Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge (Day 11)

Thank you.

[Apologies to those of you who may have received a draft version of this post earlier this evening. We’re still getting used to the functions of this new blog! Thank you so much for your patience as we work out the kinks.] 

Day eleven, technically, marks the end of the #MyMilitaryAncestor challenge set forth by Canadian genealogy blogger, Patricia Greber. Patricia’s call to arms encouraged family historians around the world to pay tribute to their veterans and war dead, honouring them for the great sacrifice they made to ensure our freedom. Of course, the conclusion of this challenge does not mean that our remembrance or gratitude expires as well — but we think it has been a lovely success, don’t you?

The “Big Finale” with which we choose to conclude the #MyMilitaryAncestor challenge is the overall horror found in the unrelenting struggle and loss that became monotonous, regular, every-day occurrence for our service men and women. The following, sadly, is representative of the average soldier’s story.

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge – Day Eleven

Wounded Canadians taking cover behind pill-box. Battle of Passchendaele. November, 1917.
Wounded Canadians taking cover behind pill-box. Battle of Passchendaele. November, 1917. Image Source: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada. Library and Archives Canada website : accessed 17 November 2017.

On the march, despite his flat feet

Irish-born, but living in Canada since before 1901, Private Robert Anderson was a single man and in his mid-thirties when he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in 1916. His medical records indicate that he suffered from the “disease” of flat feet.

Despite this medical “condition”, Robert was part of the 85th Canadian Infantry Battalion, which he joined on 11 November 1917, just after Passchendaele. Many battalion members had been killed at that historic battle and the battalion was resting at a camp near Caestre, France, while it was brought to normal strength by the arrival of new recruits.

For about a month, the men had time for sports, concerts and movies. But the battalion was soon on the march south and on 23 December 1917, Robert and his fellow infantrymen found themselves on the front line in Avion (France).

It was a bitterly cold winter day, reports Lt. Col. Joseph Hayes in his 1920 book, The Eighty-Fifth in France and Flanders, and “[t]here were no dugouts or shelters or other accommodations” in the trenches to protect the men against the awful weather. Adding to the misery, Christmas day dinner consisted of army rations eaten “to the accompaniment of Hun ‘Pine Apples,’ whiz bangs, five-point-nines and high explosives.” It was only on New Year’s Eve, when they returned to a camp on the grounds of the Chateau de la Haie (France), that the battalion was able to finally sit down to a Christmas dinner of turkey and all the fixings.

On 12 March 1918, the battalion broke camp and returned to the Vimy area. Lt. Col. Hayes reports:

“There was a good deal of tension all along the line now. It was known that the long talked of big German drive for final victory was now near at hand. The numbers in the line were being increased and every section was put on a siege basis. The storm broke on Thursday March 21st, against the Imperial 5th Army in the Amiens Sector.”

Sadly, Robert was “dangerously wounded” (medical report) on 20 March 1918, arriving at No. 1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station with shrapnel wounds on his left side, leg, back, and arm. Robert died on 21 March 1918 and was buried the next day at Houchin British Cemetery (France).

Serious cases. No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station. July, 1916.
Serious cases. No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station. July, 1916. Photographer: Henry Edward Knobel. Image source: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-000348; Library and Archives Canada website : accessed 11 November 2017.
Private Robert Anderson, Headstone
Headstone of Private Robert Anderson. Image Source: Find A Grave website (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/50534451/robert-anderson : accessed 11 November 2017).

 

This brief biography is an extract from one of 300 written by volunteers for the British Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO), which maintains a database on the 879 soldiers who died at the No.1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station. Canada’s casualty clearing stations, located within a few miles of the Front, were one of the most important links within the Canadian Army Medical Corps for the treatment of Allied wounded soldiers during WWI.

For more information about Canada’s No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station or to start searching this database, please click on THIS LINK.

A list of all ten of our previous posts in the #MyMilitaryAncestor Challenge series:
Day One – Infantryman “undoubtedly saved lives” at Passchendaele
Day Two – War was a family affair
Day Three – Measles, Mumps and the Military
Day Four  God who knows best has called you to rest
Day Five – “I expect you will have heard of the death of…”
Day Six –  The horror of gas attacks
Day Seven – Corkscrewing away from a Junkers 88
Day Eight – Unexpected engine trouble ends pilot’s career
Day Nine – Over the Top, A Canadian Soldier Gives his Best at Vimy
Day Ten – Bomb thrower gassed, shelled, participates in Christmas exchange

 

Please share your thoughts with us in the Comment Box below! And don’t forget to share via social media to help our military ancestors go viral this November!

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Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge (Day 10)

They shall not have died in vain.

YOU sitting right there — yes, YOU! You can help to make military ancestors go viral this November! Pay tribute to the service men and women in YOUR family. Write your own blog posts or share your historical photos and records on social media or even simply email someone who doesn’t know the story yet! We’d love it if you shared this post with your friends and followers too.

Canadian genealogy blogger, Patricia Greber, called family historians around the world to arms in honour of the veterans and the war dead to whom we owe our freedom. With Day Ten of this #MyMilitaryAncestor challenge, we continue our participation by sharing another extraction from BIFHSGO’s database of the 879 soldiers who died at the No.1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station.

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge – Day Ten

British troops eating their Christmas dinner in a shell hole, Beaumont Hamel, 25th December 1916.
British troops eating their Christmas dinner in a shell hole. Beaumont Hamel, France. 25 December 1916. Image Source: the collections of the Imperial War Museum (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AChristmas_on_the_Western_Front%2C_1914-1918_Q1630.jpg : accessed 10 November 2017).

Bomb thrower gassed, shelled, participates in Christmas exchange

Ira Irvin Victor Whalley was born in Yorkshire, England in 1891, and moved to Saskatchewan, Canada in 1907 along with his mother and two brothers. He enlisted with the Saskatchewan Regiment, 28th Canadian Infantry Battalion on 24 October 1914 at the age of 23. His battalion shipped out the following May, arriving in Plymouth, England on 7 June 1915.

Private Ira Whalley
Private Ira Irvin Victor Whalley. Image source: Canadian Virtual War Memorial (http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial/detail/202160 : accessed 10 November 2017).

In the fall of 1915, Ira qualified as a “bomb thrower” and on 17 September 1915, the battalion embarked for France, arriving in Boulogne the next morning. The crossing had been rough and the soldiers got little sleep, but, after breakfast, Ira’s battalion departed for the Front, arriving later that same day.

By September 25th Ira and the rest of his battalion were in the trenches, in the pouring rain. The battalion rotated in and out of the line for the rest of the winter while they carried out a variety of trench routines, including field work and patrolling.

Ira had the misfortune of being on the Western Front when the Germans used the poison gas phosgene for the first time on 19 December 1915. Only six days later, on Christmas Day, he was also present for what must have been a surreal experience when groups of soldiers from both sides of the front stopped fighting to sing hymns and carols, then exchanged cigarettes and souvenirs between the trenches.

Ira’s battalion experienced casualties in early 1916, and by the middle of January their trenches were being heavily shelled. Two months later, Ira himself suffered shell wounds to his right upper arm and right chest. He succumbed to his injuries on on 12 March 1916. He was 24.

Private Whalley is buried at the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord Pas-De-Calais, France. He is memorialized on two Saskatchewan war memorials and his name is also displayed on April 23rd each year in the Book of Remembrance which can be found in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

 

This brief biography is an extract from one of 300 written by volunteers for the British Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO), which maintains a database on the 879 soldiers who died at the No.1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station. Canada’s casualty clearing stations, located within a few miles of the Front, were one of the most important links within the Canadian Army Medical Corps for the treatment of Allied wounded soldiers during WWI.

For more information about Canada’s No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station or to start searching this database, please click on THIS LINK.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out our other posts for the #MyMilitaryAncestor Challenge:
Day One – Infantryman “undoubtedly saved lives” at Passchendaele
Day Two – War was a family affair
Day Three – Measles, Mumps and the Military
Day Four  God who knows best has called you to rest
Day Five – “I expect you will have heard of the death of…”
Day Six –  The horror of gas attacks
Day Seven – Corkscrewing away from a Junkers 88
Day Eight – Unexpected engine trouble ends pilot’s career
Day Nine – Over the Top, A Canadian Soldier Gives his Best at Vimy

Please share your thoughts and comments with us in the Comment Box below!

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge (Day 9)

We Remember.

Canadian genealogy blogger, Patricia Greber, called family historians around the world to arms in honour of the veterans and the war dead to whom we owe our freedom. Now, Day Nine of the #MyMilitaryAncestor challenge is upon us!

Today, we are proud to help BIFHSGO’s Treasurer, Marianne Rasmus and her husband’s family, celebrate their cousin Lorne Gore (aka Gordon) Lane who gave his life at the Battle of Vimy Ridge one-hundred years ago.

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge – Day Nine

Over the Top, A Canadian Soldier Gives His Best at Vimy
Contributing Author, Marianne Rasmus

Lorne Gore (aka Gordon) Lane was born in Ruthven, Essex County, Ontario on the 28 July 1897. He was the fourth of seven children born to Gore and Mary née Scratch. According to his Attestation papers, Lorne had been part of his high school’s Cadet program. On 7 October 1915, at the age of 18, he volunteered for service in Canadian Expeditionary Force and was assigned to the 70th Battalion.

 

Lane, Private Lorne
Private Lorne Gore Lane. Image Source: http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial/detail/1570304 : accessed 9 November 2017.

On 24 April 1916, young Gordon sailed from Halifax to England aboard the SS Lapland, arriving on May 5th . Upon his arrival in England, he was transferred to the 26th Battalion and sent to the field in France on 9 August 1916.

On 12 September 1916, Private Lorne Lane was attached to his brigade as a scout. It was for his actions as a scout that he was awarded the Military Medal. The citation for his medal reads, “For conspicuous bravery, daring and especially good work on the night of 22/23 Nov 1916. When in charge of a patrol of two other men they came in contact with a German patrol in No Man’s Land and although both patrols saw each other, with great dash he outmaneuvered the enemy….” A German soldier was captured that night and, with the information obtained, a successful raid was conducted the following
evening. In a letter home, as reported in the Essex Free Press on 9 February 1917, he informed his parents that his “little stunt…pleased the general commanding No. 2 Division C.E.F., so much that he gave him a special 12 day’s [sic] pass to England” and “Upon his return to France [was notified] that he had been awarded the Military Medal.”

 

Newspaper Death Report
Image Source: The Windsor Evening Record, May 4th 1917, page 12.

Beginning on 9 April 1917, the 26th Battalion of the 5th Brigade of the 2nd Division participated in one of Canada’s most significant battles — the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Private Lane was killed on the first day of the battle at the age of nineteen. He was only one of the 3598 who lost their lives over four days. His body was never recovered but his name is one of the more than 11,000 inscribed on the Vimy Ridge Memorial in France.

In August 2011, my husband and I had the privilege and honour of visiting the Vimy Ridge Memorial to pay our respect to his memory and sacrifice.

 

Vimy Ridge Memorial with inset of inscription for Lane.
Photo from 2011 when Marianne and her husband visited the Canadian National Vimy Ridge Memorial in France. Inset: Inscription in honour of Lorne Gore (aka Gordon) Lane. Photo Source: Private collection of Marianne Rasmus.

 

YOU can help to make military ancestors go viral this month! Write your own blog posts, share your photos or records of your own ancestors on social media or just talk to someone! Of course, we’d love it if you shared OUR post with your friends too. Do all of the above for brownie points!

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out our other posts for the #MyMilitaryAncestor Challenge:
Day One – Infantryman “undoubtedly saved lives” at Passchendaele
Day Two – War was a family affair
Day Three – Measles, Mumps and the Military
Day Four  God who knows best has called you to rest
Day Five – “I expect you will have heard of the death of…”
Day Six –  The horror of gas attacks
Day Seven – Corkscrewing away from a Junkers 88
Day Eight – Unexpected engine trouble ends pilot’s career

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge (Day 8)

Freedom is never free.

Today is Day Eight of the #MyMilitaryAncestor challenge issued to family historians around the world by Canadian genealogy blogger, Patricia Greber. We continue our participation with another extraction from BIFHSGO’s database of the 879 soldiers who died at the No.1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station.

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge – Day Eight

Unexpected engine trouble ends pilot’s career

2nd Lieutenant George Edward Ffrench
2nd Lieutenant, George Edward Ffrench. Image Source: “Our Heroes” : accessed 7 Nov 2017, entry for Second Lieutenant George Edward Ffrench.

George Edward Ffrench was born in 1899, near Roscrea, Ireland. He enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps in August 1917; the following March he obtained his “wings” and was sent to France. According to “Our Heroes”, published by Irish Life from 1914 to1918 and now digitized by the South Dublin Libraries, George had been “in several engagements, and was mentioned in the confidential report of the Air Force as having brought down a German machine.”

Unfortunately, like so many flyers in World War I, George’s time as a pilot was short-lived.

But it wasn’t the enemy that killed him. It was the plane.

In May 1918, a couple of months after he went to France, George was flying a de Havilland DH9, which had a history of poor performance and engine failures according to Wikipedia. Both George and his observer and gunner, Sergeant Francis Yate McLauchlan, were killed when their plane lost its engine – literally.

The account of George’s death is mentioned in a book on World War I pilots and their aircraft by Trevor Henshaw. In The Sky, Their Battlefield, Henshaw notes that the engine fell off the aircraft piloted by Ffrench shortly after takeoff from the field at Fourneuil, France in the early morning hours of May 23, 1918.

The airmen are buried side by side in the Pernes British Military Cemetery.

 

This brief biography is an extract from one of 300 written by volunteers for the British Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO), which maintains a database on the 879 soldiers who died at the No.1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station. Canada’s casualty clearing stations, located within a few miles of the Front, were one of the most important links within the Canadian Army Medical Corps for the treatment of Allied wounded soldiers during WWI.

For more information about Canada’s No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station or to start searching this database, please click on THIS LINK.

If YOU would like to help to make military ancestors go viral this November, please participate! You can write your own blog posts, share your photos or records of your own ancestors on social media like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram or just talk to someone you know. We’d love it if you shared this post with your friends and followers too.

Have you read our previous posts in this #MyMilitaryAncestor challange?

Day One – Infantryman “undoubtedly saved lives” at Passchendaele
Day Two – War was a family affair
Day Three – Measles, Mumps and the Military
Day Four  God who knows best has called you to rest
Day Five – “I expect you will have heard of the death of…”
Day Six –  The horror of gas attacks
Day Seven – Corkscrewing away from a Junkers 88

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge (Day 7)

Never again.

It is already Day Seven of Canadian genealogy blogger Patricia Greber’s #MyMilitaryAncestor Challenge, issued in celebration of Remembrance Day and the veterans and war dead to whom we owe such a debt. Today, we help BIFHSGO’s newest addition to our Board of Directors, Lynda Gibson (Research Director), to honour her father, Robert.

If YOU would like to help to make military ancestors go viral in November, please participate! You can write your own blog posts, share your photos or records of your own ancestors on social media like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram or just talk to someone you know. We’d love it if you shared this post with your friends and followers too.

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge – Day Seven

Lancaster Bomber crew including Robert Gibson (front left).
Photo of Robert Gibson (front left) with the flight crew of their Lancaster Bomber. Photo Source: Private collection of Lynda Gibson. Additional identification: Pilot S/L Dave Robb, DFC, AFC, RCAF | Navigator P/O Art White, RAF | Bombaimer F/O E. Mosure, DFC, RCAF | F/Eng. F/S Art Gamble, RAF | Wireless/Op F/S R. Brown, RAF | M/U/Gunner P/O CM Kerr, RCAF | Rear Gunner P/O RG Gibson, RCAF

 

Corkscrewing away from a Junkers 88
Contributing Author, Lynda Gibson

Robert Gordon Gibson, 1945
Robert Gordon Gibson, 1944. Photo source: Private collection of Lynda Gibson.

My Dad, Robert Gordon Gibson, enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in 1943 when he was only 17 years old. He had his father’s permission to join, possibly because gramps and “the step-mother” were moving to Vancouver for gramps’ health. At first Dad was told to go home, but eventually the RCAF called him up and he started his training. After receiving his commission, he became part of the 1st Group, 100th Squadron, based in Grimsby, UK.

The crew of seven flew a Lancaster bomber. The pilot and flight engineer were in the cockpit with the navigator behind a curtain at the rear of the cockpit in a darkened area so he could see his instruments. The upper gunner sat top centre of the plane. The bomb aimer would lay down and view the target from the dome beneath the front turret. The wireless operator was stationed inside the plane, back of the navigator. Dad, as the rear gunner was squashed in the tiny rear turret with four guns. He wore a uniform with electric heating wires running through the material up his shins and his thighs, but which left his knees locked together and exposed to the horrible cold. They could be flying at 11,000 to 12,000 feet, and in the winter the temperature could reach -50C.

On the night of October 14-15, 1944, they were  flying over the Rhur valley (Germany). It was very dark, and Dad’s turret never stopped as he scanned the sky for enemy movement. Suddenly, he saw a shadow way up above them. He started to say something about a dark spot way behind, when it started dropping towards them. He yelled “corkscrew, port, go”, although he should have said starboard instead of port. Their pilot immediately dived to the left, port side, rather than right, starboard.

A corkscrew, as you might imagine, is a manoeuvre taking the plane sharply down, then sharply up and then flipping back again. As they came back up, there was a German Junkers 88 with its belly showing. It couldn’t fire a shot because it was going to crash into them, so it pulled straight up to avoid them. Dad wondered why the Junkers 88 did not topple over. The plane was so close Dad could almost touch it.

Robert Gordon Gibson, 1944. PEI training.
Robert Gordon Gibson, 1944. PEI training. Photo source: Private collection of Lynda Gibson.

On that flight, unfortunately, Dad did not have a seatbelt. He was hanging onto his guns, and when the plane dropped, he went up and his guns went down and he hit the ceiling of the turret. There was a small light on the ceiling of the turret, with a butterfly knob, and that’s where he hit his head. Then when the plane climbed, dad would be pulled the other way and the guns would go up.

Finally, the German plane broke off, and though they had to do a lot of corkscrewing after that, they made it back to base safely.

Why no seatbelt? That was the first time the RCAF had issued pilot-type seats for the rear gunner. Normally rear gunners had a thin cushion on the seat, with a cloth belt to hold them in. But this time, dad had been given a pilot seat, which is actually the parachute. In pictures you can see this dangling behind their legs. Previously, to get at the parachute, the rear gunner would have had to turn the turret around, go through the doors into the fuselage, grab a parachute, put it on, and then get out. So, gunners kept pushing to get pilot seats in order to save their lives. That evening, Dad was sitting on the parachute, but unfortunately, no one had thought to extend the seat belt, so it was too short. Dad had not discovered this until they were leaving, so he just accepted it. After that, the belts were changed.

 

 

 

 

Find our previous posts in this #MyMilitaryAncestor series, by clicking the following links:
Day One – Infantryman “undoubtedly saved lives” at Passchendaele
Day Two – War was a family affair
Day Three – Measles, Mumps and the Military
Day Four  God who knows best has called you to rest
Day Five – “I expect you will have heard of the death of…”
Day Six –  The horror of gas attacks

 

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge (Day 6)

They died that we might live.

In celebration of Remembrance Day, we continue today with Day Six of the eleven-day #MyMilitaryAncestor challenge. This challenge was issued to family historians around the world by Canadian genealogy blogger, Patricia Greber… Lest we forget!

YOU can help to make military ancestors go viral this month! Write your own blog posts, share your photos or records of your own ancestors on social media like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram or just TALK to someone in real life! If you prefer, simply share OUR posts with your pals on social media.

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge – Day Six

d41e237335800612486bc970f44e214e
Image Source: QuoteMaster.org accessed: 6 Nov 2017.

The horror of gas attacks

Private Charles Cleveland Stephinson was born in 1893 in Sunderland, Durham (Scotland), the son of John Charlton and Ina Ardella (née Monroe). His older brother and only sibling, Frank Charlton, was born in 1888.

Charles served with the 8th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own). When the battalion was stationed near Nieuport, Belgium in July 1917, it was subjected to heavy gas shelling. According to the battalion’s war diaries:

After the first bombardment the effects of the gas seems very slight. About midnight many men became sick and started vomiting, and in consequence could not keep their box respirators on. …The main symptoms were intense pain in the eyes, and conjunctivitis, vomiting of the seasick type, sometimes Diarrhoea and abdominal pain, skin – erythema. …. the men’s eyes became so affected the blindness came on.

Charles was probably one of these soldiers because he died at No. 1 Canadian Casualty
Clearing Station on 25 July of gas poisoning. That night there were 680 casualties in the
battalion. His older brother Frank also lost his life in the Great War. He was serving with the 8th Battalion of the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment when he was killed in action on 21 October 1917—three months after the death of his brother.

 

This brief biography is an extract from one of 300 written by volunteers for the British Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO), which maintains a database on the 879 soldiers who died at the No.1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station. Canada’s casualty clearing stations, located within a few miles of the Front, were one of the most important links within the Canadian Army Medical Corps for the treatment of Allied wounded soldiers during WWI.

For more information about Canada’s No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station or to start searching this database, please click on THIS LINK.

 

To read our previous posts in this #MyMilitaryAncestor series, please click one of the following links:
Day One – Infantryman “undoubtedly saved lives” at Passchendaele
Day Two – War was a family affair
Day Three – Measles, Mumps and the Military
Day Four  God who knows best has called you to rest
Day Five – “I expect you will have heard of the death of…”

 

 

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge (Day 5)

Thank you for your service.

Today is Day Five of the #MyMilitaryAncestor challenge issued to family historians around the world by Canadian genealogy blogger, Patricia Greber. We continue our participation with the following extraction from a personal blog post written by BIFHSGO’s Secretary, Gillian Leitch when she found newspaper clippings about one of her grandfather’s cousins.

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge – Day Five

Canadian Pacific R'Y. CO.'s Telegraph TELEGRAM

“I expect you will have heard of the death of…”

Flight-Lieut Pauline and Flight-Lieut Miller, both hailing from Victoria, British Columbia, went across to France from the air gunnery school at Ayrshire (Scotland) in November 1917. Also making the trip at around the same time was another Victoria boy, Flight-Lieut Ed Christie.

On March 28, 1918, Flight-Lieut Miller was killed in action. Family and friends in Victoria, B.C. learned about the tragedy when Flight-Lieut Pauline wrote home. The Daily Colonist, Victoria, published his letter on April 30, 1918:

“I expect you will have heard of the death of Arthur Miller. It came as quite a shock to me, he being an old chum of mine. … But you must not worry. This kind of thing does not happen every day. …” Pauline writes his mother.
[To read the full letter, see the link to Gillian’s blog post below].

Sadly, just a few days after the letter’s publication, Flight-Lieut Paulin(e)’s mother herself received bad news. Her son had been killed in France on May 8. But there was no letter from a chum, just a cable message announcing the flyer’s death and no other details.

In reporting the latest tragedy, the Daily Colonist also noted that Flight-Lieut Ed Christie was reported missing.

 

To read Gillian’s entire blog post (entitled “Victoria Fly-boys, 1918“) from which this excerpt is derived, please click HERE.

Would YOU like to help to make military ancestors go viral in November? Please participate! You can write your own blog posts, share your photos or records of your own ancestors on social media like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram or just TALK to someone in real life! Of course, we’d love it if you shared OUR post with your friends and followers as well. If you look a little further down this page, there are Share Buttons for that purpose or you can look for our posts on social media to re-share from there! You could even do all of the above!

To read our previous posts in this #MyMilitaryAncestor series, please click one of the following links:
Day One – Infantryman “undoubtedly saved lives” at Passchendaele
Day Two – War was a family affair
Day Three – Measles, Mumps and the Military
Day Four  God who knows best has called you to rest

 

Header image (war plane) photo information and source:
This photo was taken by Andrew Palmer (via Unsplash) at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, United Kingdom. “The P-36 was used most extensively and successfully by the French Armee de l’air during the Battle of France 1940“.

 

Honouring our Military Ancestors Challenge (Day 4)

Their name liveth for evermore

It is the fourth day of the eleven-day #MyMilitaryAncestor challenge issued by Canadian genealogy blogger, Patricia Greber, in celebration of Remembrance Day.

YOU can help to make military ancestors go viral in November! Write your own blog posts, share your photos or records of your own ancestors on social media or just talk to someone! Of course, we’d love it if you shared OUR post with your friends too. Do all of the above for brownie points!

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge – Day Four

God who knows best has called you to rest

Born in London, England, John Robert Bolding was just 17 when he first enlisted in the militia in 1907, where he served with the 5th battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. Four years later, he was married and working as a barman in a public house. He and his wife, Ada Roberts, had three girls in the next four years. Sadly, their middle daughter, Elsie, lived only to the age of 6 months.

With the outbreak of World War I, John re-enlisted with the Royal Fusiliers. He also served as a Sergeant in “G” Special Company of the Royal Engineers. The Special Companies were created during World War I to develop Britain’s response to German gas attacks. By June 1915, Sergeant Bolding was at the Western Front.

Three years later, on April 29, 1918, Sergeant Bolding was admitted to the No. 1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station with gunshot wounds to the abdomen. In that one day, 174 soldiers were hospitalized at the CCCS 1st, bringing the total number of patients there to 388.

Bolding Gravemarker

Sergeant Bolding succumbed to his wounds and died on May 19, 1918 at the age of 28. He was one of 115 soldiers who died in May at the CCCS 1st. This was the highest number of fatalities in a month for the station and more fatalities than in any of the other three and a half months that the CCCS 1st had been stationed in Pernes (France). He is buried in Pernes British Military Cemetery.  

John’s wife gave birth to a son, John H. Bolding, probably within days or months of his father’s death. It is not known whether John Sr. ever knew he had a son. Tragedy struck the Bolding family again only a few months later , however, when the young boy died in early 1919.

This brief biography is an extract from one of 300 written by volunteers for the British Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO), which maintains a database on the 879 soldiers who died at the No.1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station. Canada’s casualty clearing stations, located within a few miles of the Front, were one of the most important links within the Canadian Army Medical Corps for the treatment of Allied wounded soldiers during WWI.

For more information about Canada’s No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station or to start searching this database, please click on THIS LINK.

 

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out our other posts for the #MyMilitaryAncestor Challenge:
Day One – Infantryman “undoubtedly saved lives” at Passchendaele
Day Two – War was a family affair
Day Three – Measles, Mumps and the Military

 

 

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge (Day 3)

It is the third day of the eleven-day #MyMilitaryAncestor challenge issued by Canadian genealogy blogger, Patricia Greber, in celebration of Remembrance Day. Today, we help BIFHSGO president, Barbara Tose, to honour one of the few service men in her family of exempt sailors and farmers — her father.

If YOU would like to help to make military ancestors go viral in November, please participate! You can write your own blog posts, share your photos or records of your own ancestors on social media like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram or just talk to someone you know. We’d love it if you shared this post with your friends and followers too.

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge – Day Three

Measles, Mumps and the Military
Contributing Author, Barbara Tose

Having been born in 1926, Stanley Leroy Tose —my Dad— was just old enough to get in on the end of World War II, though he didn’t see action overseas. Dad enlisted in London, Ontario on the 26th of January 1945 and his army career consisted mostly of training around bases in south-western Ontario. He told me several stories of his adventures between joining up and his discharge on the 24th of July 1946. 

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Stanley Leroy Tose, between Jan 1945 and July 1946 . Image source: Personal collection of Barbara Tose.

One of his first training exercises involved being taken with his fellow trainees out into the countryside at night. There they were dumped to find their way back to camp by their own means. My dad took one look around and announced that he knew exactly where he was; his cousin owned the farm they were standing beside. He knew the barn where they would find a spot to sleep for the night and his cousin would give them a drive back to the camp next morning. 

On the 18th of March 1945, Dad was admitted to hospital with the mumps. He had been a protected only child and had not contracted the usual childhood diseases. No sooner had he recovered from the mumps and been released, he was re-admitted with the measles. The story he told was that his battalion was preparing to go overseas when he contracted the mumps. He recovered and was preparing again to go overseas when his measles broke out. By the time he recovered from the measles, the war was over. In truth he did not have enough time between ailments to prepare to ship out. He was discharged from the mumps on April 5th and admitted for the measles on April 9th. Although the war did not officially end for some months, by the time he was discharged from hospital on April 18th the war was, for all intents and purposes, over. 

Following his recovery from his illnesses, he received a call from an officer at Camp Ipperwash wanting to know if he could type. Dad asked why and was told the officer needed a bass for the choir but the only position he had required typing. My father audaciously assured him he could, despite not knowing the first thing about it. He was transferred to Ipperwash, joined the choir and learned to type—hunt-and-peck style—very quickly. He never did learn to type with more than two fingers!

Dad’s service in the army allowed him post-service education paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). Instead of taking trades training, which he seemed to favour on his entry into the army, he opted for a B.A. at Western University. He then went on to Queen’s University in Kingston and Drew University, in Montclair, N.J. for a Bachelor of Divinity and a Masters of Sacred Theology respectively. Unlike so many of the men who joined the forces during the war, my Dad was very lucky. He benefitted greatly from his time in the military without having to experience hard or life-threatening service. However, it probably changed his life as significantly as it did for any of those he served with.

 

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out our posts from Days One and Two of the #MyMilitaryAncestor Challenge:
Day One – Infantryman “undoubtedly saved lives” at Passchendaele
Day Two – War was a family affair

 

 

 

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge (Day 2)

We continue today with Canadian genealogy blogger, Patricia Greber’s, challenge to honour our military ancestors during the days leading up to Remembrance Day.

To read our post from Day One of the #MyMilitaryAncestor challenge,
please click HERE.

Honouring Our Military Ancestors Challenge – Day Two

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Entrance marker for the Auberchicourt British Cemetery, header image from Auberchicourt GWGC Cemetery Facebook Group; accessed 2 Nov 2017.

 

Corporal Launcelot Gange Spooner
A photo of Launcelot Gange Spooner discovered on THIS forum post : accessed 2 Nov 2017; attributed to the research efforts of Margaret Rose Gaunt by username “59165 Brigadier-General Old Sweats”.

War was a family affair

Sergeant Launcelot Gange Spooner was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan in 1898, just three years after his parents, Francis and Clara (nèe Gange), emigrated from England. Father and son enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on the same day in 1916. Launcelot served with the Seaforth Highlanders and probably saw action at Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele.

It would have been with great jubilation that Launcelot and his father greeted the news of the Armistice in November 1918. However, the war was not over for either of them.

The day after the signing of the Armistice, Launcelot received shrapnel wounds to his leg and was admitted to No. 1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station (CCCS). His father was wounded at the same time. Both needed anti-tetanus serum — the father received it at the dressing station, but his son did not. The No. 1 CCCS had no ATS left and, in spite of heroic efforts to obtain the serum, it arrived too late to save Launcelot. He died on 15 November and was buried in the British Military Cemetery at Auberchicourt. Hopefully his father was with him when he died.

Francis returned to Canada and died in British Columbia in 1967.

 

This brief biography is an extract from one of 300 written by volunteers for the British Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO), which maintains a database on the 879 soldiers who died at the No.1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station. Canada’s casualty clearing stations, located within a few miles of the Front, were one of the most important links within the Canadian Army Medical Corps for the treatment of Allied wounded soldiers during WWI.

For more information about Canada’s No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station or to start searching this database, please click on THIS LINK.


Would YOU like to help to make military ancestors go viral in November? Please participate! You can write your own blog posts, share your photos or records of your own ancestors on social media like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram or just TALK to someone in real life! Of course, we’d love it if you shared OUR post with your friends and followers as well. If you look a little further down this page, there are Share Buttons for that purpose or you can look for our posts on social media to re-share from there! You could even do all of the above!