Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Twentieth Century Meets The Nineteenth

Sometimes on a research trip (in this case the First Division in 1914) you come upon a little unexpected gem. I was basically looking at newspaper photo's, when I came upon one of the Bengal Lancers taken in Belgium in August of 1914. I wonder how useful those lances would be against machineguns? Mind you, some generals never did work that one out.
"The London Advertiser", August 29, 1914.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Officers of the 7th. Fusiliers Who Volunteered in 1914

It will take a while to go through the list of the men who volunteered, and were accepted, for the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1914. We will start with the officers.

From left to right- William John Taylor, Francis Bethel Ware, Henry Campbell Becher, Walter Chester Butler. The London Advance 22 August, 1914.

Henry Campbell Becher
In 1914 Lt. Colonel in command of the 7th. Fusiliers. Born 20 January 1874 in London, Ontario, and died 15 June 1915.
William John Taylor

In 1914 Captain in the 7th. Fusiliers. Born 29 January 1872 in Cayuga, Ontario. His attestation papers show a transfer to the Royal Highlanders of Canada. He seems to have survived the war but more research is needed to find out where he served.

Francis Bethel Ware

In 1914 Captain in the 7th. Fusiliers. Born 29 January 1877 in London, Ontario. At Valcartier he was made a staff officer, and served in that capacity throughout the war. Later he became commanding officer of the 7th. Fusiliers. His book “The Story of the Seventh Regiment, Fusiliers of London, Canada 1899 to 1914” (London, 1945) is one of the few histories available on the regiment.

George Boyd Watson

In 1914 Captain in the 7th. Fusiliers. His attestation papers give his birth date as 1914. Pretty much an impossibility. In the 1911 Canada Census his birthday is given as 12 October 1877 in London, Ontario.

Gordon Cecil Hunt

In 1914 Captain in the 7th. Fusiliers. Born 11 October 1884 in London, Ontario.

Walter Chester Butler

In 1914 Lieutenant in the 7th. Fusiliers. Born 10 September 1886 in London, Ontario. He was wounded in 1915. He returned to England where he was posted to Canadian Headquarters in London for the remainder of the war.

Archibald Hendry Galbraith

In 1914 Lieutenant in the 7th. Fusiliers. Born 6 January 1871 in Southampton, England. The only officer in this list who was born outside of Canada.

According to Francis Ware’s book the only officer still actively serving on the Western Front by November 11, 1918 was himself.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Telegram To The 7th. Fusiliers August 1914

I have been spending some time researching the 7th. Fusiliers. In the next few posts I will outline some of what I have found about the men from this regiment. With an emphasis on those who volunteered to serve in the Great War.

This is the first time that I have actually seen the telegram (mentioned in most of the books on the Canadian Corps) sent out by Sir Sam Hughes to commanders of the regional militia regiments. Hughes consigned a controlled, planned mobilization schedule to the trash, and embraced chaos. As Tim Cook wrote: ‘Hughes sent out 226 telegrams to militia commanders across the country…It was, in his words, “a call to arms, like the fiery cross passing through the highlands of Scotland or the mountains of Ireland in Former days.”’ (1)

August 6/14 C.P. Night Lettergram

Lt. Col. H.C. Becher

Regulations to govern raising of a contingent for overseas service will be as follows. stop the force will be imperial and have the status of British regular troops. stop enrollment will be voluntary for all ranks stop physical qualifications will be as follows stop 5 feet 3 inches and stop chest not less than 33 ½ stop the age limit will be 18-45 years. stop in regard to musketry and general proficiency a high standard will be required stop the term of service will be for the duration of the war stop other considerations being equal applicants will be selected on the following order stop unmarried men stop married men without families stop married men with families stop officers on the reserve and others with military experience who although not belonging to the active militia fulfil the foregoing requirements are eligible stop the senior officers of units will through officers commanding companies etc. collect the names of volunteers officers non-commissioned officers and men who should be medically examined by an army medical officer where available stop when all the names have been received officers commanding units will submit direct to militia headquarters descriptive rolls of those who have passed the required medical examinations stop after rolls have been received the quota to be found by each unit will be determined and commanding officers will be given instructions as the numbers required from their respective units stop the individuality of each unit will be preserved as far as possible stop rolls to be prepared without delay so as to reach militia headquarters not later than Wednesday 12th instant stop the intention is to mobilize a contingent at Valcartier P.Q. where to secure the selection of the fittest stop more men will be assembled than in the first instance will be required to embark stop Acknowledge receipt by wire stop

Adjutant General

8 August 1914 (2)

(1) Tim Cook, “At The Sharp End: Canadians Fighting the Great War, 1914-1916”, Vol.1, Penguin Canada 2007, p.33

(2) J.J. Tallman Regional Collection at the University of Western Ontario Archives in London. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

One Tough Quizz

Today I found a history quiz on the “History Today” blog. I got 7 out of 10. Son of a gun ! Why don’t you give it a try ?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

World War One German Trench Found Intact

Many thanks to Jeff Booth of the Elgin County Military Museum for e-mailing me this interesting article. Archeologists have found an intact German trench from 1918 in Eastern France.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

7th. Fusiliers 1899

There is a wealth of information in a book by Col. Francis R Ware, “The Story of the Seventh Regiment, Fusiliers of London, Canada 1899 to 1914”, Hunter Printing Company, 1945. Below I have listed some members of the regiment listed in the book for 1899.

Fred St. Clair Fisher

George Alexander Macbeth
Served in South Africa as a member of the Royal Canadian Regiment.
George Hayman
Became Mayor of London, Ontario for the year of 1931. He died in London, Ontario, October 22, 1943.(1)

Earl Mark Insley
Transfered to the 26th. Middlesex Regiment, and then went oveseas to the 135th. Battalion as a Captain and Quartermaster.

Alexander George Fraser
Went overseas with the 142nd. Battalion (London's Own), and served with the 1st. Battalion until wounded.

Henry Linton Milligan
During World War One he was promoted to Lt. Colonel and was one of the commanders of the 18th. Battalion. He died in London on July 1, 1941.

From his obit. "The London Free Press", July 2, 1941..

Alexander Ralph Skelton

Harry Wooster
His son Harry Wellington Wooster served overseas wit the 116th. Battalion. Harry Jr. went on to become the leader of the Vimy Orchestra in the next war.

Guy (Gaeterio) Lombardo
Father of Guy Lombardo band leader of the Royal Canadians.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It's In The Shoebox

It's amazing what you can find when you open the old shoebox rather than throwing it out. In one I found a cloth map of France, Germany, and Poland. It seems to be made of linen or cotton. My guess would be linen. I do not know how Dad got the map or even if he used it. From the condition of the map I doubt if it was used. But it was carefully folded and put into a shoebox for storage. Parts of the map are shown below.
Front of map showing Northern France
Also the front.
Back of map showing Germany and Poland.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Researching The Oxford Rifles

Occasionally I receive requests for information such as the one below. I thought that I would outline how I would go about researching a military ancestor, or for that matter a military unit. I am a historian with a strong interest in genealogy, not the other way around, so my methods might well be a little different that that used by others.

“As I have been researching my great grandfather Vernon Graham I came across your site. He was in the Oxford Rifles abt 1865-66 and I think must have been part of the Fenian Raids. Could you please direct me as to where I would go to get records.? He is also listed as to being in the Woodstock Volunteer Rifles under Col Light. Your help would be much appreciated”

Oxford County volunteer militias date back to 1798. The Oxford Rifles were organized on 14 August 1863 by amalgamating the existing independent militia companies. The regiment did serve in the Niagara during the Fenian Raids, but arrived too late to participate in the Battle of Ridgeway.

I suspect from the little information I have that Vernon Graham was from Woodstock (I have been proven wrong before; however, most of the companies of any militia regiment are based on other towns or villages in the county). The first place that I would go to is the 1861 Canada Census to verify that Woodstock was indeed his home city. Here Ancestry.com is useful if you have access to the Library edition as it is free to use. If not the local library should have microfilm copies of the Canada Census’s.

The next step is to find copies of the pay books of the Oxford Rifles. For this period there is no equivalent of the World War One battalion diaries. Here a visit to the Woodstock City Museum might well pay off. They should have a copy of “Pay list of Oxford Rifles Militia 1865-1868: & record of officers 1907-1927”, Ontario Genealogical Society, Oxford County Branch, 1980. If you have no luck here then Library and Archives Canada have microfilmed “Nominal Rolls and paylists for the Volunteer Militia-22nd. Regiment, Oxford rifles”, Microfilm reel T-16577. I have not yet seen this microfilm so I can not attest as to what information is there. In any paylists the most you can expect is a list of names with pay and signatures. However, those who were involved in the Fenian Raids will be listed in a separate paylist. If you find his name and signature you can positively say that he was there.

Library and Archives Canada’s online medal registry rolls is a hit and miss affair for this period. The Fenian Raid medal was issued over 30 years after the event, and only sent if the veteran requested it. But you might get lucky !

Local newspapers are not online; however, most (if they survived) are on microfilm. The University of Western Ontario holds a wonderful collection of microfilmed newspapers. I have found that local libraries tend to have copies of the microfilms of their own local papers in house. The wonderful thing about the papers of that era is their rather gossipy way of listing every soldier who participated in any event in their community.

There have been some previous writing on the Oxford Rifles. Philip MacQuarrie, “For God and home: a history of the Oxford Rifles 1798-1954”, Woodstock Museum 1998. Herbert Miles, “A story of the Oxford Rifles, 1798-1954”, Oxford Museum 1974.One would assume that these booklets are in the Oxford Museum.