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.
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.
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.