We Will Remember Them
compiled by James L. McCallum
© Ontario Genealogical Society, Elgin County Branch October 2010
Published by Ontario Genealogical Society, Elgin County Branch,
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopying, microform reproduction, recording, or otherwise – without the prior written permission of the publisher.
They shall grow not old, as we who are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning
We will remember them
The inscription on the cenotaph in Vienna best captures the spirit which inspired this project: “in grateful tribute toward the living and the dead, whose valiant effort and bitter sacrifice was made, that freedom and justice shall not perish from the earth – in grateful tribute to those who served overseas, and, daring to die, survived”.
The first volume of this series was published in 2008, and titled Age Shall Not Weary Them – The Men of East Elgin Who Made the Supreme Sacrifice in the First Great War. This 300-page book detailed the lives of about 150 men from the townships of Malahide, Bayham, South Dorchester and the Town of Aylmer who died while serving their country during World War I.
The second phase of this project resulted in a four-volume set, arranged alphabetically by surname. The scope of the project was to include every man and woman who served during the First Great War with a connection to the Town of Aylmer, and the Townships of Malahide, Bayham and South Dorchester. To define “connection”, I have included veterans who were born in the above places but had moved away prior to enlisting, those who were living there upon enlistment, and several others who had family connections reaching back a generation further. I began by researching names found in various newspaper articles in the Aylmer Express and East Elgin Reformer (also known as the Aylmer Sun). Using the database of World War I Attestation papers available on the website, Ancestry.ca, I was able to search the collection by place of birth and residence, adding hundreds of names to my project.
My goal was to identify who each veteran was by viewing their Attestation Paper, locating their registration of birth, finding a marriage record, obituary, and including a photograph. I was also able to find many veterans on passenger lists returning to Canada, using a database on Ancestry.ca. Because my primary interest is genealogy and this publication is being prepared for the Elgin County Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, I also wanted to include some genealogical and biographical material about the family’s roots. Therefore you will find information about the parents and grandparents of these veterans. Despite diligent research, information on some veterans was not as plentiful as others.
Several articles of interest were found in the Aylmer Express dealing with the recruitment of men at the beginning of the war, the celebration of the armistice, and an article about the history of the Aylmer Legion. I have also included letters from the men overseas that were published in the newspaper.
As with any publication of this nature, there are bound to be errors and omissions, and I apologize if anyone was missed.
I am indebted to Ian Raven and the staff of the Elgin Military Museum in St. Thomas for their assistance in locating files and pictures of these veterans, and to Pat Zimmer at the Aylmer Museum. I am also grateful to the Elgin County Archives for granting permission to use several photographs from the Scott-Sefton Collection. I would also like to thank each and every one who supplied information and pictures for this publication.
Brief History of Recruiting in Elgin & the 91st Battalion
When Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914, Elgin County responded ten days later when three members of the 25th Elgin Regiment enlisted in the signal section of the 1st Canadian Division. Then on August 22, one hundred men from Elgin County, including sixty one from the 25th Regiment went to Valcartier to join the 1st Battalion C.E.F. They went overseas on October 7, 1914.
Recruiting in Elgin County continued with 200 men sent to the 18th Battalion C.E.F. and 256 men to the 33rd Battalion C.E.F
Elgin County’s own overseas battalion was formed on October 25, 1915. Lt.-Col. Green was placed in command of the 91st Battalion C.E.F., and trained 940 men for overseas service. The battalion received its colours on May 24, 1916 after a parade through St. Thomas, ending at Pinafore Park with a huge crowd attending the ceremony.
A month later on June 25, 1916, the 91st Battalion was dispatched overseas after a march down Talbot Street in St. Thomas, witnessed by a crowd of 20,000 citizens. They went by train to Halifax where they sailed on the ship Olympic on June 28, arriving in Liverpool on July 5. After ten days at Otterpool Camp, the Battalion was transferred to the 3rd Canadian Training Brigade and split up in order to provide reinforcements for more than twenty three other units on the battlefield. It was standard policy by this time for county regiments to divide their recruits among other units whose numbers had been depleted of manpower.
While the 91st Battalion was in Europe, recruiting continued in Elgin, resulting in over 2,400 men from the county volunteering for service during the course of the war.
Source: The Elgins, by Capt. L. A. Curchin & Lieut. B. D. Sim, Regiment Historian, 1977
Recruiting in Aylmer
Several articles appeared in the Aylmer Express, reporting on the recruiting process from that area. They are presented here in chronological order.
The Aylmer Express, September 10, 1914:
FIRST RECRUI DRILL OF THE 30TH BATTERY
Will be Tomorrow Night at 7:30 p.m.
Names are Coming in Fast. Get Your Name in Before Tomorrow Night
Have you joined the 30th Battery? This is the question for every able bodied man in East Elgin. This is our own militia unit and is being raised by the people of this county for the defense of our own borders. No man who values his home or his loved ones, who believes in his country or honors his King will refuse to join. The task before our own people here in Canada and possibly in Elgin may be very serious before this war is over. If our shores were invaded by a hostile army every man would be a soldier if he could; but he would be no use without training. This is the point. The time to get the training is now. The 30th Battery Canadian Field Artillery requires at once one hundred men. The battery roll is at Mr. Wm. Warnock’s office in Aylmer. The young men of East Elgin should enlist. They should do it at once.
The first recruit drill will be held at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 11. The men will form up on Talbot St. in front of the new post office. The elements of infantry drill will be taught. Every man should be on hand for the first drill. Lt.-Col. Walter James Brown will be in charge.
So far as Canadians and Britishers are concerned military service is no longer optional. It is a duty that no true man will shirk. Only those who have the necessary physical qualifications will be asked to go on duty; but the obligation of working and fighting for our country is on the shoulders of every man. No one is exempt. Every man in Canada between 18 and 60 may be called if required. It would be an outrage if Canadians were forced to use the ballot to fill the ranks of the militia. Let us have volunteers. This is your opportunity. The Canadian Militia is a home defense force, organized, trained and maintained for the defense of our own homes and loved one. Every man should be a citizen soldier. Will you?
The Aylmer Express, October 8, 1914:
THE 30TH BATTERY
The 30th Battery Canadian Field Artillery has been drilling two nights a week for nearly a month and has apparently made excellent progress. There is still room for a number of recruits. There seems to be a misunderstanding about enlisting. Let it be understood once and for all that the 30th Battery is a home defense unit, and no member of the Battery can be sent overseas unless he volunteers for this special service. The Battery with all other Militia units is for the defense of Canada only. The age limits are 18 to 60; but a few boys will be accepted to act as signallers, rangetakers, trumpeters, etc. The term of enlistment is for three years unless discharged or resignation is accepted before the term expires.
The Battery has been taught the elements of infantry drill and are now learning dismounted artillery drill without arms. As soon as rifles are issued, rifle drill and shooting will be taught. Field artillery men are expected to know foot drill, mounted drill, rifle shooting and gunnery and certain forms of field engineering. It is hoped that arrangements may be made so lectures, rifle shooting and physical drill and exercises may be undertaken during the winter months in a suitable building.
The Battery needs 28 drivers who will bring at least two horses each. The horses will be needed only for annual training or for field days. The pay for drivers is about $1 a day and for the horses $1.25 each with everything for men and horses found. This means that each driver will receive about $56 for himself and team for the sixteen days camp once a year. Most battery drivers consider this “money found” as the camps are held during the seasons when work is slack on the farms. Most batteries have more men and horses offering than they can take to camp. The drivers who enlist now will be given the first chance. Mr. William Warnock has the Service Roll and is authorized to take enrollments.
The Aylmer Express, November 19, 1914:
OFF FOR THE FRONT
Lieutenant Clarke had no difficulty in recruiting the quota of twenty assigned Aylmer for the battery of Field Artillery now being mobilized at London. As a matter of fact, several over the number required made application. One of these, Thomas Randel, of West Lorne, passed the examiner all right, and was a most disappointed young man when he failed to secure his mother’s consent. Two others from Tillsonburg made application, when but one was required for the full compliment, but as they refused to be separated, neither of them were taken.
One of the recruits deserves special mention. He is Luther Arven Cooper, a sturdy hunter and trapper, 6 feet, 2 inches in height, who started out from McKenzie River, 4000 miles away, determined to serve his country. He made his way from point to point offering himself, only to find there was no place for him, until he reached Aylmer, where he was just in time. He ran out of funds and notwithstanding the intense cold, rode on the outside of railway coaches as opportunity offered.
The full list is as follows:
Alfred Benson, Aylmer, butcher, single, 30th Battery Canadian Field Artillery
Samuel Horace Hawkins, Aylmer, marble cutter, married, 30th Battery, C.F.A.
Harold Hale, Tillsonburg, farmer
Arthur St. John Wallace, Aylmer, cook and baker, single, Territorial Army service, 18 months, 30th Battery, C.F.A.
Albert Victor Weir, St. Thomas, car inspector, single, Royal Navy, 5 years, 4 months
John Leslie Parker, Aylmer, painter, single, 30th Battery, C.F.A.
Edward Christopher Payton Breay, Aylmer, farmer, single, Officers Training Corps, 2 years
Charles Dingle, Aylmer, shoe cutter, single, 30th Battery, C.F.A.
Reginald John Denton, Aylmer, farmer, single
Harold Duxbury, Springfield, farmer, single
George Albert Morden, Delhi, engineer, single, Sergeant No. 8 Company, 39th Regiment, 3 years
Harry John Richardson, Aylmer, brick layer, married, 30th Battery, C.F.A.
Luther Arven Cooper, McKenzie River, hunter and trapper, single, 10th Westminster Fusileers
Thomas Cornish, St. Thomas, storekeeper, single, 25th Regiment, 1 year
William James Sweeting, Fenwick, carpenter, widower
Sydney Frederick Hudson, Glencoe, undertaker, single, 26th Regiment, Middlesex Light Infantry
Gerald Tighe, Aylmer, farmer, single
Roland Gatward, Aylmer, tailor, single, 30th Battery, C.F.A.
Harry Lucey, St. Thomas, barber, single.
Between 600 and 700 citizens were present when the boys lined up on Talbot street yesterday morning, and rousing cheers were given them, as, headed by the Citizens Band, and followed by the members of the 30th Battery and citizens they marched to the Wabash depot to entrain for London.
While waiting for their train the recruits were addressed by Mayor Wagner, Rev. C. Miles and W. Harold Barnum. The occasion proved a very impressive one, the more so when one loving mother was overcome, in the fear that she might never see her boy again. There were few dry eyes, even one of the speakers finding it impossible to express himself for some moments.
The boys, however, with brave hearts, broke into song, which relieved the tension, were photographed, the hat was passed for their benefit, and they boarded the train amid the cheers and best wishes of some 500 citizens. Ray Lemon, of Richard’s & Co., gave each of the boys a Rexall Shaving stick before they left. Lieut. Clarke accompanied them to London.
Fred D. King, W. Harold Barnum and Harold Hambidge accompanied the volunteers as far as St. Thomas, and after leaving Aylmer, the brakeman came to Mr. Barnum and told him they had on board a Belgian soldier who had been a prisoner of the Germans, but had escaped, also a British soldier, Rupert Gilhooley, discharged because no longer physically fit. Mr. Barnum discovered the Belgian’s name was Albert Kappen, his home was at Alost, and that he had lost everything in the war. He had a Belgian passport and Belgian identification card, with photo attached. The two were on their way to Detroit.
They came up to the Aylmer volunteers and the Belgian cried, “Vive les Canadiens” and in return three good Canadian cheers were given the Belgian. Mr. Barnum says he could not speak enough French to find out any further particulars. Cheers for the volunteers, and the Belgian mentioned, were given by the passengers on board, and the journey to St. Thomas was a very interesting one.
The Aylmer Express, November 26, 1914:
ANOTHER LETTER FROM THE SOLDIERS AT LONDON
London, Nov. 23rd, 1914
The Aylmer Express
Dear Editor –
We thought that we would write you of our experience from Aylmer to London and while in camp. As far as St. Thomas, you have already heard what happened through Harold Barnum, who accompanied us that far. Nothing happened from there to London, except “Are we downhearted?” “NO”
On our arrival at the G. T. R. Station here we were met by Lieut.-Col. Brown, and a company of infantry, which escorted us to Queen’s Park. They sang “It’s a long way to Tipperary”, and we finished with “It’s a long way to St. Helena”. We were taken directly to our barrack-room and only had to wait about one hour for dinner, which was a lunch consisting of a little jam and a couple of slices of “punk”. Some dinner.
Now we are squared away and everything is running very smooth. Jack Wallis is a good cook and feeds us very well, there being no fault found with the grub. We are roused out of bed at 6:30 each morning. Then we make up our cots and sweep out, go out at 7 o’clock for half-hour physical drill, have breakfast at eight, bacon, jam, punk and coffee. From 9 – 10 we have foot drill, then a half-hour rest. Then from 10:30 to 11:30 we get some more. We get dinner at 12:30 which is a change every day. From 2 to 3 o’clock we drill again, then another recess. Then from 3:30 to 4:30 which is the last drill of the day. We get our supper at 5 o’clock. Any time after 5 o’clock we can leave the grounds without a pass but we must be in at 9:30.
We were told by an officer it was better to get a pass to 12 o’clock than to go down town, meet a friend and stay out later that 9:30, for that means guard house. The officers are very nice men but we won’t say they are any better than Col. Brown.
Charles Dingle and some of the boys from Aylmer are on fatigue duty toady, the rest will get theirs after awhile. There is about 3 inches of snow here this morning so we did not drill, had lectures by the officers instead. Our barrack-room is heated with two furnaces, dining room with one. Off the barrack-room is the shower baths, hot and cold.
The Y.M.C.A. have a canteen where we can buy anything we want. They put on a picture show every night which is free. They also supply writing paper and ink. If it is not too much trouble to you would you ask the S. O. E. lodge if we could have the old flag from their room?
Thanking you in advance for the space and wishing the Express great prosperity, we remain, THE AYLMER BOYS
Alfred Benson, Harry Richardson (Highland Mary), John Wallis (Head Cook), John Denton, Harold Duxbury, John Parker, Charles Dingle, James Sweeting, Thomas Cornish, George Morden, Samuel Hawkins, E. Breay, Luther Cooper, Harry Lacey, Gerald Tighe, Albert Victor Weir, Sid Hudson, Reuben H. Pope, Roland Gatward, R. H. Brackstone, W. J .Such, G. R. Smith, W. R. Smith, F. Ferris, D. Dunnett, C. Robinson, H. Green.
The Aylmer Express, January 14, 1915:
For 33rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force
Recruiting Officer at 25th Regiment Club Rooms, Talbot Street, St. Thomas, Office Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m.
2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
from January 11th to January 25th, 1915
Applicants for enlistment will be selected in the following order:
a) unmarried men
b) married men without families
c) married men with families
Unmarried men who are the sole support of their parents, and unmarried men under 21 years of age, must have the written consent of their parents. Married men must have the written consent of their wives.
Men discharged from any previous contingent, for any reason, are not to be accepted.
Recruits will receive pay $1.00 and field allowance 10c, total $1.10 per diem, from date of attestation, and in addition a subsistence allowance of 75c. per diem, until arrival at place of mobilization. Recruits will be retained at recruiting centres until orders for mobilization.
Applicants from points out of St. Thomas, who require additional information should write to the Officer Commanding, 25th Regiment, St. Thomas, Ont.
The Aylmer Express, February 25, 1915:
RECRUITS WANTED NOW
Recruits for the 16th Batt. C.F.A., are coming in rather slowly, only five having been accepted up to date. Several who applied could not pass the examination. Lieut. Clarke, recruiting officer in Aylmer, tells us he required 15 more by noon tomorrow, and we trust there will be a sufficient number of our young men in this vicinity who are loyal enough to make up the full complement by that time. Your country needs you, boys. Those who have been accepted are as follows:
Percy Heckford, Springfield, farmer, single, Dorset Territorials
Thomas Edward Robins, Aylmer, farmer, single, 25th Batt., 3 years
Willard Earl West, New Sarum, farmer, single
Berness Williams, Aylmer, machinist, 25th Batt., 3 years
Hughston Clarence Sinclair, Aylmer, cheesemaker, single
The Aylmer Express, December 2, 1915:
AYLMER’S HONOR ROLL
Lieut. Clarke Doing Good Work – 29 Men are Recruited Here
Men who have been enlisted in Aylmer, by Lieut. L. F. Clarke, to date, for the 91st Batt. C.E.F. More men are needed and if anybody can get them it will be Lieut. Clarke.
- John Edward Scriver, Aylmer, married, mason, 30th Battery, C.F.A.
- Edwin Thomas Turner, Aylmer, single, horseman
- Edward William Frank Baker, Aylmer, single, farmer, 30th Battery, C.F.A.
- Leman Guy Hawley, Aylmer, married, farmer
- Louis Arthur Mann, Aylmer, single, farmer, 30th Battery, C.F.A.
- Herbert Clayton Smale, Pt. Burwell, married, fisherman
- William George Burtenshall, Pt. Burwell, single, farmer
- Percy Goodman Capern, Aylmer, married, farmer
- Fred Tomkinson, Aylmer, single, farmer
- John Page, Belmont, single, farmer
- Henry Warmer, Belmont, single, farmer
- John Byrne, Belmont, single, engineers, army service corps
- Harold Archer, Belmont, single, farmer
- Clarke Joseph Marlatt, Aylmer
- Percy William Robert Freeman, Aylmer, single, farmer, 30th Battery, C.F.A.
- Oscar Ira Smith Williams, Dunboyne, single, fisherman
- Chas. Henry Picknell, Aylmer married, house decorator, 30th Battery, C.F.A.
- John Hanson, Aylmer, single, clerk
- William James O’Neill, Aylmer, married, egg-tester
- Claude Elmer Orton, Bayham, married, blacksmith, 30th Battery, C.F.A.
- Gilbert Chute, Aylmer, single, 30th Reg.
- Arthur Edward Jennings, St. Thomas, married, laborer
- John Johnson, Springfield, single, farmer
- William Cameron Armstrong, Pt. Burwell, single, farmer
- Elston Bambrick, Aylmer, single, farmer
- James Thomas Taylor, Springfield, single, farmer
- Gordon Earl Moore, Springfield, single, clerk
- William Arthur Thomson, Springfield, single, farmer
- George Harold Parkiss, Aylmer, single, farmer
The , April 13, 1916:
22 RECRUITS FROM AYLMER IN TWO WEEKS’ CAMPAIGN
Following is a list of the recruits signed up for overseas service with the 91st Battalion, from Aylmer, during the past two weeks’ recruiting campaign. During that length of time 229 men offered themselves for their country’s service. Out of this number 85 could not pass the medical examination, and 144 were successful in getting into the ranks. There are now about 900 men in the 91st Battalion, which is still far from being up to full strength. The officers are determined not to let the campaign terminate yet, and will put more ginger than ever into their efforts to secure recruits.
Brooks, Roland, Aylmer, single, 30th Battery
Canning, George Whitney, married, 30th Battery
Walker, Harry, Aylmer, married
Ellis, George A., Aylmer, married, 30th Battery
Walker, William Stephen, Aylmer, single, 30th Battery
Cable, Leo Carl, Aylmer, 30th Battery
Blashill, Harry Arthur, Aylmer, married
Griffin, Howard, Aylmer, single
McDonald, John, Aylmer, 30th Battery
Wood, Beverley Edward, Aylmer, single, H. S. Cadets
Haight, Clark L., Aylmer, single, 30th Battery
Vincent, Earl, Aylmer, single, 30th Battery
Wilson, Walter, Aylmer, single, 30th Battery
Haight, Wm. Henry, Aylmer, single, 30th Battery
Benson, Andrew, Aylmer, single
Hawley, Bruce, Dunboyne, single
Wall, Edward, Aylmer, married
Chapman, David J., Aylmer, married
Barker, Albert, Lyons, single
Westbrook, Chas. Henry, Aylmer, single, 30th Battery
Summers, Sidney George, Aylmer, single, 30th Battery
Christie, Alwyne R., Aylmer, married, 30th Battery
The Aylmer Express, June 29, 1916:
THE 91ST (ELGIN’S OWN) IS GONE
The 91st has gone. They left St. Thomas on Sunday on their trip across the Dominion to the seaboard, there to be transported across the Atlantic to England, and finally to take up the sword and do their “bit” to stamp out the accursed militarism of the Hun, that peace once more may reign upon the earth.
Already are the brave boys in khaki missed on the streets of Aylmer, where they were ever welcome, and their weekend visits will no longer be enjoyed in scores of homes in Aylmer and vicinity. Brave fathers have torn themselves from their wives; sweethearts have bid a fond adieu – and little ones, sons have said goodbye to brave fathers and mothers, and perhaps for the last time. For the brave men of the 91st are off on a perilous mission. A feeling as of reverence has been cast over the entire county since their departure, for hardly is there a home in the county which is not represented in Elgin’s Own Battalion by a dear one, or at least a very dear friend.
Many of the men said the last farewell in the quietness of their own homes on Friday and Saturday, but on Sunday, as the battalion marched from the barracks to the waiting trains at the M.C.R. station, scores of Aylmer and East Elgin citizens were on hand to give the brave lads a final handshake, and to wish them good luck.
Never in the history of St. Thomas has there been such crowds gathered on the street. Talbot Street was packed with human beings for blocks, and the park at the M.C.R. was crowded with anxious friends and relatives of the departing men.
Promptly at five o’clock the order was given at the barracks for the men to parade to the station. They were all loaded down with their heavy packs, and it was a hot march to the train. Talbot Street was so filled that just an alleway was left for the men to march. Many patriotic scenes were witnessed as the final farewells were said by friends all along the line, and in many instances, marching arm in arm with their loved ones, were elderly ladies hanging on to the strong arms of their sons, staying right beside their boys until the final order to entrain was given. Wives and sweethearts took places right in the ranks beside their loved ones, and paraded to the steps of the cars with them, taking advantage of every last second in parting conversation.
For the most part the vast throng of women who said goodbye did so bravely and with as little demonstration as possible, and not until the trains had pulled out did they give vent to their pent-up feeling and let loose their emotions int ears. There were exceptional cases, however, and some hysterical women had to be cared for by their friends. Fathers were seen to bid goodbye to two, three, and even more children, and maintain a perfect composure until the babe in arms was reached, when the wells of emotion were suddenly given their freedom.
The men from Aylmer and East Elgin for the most part went through this trying, and perhaps the hardest, ordeal they will be called upon to face – that of tearing themselves away from all home connections, with brave hearts and stiff upper lips. They went away with a cheery smile, confident that they were doing their duty.
They first train was composed of ten Grand Trunk Pacific coaches, and were filled with men of A and B Companies, and moved out at 5:30, with the band playing “Auld Lang Syne”. The second train, with ten more coaches, carrying C and D Companies, moved out at 6 o’clock. The huge crowd moved silently away after the departure of the last coach, without hurry or excitement, firmly realizing that the fortunes of war will now strike closer home than ever.
The battalion was nearly up to full strength, there being around 1,100 officers and men in the march. The officers are practically all Elgin men, and the men are the pick of the county.
The battalion passed through Toronto on Sunday night en route east. A large crowd greeted each section, which stopped over at the Union Station for a short time to enable the commissary cars to be attached, and the boys were given a rousing send off when the trains pulled out.
The following article appeared in the St. Thomas Journal, October 7, 1916:
TRINITY CHURCH AYLMER, SENDS 43 MEN TO WAR
Anglican Congregation Makes Notable Contribution to Empire’s Defense
FOUR OF THE 43 ARE KILLED IN ACTION
Aylmer, Oct. 7 – That Trinity church has furnished its full quota of young men for the war goes without saying. There are 43 of them, four of whom have given their lives for the old flag. On Sunday evening a service is to be held, conducted by the rector, Rev. C. A. Miles, in honor of these grand boys. The names are written on a framed card and will be unveiled during the service. The three first names are known possibly by all, and the William Harris mentioned was the son of George Harris, at one time a resident of Aylmer and janitor of the church. He joined a Winnipeg battalion.
Following is the list:
Harry Simpson, Charles Elworthy, Francis H. Ingram (these were killed in action); Alfred Ingram, Edward Breay, Harry Richardson (returned soldier, wounded); Roland Gatword, William Butcher, George Swaddling, Harry Grass (honorably discharged); Verne Mitchell, Robert Brackotone, Frank Pipe, Gilbert Gaskill, Gordon A. Philpot, John Wallace, John Babbitt, Leslie Todman, Wallace Antill, Leonard L. Youell, Harry A. Wrong, Hugh B. Hill, Eric Bingham, Gerald Rundle, James Glover, Edward Bateman, Charles Picknell, Harold Sawyer, Thomas Greig, Harold Whetstone, Robert G. Thompson, F. L. Summers, S. T. Summers, Charles Dingle, Fred Roberts, Henry A. Sykes, Edwin Hatcher, Leopold Jones, Samuel Hawkins, Arthur W. Youell, Wm. Harris (killed in action), and Ray Babbitt.
The Aylmer Express, May 30, 1918:
HIGH SCHOOL HONOR ROLL UNVEILED
Students and Ex-Students of the School, who have Joined the Forces for
Service Overseas are Honored
Prominent Citizens give Splendid Addresses
An event that will long be remembered in the history of the Aylmer High School, was the unveiling of the Honor Roll, which took place on the afternoon of Empire Day, May 23rd. The large room was completely filled with students of the school, ex-students and relatives and friends of the lads who are now doing their “bit” in the great world war, and some are now asleep in Flanders’ Fields, having made the supreme sacrifice. The room was beautifully decorated with flags, bunting and flowers, and in the centre on the platform was draped the Honor Roll, which contained the names of 99 students and ex-students, 10 of whom have laid down their life for the Empire. The Honor Roll itself was designed and made by Miss Byron, a member of the staff, and was a work of art, reflecting much credit on the designer.
Principal E. O. Awde was chairman and in his introductory remarks emphasized the fact that although the boys on the Roll had been trained for peace and not for war, during their years at school, yet the principles of justice, heroism and sacrifice had been so deeply implanted in their hearts that they had responded nobly to their country’s call. He asked that Mr. Rutherford, who for more than thirty years was principal of the school, and knew the boys hose names were on the Honor Roll, and their individual history, to read the names and unveil the roll. Mr. Rutherford said he was proud of the way the students and ex-students of the school had responded to the call to down the Hun, from the very outbreak of the war. He pointed to the way in which the boys had flocked to the colors from all the seats of learning, universities, colleges and high schools, and said, “Isn’t that just what we would expect, that the intelligence of the country should be the first to see the need?”
During the reading of the names of the ten students who have made the supreme sacrifice the big audience showed their respect by standing.
The Honor Roll itself is about four feet long and 18 inches wide and nicely framed and is headed by a painting. Each name is on a separate tablet, those deceased being marked by a red circle, and attached to a tinted background, the whole being the work of Miss Byron, one of the staff. The following are the names in alphabetical order:
Capt. Murray Abell, M.D., Lieut. Harry Amoss, B.A., Frank Amoss, Capt. Frank Bennett, M.D., Murray Benner, Alfred Benson, F. Lieut. Donald Benson, Eric Bingham, Kenneth Black, Roy Beaufor, Byron Boyes, Lt.-Col. Walter J. Brown, Trevor Campbell, A. Christie, Lieut. Ewart Christie, Harold Chute, Lieut. Lewis Clark, Earl Cline, Roy Clunas, Harold Cohoon, Alonzo Cook, Cecil Cox, Major Douglas Dunnett, Simeon Elgie, T. Elliott, Roland Eggleton, Douglas Fear, Harry Ford, Homer Haggan, Harold Haggan, Morford Haight, Wilfrid Haines, John Hall, Walter Harris, Hugh Hill, Lieut. G. E. Johnson, Rubert Johnson, Clinton Laidlaw, Alfred Ingram, Leslie James, Verne Laidlaw, Carl Law, Capt. Cecil Learn, M.D., Arthur Mann, Jas. Mann, Beecher Mann, Harold Mason, Norman Miller, M.A., Ph.D., Clifford Mossey, Lieut. Chas. McDermand, Lieut. Stewart McDiarmid, Osgoode McDonald, Capt. Wilfrid McIntosh, M.D., Russell Oriss, Jas. Orton, Claude Orton, Clarence Parker, Lloyd Paupst, Ward Phelps, Ross Pierce, Capt. Rev. Chas. Procunier, Capt. Wm. Procunier, M.D., Lieut. Earl Prowse, Capt. Cecil Rae, M.D., Cecil Raymond, Rene Reavie, Fred Rogers, Donald Ryckman, Huron Sears, Capt. Charles Sinclair, M.D., Hughson Sinclair, Lieut. Kenneth Stratton, Nurse Alice Turner, Capt. Verne Turrill, M.D., Lieut. H. VanPatter, M.A., Bruce VanPatter, Harvey VanSlyke, Grant VanSlyke, Lester Vardon, Capt. Herbert White, M.D., Earl Wilkinson, Lou D. Winder, Richard Wright, Harry M. Wrong, Lieut. Arthur Youell, M.M., Lieut. Leonard Youell, M.C., Andrew Paddon.
Those who have made the supreme sacrifice are: Grant Ballah, John Branion, Orion Garner, Clark Haight, James Hare, Harold Ingram, Edgar Martin, Orlo Pound, Wm. Richardson, Clinton C. E. Thomson.
Rev. Mr. Muttitt in a forceful manner contrasted British and German ideals and compared their success in dealing with Colonial problems, citing the example of British rule in India, Australia, South Africa and Canada, as opposed to German rule in Alsace-Lorraine.
Rev. Mr. Hager spoke of the sacrifices made by the mothers of Canada, who although proud of their brave lads, live in constant dread of evil news.
Rev. Mr. Miles emphasized the early training of the youth and the necessity of living up to the ideals of the British Empire.
Dr. Coll Sinclair, chairman of the High School Board, who has kept in touch with many of those whose name appear on the Honor Roll, and had tried to ascertain the motives which caused the boys to join the colors. He had found that in most cases it was from a clear sense of duty. That is the kind of men who must surely win the fight.
Rev. Mr. Moyer expressed his appreciation on being invited to attend the memorable occasion, and although he did not know many of the boys whose names were written on the Roll, he was glad to be present and enjoy the programme.
Harold Barnum, chairman of the Public School Board, very feelingly touched upon the sacrifice made. He urged upon the present students by those who now sleep in France, the value and necessity of studying history, for from that had evolved the principals for which our soldiers fight and upon which our lives are based.
Flight Sub-Lieut. Kenneth Stratton whose name is on the Honor Roll, and who has served two years in the fighting zone with the British Air Force, at present recuperating with the hope of returning shortly, described the spirit of the boys at the front. He said they were enjoying life in spite of the mud, but if the folks at home wished to do them a real kindness, they should write as often as possible, for the boys watched the mail closer than they do the cook.
The program was interspersed with choruses by the pupils, a beautiful solo by Mr. A. Ray Lemon, and a most appropriate recitation by Miss Clarisa Miller, a student of the school. The ceremony was concluded by singing the National Anthem. The Honor Roll now hangs in the assembly room in the school and will no doubt be added to, as a number of students of this year’s classes have signed up for service this week.
The Military Service Act
The following notice appeared in the Aylmer Express, June 27, 1918:
MILITARY SERVICE ACT, 1917
Men 19 and 20 Years of Age.
Leave of Absence on Ground of Extreme Hardship
Procedure to obtain Leave of Absence
Men Nineteen and Twenty Years of Age.
It has come to the attention of the Government that there is a widespread impression that young men of nineteen years, and those who became twenty since October 13, 1917, as well as those who may become nineteen from time to time and who have been or will be called upon to register under the Military Service Act, are to be immediately called to the colours.
This impression is quite incorrect. No date has yet been fixed for calling upon such men to so report for duty, nor has the question been brought before the Cabinet for decision. In view of the need of labour on the farm, it is most unlikely that consideration will be given to the matter until after the harvest is over, although of course the Government’s action must be determined primarily by the military situation.
There is no further obligation incumbent upon young men of the age above mentioned who have registered or who do so hereafter, until they receive notice from the Registrars.
Some enquiries have been received as to the possibility of granting harvest leave to such troops as may be in the country at that time. No definite assurance can be given on this point as advantage must be taken of ships as they become available. On the other hand, harvest leave will be given if at all possible.
Leave of Absence on Grounds of Extreme Hardship.
It is desired that the Regulations respecting leave of absence in cases of hardship should be widely known and fully understood. Such leave will be granted in two cases: – (a) where extreme hardship arises by reason of the fact that the man concerned is either the only son capable of earning a livelihood, of a father killed or disable on service or presently in service overseas, or in training for such service, or under treatment after returning from overseas; or the only remaining of two or more brothers capable of earning a livelihood (the other brother or brothers having been killed or disabled on service, or being presently in service overseas, or in training for overseas or under treatment after his or their return from overseas); brothers married before 4th August 1914, living in separate establishments and having a child or children not to be counted, in determining the fact that the man is the “only” remaining son or brother; (b) where extreme hardship arises by reason of exceptional circumstances such as the fact that the man concerned is the sole support of a widowed mother, an invalid father, or other helpless dependents.
It is to be noted that in all these cases the governing factor is not hardship, loss or suffering to the individual concerned, but to others, that is, members of his family or those depending on him.
Procedure to obtain leave of absence.
A simple system for dealing with these cases has been adopted. Forms of application have been supplied to every Depot Battalion and an officer of each battalion has been detailed whose duty it is to give them immediate attention. The man concerned should on reporting to his unit state that he desires to apply for leave of absence on one or more of the grounds mentioned and his application form will then be filled out and forwarded to Militia Headquarters, Ottawa. In the meantime, if the case appears meritorious, the man will be given provisional leave of absence for thirty days so that he may return home and continue his civil occupation while his case is being finally disposed of.
Issued by Department of Militia and Defence
Department of Justice
The following article give more detail on the necessary papers required:
Aylmer Express, June 20, 1918:
MUST CARRY PAPERS NOW
The 15 days’ grace granted from June 1st, to men of 19 years of age to register expired on Monday last, and now it will be compulsory for all men to carry papers with them showing their status under the Military Service Act, if accosted by the civil or military authorities with a demand for this information. Every man whose personal appearance warrants the supposition that he should be in khaki will be liable to investigation, and the onus of proof that he does not come in any class under the regulations of the M.S.A. will be up to him. Last week the Dominion Police dropped into Tillsonburg and made it most embarrassing for a number of young single and married men, who did not happen to have their papers on them, or who had failed to secure them. If you have not already done so, protect yourself by getting papers proving your age, or if a married man carry your marriage certificate or a copy of it duly sworn by some Notary Public. It may save you much inconvenience. One young man in Tillsonburg had to drive 26 miles with the officer to prove his age.
Aylmer Welcomes Some Returned Soldiers
Several soldiers returned to Aylmer in May 1918, and the following article published in the May 30, 1918 edition of the Aylmer Express, tells about the reception they were given:
RETURNED MEN GIVEN ROUSING WELCOME HOME
Immense Crowd Gathered at the Park after Big Procession.
Addresses of Welcome by Prominent Citizens Replied to by Returned Men
Monday night last was chosen by the Aylmer authorities as the occasion to extend a hearty welcome home to our brave fellows who have returned home after doing their bit overseas. Some have served in the fighting line in France for many months, been severely wounded, nerves shattered and sent home to be discharged. Others were not physically fit to reach France and got but as far as England, but as one speaker put it, “Their hearts were in the right place, and ‘twas no fault of theirs they were turned back”. Other men have been sent home for a complete rest and change and expect to very shortly go back to France and again take a hand in the big fight. The “Welcome Home” was a most successful event and one never to be forgotten by the brave fellows who were ready to lay down their life for their country.
The big procession started at 8 o’clock sharp from the Methodist church, corner of Talbot and Queen streets. It was headed by Messrs. Dan. McLean and Leonard Thayer on horseback, the Citizen’s Band, the Public School Cadets with their bugle band, and a string of some fifty or more cars filled with prominent Aylmer citizens. The procession proceeded west on Talbot street to Wellington street, where it turned south to Sydenham and east to the Park. The Park was prettily decorated with flags and bunting, and here more than 1,000 people gathered to listed to the welcome extended to the men.
Mayor Wright, who has a son in France with the artillery, presided and called on Rev. T. J. Mitchell, Rev. Chas. Miles, Rev. W. K. Hager and Rev. W. G. Charlton, who in rousing speeches welcomed the men back home. Each speaker spoke in feeling terms of the brave men from this vicinity who would never return, and had made the supreme sacrifice. Many tributes were also made of the mothers, sisters and sweethearts of the men overseas.
Captain Douglas Dunnett was the first to reply for himself and his comrades. “The welcome you have given us this evening, I can assure you is felt with the greatest and deepest pleasure. Especially I would like to bring to your knowledge that it is the men who have been wounded and the others that have been over there that have done the most. They have done more than I have. It is not the officers, although they could not be done without, that will win the war, it is the men in the ranks who are doing the biggest part towards winning the war. I have been asked time and again when I think the war will end. When I went overseas they thought the war would end in a short time. They are still thinking the same thing, and it is keeping the allies puzzled to find an answer to the question. I would also like to bring to your notice the splendid work of the officers who first enlisted and went overseas. It is to them that we owe the splendid results now. It was the example of the men that have died that we have tried to follow and like them to do our best. If any of you people who have relatives or friends overseas, and I know anything about them, I will be very glad to tell you about them. I am glad to be back with my people again, and thank God that it has been possible for me to safely return after three years of fighting”.
Flight Sub-Lieut. Kenneth Stratton, who is home convalescing, after a fall of several hundred feet in his machine while flying in France, also made a fitting reply and said that the most pleasant memories he would carry back to France. He spoke of the spirit of the British sailors, who are never tiring in their pursuit of the enemy. They are ever anxious to meet the enemy in engagement, and event he little patrol boats ever on the lookout for German subs, have no hesitancy in trying to ram the big underseas boats, which are equipped with heavy guns. In the air the spirit is the same. An allied air man has no hesitancy in taking on two or three Germans. The main thing, said Lieut. Stratton, is to get a man afraid of you, and we have the German air men afraid of us now. He was glad the welcome home was given in the park, for he said while on either land or sea, every time a military band played, his mind always went back to the band concerts in the park in Aylmer, and it brought back pleasant memories.
Sgt. Harold Sawyer, who won the military medal in France; Driver Jack Parker, who carries eleven wounds in his body from a German shell, and Gunner W. Antill, who has just returned, also replied to the stirring tributes paid the returned fellows by Aylmer speakers. They thanked the citizens who had turned out to welcome them, for there is nothing more cheering that a hearty welcome. Other returned men on the platform considered it beyond them at that time to get on their feet and say anything, but as each man was mentioned, the crowd cheered, auto horns sounded, and the song, “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”, was rendered many times.
There are a number of returned men in this district, but those on the platform were: Captain Douglas Dunnett, Flight Sub-Lieut. Kenneth Stratton, Sgt. Harold Sawyer, Gunner Antill, Driver Jack Parker, Gunner Tighe, Pte. G. T. Harvey, Pte. K. H. Moore, Springfield; Pte. W. Butcher, Pres. Aylmer Branch G.W.V.A.; Pte. H. Walker, Pte. Chas. Picknell, Gunner R. G. Thomson, Pte. D. J. Chapman, Bandsman A. R. Christie.
During the evening, the Citizen’s Band rendered several selections.
Aylmer Celebrates the Armistice
The Aylmer Express, November 14, 1918:
AYLMER CELEBRATES SIGNING OF ARMISTICE
Whistles Announced Allies Victory at 5 a.m. Monday
Mammoth Parade at 10 o’clock – Kaiser Burned in Effigy
Big Torch Light Procession at Night
Aylmer royally celebrated the signing of the armistice last Monday. The good news reached Aylmer by wire at 3 a.m. and at 5 o’clock it was decided that all the people should know about it, and the big whistle at the Condensor started in to shriek the signal, and from that time until after midnight there was a joyful noise in Aylmer.
Armistice was expected at any time and on Saturday Mayor Wright sent out a proclamation stating that should the news be received early in the morning a grand parade would take place at 10 a.m., and the day would be declared a public holiday. The proclamation was a good idea for our citizens knew as soon as they heard the whistle what the programme for the day would be.
The town was thrown wide open and everybody enjoyed themselves until far into the night. Whistles shrieked, bells rang, horns blew and the people yelled and cheered, but still the day was spent in a most orderly manner and no accidents occurred. Those in charge of the day’s programme are to be congratulated for the way everything went off.
Aylmer homes, streets and places of business were gayly decorated with flags and bunting in honor of the glorious victory. At 10 o’clock the big parade formed up on Talbot street, and headed by the Band, Mayor Wright and member of the council marched around all the main streets. Mr. John Wilson was in charge of the parade and Messrs. A. H. Backus and Dan McLean were efficient marshalls. In the parade marched the members of the Aylmer branch of the Great War Veteran’s Assn., many of them war scarred; the Public School bugle band; the Fire Department, with the hose wagon and hook and ladder wagon gayly decorated; decorated motor floats conveying the members of the Red Cross Society, Women’s Institute and Travel Club, our three patriotic societies. The High School students, headed by their teachers, marched in a body, followed by hundreds of citizens on foot. Then came the automobiles – more than 150 of them, each decorated with flags and bunting. The procession was well over half a mile long and it was a nosy half mile too.
The feature of the parade was a float, from a pole on the back of which hung the form of the late German Kaiser, in effigy, and many a citizen took delight in giving William a kick or a punch is passing. This float was driven by Reeve Oscar McKenney, and seated with him was Marshall Foch, in the person of Councillor J. Cline. Directly behind him sat John Bull and Uncle Sam, in the persons of Morley Whitesides and Earl Peckham, holding the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes. When the parade halted at the park, the Kaiser was burned in effigy, amid deafening cheers. A sign above the Kaiser read “Gott Deserted Me”. Among the streamers in the procession was one most suitable at this time, “Finish the Job, Buy Victory Bonds”.
At the park the big crowd joined in singing the doxology, “Praise God From Whom All Blessing Flow”, and Rev. Charles Miles gave a short thanksgiving prayer for the allies’ victory.
Aylmer streets were filled with people all day long. As soon as the news became in Malahide and Bayham, hundreds of citizens came to town and joined in the celebration. During the morning parade there were over 5,000 people in the streets.
In the afternoon a service of prayer and thanksgiving was held in Trinity church. In the evening another big parade in the form of a torch light procession was held at 8 o’clock, headed by the band, and a number of prominent citizens in burlesque costumes followed by hundreds of citizens, paraded on Talbot and John streets for more than two hours, each one armed with a flaming broom or torch. A mammoth bonfire was built on the square opposite the post office, and for more than half an hour, sky rockets and fire works were shot off. It was a big day and it was after midnight before things quieted down.
The Aylmer Legion
A Veterans organization which later became known as the Royal Canadian Legion, was chartered in Aylmer in 1926. An article on the occasion of the Branch’s 50th anniversary appeared in the Aylmer Express, September 8, 1976, and gives a history of Col. Talbot Branch:
LEGION WEEK ACTIVITIES BEGIN TODAY IN AYLMER
Col. Talbot Branch 81, Royal Canadian Legion, Aylmer, is celebrating the Legion’s 50th anniversary this week with several special events in which the general public is invited to take part. The Aylmer branch decided last year to hold its Golden Anniversary celebrations from September 8-12, 1976. Since that time, many of the branch’s regular, associate and Ladies Auxiliary members have been organizing the events to be held this week.
Aylmer Branch History
In marking the Legion’s anniversary, members of Col. Talbot Branch 81 compiled the following history of the local branch.
“After World War I numerous veterans organizations were formed. The association in Aylmer was known as The Great War Veterans Association. In 1925 a Unity Conference was held in Winnipeg, and The Canadian Legion British Empire League (B.E.S.L.) was formed. From this beginning Aylmer Branch No. 81 got its charter in December 2, 1926.
The first meetings were held at a number of places in the town, some of which were: Mansion House, located on the south west corner of John and Talbot Sts; over Love’s Shoe Store, now known as Gunstone’s Shoe Store; back, top of the Bank of Montreal; over the old theatre, which is now Jack VanPatters; also in the old Armouries, upstairs in the Post Office.
In 1928, Knox Presbyterian Church became available on John Street North due to the amalgamation of churches to form the United Church of Canada. This building was purchased by the Canadian Legion Branch 81, which is still our present location. The Ladies Auxiliary of The Canadian Legion Branch 81 was formed on January 26, 1929 and played a strong roll in paying off the mortgage and assisting the Legion in their new endeavour.
Percival Crawford was installed as the first president of Branch 81, and Mrs. A. Crawford was the first president of the Ladies Auxiliary.
At the end of World War II there was a great influx of new members and a license was obtained from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario on November 14, 1945. Branch No. 81 became known as Colonel Talbot Branch No. 81 on September 8, 1952, on a motion from the floor, but it was not until some months later that it became official.
The extension to the south side of the building was completed in 1957. Extensive renovations were carried out to the lounge in 1970, and in 1971 renovations were carried out to the auditorium.
At a Dominion Conference held in Windsor, 1960, a motion was made to have the name Canadian Legion British Empire Service League changed to Royal Canadian Legion. By an Act of Parliament in 1961 the request was granted.
Charter members of the Canadian Legion Branch No. 81 were: Benjamin Martin, Andrew Forrest Manly Lindsay, Herbert James Davis, William Ross Pierce, Roy Mahlon Morris, Percival Crawford, David Emmanuel Jones, Stanton Earl Prowse, John Henry Tuff, William Lorne Fowler, Carl James Allen, Charles Richard Clark, Henry Eldred Eley, Joseph B. Harkes and Andrew Benson.
Charter members of the Ladies Auxiliary Canadian Legion Branch No. 81 were: Matilda Foster, Ethel Martin, Lettie Higginbottom, Kate Agnes Allen, Kate Benson, Miss Matilda Foster, Marion MacPherson, M. E. Garner, Florence Emily Tuff, May Chapman, Connie Benson, Nora Wootton, Mary Arlie Crawford, Verna Adell Fowler and Eva Biana Clark.
Past Presidents of Branch No. 81 were: Percy Crawford, 1927-1928; Manly Lindsay, 1929; G. Pickenell, 1930; Dr. E. W. McNiece, 1931; E. W. Haines, 1932-1933; H. Farrell, 1934; Harold Haggan, 1935; Dr. H. I. Davis, 1936-1937; John Price, 1938; Von Brown, 1939; G. Watson, 1940-1946; M. Koleada, 1947-1949; Dr. G. Johnston, 1950-1951; R. Hemphill, 1952-1953; Jack Harvey, 1954-1955; W. Wheatley, 1956-1959; Reg. Wellwood, 1960-1961; M. Koleada, 1962-1964; Donald Black, 1965-1966; R. Hemphill, 1967; N. Honsinger, 1968-1969; D. Breen, 1970-1971, M. Rokeby, 1972-1973.
Col. Talbot Branch 81 is involved in a gymnastics club for local youths at East Elgin Secondary School, now every Wednesday and Thursday night to accommodate all interested children – Aylmer Legion Track and Field Club. It is directed by Cyril Wilkinson and Wayne Underhill. The branch sponsors the annual literary and poem and essay contest, leading to national championships.
Poppy Funds are held in trust by Aylmer branch and public funds are dispensed to assist veterans and dependents who find themselves in need.