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Some CEF Groups in my collection


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As i had posted earlier i Collect primarily medals to men from my hometown who served in the CEF. Although i also pick up other groups that catch mey fancy. The following posts will briefly summarize afew of the groups in my collection.

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696965 Pte. Daniel Kennedy 175-Can. Inf.

Pte. Daniel Kennedy enlisted in the 175th battalion CEF on June 22nd 1916 at Empress Alberta. His attestation papers state he was born on the 18th of January 1874 in Edinburgh Scotland. The paper also states he currently resided in Acadia Valley Alberta and that he had 2years service in the Canadian Militia with the 90th Winnipeg Regiment. Kennedy?s pre-war occupation is listed as cook.

This BWM is very special as it is actually named to the 175th Can Inf. It is most likely one of only a handful named to this regiment as upon arriving in England the unit was broken up for reinforcements for the other Alberta battalions. The naming would indicate that Kennedy never crossed the channel to France but perhaps stayed in England for the duration.

Upon receiving his service file i found out that Daniel Kennedy arrived in England aboard the SS Saxonia on October 13th 1916. He remained with the 175th until January 10th 1917 he was then transfered to the 21st reserve battalion. Over the next 8 months Kenedy was transfered between the 21st and ARD a total of 6 times before finally leaving for Canada on the 18th of September. He arrived in Quebec on the 13th of October and was discharged from the CEF.

The 175th "Medicine Hat Battalion" was raised in Medicine Hat Alberta (my home town) In 1916. Most of its members served in France with either the 10th 31st or 50th CEF battalions.

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79900 Pte. John Alexander Bell 31-CAN. INF. K.I.A.

Pte. John Alexander Bell enlisted in the 31st battalion CEF on November 18th 1914 in Medicine Hat Alberta. His attestation papers state that he was born on the 4th of September 1887 in Liverpool England. His pre-war occupation is listed as a plumber.

John Bell arrived in England (Shorncliffe Station) on the 9th of June 1915. He and the 31st stayed in england to complete its training and then embarked for france on the 18th of September 1915.

On the 14th of October he was admitted to a British stationary hospital near Ypres with a Gun Shot Wound to the head!. He narrowly avoided serious injury and was admitted with a grazing wound to his skull. His next of Kin was notified of his wound on the 27th while he was recouperating. He was discharged from hospital on the 12th of November and rejoined his unit.

In little less then a month Bell was again in the hospital with a slightly less impressive infliction. On the 2nd of December he was admitted to No.4 Canadian field ambulance with a nasty case of diarrhoea. 2 Days later once the squirts subsided he once again rejoined his unit.

In April of 1916 the 31st saw some impressive action around the St. Eloi area and Bell was in the thick of things. On the 8th of April while preparing to move to the rear a HE shell exploded near Bell and fragments peppered his back. He was taken to the Canadian Stationary Hospital at Boulogne where his injury was treated. The medical officer attending stated he was "Blown up by an HE shell and then suffered in "Weeping gas" but managed to escape with no fractures. He would do wel with some gentle massage and rest." on May third he was released from hospital to rejoin his unit.

Courcelette was another anvil on which the reputation of the 31st was forged. the 31st saw some of its heaviest action to date between the 24th and 30th of September and many of its men fell trying to complete the objectives they were assigned. John Bell was one of the fallen. Its not known exactelly what happened to Bell in those days during that pitched battle but when the smoke began to settle the casualty list grew and Bell was added to the growing list.

Following the war his trio and cross were sent to his mother followed by his scroll and plaque but it appears as though his plaque may have been returned as its crossed off his awards card. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts. He is also commemorated on our local cenotaph. A single name among many. He is buried in Courcelette British Cemetery in grave X.C.8.

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466275 PTE. A. S. DALE 10-CAN. INF.

Born August 22, 1890 at Stewkley, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire England

Dale enlisted in the 63rd Overseas Battalion CEF on July 5th 1915 at Medicine Hat Alberta (Greatest place in the world) and listed his occupation at the time of attestation as a Surveyor.

He left Canada aboard the S.S. Metagama on April 22nd 1916 arriving at England on May 5th. Upon his arrival he was transferred to the 11th Reserve Battalion. On June 4th he was posted to the 10th Battalion CEF and joined them in France on June 10th.

On October 7th 1916 Dale was attached to the 2nd Canadian Machine Gun Company and served with them until the 19th of November. He remained with the 10th until December 19th when he was transferred to the 2nd CMGC. Dale Served with this unit until June 22nd 1917 at which time he took ill with an undiagnosed condition.

Dale was sent back to England for service with the CMGC Depot. Dales condition did not improve while service at the Depot so he was sent to hospital and was admitted to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital at Uxbridge on the 28th of August. Dale remained at Uxbridge until the 7th of September. Dale was then transferred back to the CMGC Depot until the 22nd of October when he was sent to CDD Buxton to receive a discharge for being medically unfit.

The voyage back to Canada began on the 6th of November when he set sail from Liverpool aboard H.M. Transport 2810 (S.S. Olympic). Dale was back in Canada and at Vancouver by January 2nd 1918 where a thorough medically examination took place.

Follow the examination the doctors concluded that Dale was suffering from a condition known as V.D.H (Valvular Heart Disease). The report issued by the CAMC states that Dale had a ?Mitral Systolic Murmur. Heart enlarged to nipple line. He complains of faintness and shortness of breath on exertion?. It was stated that the condition was most like a result of Rheumatic fever that Dale had contracted while still living in England in 1909.

With the diagnosis in hand Dale was issued a medical discharge and received his class a war service badge marked #24219. His medal card confirms his entitlement to the pair only.

Arthur Stableforth Dale passed away on November 30 1968 at Hayward Alameda California U.S.A.

These medals came into my collection off of Ebay where they were being offered in 2 separate auctions. Fortunately I managed to keep the pair together without going bankrupt. The seller was also from Alameda California.

Medals are named: 466275 Pte. A. S. Dale. 10-Can. Inf.

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Capt. Letellier O'Connor CRT

John Edward Letellier de St. Just-de-la-pour O?Connor was born June 24th 1875 at River Quelle Kamouraska PQ Canada. O?Connor had previous militia service prior to the out break of the first world war listing 3 years service with the 88th Kamouraska Light Infantry and a current posting with the 95th Saskatchewan Rifles.

Prior to his enlistment he was the police magistrate for the town of Drumheller Alberta a booming coal mining town at the time and now known as dinosaur capital of the world.

He attested in the city of Medicine Hat on July 1st 1915 as a Lieutenant in the 63rd overseas battalion CEF ?The Edmonton Regiment?. Please note his age at enlistment was 40.

He sailed for England on April 22nd 1916 from St. John aboard the SS Mitagama. Upon arrival at England O?Connor and the 63rd battalion were stationed at Lydd Kent. It was here that O?Connor received an injury serious enough to require hospitalization. The report reads ?This officer, while returning from the ranges, was knocked down (by a motor ?car) and severely bruised about the shoulder, right leg, and left elbow. In addition he received a cut about one inch long on the Bridge of the nose and a rather severe brush on the forehead. He is now convalescent but unfit for duty?. He was admitted to hospital at Shorncliffe on the 7th June 1916 and was granted leave to recover.

While on leave he was transferred to the 9th battalion CEF at St.Martin?s Plain Bramshott. On December 26th 1916 O?Connor once again wound up in this hospital. This time at Morre Barracks where he was diagnosed with a case of Pleurisy and was again sent on Furlo to recover.

The 9th Battalion was renamed the 9th reserve battalion and O?Connor was transferred to the Canadian Railway Troop Depot on April 11th 1917. He was then reassigned to the 10th battalion Canadian Railway Troops on June 9th. It was with this battalion that O?Connor finally arrived at the front. The 10th CRT was created when the 256th battalion CEF (which was formed at Toronto from volunteers of the 9th ?Algonquin? regiment) was redesignated on June 1st 1917.

On January 25th 1918 O?Connor was granted 2 weeks leave to go to Paris. On April 27th he was admitted to Wimereux hospital with a case of trench fever and had to recuperate for just over a week. The next month O?Connor was promoted to the rank of Captain which is noted in LG 30731. On September 15 O?Connor was granted 2 weeks leave to go to England. With the cessation of hostilities O?Connor returned to England and left for Canada on March 26st 1919 aboard HMTS Empress of Britain. He arrived and was Demobed on 4th of April 1919.

Truly a not so spectacular service history, but perhaps that had a lot to do with his age upon enlistment. As we all know the trend was to send younger officers to the infantry and older men to the corps. Never the less his pair is still one of my most prized pieces. He was a local man and an officer making this simple pair priceless to me.

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SN 32989 W.O. cl 2 A F Field CAMC

Albert Francis Field was born in Cookville Sussex England on the 12th of May 1884. Prior to his immigration to Canada Field served in the RAMC listing 4 years experience with the colors and 8 years in the reserves.

In the fall of 1914 like many others throughout the Dominions of His majesty; Albert Field answered the call to take up arms and Serve his King and Country. Albert Field left his home in Toronto and attested at Valcartier Quebec on the 23rd of September 1914 in the CAMC. Prior to the war Field had been a Postman but continued his service in the reserves with the No.11 Field Ambulance making him well suited for this kind of service.

Field left from Quebec aboard the SS Cassandra on the 4th of October 1914. On January 28th 1915 Private Field was promoted to Sergeant. After his promotion and a short stay in England Sjt. Field embarked for France on February 9th 1915 and was taken on strength with the No.2 field ambulance.

While with ?No.2? Sjt. Field has a relatively ?quiet? service history from the time field joined No.2 until November 18 1917 all that is listed in his history is that he went on leave a twice totaling 23 days total leave time.

On February 17 1918 Sjt. Field was appointed A\QMS and served in this capacity until he was promoted to QMS on October 2nd 1918. Field Was on leave when the war ended and proceeded to England March 30th 1919.

On April 4th 1919 QMS Field sailed from Liverpool aboard the RMS Scotland. He was listed as TOS No.2 District Depot Toronto on May 6th 1919 and demobilized May 16 1919 at the No.2 District Depot in Toronto.

From this point on little can be found on our QMS but it appears he continued on his service in the CAMC reserves eventually reaching the rank of Warrant Officer 2nd Class.

An excellent group illustrating one of Canada?s old contemptibles. A man who served with the Canadian military from prior to the beginning until after the end of the Great war.

Please feel free to put your comments in the comments secton of my collection area. I really look forward to hearing them.

Edited by censlenov
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252 Sgt. Samuel Ernest Reynolds M.I.D. Can.A.S.C.

Born 30th of September 1886 in Derbyshire England.

Samuel Reynolds enlisted at Toronto on the 5th of February 1915. The unit he enlisted in was the 2nd divisional supply column C.A.S.C. It was a sensible choice for Reynolds as he listed his prewar occupation as a Chauffeur and Mechanic. Reynolds also listed 6 years service with the 23rd 1st VB Royal Welch Fusiliers on his attestation paper.

Reynolds arrived in France on the 11th of September 1915 and was attached to the 6th Canadian Field Ambulance shortly after arriving in the field. Prior to his arrival in France he was promoted to Corporal on the 8th of October and to Sergeant on the 1st of September. His records do not list the reason for his rapid promotions but I would assume his previous military experience and occupational skills gave him an advantage over other members of his unit.

While in France for a couple of weeks Reynolds came down with a case of Diphtheria and was hospitalized until the 27th in St. Omer.

Reynolds was attached to the 6th C.F. Ambulance for the remainder of the war and seems to have been assigned the roll of Stretcher Bearer and Ambulance Driver. On the 8th of August 1918 the 6th C.F. Ambulance was assigned the task of supporting the 4th brigade CEF in the Amiens offensive. While clearing casualties an ambulance drove over top of a mine which then exploded wounding a number of men including Sgt. Reynolds.

Sgt. Reynolds sustained slight wounds to his thighs and a loss of hearing which he was later treated for. His hearing never did fully recover but was not so bad as to warrant a discharge from active duty.

With the cessation of hostilities the 6th C.F. Ambulance was disbanded and Reynolds was reassigned to the 2nd C.D.M.T. Coy. And remained assigned with them until he departed from South Hampton aboard the S.S. Aquitania on the 18th of May 1919.

Reynolds arrived in Halifax on the 25th and was discharged in Toronto on the 28th.

Reynolds service record confirms that he is entitled to the 15 star trio, a Class A badge No. 201014 and was Mentioned in Despatches. On the 14th of August 1919

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I have several othe groups/singles that i'm awaiting service files for but will post the findings of my research when i'm done. Isn't it great to see a little diversion from the norm on this forum a little break from German groups.

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What was the population of Medicine Hat in 1914?

It seems striking to me that aside from the Captain, every single one of these men was English-born-- immigrants, not Canadians. They also are all older than the average American doughboys of 1917-- and I would wonder about their marital status and whether they had small children--which would have deferred them from U.S. military service.

So are these men statistically average for the adult male population there then? No Canadian born 19 year old volunteers?

In my still-little town (1 traffic light), of about 3,000 total population at that time, about 100 men served in the Great War. Most of them were young and single, or single men working in our cotton mills. Living in New England's "Southern Canada," a number of them went back over the border to enlist before 1917.

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Rick

I have researched the City archive very thoroughly and have discovered that 1321 men enlisted in Medicine Hat for service in the CEF. This number does not include the Hatters who enlisted in Valcartier in the first contingent. It took me many hours of research but i compiled a nice data base with awards entitlement (excluding foreign awards) for all the men who enlisted in Medicine Hat.

As a general rule men who enlisted in Medicine Hat usually have the following serial numbers:

799** 31st battalion

108*** 3rd CMR

228*** 13th CMR

466*** 63rd batt

467*** 63rd batt

552*** 13th CMR

696*** 175th batt

697*** 175th batt

I was lucky enough to win a 15 star trio just the other week on Ebay to another Hatter so i'm looking forward to getting his service file.

Brian I truly do love collecting Canadian/British medals and love talking about them. Being able to combine my favourite hobby with the love i have for my home is something special. I'm the only 25 year old i know around here (Southern Alberta) who collects and take pride in that fact. If you every want to do some trding let me know i have some odds and sods i'm trying to get rid of that don't fit into my theme.

Cheers

Chris

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  • 1 year later...

Michael John Bennett was born, August 7, 1881 in Witney Oxforshire England, His father Harry Bennett was the caretaker on the local Corn exchange. Michaels mother Agnes Jane had a total of 4 girls and 6 boys. As a young boy Michael was the town crier and would charge a shilling to anyone who wanted him to announce an item of interest to the public. He also sold copies of the Witney Gazette.

On November 20th 1899 Michael enlisted at Witney with the 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade and was assigned the regimental number 7144. He was 18 years 3 months old and listed his trade as carpenter. Michael served at home until December 15 1901 when he embarked for South Africa. The 4th Battalion arrived just near the end of the Orange River Colony campaign and remained there until February 3rd 1903. For his part in the campaign Michael was awarded the Queens South Africa medal with bars Cape Colony, Orange Free State and South Africa 1902.

The 4th Battalion then returned home for service and remained there until November 7th 1905. On December 24th 1903 Pte. Bennett was awarded Good Conduct pay for the first time. On March 30 1904 Pte. Bennett extended his service following his first 5 year tour of duty. On November 20th of the same year he was once again granted good conduct pay.

The next posting of the 4th was to Malta where it remained until October 21st 1907. While in Malta Michael was awarded 2 good conduct badges on December 24 1905, only to forfeit one on May 24th 1906. The forfeited badge was restored once again on May 14th 1907.

On November 19th 1907 Pte. Bennett was transferred from the Colours to the Reserves.

Michael married Alice May Edward of Duckington England on May 2, 1908 at St. Mary's Church, Witney and a year later William John Bennett was born. In 1910 the Bennett’s decided to emigrate to Canada. Michael was granted permission to emigrate to Canada on April 14 1910 by the CO of the 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade. Michael embarked for in Canada alone as prior to disembarking for Canada Alice became pregnant once more and did not want to risk the harsh conditions of Canada at that time on a newly born Edna May. 18 months later Alice and the children followed and the family settled in Medicine Hat Alberta. Michaels final bit of service was preformed at home (In Canada) expiring on November 19th 1911.

In Canada Michael, Alice, and their children lived a quite life in their small house at 1155 Bridge Street. Michael once again took up the trade of carpentry and helped to build up his surrounding community. Over the next few years the Bennett’s grew their family adding two more boys to the mix Frank James and Harry Hugh. Indeed life was good. Medicine Hat was a growing community as industry began rapid development upon the discovery of immense natural gas deposits and the surrounding area was prime for agriculture and ranching.

With the Outbreak of WW1 in august 1914 Michael once again answered the call and joined the 21st Alberta Hussars (Militia) and trained with them until enlisting on January 26th 1916 with the 175th (Medicine Hat) Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force for overseas service. Michael’s extensive prewar service made him an ideal NCO candidate and he was advanced to the rank of Acting Company Sergeant Major and given the service number 696033.

The 175th sailed from Halifax on October 4th 1916 aboard the S.S. Saxonia. They arrived at Liverpool England on the 13th of the same month and proceeded to Bramshott. At Bramshott the 175th was absorbed into the 21st reserve battalion on January 10th 1917.

CSM Bennett spent many months in England waiting for his chance to ship over to France for active service. Finally on September 11th 1917 in hopes of speeding up the process CSM Bennett requested to revert to the rank of A/SGT. Another month passed and now A/SGT continued his performance of draft conduction duty until on November 10th 1917 he was transferred to the command of OTC Bechill. Bennett’s service file doesn’t go into detail about his time at Bechill because less then a month later he was sent to France and joined the 10th Canadian Infantry Battalion on December 3rd.

The first bit of action Michael saw with the 10th was at Scarpe between the 27th of April and 4th of May 1918. This was a defensive operation, which found the 10th Battalion once again in the Somme sector. This operation took place in the Fampoux area on the Anzain-Arras Road made beside the Scarpe River. The 10th Battalions war diary makes this action sound as if the 10ths primary concern was dodging artillery bombardments and enemy airplane strafing. The 10th did conduct several trench raids during this period. On April 28th 1918 while with the 10th A/Sgt Bennett was reverted to the ranks. The service file does not give any indication of why and neither does the war diary.

The Amiens offensive once again saw the 10th play an important role especially during the Second Battle of Arras (2–3 September, 1918).

Built in 1918 by the Germans at the road from Arras to Cambrai the Drocourt-Quéant (DQ) line, was but a part of the famous Hindenberg Line, a large series of German fortifications and defensive positions defended by a broad glacis, protected by machine-gun nests and wide belts of barbed wire with large, deep tunnels to protect the garrison.

The line was attacked at 05:00 by the 1st and 4th divisions of the Canadian Corps, with the support of a large number of tanks and of Brutinel's Brigade (formerly the Canadian Independent Force) The line was carried 6,000 yards deep along the whole of the Canadian front with the capture of 5,000 unwounded prisoners by the Canadians in this one operation. Together with the capture of Mont St. Quentin and Péronne by the Australians this left Ludendorff's Winter Defence Line unsupportable, forcing him to withdraw the 17th and 3rd Armies behind the Sensée and the Canal du Nord on the night of 2/3 September.

Following the battle Michael reported to the 2nd Canadian Field Ambulance on account of deficient vision. He remained there until the 9th of September when he was once again discharged to duty.

Following its own actions of the previous week the 31st battalion was badly in need of reinforcing and Michael was transferred to them on the 13th. Following a string of rank reversion with the 10th the 31st saw Pte. Bennett promoted to L/Cpl. On October 7th, A/Cpl. On November 20th and Cpl. January 20th 1919.

When speaking about his war time experiences Michael would vividly recall “You had to keep your head down or you’d get it blown off!!” He would spend “8 days at a time (or more) in wet muddy ditches all over France I will not forget.”

Following the cessation of hostilities Michael proceeded to CDD Witley on April 22nd 1919 and proceeded back to Canada from Liverpool aboard HMT Cedria on May 20th 1919. He was formally discharged from the CEF on June 1st 1919.

Whilst once again a civilian Michael learned that the London Gazette of 3/7/19 had him listed amongst the recipients of the Military Medal. In depth research has turned up nothing in regards to the conditions of the award (however that does not mean I’ll give up searching). The MM almost certainly awarded for his role in the Amiens Offensive Campaign.

Following his return to Medicine Hat Michael resumed his work as a carpenter and helped to found the local Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Michael remained a life long Legionnaire). Michael and Alice also had four more children Jack, Arthur, Doris, and Agnes.

The Bennett’s moved to Lethbridge Alberta, #323 - 15 Street South in around 1923 where Michael was employed as a street car driver and later worked for Becker Lumber.

In 1927 an ample coal supply was unearthed at Shaughnessy Alberta and the community boomed. The Bennett’s moved to Shaughnessy in 1929 where Michael resumed practicing his trade as a carpenter which was much in demand. Eventually Michael built a boarding house which his family operated for years. Later they owned the Hotel Shaughnessy, including a small store, near the east side of town. Today Shaughnessy is no more than a small town with a population of only around 1,000 people (including local farmers). It’s known locally for its Corn maze. The Shaughnessy Hotel still stands and continues operation today at 198 Donaldson Street.

One thing to note about Lethbridge and Shaughnessy is that the two communities are only a short distance from on another and the Michael remained an active member in the Lethbridge community as well.

At the outbreak of the Second World War Michael was much too old for active service however he did affiliate himself with the Veterans guard and aided them in whatever way he could. Three of Michael’s five sons Jack, Frank, and Harry did serve however and all returned home at the end of the war.

In 1957 Alice May passed away. It was a loss that Michael deeply felt until his own passing many years later.

In 1960 Michael was invited to Buckingham Palace on July 14th to attend an afternoon party in the garden in honour of surviving veterans of the Boer War. However it is unclear if it was this event Michael attended or one held 3 years later.

During the 1960’s Michael was very active in the Lethbridge Historical Society (LHS) and Kiwanis club. In fact while researching Michael it became very apparent that the archivist at the Galt museum knew of him because it was due to the effort of Michael and the LHS that the Galt museum and archives was formed. In fact a great many photos and documents pertaining to Michael are in the museums holdings (of which I’m getting copies)

With the passage of time Michael began living with his daughter Agnes’ at Abbotsford British Columbia (B.C.). In 1975 Michael and his Daughter moved to Tappen B.C.. Due to his aging and deteriorating health Michael was moved into the Shuswap Lake General Hospital extended care ward in about 1975/76

Michael Passed away at Salmon Arm B.C. on November 27, 1982. Age 101 years, 3 months, 20days. His funeral service was at the chapel of Bowers Funeral Home in Salmon Arm Tuesday November 30 at 2:30pm. Father David Apivor officiated and the Royal Canadian Legion held its own grave side service directed by Bill Sonne.

PSALM XXIII

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me

in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;

thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me

in the presence of mine enemies:

thou anointest my head with oil;

my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life:

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

In Michael’s final years he did many interviews with the local press in hopes of ensuring that the legacy of Veterans from his conflict would continue on. “I’ll never forget”. Michaels own legacy continues on in the Hearts of his 12 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren. One of whom was extremely helpful in compiling this research. Thanks so much Trevor.

A note on Michael’s medals the QSA is named to the Rfile Brigade, His ww1 pair to the 10-can inf. And his MM to the 31st Can Inf. He was also awarded a Class A War Service Badge numbered 70916 however this is not with his other medals.

This is a continuing work that will be added to on occasion. I look forward to hearing your comments.

Cheers

Chris

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This is one of my favorite pictures of Bennett because the way the group is mounted is just as it is in my collection. I have at least a dozen pictures of Mr. Bennett throughout his life.

Edited by censlenov
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I see a lot of passion behind this collection. I also have a WW1 victory medal to a canadian soldier which I would like to share with you.

The medal is to Pte James Stone Olde 401015, 4th Battalion, Canadian Infantry, Central Ontario Regiment. Born Boscastle, Cornwall, England 1895 to Mark and Mary Anne Olde. Killed in Action 9th April 1917 at Vimy Ridge aged 22 years. Buried at Bois-Carre British Cemetary, Thelus.

The 4th Canadian Battalion (1st Infantry Brigade) was part of the Canadian 1st Infantry Division under the command of Major-General Currie and looking at the battle plans the 4th were in the front line. The badges do not belong to Pte Olde but I added them to the medal in its frame to enhance the display.

Edited by muckaroon1960
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Thanks for posting your Vimy casualty medal. I imagine you already know that it's very easy to obtain his service file and circumstances of death should you wish to research the medal any further. The CEF attestation papers and unit war diaries are also free to use online.

I have 5 other groups i have to post yet but just havn't had time to do the write ups.

Cheers

Chris

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  • 2 months later...

Thanks for posting your Vimy casualty medal. I imagine you already know that it's very easy to obtain his service file and circumstances of death should you wish to research the medal any further. The CEF attestation papers and unit war diaries are also free to use online.

I have 5 other groups i have to post yet but just havn't had time to do the write ups.

Cheers

Chris

Chris:

If you should ever come across a British War Medal and/or Victory Medal named to Gunner William J. Bryan. 87139. 20th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, please give me a heads up. He was my grandfather and enlisted in Lethbridge in '14. He survived, and returned to Southern Alberta after de-mob, but the whereabouts of his medals is unknown. I do have what I think was a generic medal given to him for sports or proficiency of some kind. It's engraved on the back with his name and "Belgium 1915." Just a trinket really, but of them all he probably liked it best.

Thanks,

Mark

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  • 1 month later...

108380 L\Sgt Robert Fergusson Messenger 3rd CMR/ 1st CMR

The Pre War Years

Robert Fergusson Messenger was born April 24th 1884 at Maryport Cumberland England to a Mrs. Mary Ann Messenger. In 1901 Robert was still living at home but apprenticing as a Mason at the age of 16. Sometime after 1901 but before 1911 he immigrated to Canada and settled out west to begin his new life. This new life however found Robert capitalizing on the old trade he had learned and soon he found work as a Bricklayer in Redcliff Alberta.

Redcliff is a town within Cypress County immediately northwest of Medicine Hat. The town stands on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River and at the time was still in its infancy. With the discovery of abundant coal and natural gas reserves in the 1880's and easy access to these resources Redcliff began to be promoted as the "Smokeless Pittsburgh of the West". This drew industries that produced such diverse products as shoes, gloves, cigars, trucks, bricks, glass, flour and more.

The Redcliff Brick & Coal Company was situated on the south side of the town and supplied the whole of the southern part of the province with coal and clay bricks. The coal mine operated until the early 1950s and the brick factory was in operation until the early 1960s. It was here that Rudyard Kipling made his famous statement about the community having "all hell for a basement" and being "the town that was born lucky".

The Great War Years

1914-Vimy Ridge

With the declaring of war and the call to arms echoing across western Canada Robert soon found himself about to enlist. The 3rd Canadian Mounted Rifles in Medicine Hat were recruiting at the time and on December 18 1914 Robert signed his attestation papers.

Following his arrival in England and an extended posting to a reserve depot Robert proceeded to France and joined the rest of the 3rd CMR on December 22nd 1915 (which just barely qualifies him for the 1914-15 star). His time with the 3rd CMR was short lived however as the order to disband the unit was given and 2 companies were assigned to both the 1st CMR and 2nd CMR. Robert was among those transferred to the 1st CMR. Robert served with the 1st CMR until he was attached to the 2nd A T Company Canadian Engineers on April 10th 1916 (Can anyone help with what A T means?). His time attached to the 2nd AT Coy. CE ended on May 2nd 1916 with him then being sentenced to 14 days field punishment number 1 (FP No.1) on the 4th for drunkenness.

The Battle of Mount Sorrel (2nd-14th June 1916) was extremely devastating to the 1st CMR. The Battle opened with the heavy bombardment of the Canadian positions followed by the detonation of 4 mines right in front of the Canadian positions followed directly after by an assault of 6 German battalions. Early in the assault the 1st CMR's HQ was hit and many officers were killed including the Co. Lt. Col. Shaw. Under immense pressure the 1st battalion was forced to fall back and was subsequently removed from the line to regroup. Of the 21 officers in the line at the time 5 were killed 5 were wounded and 10 were missing. Of the 671 OR's only 135 mustered up when roll was taken the rest were either killed wounded or taken prisoner.

On June 3rd Robert was admitted to Stationary Hospital 13 at Boulogne with a gunshot wound to his right elbow which was then treated. He was then sent to Number 11 Convalescence Hospital at Boulogne on the 6th and was discharged to base details. On the 18th he once again rejoined the 1st CMR in the field. Four days later Robert was given 10 days of Fp No.1 for using insubordinate and insolent language to an NCO. On July 4th have come freshly off serving his punishment he was promoted to Corporal.

With the battalion once again up to strength it re entered the line and served in the battle of the Somme (July 1st-November 1916) seeing a great deal of participation in the battle of Flers-Courcelette (Sept 15-22nd 1916), and also The Battle of Ancre Heights (October 1st- November 11th 1916).

Having managed to avoid further wounds Corporal Messenger ended 1916 with 10 days leave to England Rejoining his unit on the 9th of January 1917. On April 2nd 1917 Robert was promoted to Lance Sergeant. A week later the 1st CMR found themselves in the battle of Arras (April 9th May 16th 1917) in the thick of the fighting for Vimy Ridge and it was here that he earned himself the Military Medal.

Vimy Ridge

The following is the written account of the Battle for Vimy Ridge from the 1St CMR War Diaries.

REPORT OF OPERATIONS CARRIED OUT BY THE

lst C.M.R. BATTALION on the 9th APRIL 1917.

Frontage allotted to the Bn in which it was to attack, capture and consolidate was as follows:-

First; the German Front Line System of Trenches, situated approximately beyond a point running from the Twins Craters to and inclusive of B.4 Crater.

Second; the SWISCHEN STELLUNG Trench from the Sunken Road on the left and, approximately, Dump Avenue on the right.

Third; and final objective; extending from the beginning of the Sunken Road at S.29.b.6.1 to ANDROS CORNER at S.29.d.8.l/2, From there in a southerly direction to the junction of the Cross Roads S.29.d.7.2

Complete detailed Operation Orders ware issued to each Company the day previous to the attack.

D Company at that time was holding our then Front Line C Coy was in supports at NEUVILLE ST-VASST; and B and A Coys had been moved up to NEUVILLE ST-VASST. occupying cellars and dug-outs in that locality

Separate Jumping Off Trenches had been prepared for each Coy of the Battalion and, commencing at 2 a.m. on the morning of the 9th, the Coys moved from their different locations into their respective jumping off trenches; all being in position before 4 a.m.

The 2nd C.M.R. Bn. was also assembled during the night in jumping off trenches on our left and the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade on our right.

Zero hour was fixed for 5.30 a.m. and three minutes after zero all companies were to advance. D Coy occupied the front jumping off trench and were to take the first German system of trenches. C Coy. who occupied the next jumping off trench, ware to take the SWISCHEN STELLUNG. B Coy, occupying the next jumping off trench, were to go through both the others and take the final objective; while A Coy was to go through all other three companies and establish Strong points a considerable distance In front of the final objective.

The advance was preceded by a three minute barrage on the first German line and immediately the barrage lifted to the second line all four Companies of the Battalion left their jumping off trenches and followed each other across in the order above named.

As soon as we had reached a point where the German lines were discernible flares of all descriptions could be seen along the whole German front, evidently ''S.O.S." Signals; and what barrage the enemy was able to put on came very quickly. The leading Company - "D" -had to pass through it before they were in the German front line. And each Company in turn had to go through it, and in doing so attained rather a considerable number of casualties.

D Company were not long In cleaning up the three front lines. Machine gun crews were immediately placed on the enemy's lip of the craters and as far as was necessary covered the advance of the front troops. The front lines were not strongly held but it is safe to say that not one of the enemy escaped from them.... All were either Injured or taken prisoners.

The trenches end all immediate ground had been most terribly cut up by our artillery. After crossing No Man's Land the advance of the troops was very difficult owing to their having to pick their way around the shell holes and soft spots.

C. B. and A. Companies immediately pressed through D Company and on toward the SWISCHEN STELLUNG. Very little opposition was encountered from this trench, which was supposed to be the enemy's strong line.

The barrage was followed by the troops step by step until the trench was finally reached. As on the front line, the wire along SWISCHEN STELLUNG had been completely cut by our artillery, and the trench Itself had been knocked to pieces, and practically all the dugouts smashed in.

One platoon of C. Company followed up the PRINZ ARNOLF GRABEN Tunnel for the purpose of cleaning up any of the dug-outs which may have been left intact but they were found to be almost completely deserted and the entrances smashed in by our artillery. In fact, the whole ground was so completely smashed up that It was difficult even to follow the land marks and maintain proper direction.

The FICKLE Trench was similarly manned by "C" Company immediately the barrage had lifted from it and the dug-outs there were found to be the same as in SWISCHEN STELLUNG - broken in and deserted.

Up to this point officers and men were very severely handicapped in keeping direction, owing to a large number of men of the 5th Brigade breaking across our frontage and mixing up with our men. This fact, too, made it impossible to keep the different platoons together and the various platoons and companies got considerably mixed up.

B. and A. Companies followed on through C. towards their final objective and found the condition of the ground, trenches and dug-outs practically the same as the SWISCHEN STELLUNG and below it. Some of the dug-outs, which had not apparently been destroyed, had almost been completely filled with water, but were all absolutely deserted.

Practically no resistance was met with beyond the SWISCHEN STELLUNG Trench. Except some machine gun fire which came some considerable to the right of Dump Avenue. This trench was still well defined, and had not been smashed as badly as some of the others, but was almost in an impassable condition, and apparently very little attempt had been made recently to keep It in condition.... it is safe to say that hardly a dug-out below the final objective was in a habitable condition.

No resistance was met with on the left. The final objective itself had been very badly smashed about, but the ARNOLF GRABEN Trench and the Sunken Roads were quite discernable, and served as plain landmarks

By the time the final objective was reached not more than 50 or 60 men were available from, B. and A. Companies, and they were at once set to work digging in along the new frontage. A considerable number of prisoners were taken immediately on arrival there, principally from dug-outs along the Sunken Road and along the valley between DeBonval and LaFolie Woods. C, Company sent up all the reinforcements they could spare from SWISCHEN STELLUNG to the final objective, and A, Company proceeded out beyond to place their strong points. The dug-outs along the Sunken Road were all intact, and had been damaged but very little, and nearly all of the prisoners captured at the final objective were taken from them. The dug-outs were well supplied with rations, medical comforts and some equipment-

Two strong points were established by A. Company, one at S.30.central and the other to the left across the valley at the end of LA FOLIE WOOD, overlooking VIMY. And communication was maintained by these outposts with the 2nd Battalion of the K.O.S.B.s on our right. The

Battalions on out right and left at the final objective were connected

Up with, very shortly after the final objective was reached. These two outposts were somewhat exposed to machine gun fire and sniping from VIMY, but casualties in holding them were not heavy.... Our new position was consolidated and held until we were relieved by the 60th Battalion on the night of April 11/13.

Strong points were also established on the two flanks of the final objective.

On the 10th the enemy could be seen moving small bodies of troops on the open plain beyond VIMY. These ware fired on by our artillery and dispersed; few of them entering VIMY and the balance retiring.

On the morning of the 11th a considerable number of the enemy were seen retiring from VIMY and going across country towards AVION. During the morning and practically all the forenoon, our new position was very heavily shelled by the enemy's heavy artillery and a few casualties resulted. The position is a very strong, one and commands the country some distance to its front, as well as overlooking VIMY; and there is accommodation in the dug-outs in the immediate vicinity for a large number of men. Three of the dug-outs were burned... Two of them took fire it is believed, from an explosion, for which we could not account, and the third was set on fire by the enemy's guns.

Very complete dressing stations were found amongst the dug-outs, and some of them contained a considerable number of wounded Germans. Some of these were evacuated, but it was impossible to evacuate them all, owing to the scarcity of stretchers and stretcher-bearers.

Total Casualties for the Tour:

-366 - Killed, Wounded and Missing.

Prisoners taken estimated at - 350.

Machine Guns Captured and taken out - 1.

Unfortunately no definitive proof of which company L\Sgt Messenger served in seems to have survived however one thing is certain and that is he was awarded the Military Medal for his part in the taking of Vimy Ridge.

Citation:

For Gallantry in action, and in initiative. During operations on VIMY RIDGE, April 9th, 1917. His officer and platoon sergeant having become casualties early in the advance, this N.C.O. promptly took command of his platoon, and, during the whole operation, displayed marked initiative, and his great coolness and gallantry was an inspiration to all his men.

(A.F.W.3121. 19-4-17.)

Vimy Ridge - Discharge

Robert was admitted to No.3 Canadian General Hospital at Boulogne on May 8th. He was diagnosed with a slight case of trench fever and was discharged to No. 10 Convalescent Depot at Ecault to recover. He left to rejoin his unit on the 23rd and by the 25th was back in the trenches.

The 1st CMR earned itself battle honours for the Third Battle of Ypres (July 11th 10th November 1917) where it again served in the line in the battle of Hill 70 (15th August 25th August 1917) and the second battle of Passchendaele (26th October 10th November 1917)

During the second battle of Passchendaele Robert was arrested and held in confinement awaiting trial from October 29th November 9th. He was charge from Drunkenness in that on October 29th he was found to be drinking and believed to be drunk. Following his trial he was found guilty and sentenced to have the seniority of his L\Sgt rank post dated from the 9th of November 1917. However the sentence was quashed and Robert was relieved of all consequences of the trial.

On January 31st 1918 Robert reverted to the rank of Corporal at his own request. On the 7th of March he was appointed Armourer Corporal.

In the last 100 days of the war the 1st CMR saw action at Amiens (8th-11th august 1918), Scarpe (26-30th August 1918), Canal du Nord (27th September 1st October 1918), Cambrai (8th-9th October 1918), Valenciennes (1st -2nd November 1918), and finally Mons 10th-11th 1918).

Robert was granted 2 weeks leave on December 12th 1918 however he took a bit of an extended leave and wound up in front of a court martial for not returning until January 13th 1919. He was reduced to the ranks and forfeited 17 days pay.

The 1st CMR left for England on the 12th of February and Robert boarder the RMS Baltic in Liverpool to sail home on March 12th. Robert was formally Discharged at Brandon Manitoba on March 24th 1919.

For his service in France Robert was awarded the Military Medal, 1914-15 Star, British War medal, and Victory medal. Robert was also given a War Servce Badge Class "A" numbered 72829, as well as a Mons medallion.

Post War Life

Robert returned to Redcliff following the war where he met Emma Cockrell. Emma was a war widow with a young son who's husband Frederick Augustus Cockrell had been killed on April 11th 1916 whilst serving with the Royal Engineers. Robert and Emma were married in 1921 and had a son Robert Andrew Messenger in 1923 (who went on to serve in WW2 details to be posted later). In 1924 the family moved to Los Angeles California USA. All did not end well however as Robert passed away in 1930 (cause yet to be determined) and Emma several month later leaving the boys orphaned.

This group was purchased off of Ebay last year and since receiving it i have dabbled in remounting it myself. Please feel free to comment on anything in this write up.

Cheers

Chris<BR clear=all>

Edited by censlenov
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Well done!

I have to say that I am as interested in the histories as the medals. Perhaps more so, which is why I can quite happily research a medal or group I don't own and would have little interest these days in an unresearchable medal. The depth of detail you've managed to scout out is truly impressive. I also feel pretty strongly that no one's service was not important. Cooks and clerks play a huge part in any army and any war - ask a vet! And being away from home for years on end, living in the kind of surrondings typical of WWI camps and depots was no joke either!

Lovely collection. Thanks for sharing.

Peter

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Thanks kindly for the compliments gents thats some very high praise in my books. The group i'm researching right now is going to be very impressive as i'm going to be interviewing the recipients nephew who was raised by his uncle.

Cheers

Chris

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  • 2 years later...

After a long break from this thread i have begun to catch up on writing articles on the pieces i've added to the collection over the past 2 years. I'll try to add one or two a week and that should get me caught up in about 3 months :).

Cheers

Chris

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466206 Pte. Arthur Thomas Trotman 63rd/10th Canadian Infantry Battalion CEF

In the spring of 1915 Medicine Hat was in the process of preparing to recruit its own infantry battalion to add to the pool of men traveling over the Atlantic and trudging into the trenches in France. A battalion of mounted rifles had just left the City in June when a request for recruits came from Edmonton. The 63rd Infantry Battalion Headquartered in Edmonton was having trouble filling its ranks and needed more men. The job fell to the recruiters in Medicine Hat to fill “D” Company of the 63rd and it was a job they did well.

On July 2nd 1915 Arthur Thomas Trotman entered the recruiting office and attested for service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Trotman was not born in Canada he was from Bisley Glouchestershire in England birthed on September 11th 1884. He immigrated to Canada and first was recorded living in Medicine Hat in 1911. Arthur lived in a suite at 341 3rd Street SE by himself and worked as a general labourer for a Mr. B Roberts. His medical examination at the time of his enlistment describes him as 5’ 7 ½” tall, of a medium build, with a medium complexion, Blue eyes, and Dark Brown hair.

When the ranks of “D” Company filled and the Battalion had undergone some initial training in Canada Arthur proceeded east to the disembarkation port of St. John New Brunswick where he hunkered down aboard the SS Metagama for the journey to England. The ship left port on April 22nd 1916 and arrived in England on the 5th of May.

In England the 63rd proceeded to Shorncliffe where the battalion was disbanded and its troops were placed into the 11th Reserve Battalion on June 4th. By June 6th Trotman was assigned to the 10th Infantry Battalion and on the 8th he had arrived in France and proceeded to join his new unit.

The Battle of Mount Sorrel had just taken place on June 3rd. It was another unsuccessful assault; the counter-attack by the 10th was launched against a small knoll in the Ypres. There were considerable losses suffered and despite the relatively low height of this feature, it provided an excellent viewpoint over flat terrain in the area and was of considerable strategic importance. The 10th would not see another major action until near the end of the Somme campaign.

The 10th Battalion was involved in a series of operations from 8 September and 17 October, primarily defensive actions which were successful, north of Albert, France near the town of Boiselle. A successful defensive battle fought by the 10th Battalion, during the Somme Campaign, near the town of Albert, France was “Ancre Heights”. Modest casualties were suffered during the action on 10–11 September 1916. On 26 September 1916 an action took place at the Thiepval Ridge, near the town of Courcelette. The offensive operation was considered a success for the 10th Battalion, at the cost of 241 casualties.

One of the wounded during the Thiepval Ridge battle was Arthur Trotman he had been shot in the left arm. After receiving preliminary treatment in France he was taken back to England for additional treatment and recuperation. After his arrival in England he was first transferred to Canadian Casualty Assembly Center (CCAC) Fokestone on October 2nd and from there was sent to Bagthorpe Military Hospital in Nottingham. Following a two month stay he was transferred to Canadian Convalescent Hospital (CCH) Hillingdon in the township of Uxbridge on the 14th of December.

On the 13th of February 1917 after completion of his convalescence Arthur Trotman was assigned to Garrison Duty Depot (GDD) Hastings. His wound had left him unacceptable for front line service but still able enough to perform more menial tasks. A little over two weeks later on the 28th he was assigned to 33 Company 3rd District Canadian Forestry Corps.

The Canadian Forestry Corps (CFC) was created on the 14th of November 1916. It was discovered that huge quantities of wood were needed for use on theWestern Front. Wood was used to build duckboards, shoring timbers, crates, etc. The British government concluded that there was nobody more experienced or qualified in the British Empire to harvest timber than the Canadians. At first the idea was to harvest the trees from Canada's abundant forests and bring them overseas. However, space aboard merchant ships was at a premium and so rather than stuff ships' holds with timber; it was decided to use the Canadians over in Europe to cut down forests in the UK and France.

Arthur continued to serve in the CFC and on July 2nd he was awarded a good conduct badge. He was transferred to the 4th district in September and the 5th district in November. Following the end of hostilities Trotman was transferred to the CFC depot on November 23rd 1918. From there he proceeded to Canadian Discharge Depot (CDD) Buxton on December 4th. By the 15th of December he was on his way back to Canada. Arthur Thomas Trotman was officially discharged at Calgary on February 14th 1919.

Not much else can be found out about Arthur Trotman after the war only that he lived to be 98 years old. He died at Shaughnessy Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia on February 23, 1983.

For his service in the war he was awarded the British War Medal 14-18 and Inter-allied Victory Medal.

Edited by censlenov
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