Sunday, 07 April 2013 00:51
RESEARCH ON WW1 AVAILABLE.
Have you ever wondered about the Canadians in WW1 and if there is information at the National Archives or the War Museum on your particular interest ?
Our Webmaster - Floyd Low, has a BA (University of Victoria) and MA (Royal Military College) in the field of conflict studies and has specialised in WW1 archival research for several years.
As a young Reserve Army Sapper he became interested in old pictures of strange uniforms on the walls of the Kemball Armoury in Trail BC. This is the result www.54thbattalioncef.ca, later he created www.102ndbattalioncef.ca. He did the research on finding where Pat Quinn's grandfather served on the Western Front with the 102nd Battalion. He was a 2009 graduate of the Canadian Army Staff College.
He can interpret CEF personnel files for you, get you locations where your relatives or soldier of interest served, and send you maps of these locations so you can load the data into Google Earth and see where these sites are today.
Rates are reasonable and the return to you is a real value and insight into the years of 1914 - 1918 and the existing records like unit War Diaries, Maps, Personnel and as a guide to CEF references in the London Gazette in the UK.
Or just go flying with the WW1 German Flying Corps and
If you would like an online consultation just email Floyd at this link RESEARCH or select from this menu below
Here's Floyd and pal Randy James in their day jobs. Canadian Army by day - Canadian History by night.
Last Updated (Thursday, 18 April 2013 02:57)
CEF "How to" Research
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 23:14
Additional CEF documents now Online
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has recently put documents online relating to the CEF dead of the First World War. This is the same material that has been available on Ancestry.com for some time. To access these documents and others:
The Commonwealth War Graves Registers First World War contain information on the burial of the soldier. The procedure is similar to the above except that the Microfilm Sequence and page numbers will be different. For example, John McCrae is in Sequence 62 page 48 of 1113 pages. Another difference is that names starting with Mac or Mc are not separated in this file. The surname files for those who died in the UK are in Sequences 100-106 at the end of the list.
The Medals, Honours, and Awards file is also recent. The Canadian Virtual War Memorial is at another site administered by Veterans Affairs Canada.
Gordon MacKinnon, Central Ontario Branch
Last Updated (Thursday, 18 April 2013 02:26)
Sunday, 26 February 2012 20:22
GUARDING NIAGARA: by LCol (ret) Bill Smy ........ Lincoln and Welland Regiment
THE WELLAND CANAL FORCE
1914 - 1918
Declaration of War
Prior to World War I the Canadian Militia was, by virtue of its size, the Canadian Army. From about 1902, the general mission of the Army had been:
"to provide the skeleton of an army, a skeleton of highly trained units, whose personnel should in times of peace consist of officers and non-commissioned officers, and a certain number of privates; in times of war to be filled up from a large reserve of partly trained citizens, who had learned to drill and shoot with a minimum of detriment to the routine of their daily vocations."1
On paper in 1914, the Canadian Army was an impressive force. The Militia Act mandated that all males 18 to 60 years of age were to be available for military service, which amounted to some 1,000,000 men out of population of almost 8,000,000. The actual strength of the army, though, totalled only about 63,500 men, of whom 3,500 were Permanent and 60,000 Active Militia. In 1913 British General Sir Ian Hamilton, Inspector General of the Overseas Forces, had found serious shortfalls in the organization, strength, equipment, and training of the Canadian Army. He made a number of recommendations to the Canadian government, some of which had been implemented by the following year, but many not, mainly due to the immense logistical burdens they placed on the army.2
Niagara lay in the heart of Military District No 2 which consisted of 13 counties and 4 political districts. The eastern boundary of the District was the eastern limit of Ontario County, the District of Muskoka, the District of Parry Sound, and the District of Nipissing. The western and northern boundary lay at the west limits of Norfolk, Brant, Wentworth, Halton, Dufferin and Grey, and Peel counties, and the District of Algoma.3
At the outbreak of war, the Militia in Niagara consisted of:
The 7th Field Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, located in St Catharines, traced its history to the Port Colborne Field Battery, formed in 1863, and although it recruited throughout the Niagara Peninsula, it was basically a St Catharines unit.4
Guarding Niagara: The Welland Canal Force, 1914-1918 2
The 2nd Dragoons, a cavalry regiment, had its headquarters and a squadron in St Catharines and squadrons located in Welland, St Ann?, and at times in Hamilton.
The 19th "Lincoln" Regiment, an infantry unit, was a "city regiment" with its headquarters and all eight of its rifle companies located at Lake Street Armoury in St Catharines. From 1898 to 1911, with a few exceptions, all of its training had been done at the armoury. From 1912 to 1914, five days a year were spent in camp at Niagara-on-the-Lake, and eleven days were spent at the armoury. The nature of the facilities at the armoury dictated that the training conducted there had little application to the field.5
The 44th "Lincoln and Welland" Regiment, also an infantry unit, was a "county regiment" with its headquarters, A, F, and G Companies located at Victoria Avenue Armoury in Niagara Falls; B and D Companies in Bridgeburg (now part of Fort Erie); C Company in Thorold; E Company in Welland; and H Company in Grimsby. Although the armoury on Victoria Avenue in Niagara Falls was new, and the regiment had drill sheds in the other communities, each year it did all of its training at Niagara Camp, usually in the second week of June for twelve days.6
None of the units had seen active service since the Fenian scare of 1870 when they had been called out for a week to provide protective guards along the Welland Canal.7
The Call-Up and Mission
On 6 August 1914, two days after Canada declared war on Germany, the Governor General called out selected units, and "details" of units, of the Active Militia across the country and placed them on Active Duty. In general, they took up vital point duties which included guarding public buildings, electrical generation plants, munitions industries, canals, and telephone and telegraph centres.8
In Niagara, the 19th "Lincoln" Regiment and the 44th "Lincoln and Welland" Regiment were placed on Active Duty and detailed to provide the core of the Welland Canal Force, the mission of which was to guard the locks and shipping facilities along the Welland Canal. Local newspapers reported that it was thought the duty would be temporary, and that a special police force would be formed that would take over the policing of the canal. This assumption was supported when Lieutenant Colonel Percy Sherwood, Commissioner of the Dominion Police, arrived in St Catharines and announced he was organizing "a force of police to protect the Welland Canal."9
The canal that was to be guarded was the Third Welland Canal which had been built between 1872 and 1888. Its terminus on Lake Ontario was Port Dalhousie where
Guarding Niagara: The Welland Canal Force, 1914-1918 3
Lock 1 was located. From there it ran diagonally across the peninsula to the Niagara Escarpment at Thorold and then south to Port Colborne on Lake Erie. There were 25 stone lift locks, one guard lock, an aqueduct at Welland to carry the canal over the Welland River, and a railway tunnel. A typical lock was 270 feet long and 45 feet wide, with a depth of water over the sills of 14 feet. A typical vessel was 255 feet long with a cargo capacity of 2,700 tons, and was lifted in a single lock up to 16 feet.10
Colonel James Edward Cohoe, Commander 5th Infantry Brigade and a former Commanding Officer of the 44th Regiment, commanded the Force on its formation, but this was a temporary appointment. As time passed, there would be a succession of Commanding Officers:
All of the 44th "Lincoln and Welland" Regiment of 14 Officers and 241 Other Ranks were called out.
In the case of the 19th Regiment, the orders received from 5 Infantry Brigade directed that about "one-half peace strength" were to be called out, but a much larger number of Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and Men answered the call, so that practically the whole regiment was on duty. This condition continued until 20 August when the strength of the 19th was set as: Staff – 2 Officers and 4 Other Ranks, and on duty from Locks 1 to 18 inclusive – 14 Officers and 252 Other Ranks. Four days later the establishment of the 19th was adjusted to 9 Officers and 258 Other Ranks. However, the pay records of the 19th indicate that by the end of September, the strength of the 19th Regiment far exceeded that – 7 Officers and 322 Other Ranks.11
As well, a detachment of 4 Officers and 81 Other Ranks from the 77th "Wentworth" Regiment from Hamilton was to do vital point duties with the WCF at the power houses in Niagara Falls. Nine men from the 2nd Dragoons provided mounted patrols along the canal. This would eventually be increased. Later in the war, men from other units as far away as Toronto did duty with the Force.12
Sir Sam Hughes inspected the WCF at Welland and Port Colborne in November 1914, at the conclusion of which he stated that he would double the size of the Force. There is no evidence that orders of this nature ever took place.13
This was a fragmented command: while there was a Force commander, the Commanding Officer of the 19th Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel William Wellington
Guarding Niagara: The Welland Canal Force, 1914-1918 4
Burleigh) commanded the northern division of the canal and the Commanding Officer of the 44th Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Alexander Rose) commanded the southern division. The 19th guarded the canal from Lake Ontario to Lock 18 just below the escarpment at Merritton, and the 44th did duty from Lock 19 to Port Colborne on Lake Erie. Small detachments were established at all locks, bridges, railway bridges, and to prevent saboteurs scuttling a ship in the canal, all ships entering the canal were boarded and searched. 14
Last Updated (Sunday, 26 February 2012 20:44)
New Ways to Research the CEF
Sunday, 26 February 2012 18:58
Commonwealth War Graves site (www.cwgc.ca) has a new feature that allows you to search their database and export it to Excel
As a result I collected all Army names for Canada, UK, Belgium and France - see last link on this page - you can download the Excel file straight to your computer.
If you filter it for 58th Bn for example under unit - ships about column K - you get around 900 names of 58th Bn who died
This is very good but the authoritative source is the Commonwealth War Graves. Click link below - that leads you to Google Docs then look in upper left to download it.
On another note - the Archives now has the burial registers on line - look at 2nd and 3rd items here http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/military-peace/index-e.html
Circumstances of Death Registers, First World War - may show where a soldier was buried - look under HELP
note that Volumes containing names beginning by Sip to Z have not survived.
Commonwealth War Graves Registers, First World War - final location of soldier`s grave sites - look under help to navigate to the name you are interested in.
remember - this data originates from the Commonwealth War Graves Website. Readers should only quote their website as the authoritative source.
Last Updated (Tuesday, 28 February 2012 23:21)
CEF Personnel Files Now Available in PDF format
Thursday, 12 January 2012 02:46
Many CEF Personnel Files Now Available in PDF format
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has announced that in addition to the long standing practice of providing the Personnel Files of CEF soldiers as black and white photocopies, it has since May 2010 made available digitized copies in colour. Clients choosing the Photocopy or PDF option have the further choice of 1) Photocopies, 2) PDF-CD-ROM, 3) PDF-URL. Choose the PDF-URL option and the LAC will send the client a link that allows the downloading of the complete file in PDF format. This will take about one month. For a period of 45 days this URL link is exclusive to the person who ordered and paid for the original digital scan. Every three months, links for the recently ordered files are loaded permanently on the soldiers’ sites, making it possible for any researcher to see the complete file. The number of files online will gradually increase. There is a fee for the original digitizing but not for examining the file once it is online. Follow the instructions at How to consult a file or order a copy of the complete file.
Many UK residents doing military or genealogical research find they have a relative who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). For a sample of the information contained in these files, go to Soldiers of the First World War-CEF and click on Search. A prompt will ask for names, number and Digitized file(s) but only the number (or the name) is required. Do NOT click on Digitized file(s). To see a complete file, including the Attestation Paper, insert 157629, the number of my uncle, Pte. Ronald MacKinnon. Click on SUBMIT and then the soldier’s name. Click on 7008-27.pdf and scroll through the complete file. A couple of other numbers that have PDF files are 460099 and 760870. An example for an officer can be seen by inserting the name Aggett, William Harvey.
The Australians have a similar system.
Gordon MacKinnon, Central Ontario Branch
19 August 2011
Last Updated (Thursday, 12 January 2012 02:48)
BBC SERIES - The Great War
Sunday, 08 January 2012 00:57
Last Updated (Monday, 09 April 2012 14:31)
Bexhill On Sea - Canadian Officers Training
Wednesday, 08 December 2010 02:24
BEXHILL ON SEA, UK. In WW1 the Army needed thousands of platoon commanders, a look back from the records of the National Archives report "Canadian Officers Training School, Bexhill on Sea. GAQ 10-39, RG 24 Vol 1841. Down load your own copy of the images and this interesting account of what they did.
Last Updated (Thursday, 18 April 2013 02:33)
Selected University Theses on WW1 and Canada
Wednesday, 08 December 2010 02:22
University Theses - Research papers at The National Archives
zzzzzzzzzzzzz! Whoops! You may have thought your intrepid web master was snoring away. Dreaming of his recently completed MA in War Studies at Royal Military College. Far from it my doubting friends ! That was the sound of him using a buzz saw on the National Archives to come up with some summer reading for you on Canada and WW1.
Tuesday, 07 December 2010 00:19
Research article 2 - CEF Battles by date
These are the Battles listed as official actions in the CEF History
Last Updated (Thursday, 18 April 2013 02:53)
Monday, 06 December 2010 23:37
How to access First World War Canadian soldiers' records online
Insights to a vast collection of material on the CEF
The following was published in Stand To! #72. Its focus was on the British readers; however, it is a useful step-by-step resource for any researcher.
The National Archives of Canada (NAC) and National Library of Canada have been gradually adding the Attestation Papers to its Nominal Roll of soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and these are now almost complete. Military records of veterans of the Great War who have been dead for more than twenty years are treated as historical documents and are available to the general public. The complete CEF War Diaries have been scanned in to the Internet. The Canadian Department of Veterans Affairs uses material from the CWGC site for the Canadian and Newfoundland war dead for its Virtual War Memorial but unlike the CWGC allows the scanning in of photos and other material. These are very valuable resources for those tracing names on war memorials listed under ‘Served with the Canadians’.
Battalion designations in the CEF are complicated and confusing. There were four divisions of front line infantry of twelve battalions each. A fifth division was contemplated but not put into the field. Two battalions, the 60th and 73rd were disbanded because of the high casualties and were replaced by the 85th and 116th. There were therefore fifty battalions which served as front line infantry of which forty-four were numbered. The other six had names: the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR), Canada’s pre-war Permanent Force; Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI), raised quickly in 1914 by recruiting British veterans in Canada and Canadians with military experience; and four battalions (numbered 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th) of Canadian Mounted Rifles (CMR) whose name originated in the South African War but who fought as infantry in the Great War. Of the 260 numbered battalions recruited in Canada, 238 were broken up in England to replace casualties and man the other branches of the CEF. There were also cavalry and artillery formations in the CEF and the records of these are accessible in the same way as the infantry. A complete discussion of the CEF is available at the War Diaries site. Click on War Diaries Exhibition and then on Evolution of the Canadian Corps.
Fortunately for researchers Canadian troops retained their original regimental numbers (except in a few rare cases) despite many unit changes. These numbers were allocated in blocks to each battalion as it was raised and thus it is possible to know the unit the man originally joined. The number blocks are now online. Click on Online Help when you access the Soldiers of the First World War site and then click on Regimental Number List. Officers followed the British army convention and had no numbers; however, many Canadians were commissioned from the ranks and their original numbers are to be found on their Attestation Papers. To complicate research the CMR and all the numbered battalions were disbanded soon after the war with the exception of the 22nd which became the Royal 22e Régiment, the famous Van Doos. The history and memory of the numbered battalions was to be perpetuated by militia units, Canada’s equivalent of the British Territorials or the American National Guard. The degree of commitment to this perpetuation varies. Some militias include the CEF battalion in their own regimental history but many still have no written history. Consult the National Library’s bibliography at http://www.collectionscanada.ca/military/025002-6032.01-e.html for a list. The bibliography seems not to include the latest and still available battalion history. It is Second to None: the Fighting 58th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The author is Kevin Shackleton, a member of the Central Ontario Branch.
How to find on-line records.
Click on SEARCH (left hand side)
Insert surname – MacKinnon
Insert Given name- Ronald
Click on Submit Query
The name will appear (this is my uncle) with the regimental number and the location in the NAC RG [Record Group] 150 Box 7008-27
Click on the square with two ‘A’’s
Click on image below Front of Form
The Attestation Paper (or Officer’s Declaration) will come on screen. Ronald MacKinnon joined the 81st Bn in Toronto, and was transferred to the RCR in England. After recovering from wounds sustained in Sanctuary Wood on 26 June 1916 he was transferred to the PPCLI and was serving in this unit when he was KiA at Vimy Ridge. His number never changed.
Go back and click on Back of Form
You can access the information if you know the soldier’s number by inserting it in the place provided. Go back to home page and insert 80045. This is my great-uncle William. His British birth made him typical of about two-thirds of the original CEF. A Scot, he had immigrated to Canada in 1913 leaving his wife and daughter in Scotland while he found work and earned enough to bring the family to Canada. He was KiA in November 1915 and is buried as a Canadian.
Go back to the home page and insert William Roland Wansbrough 3033559. He was conscripted under the Canadian Military Service Act passed in August 1917 and his entry gives an example of the system of Territorial Regiments that replaced the recruitment by numbered battalions in 1917. The typed '#2 M.D. on the right top stands for Number 2 Military District [i.e. Toronto]. The 1st C.O. on the left top stands for 1st Central Ontario Regiment.
Before leaving, click on How to Consult a Copy on Site or Order a Copy. You can order the entire military file. The most important of the many pages in the file is the Casualty Form. There is a charge for each page photocopied and you can pay online.
(b) War Diaries
Return to Archivianet home page and click on War Diaries of the First World War.
Click on Search the Database.
Click on the square with double ‘A’s for Images Associated With this Entry
Insert the name of the unit. Do not insert the date- you will be able to scroll to the dates you wish to consult. If you get a reply that No Records Match Your Request, modify your entry and try again. 20th Battalion works but 20th Bn. does not. 3rd Division works but 3 rd Division does not, Princess Patricia’s works but PPCLI does not. This site also has War Diaries of some British units that served with the Canadians.
Veterans Affairs Canada: Virtual War Memorial The Canadian Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a large site relating to Canada’s veterans. Medals and decorations issued to Canadians of the Great War were identical to the British ones and are shown on the site. Canada’s new awards including the Canadian version of the VC are also here. The Virtual War Memorial duplicates the CWGC listing of the dead of Canadian and Newfoundland forces (Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949). Unlike the CWGC site the Virtual War Memorial allows the public to add photos and information. Go to:
Enter surname- MacKinnon
Enter Given name- Ronald
Note that there is a Digital Photo Collection.
Click on Click Here to View Photos.
Repeat this for William MacKinnon. He is commemorated on the Fauldhouse, West Lothian, Scotland, War Memorial under the heading ‘Served with the Canadians’. The Memorial Card was sent to his brother, my grandfather, and I placed it on the VAC site. William Roland Wansbrough is also on the site, KIA only ten months after being conscripted.
Directorate of Heritage and History [DHH]
The Directorate of Heritage and History has recently scanned the official history of the CEF into the Internet where it is available for a free download. The PDF Reader ADOBE is required for reading the history and it, too is available for a free download. It has a search engine that allows you to follow the battles in which the battalion that you are researching was involved in. The Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War: Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919 by Col.GWL Nicholson is available at http://www.dnd.ca/hr/dhh/downloads/Official_Histories/CEF_e.PDF
The London Gazette is the official journal of record of the British government. Along with much else, it records promotions of military officers and the award of military decorations. Citations are given for many of these decorations. The MM usually does not have a citation but the recommendation for the award is often in the unit War Diary. www.gazettes-online.co.uk
1. Click on London Gazette.
2. Under Historians, Click on Search Builder.
3. Click on Search by Date.
4. Select World War I from Choose a Historical event
5. Click Go to Step 3.
6. Do not enter anything in Gazette Page Number. Click Go to Step 4.
7. Type the person’s name in the “With all the words” box.
8. Click Go to Step 5.
9. Click Search.
10. Scroll through the list of results until you find the document you are searching for.
11. If no results are found go back to Step 4 and modify the name e.g. use initials instead of full given names.
The London Gazette can also be searched by Issue Number. If the person has been awarded a decoration, you will find this in the man’s personnel file (Casualty Form-Active Service) marked as LG and a five digit number.
Last Updated (Thursday, 12 January 2012 02:46)