Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Major William Norman Ashplant

William Norman Ashplant was born July 23, 1877 in Haverhill, Suffolk, England, and died on the Somme with the 1st. Battalion on September 22, 1916. His body was never found. He was a civil engineer by trade, and in 1914 city engineer for London, Ontario. Even though he spend only a couple of years in London he still received mention in Michael Baker and Hilary Bates Neary’s (ed.) book, “Fascinating Londoners” (James Lorimer, 2005).

Major Ashplant is a very good example of the men who made up the Canadian Corps (Canadian born becoming a majority in the Corps did not happen until 1918), and assuming that the battalion that they enlisted in would be the battalion that they would serve in in the trenches. He was born in England, and he was a South African War veteran. The attestation papers has him in the 33rd. Battalion upon joining; however, he was in the 1st. Battalion at his death.

Digging to verify information in the attestation papers can (for me at least as a historian) lead to some interesting facts. Major Ashplant lists his father as Henry Brimstead Ashplant living at 807 Waterloo St., London, Ontario. In fact, Henry Brimstead Ashplant is his brother. The brothers’ father was named William.(1)
The brother, for me, is a far more interesting character. Henry Brimstead Ashplant was born November 15, 1863 in Ipswich, Suffolk, England, and died March 12, 1941 in London, Ontario.(2) Henry Ashplant arrived in Canada in 1891(3), and married Alice Hargreaves April 6, 1892 in London, Ontario.(4) He served five times on city council, and was city auditor from 1922 to 1938. Of great interest to me was that he was the one who organized the International Socialist Labour Party in London in 1895. What ! A socialist in London? When did that happen? I thought they were extinct ! Bears further research.

1.England and Wales, Free BMD Birth Index, 1837-1915

2. BMD Birth Index, “The London Free Press“, March 13, 1941.

3. Canada Passenger Lists, 1865-1935

4. Ontario, Canada, Marriages 1801-1926

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