Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Home Guard Did Exist - Really!

In case you were wondering the Home Guard really did exist. The roll call for the companies that were sworn in to protect the city of London, Ontario can be found through the following link:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sir Arthur Currie

Plans are underway to erect a statue to Strathroy’s Sir Arthur Currie. Much has been written about Sir Arthur Currie, and I incline to the view that someone should undertake the project of revising this man’s career. There’s a book there someone!

Details about the Sir Arthur Currie’s Memorial Project can be found on the following link:

Fallen Soldier's Medal Returned To Family

An excellent story in “The London Free Press” today. I expect that there are a large number of medals out there that do not find their way onto Ebay. I have my father’s medals and in time they will go to the Elgin County Military Museum. I think that that is where they belong unless you know that family members would keep them in the family.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Victoria Cross - First World War

There were two Victoria Cross recipients from Southwestern Ontario.


Was born 15 June, 1867 to Ephraim B. Campbell and Ester A. Hunt in Mount Forest, Oxford County just before Canada West became Ontario. He was a veteran of the Boer War. On his attestation papers he is put down as a Major; however, the Canadian Virtual War memorial has him as a Captain and the following citation as a Lieutenant. This needs some looking into. He served with the  1st Battalion (Western Ontario Regiment). He died on June 19, 1915 at Givenchy.

Citation: An extract from the London Gazette, No. 29272, dated August 20, 1915, records the following:
For most conspicuous bravery on 15th June, 1915, during the action at Givenchy. Lt. Campbell took two machine-guns over the parapet, arrived at the German first line with one gun, and maintained his position there, under very heavy rifle, machine-gun and bomb fire, notwithstanding the fact that almost the whole of his detachment had then been killed or wounded. When our supply of bombs had become exhausted, this officer advanced his gun still further to an exposed position, and, by firing about 1,000 rounds, succeeded in holding back the enemy's counter-attack. This very gallant officer was subsequently wounded, and has since died.

He is buried in the BOULOGNE EASTERN CEMETERY, Pas de Calais,France.
Further information can be found at:


Was born 12 Oct. 1891 to John J. Sifton of Wallacetown, Elgin County, Ontario. He joined 23 October, 1914 in St. Thomas, Ontario. He served with the 18th Battalion (Western Ontario Regiment). He died at Neuville-St.-Vaast, France 9th April, 1917.

Citation: An extract from The London Gazette, dated 8th June, 1917, records the following:
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. During the attack in enemy trenches Sgt. Sifton's company was held up by machine gun fire which inflicted many casualties. Having located the gun he charged it single-handed, killing all the crew. A small enemy party advanced down the trench, but he succeeded keeping these off till our men had gained the position. In carrying out this gallant act he was killed, but his conspicuous valour undoubtedly saved many lives and contributed largely to the success of the operation.

He is buried at Vimy.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Home Guard - Part 2

From “The London Free Press and Daily Western Advertiser” June 11, 1866.
As was seen in part one of the “Home Guard” the boys are fully trained and ready to go.

Corner of Dundas and Richmond Streets, under a gas lamp, 3 am.
  “To the Captain commanding Home Guards - Formed my troops in square of the rendezyous . Told them London expected every man to do his duty. Threw out skirmishers into the back yards and dark doorways. Marched with the main body under my own immediate command up Richmond Street towards the Post Office. Stood crackers and beer. Scouts in advance reported a suspicious party bearing down on us under cover of an umbrella. Ordered a halt, and told the men to reserve their fire. Challenged suspicious party. Thy name and (   )? I am Roderick Dau. Proved to be a friend - confiscated his umbrella in the Queen’s name, and let him go. Calvary reported and advancing with a band of music. Deployed my forces into a square, and prepared to meet the foe. Turned out to be an old cow with a brass bell around its neck. Permitted the cow to go on giving the countersign. Deployed into line again and advanced. Came suddenly upon a party of raiders singing “We won’t go home till morning”. There went skirmishers on both flanks, and by a rapid forward movement to the rear completely surrounded them, cutting off their retreat. With great presence of mind, I told them in a voice of thunder to surrender , to which they replied, “Surrender be blowed”. Treasonable language like this was deserving of extreme punishment. I collected all their tobacco, levied a fine of six bottles of ale, and made them sign the British Constitution. I now called in all the skirmishers, and marched in close column, with my right wing resting on a saloon, supported in force by the center, and the left wing, and having attended properly to the commissariat department, I gave orders to stack arms and bivouac for the night. So crackers and beer unlimited.

I have the honour to remain, etc.,
Korn Kobb, Jr.,
Lieutenant Commanding Squad.

P.S. All the captures which I made I leave reserved subject to your orders, excepting the beer and tobacco.

So as reported by the "London Free Press and Daily Western Advertiser": London remained safe from the Fenian Raiders for another year.
The article did appear and I suspect it was written in response to what the writer witnessed as raw recruits were trained in London. I’m betting that these recruits drove the British army trainers crazy.
It appears that even in 1866 there was a sense of humour.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Home Guard

This excerpt from “The London Free Press and Daily Western Advertiser” June 11, 1866, reads to a 21st century critic as if it was out of Monty Python. It’s one man’s tale of service in the London, Ontario, Home Guard during the Fenian Raids. In fact, just after as the Battle of Ridgeway is over, and at this point, most of the Fenians that fought at Ridgeway are in the custody of the U.S. Army.

“I’ve joined the Home Guard, Sir, Editor, I would have volunteered and gone to the front long ago - only if it hadn’t been - that is to say - I mean - confound it I’ve got a constitutional infirmity, and the doctor insisted upon me remaining at home. He thought that the climate of Ft. Erie wasn’t healthy for me - too much lead in the air, and all that (           ) you know I am determined to serve my country.  However, in some way or other, and the citizens of London, knowing this, have done me the distinguished honour of electing me a full private in that distinguished corps known as the Home Guard. The compliment was grateful as it was graceful, and I trust that I shall never abuse the confidence thus reposed in me. I was ordered to report myself at the City Hall at (  ) o’clock p.m. sharp, which I accordingly did. The major asked me my name, how old I was, what occupation I followed, if I speculated in or did I dealt in politics, and if so, Tory or Clear Grit; if I ever committed highway robbery; if I was ever vaccinated; what my fighting weight was; if I ever went home sober; if I hated the devil and all his works the Fenian raid included. Having answered these questions satisfactorily , he gave me some advice and a musket, and told me to go fight for my country. Our captain told us to fall in. Fell in. Captain then proceeded to drill us. We were told off in numbers - Nos 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on. I was No.3. Captain said “attention“.  Everybody was immediately attention, except No.1, who was filing his pipe, and Nos 27 and 28who were pitching pennies for the drinks. Shoulder arms was very well executed, but somehow or other I got the muzzle of my gun in 1’s mouth, the butt end of 15’s who was behind in the small of my back, and several punches in the ribs from parties unknown. Ground arms brought 4’s musket down on my favoured corn , while No.2 made a diversion on the other foot. Captain order us to fix bayonets.. Fix bayonets. No! On second consideration  didn’t fix bayonets; bayonets fixed me. No.6’s through my right ear; No.1’s in my waist coat pocket , and a ghastly rent in my unmentionables from N.23. Captain said we had had enough exercise. Thought so myself. We were then told off in squads and ordered on duty . Our squad appointed me their commanding officer, as I had unlimited credit at the saloons. Immediately stood crackers and beer for the squad. From the following report which I made to the Captain, you will see how nobly we did our duty:--

End of part one. More coming on the exploits of the London Home Guard as they  prepare to do God’s work and protect the citizens of London against the Devil’s own army the Fenian Raiders.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Boer War and Southwestern Ontario

In the war between the Boer states and Great Britain Canadians took an active part. With the exception of the Sudan expedition this was the first time that Canadian soldiers served outside of the Dominion of Canada.  Canadian politics being what they were all were volunteers. The Canadian Militia Act forbade sending  active regiments overseas. A problem that would be addressed  by the formation of battalions in 1914.

Six contingents numbering  7,300 officers, non-commissioned officers, and men served in South Africa. The first contingent (2nd (Special Service) Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry)
 was enlisted for a 6 month duration with the liability of serving for one year. They sailed from Quebec, on SS. Sardinian, 30th October, 1899; arrived at Cape Town on 29th November 1899. Company ’B’ was recruited from Southwestern Ontario. Company ‘B’ returned to London, Ontario, December 25, 1900.

“The London Free Press, December 26, 1900”  welcomed back Company ’B’  under the headline “A KHAKI CHRISTMAS”, and listed the soldiers by name and town of origin.

Pte. J. Breeden, Brantford             Pte. F. G. Stanbury, St.Thomas
Pte. H.G. Ballard, Stratford           Pte. F. Sutherland, St.Thomas
Pte. J.C. Beers, Windsor               Pte. F. W. Turner, London
Pte. W. Burgin, Brantford              Pte. W. G. Wardell, London
Pte. H. Burwell, London                Pte. A. B. Webb, Huron
Pte. A.G. Burwell, London            Pte. W. Westaway, London
Pte. A.E. Cole, London                 Pte. J. Wells, Guelph
Pte. P. Delmer, London                 Pte. A. H. Wheatcroft, London
Pte. W. Foote, London                  Pte. G. White, London
Pte. C. Green, London                   Pte. A. R. Wilson, Brantford
Pte. W.J. Green, St.Thomas           Pte. G. W. Woodliffe, London
Pte. J.C. Hill, London                     Pte. J.B. Milliken, London
Pte. J. Herrick, London                  Pte. P.N. Stacey, St.Thomas
Pte. P.C. Ingamills, London            Pte. R. G. Aitkins, Fergus
Pte. K.G. Johnston, Sarnia              Sergt. G. R. B. Sippi, London
Pte. C.B. Little, London                  Sergt. F. Gorman, Sarnia
Pte. H. Lane, Woodstock                Corp. H. Little, London
Pte. J. McCalla, St.Catherines          Corp. A. Bethune, London
Pte. W. W. McMahan, London        Corp. R. W. Wilson, Tilsonburg
Pte. D.C. McMillan, Sarnia               Corp. J. C. Biggs, Windsor
Pte. G. Odlum, Woodstock               Lance Corp. G. W. Munroe, Ailsa Craig
Pte. E.W. Peart, St.Mary’s                Hospital Sergt. A. V. Becher, London
Pte. J.B. Robinson, Windsor              Bugler, E. N. Dolman, Windsor
Pte. C. R. Scott, Sarnia

This list represents only those who were dropped off to be demobilized in London. Others went on to their own towns, and I will try to organize lists for future blog posts.
The photo is of the Boer War Memorial in Victoria Park, London, Ontario.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Elgin County Archives

The Elgin County Archives  launched  “Elgin’s Great War: Sources on the First World War from the holdings of the Elgin County Archives” last March. This digitization project was made possible by a grant from the Canadian Culture Online Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage, Library and Archives Canada and the Canadian Council of Archives.

More than 3000 photographs, documents and objects relating to Elgin County’s contribution to Canada’s efforts in the First World War are now searchable online. They can be found at

Photo :  91st Battalion Company D from the Elgin County Archives : “Elgin’s Great War: Sources on the First World War from holdings of the Elgin County Archives".

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

18th Battalion May 1919

From the “London Free Press, May 26, 1919”. The 18th Battalion's victory march through London, Ontario.
The caption reads:" The upper picture shows the troops of the 18th Battalion forming up just after detraining at the Grand Trunk station. The inner picture shows the battalion on the march on Adelaide street on the way to Tecumseh Barracks for dispersal. The insert is a picture of Liet.-Col. I.E. James D.S.O., the popular commanding officer of the corps."