Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Major James Emanuel Hahn

The London Advertiser, August 17, 1914.

James Emanuel Hahn was born in New York City July 30, 1892 to Alfred Hahn and Eugenie Schlossburg. (1) The Hahns’ immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1890, and some time before 1898 to New Hamburg near Kitchener (Berlin at that time), Ontario.


Major James Hahn is a very interesting man, and shows that little has be done by historians researching the men who served in the Great War. Sometimes being distracted by little nags of - “just who is this guy ?”- can result in a goldmine of information. As it turns out he wrote an autobiography in 1954 entitled “ For Action: The Autobiography of a Canadian Industrialist (Clarke, Irwin & Company, 1954)”. I had hoped that there would be some information on the 1st. Battalion; but that was not to be. It turns out that Major Hahn is a good example of not assuming that just because a soldier is on the nominal rolls he served with that battalion.
Library and Archives Canada.
He served with the 1st. Battalion only until the point where the 1st. Division was heading overseas to Britain. Just before leaving he was transferred to Military Intelligence, and served in that capacity on the Western Front through to November, 1918. He took part in all of the major battles of the Canadian Corps with the exception of Vimy Ridge. At that time he was recovering from a serious wound. The first part of his autobiography is an interesting account of the duties and experiences of the junior officers’ intelligence functions, and of the rise of a young officer through army staff appointments. He reached G.S.O. 3 in the Fourth Canadian Division.

It is his roll after the Great War as an industrialist that is the most interesting read. Early involvement in radio, and in 1938 the purchase of the John Inglis Company. This company became the largest manufacturer of Bren guns in the British Commonwealth during the Second World War.


(1) The Hahns’ are found in the 1900 U.S. Census in the Bronx. Just to confuse things James’ year of birth is given here as 1893 while he put 1888 in his attestation papers. I expect that he wanted to be seen as older than he was. By the 1911 Canada Census they are in Stratford, Ontario. James Hahn was a Captain in the Lambton County Militia which also, it seems, included men from Perth County.

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