Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nominal Rolls-18th. Battalion(Windsor)

18th Battalion Nominal Rolls-Windsor

The link to the Windsor part of the nominal roll is in Google Docs. Hopefully it works!

I have isolated  the men who signed up with the 18th. Battalion in Windsor, Ontario from 1914-1915. This does not mean that these men were all from Windsor or Essex County. It is not as easy as all that. Many Windsor men signed up with other battalions such as the 1st.Battalion (this one will be more difficult as their attestation papers were signed in Valcartier) , or were residing in other areas of Canada in 1914. As I track them down I will update this list. Finding when they returned to Canada will take time. Very few returned in March, 1919. Some returned earlier as wounded  Some were moved around to other battalions throughout the war.

What is interesting at this point is to look at the makeup of those who volunteered. If my math is correct I have 191 names. Of those 145 were born in the British Isles (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland). That is 76% of the full compliment. There were 23 Canadian born. That is to say  about 12% of the total. That pretty much conforms to recent writing on the Canadian Corps that maintains that in the first three years of the war the Canadian Corps was pretty heavily weighted with men with very strong ties to England. The sad thing is that with the wastage of the Western Front most of these men were gone by 1917.

I expect that when I begin to look at the Nominal Rolls of battalions raised after 1915 I am going to see a much higher percentage of Canadian born in the lists. Those that did survive the trenches up to 1917 became the trainers and leaders of the raw battalions that came later.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

War of 1812 Website

There is a new website dedicated to the War  of 1812. 2012 is the bicentennial of the War of 1812. The U.S. views the war as a victory for themselves, especially after the battle of New Orleans. Canadians look at surviving the war as a victory in itself. We can all celebrate 200 years of a peaceful border.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Family And The R.C.A.F.

Here’s where I get off the First World War for a bit. My father and uncles all served in the armed forces during the Second World War. Dad and his youngest brother with the R.C.A.F., and his oldest brother as a mechanic in the Canadian Army. When I asked Dad why a farm boy from Dutton, Ontario opted for the air force there seemed to be two reasons. One he grew up listening to stories from the old vets of the Great War, and was not enamored of the idea of trench warfare. Secondly, he did not want to serve in any service where there was any walking involved. He did not say anything about patriotism here. That apparently came later. The ironic thing was that during the period (March 1944-May 1945) when he was a P.O.W. he ended up walking from northern Poland to the Rhine. I suspect that he put in more miles than anyone in the Canadian Army,

Dad was a member of the 426th. Squadron based in Linton-on-Ouse near York. He served on a Hercules-engined Avro Lancaster Mk II. His younger brother  flew Spitfires and Hurricanes with the 65th. Squadron which was a R.A.F. unit.

1.Graduation photo Guelph Bomber School 1943
2.Lancaster Crew 426th  Squadron 1944
3.Spitfire Crews 65th. Squadron (date unknown)
All photos are in my own personal collection.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ontario Honours Women Who Won The War

“They made the guns that helped to win the war and save the world.
The 16,000 women who worked in the massive Lakeview Small Arms Munitions factory during the Second World War manufactured millions of Sten guns and Lee-Enfield rifles.”

As part of International Women’s Day Women who worked in the munitions industry were honored in a ceremony at Queen’s Park, Toronto. The whole story can be found in an article in the “Toronto Star” Friday March 12, 2010.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Carling Heights

References in the local newspapers (I am probably guilty of this as well) refer to Carling Heights. Wolseley Barracks is situated on land that was owned by John Carling. Today the area is referred to as Carling. In 1885 the Dominion government was seeking a new site for an infantry school. Of course, politics was involved so it came down to a municipal referendum. John Carling’s farm was purchased  by the military, and Wolseley Barracks was built on the site. The barracks was named after Field Marshall Sir Garnet Wolseley.

Thousands of men were trained here during the Boer War, First World War, and the Second World War.  In 1919 this is where soldiers received their discharges. Today little remains. The RCR Museum is on the site, and the buildings have been declared an historic site.

There is a map which shows the location in London of 1900. On the map Wolseley Barracks is located in the north east corner as  “infantry barracks”.
Photo of Wolseley Barracks circa 1880’s from

The Lest We Forget Project

John D. Reid in his blog "Anglo-Celtic Connections" discusses the in and outs of the Library and Archives Canada Lest We Forget Project. This is a federally sponsored project that aims at putting veteran's stories online. Primarily it is geared towards educating school children about Canada's contributions toward the Second World War. As usual with any of these projects it is dependent on support from the Federal Government at a time when the government is cutting back.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Last Survivor Of The Great War Was Lucky To Have Lived So Long

Here is an excellent article by J.L. Granatstein the author of “Canada's Army: Waging War and Keeping the Peace” (2002).

An excerpt from the this article relates to my own interest in the veterans of Southwestern Ontario:

“Consider the case of the 1st Infantry Battalion (from Southwestern Ontario) of the First Canadian Division. Its normal strength was some 900 officers and men, but this one unit saw 6,500 men pass through its ranks. It lost 49 officers and 699 men killed, and 126 officers and 3,055 men wounded. In other words, almost 4,000 men of the 1st Battalion did not return to Canada in one piece, and such numbers likely omit the stress casualties, who woke up screaming for years to come.”

Monday, March 8, 2010

Big Jack And Little Alf

As many will fund in time I have a weird sense of humour, and things other than "serious" research will catch my eye. Things like this photo that appeared in "The London Free Press" on  August 26, 1914. A photo of John MacArthur and Alfred Sarles the tallest and shortest London recruits.

John MacArthur is a mystery man. I have not been able to find his attestation papers. Not an unusual occurance. If nothing else it gives me a mystery to solve. When I have the answer I will blog it in the future.

Alfred James Sarles 30607 was born to Frederick Robert and Martha Matilda Sarles June 27, 1886 in Dorking, County of Surrey, England (Attestation papers). He died in France February 8, 1919, and is buried in the Les Baraques Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. At his death he was a Sergeant in the Canadian Army Service Corps, No.1 Canadian Depot Unit of Supply. In the article from the London Free Press it states that he barely squeezed by the minimum height requirement of 5’3”: however, his attestation papers has him at 5’5” tall. In 1914 that is not squeezing by but instead blowing by the minimum height requirement. By 1917 the Canadian Corp was not so picky.