World War. He was born in Windsor, Ontario, 26 April, 1880 to A. James Biggs and Sarah ?. (1901 Canada Census) The Biggs family were originally from Ohio.
 Men from the Essex Fusiliers in Company "B" of the First Contingent. Windsor Public Library. Biggs is 2nd. from the left in the first row.

Jesse Carl Biggs is referred to in the book, “Painting The Map Red: Canada and The South African War” by Carman Miller. He was at first rejected from enlisting apparently because of chest size. Actually, he should have been rejected because of age but apparently this was not taken into account. However, contacts in London used their influence to get him in. This was Victorian Ontario after all where status and politics accounted for a lot.

“Bloemfontein, O.F.S., April 14, 1900

To Mr. Wm. Gray:

Dear Sir, - Possibly  you will be surprised to hear from me again, for I should have written more frequently. In order that you may remember me, I will say here at the beginning that I am the boy whom you helped into Company “B” of the Royal Canadian Regiment after he was discouraged by rejection. I have often thanked you for what you did that day in London. If I had had to go back to Windsor I don’t know what would have become of me.” (1)

Library and Archives Canada has a Jesse Carl Biggs font which contains four letters to his aunt Alice C. Dick during his service in South Africa. Unfortunately this is not online.

The 1911 Canada Census finds Jesse Carl Biggs in Edmonton, Alberta. In 1915 he joined the 3rd. Canadian Mounted Rifles as Captain and Adjutant. To find out more about his service from 1915 to 1918 it would be necessary to get a look at his service record from Library and Archives Canada. Needless to say, these records are not online.
               Attestation Papers, Library and Archives Canada.

We do know that the 3CMR left for England in June 1915 as part of the 1st. Canadian Mounted Rifles Brigade. This unit operated basically as an infantry unit. In 1916 the 3CMR was broken up and used as reinforcements for 1st. and 2nd CMR to bring their numbers up to battalion strength.

(1) “The London Free Press”, May 28, 1900.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Canadian Contingent in South Africa - “B” Company of the First Contingent

 Sample of South African Medal Rolls - Library and Archives Canada.

“B” Company comprised of the men from Southwestern Ontario. The following is a list of names I have been able to get out of newspapers of the era. There may well be some holes. I will fill them in as I continue the research.

Anderson, A.H. - St.Thomas - #7162
Andrews, E.C. -Windsor - #7161
Atkinson, D.H. - Ailsa Craig - #7163
Ballard, H.E. - Stratford - #7164
Barr, H.B. >- Windsor - #7165
Becher, Archibald Valancey#, Sergeant - #7257
Bethune, Alexander - Sergeant -  London - #3068
Biggs, J.C. - Windsor - #7172
Beers, F.C. +- Windsor- #7167
Bowden, R.B. - Windsor - #7153
Buchan, L., Lieut.-Col.
Brenden. J.G. - Brantford - not at L&A
Burns, W.J. - London - #7168
Burwell, H. - Chatham - not at L&A
Campbell, Glen Eden - #6330
Carley, J.H. - Mt.Forest - not at L&A
Craig, E.D. - Windsor - #7179
Dalgleish, Arthur Duncan> - Galt - #7183
Day, J. - New York - #7182
Dolman, E.N. - Windsor - #7185
Donahey, H.R. - London - not at L&A
Donegan*, John Andrew - London - #7188
Edwards, A. - Sweaburg - #7189
Evans, F. - London - #7190
Farley, J.E. - St.Thomas - #7157
Foote, W. - Galt - #7191
Galloway, George William> - Quartermaster-Sergt. - London - #228
Gorman, Frederick - Sarnia - #7154
Gorrie, W.B. - Chatham - #7194
Graham, G. - St.Mary’s - #306
Green, W.J. - London - #7197
Greene, A.E.C. - London - #261
Hendrie, Murray> - London - Sergeant - #7345
Hill, J.C. - London - #7202
Jell, A.P. - Walkersville - #7205
Johnston, K.G. - Sarnia - #7207
Jones, M.L. - Goderich - #7206
Lane, H. - Ingersoll - #7209
Leonard, G.W. - Woodstock - #7208
Marentette, Victor F.+ - Windsor - #7218
Marshall, A. - Woodstock - #7217
Mason, J.C.> - Lieut. - London - officers do have reg.#
McBeth, George - Strathroy - #185
McLean, M. - Ailsa Craig - #7212
McMahon, W. H. - Guelph - #7213
McMillan, D.C. - Thedford - #7214
McMurchy, A. - London - not at L&A
Moore, D.L. - London - #7089
Mullins, Ernest* - London - #3676
Munro, G.H. - Ailsa Craig - #7219
Northwood, J. - Windsor - #7222
Peart, Ernest W. - St.Mary’s - #7226
Powell, J. - Galt - #7229
Rae, A.H. - Glencoe - #7230
Reid, D.A. - Windsor - #7232
Robinson, J.B. - Windsor - #7235
Odlum, V.W. - Toronto - #7223
Odlum, G.M. - Toronto - #7224
Padden, Arthur E.+ - Windsor - not in L&A
Phillips, G.R.S. - Windsor - #7155
Pink, H. - St.Thomas - not in L&A
Rorison, C.K. - Windsor - #7234
Scott, C.R. - Forest - #7239
Sipi, George B.+ - Sergeant - London -  not in L&A
Smith, John - Thames ford - #7156
Smith, Robert* - London - #7236
Stanbury, F.G.  - St.Thomas - #7237
Stevenson, William Richard - London- #7101
Stuart, Duncan E. (Major)> - London
Sutherland, J. - St.Thomas - #7238
Trolley F.H. - Alvinston - #7242
Webb, A. B. - Clinton - #7251
Wells, J. - Elora - #7246
Westaway, H. - St.Thomas - #7250
Wheatcroft, A.H. - London - #7252
White*, Walter Raymond McCullough. - Windsor - #7255
Wilson, A. R. - Clinton - #7247
Wilson, H.R. - Tillsonburg - #7159
Woodward, A.W. - London - #7249

Symbols - *died in South Africa - >land application (land applications are not online; however, they can be accessed through Library and Archives Canada) - + wounded - L&A - Library and Archives Canada
Medal rolls, Service Files, Land Application records are available at Library and Archives Canada. They are not online; but you can access them on microfilm. Microfilm reel numbers are online. Not of the records are available.

Burwell, H might be Burwell, Alfred Edward. The newspapers sometimes get the initial wrong.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Boer War - London Area Casualties

On the side of London’s Boer War Memorial is a list of six names of men who died in the fighting in South Africa.

Deaths did not even come close to the scale experienced in the Great War. The Boer War was Londoners’ first taste of battle outside of  Canadian borders. They were very enthusiastic about the whole thing. In 1900 the average Londoner considered himself a good citizen of the British Empire, and they supported the Canadian Contingent wholeheartedly. To judge by pictures in the local newspapers, that supposedly depicted reality, one can see something of a romanticizing of the war. Nothing was mentioned about getting your head blown off by a dumdum bullet. That would change after the Great War.
                          "The London Free Press", March 24, 1900.
Company “B”, Royal Canadian Regiment. “City Of London: The Pioneer Period and The London Of Today”, 1900, p.175.

John Andrew Dunegan #7188
Killed in battle at Paardeberg February 18, 1900. He was buried in the Vendusiedrift Garden of Remembrance, Paardeburg (Veteran Affairs Canada: The Canadian Virtual War Memorial). He is #17 in the above photo.

Douglas Leeds Moore #7089

Died of enteric fever February 14, 1900 at Orange River Station, South Africa. He was born September 1877 to George James Moore and Agnes ? in Cambridgeshire, England (England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915). He is buried at the West End Cemetary, Kimberley, South Africa (The Canadian Virtual War Memorial).

Robert Smith #7036

I have very little on Robert Smith. He is  #11 on the above group photo. He was killed February 18, 1900 at Paardeburg along with John Andrew Dunegan. He is buried at the Vendusiedrift Garden of Remembrance, Paardeberg.

William George Adams #7160
He died of enteric fever on April 16, 1900 at Bloemfontein. He was born in 1881 to Robert Adams and Isabella (Bella) Stockdale in London, Ontario (Canada Census 1881). He is buried at the President Brand Cemetary, Bloemfontein. He is #2 on the group photo above.

Ernest Mullins #3676
Another one that is difficult to find. He died June 11, 1900 at Kroonstad, and is buried at the Kroonstad Garden of Remembrance. According to his entry in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial he was 26 years old.

Francis George William Floyd #7193
He was born May 14, 1878 to William Floyd and Hannah Osworth in Middlesex County (Ontario Birth Records), and was killed at Zand River in the Orange Free State. He is buried at the Kroonstad Garden of Remembrance. He is #21 in the group photo above.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Changed Profile Photo

I changed the profile picture. Thought maybe the graduation photo of June, 1974 added an aura of Yep I really did get those degrees!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Victoria Park

I have been trying out a new (to me new) digital camera. So off I go to Victoria Park to get those shots of anything military.

Victoria Park is what is left of the parade grounds of the British garrison in London. It's 15 acres of cool quiet oasis in the middle of the city. It's also the home of dozens of very fat black squirrels.
The Boer War Memorial is I think the center piece for the park. It was erected in 1912 although I could stand to be corrected on this. Just in front out of the picture are four cannons from the Crimea War. Why these cannons are here I do not know as of yet. Perhaps they were left by one of the British regiments. (Looks like I need to redo the date on the photos.)

The "Holly Roller" is a Sherman tank that saw service with the 1st. Hussars in World War 2. For the kids its a climbing toy. I climbed over it as a kid ,as did my sons, and I expect any grandchildren I might have.

The Cenotaph was erected in 1934, and it is here that Remembrance Day ceremonies are carried out each November 11th.
The Dutch Canadian Memorial Carillon erected in 2006 just to the west of the Cenotaph.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Robert John Edwards

        In the collection of the London Room, London Public Library.

Robert John Edwards #190186 was born on March 2, 1892 in the County of Suffolk, England. He died in London, Ontario January 25, 1977. He was a well know maker of stained glass windows in the London area. He joined the Canadian expeditionary Force on March 22, 1916. At the time he was living in Union, Elgin County, Ontario.

                                     Library and Archives Canada

 “I enlisted on the 22nd. March 1916. My training, what little I had, was in St. Thomas- I had very little in Canada. I had some at the ranges over London west at the Coves. They picked me out there as a sniper, my being a crack shot, and they sent me on a six weeks training course in England. There was 12 men in the group- the crack shots. I joined the 1st. Battalion in the Second Battle of the Somme. That’s where I got my initiation. That was October, 1916.

We would be back of our trenches- behind them. We would hide anywhere - I can remember being in a hollow tree one time. Another time I got up into an old house and I crawled up and sniped from the top of a big square chimney.

Half a mile down there might be another sniper, then we would cover the area facing us. We had telescopic sights right on the rifle. We would be in our cubbyhole all day- maybe all night and move early in the morning. We’d take our food along- whatever we had- and we might sit all day without firing. Of course, when we fired we sort of exposed ourselves to a certain extent, but just a single shot didn’t make much noise because there was firing all along the line.
             1st. Battalion's #2 Scout Platoon Library and Archives Canada

(Vimy Ridge) It was mostly sniping and observation. You’d have a big map and mark out these places on the map and get your locations and distances and then memorize them so you’d really know where you were shooting. As a sniper you’d carry a long distance. In some instances we might even be a few hundred yards behind the lines. We used Lee-Enfields. I took the Ross (1) to France with me but exchanged it for a Lee-Enfield. They (the Rosses) were too big and clumsy for sniping. I remember once, I picked out a German sniping post. I finally got a range on that and it wasn’t very long before they soon disappeared somewhere. They knew that somebody had got track of them so they soon disappeared. I remember all through the winter of 1916, I was in a place called Soucez, right in the Souchez Valley, back of Vimy ridge- I sniped there all that winter in 1916 and the spring of ‘17. The Battalion was in the line, but the line was very quiet, other than the sniping. There was about a dozen snipers in the battalion- three from each company. As a sniper we got out of a lot of fatigues. I’ve seen me going into the line and taking up a position on a step and stay there all day and all night and maybe never fire a shot. We used a telescopic sight on the rifle. We were shooting (the target) may have been three or four hundred yards, but we knew the distance. We had previously checked out the potential targets on a map so we knew the exact distance of each. We spent the winter with the battalion training, shooting, bombing with the Mills bomb and keeping in shape.”(2)

(1) The Ross Rifle was Sir Sam Hugh’s baby. The problem with it was that it tended to jam at absolutely the worst moments in a fire fight, and became nothing more than an expensive club.
(2) Interviews by William G. McKenzie with veterans of the 1st. Battalion in the London Room, London Public Library.