each item to expand it - be at the next meeting to discuss it
2 April 05
The branch held its regular meeting in Newcastle,
Ontario, on 2 April 2005. There were fifteen members in attendance,
including four new ones. We welcomed Dwight Esler, Byron Perry, Bruce Cane,
and John Stephens to our group.
Bruce Cane is the author of a recently
published book, It made You Think of Home, The Haunting Journal of Deward
Barnes, Canadian Expeditionary Force: 1916-1919. Bruce told us of the
genesis of the book and commented on two sections of the story which he
thought were of greatest importance. One was the description of the
execution of Pte. Howard Lodge, 19th Battalion, for desertion. Barnes was
one of the riflemen in the firing squad and he may be the only member of an
execution squad to have left a description. The other significant event was
the Battle of Iwuy on 10-11 October 1918 which saw the last charge by
Canadian cavalry and the only time the Canadians had been attacked by German
Member Floyd Low and Lt.Col. Brian
Sutherland gave a Power Point presentation on 14th Battalion (Royal Montreal
Regiment) trench raids in the Gavrelle Sector near Arras. Using maps,
Operation Orders, and War Diaries of the infantry and artillery units
involved, they illustrated the meticulous staff work that preceded these
successful trench raids in which Lt. George Keane won the VC.
Chairman Glenn Kerr gave an outline of the
saga and controversy surrounding the grave of the supposedly fourteen year
old John Condon at Poelkappel. Other members told of their interests and
projects. The next meeting is on 18 June.
18 June 05
Sixteen members and guests were present at
the regular meeting held in the Village Community Hall in Newcastle,
Ontario. Chairman Glen Kerr brought us up to date on the increase in
membership. Many of the new members live too far away from Newcastle
to attend regular meetings. It is confidently expected that the continued
excellence of the newsletter composed mainly of members’ original articles
and the opportunity to profit from the areas of special expertise from all
members will be worth the membership fee.
Member Steven Dieter gave a presentation
called “It Came up with the Rations.” Steve is presently studying for his
master’s degree at the Royal Military College, Kingston. Like so many
veterans of the Great War, Roy Bradt of the ??? Battalion, would tell anyone
who asked how he won the Military Medal, that it ‘came up with the rations.’
Bradt’s niece and great-niece tried without success to uncover the
circumstances that led to the award. The granting of the MM is gazetted in
the London Gazette but in almost every case no citation was issued.
The battalion War Diaries rarely mention junior officers and almost never
mention the other ranks by name. Using his own knowledge of the war and the
archival records, Steve was able to discover the circumstances that resulted
in Roy Bradt’s winning the Military Medal.
Large numbers of Canadian soldiers and
airmen who became casualties in the First World War are buried in Canada.
All but two of these are men who died in Canada or the United Kingdom.
Canadians who died of wounds or disease in the UK were treated the same as
the dead of British units who died in the UK-the next of kin could decide on
whether the burial would be in a local cemetery or in one of the few war
cemeteries in Britain. Major Charles Sutcliffe, 77th Battalion
CEF, attached to the Royal Flying Corps, was an exception. He disappeared
while on a raid near a German airbase at Epinoy, ten kilometres north-west
of Cambrai, on 6 June 1917. Two weeks later a German flyer dropped a message
on an RFC base saying that Sutcliffe had died. After the war it was learned
that Sutcliffe’s body was buried in the Epinoy civilian cemetery. In 1925
Sutcliffe’s parents seem to have been able to convince French civil
authorities that the body was that of an American even though the French had
placed a plaque on the tomb noting that he was an “aviateur
Canadien”. His body was removed from the cemetery, shipped to New York,
and from there to Lindsay, Ontario, where it was reburied in Riverside
Cemetery. Gord MacKinnon outlined the many mysteries about this case. Watch
for a more complete story in a future Maple Leaf.
After lunch new members and guests talked
about their areas of interest in the First World War, and others told about
their activities related to the Great War.
17 Sep 05
The Fall meeting of COBWFA was held in the Newcastle
Community Hall on a beautiful day. There were fifteen members in attendance to
hear our guest speaker, Professor Lubomyr Luciuk of the Royal Military
College, Kingston. Professor Luciuk has a special interest in the history of
Ukrainian Canadians in the First World War. Their story is a complicated one
because Ukraine did not exist as an independent country in 1914. The land
inhabited by Ukrainians was divided into two main regions: the western part
was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the eastern part was part of the
Russian Empire. This presented a major dilemma for Ukrainians in Canada
because Russia and Austria were enemies in the war. Large numbers of
Ukrainians had immigrated to Canada after 1896 from both regions. Those from
the Russian administered part were encouraged to join the CEF; those from the
Austrian administered area were considered to be enemy aliens. Many of the
latter including women and children were interned in concentration camps under
very difficult conditions and if they were naturalized they lost the right to
vote by the Wartime Elections Act.
Filip Konowal arrived in Canada from Ukraine early in the
twentieth century. He joined the 77th Battalion in Ottawa and when it was
broken up in the UK, was posted to the 47th Battalion (New Westminster).
Wounded twice and promoted corporal, he won the Victoria Cross for exceptional
valour at Hill 70, Lens, in August 1917.
After the war he served with the Canadian Siberian
Expeditionary Force and did not return to Canada until June 1919. His years
after the war were not very prosperous. During the Great Depression of the
1930’s, he got a job as a janitor at the Canadian Parliament, and eventually
became the special janitor of the prime minister’s office. He died in 1959 and
was buried in Notre Dame Cemetery in Ottawa. His Victoria Cross was acquired
by the Canadian War Museum.
His VC went ‘missing’ from the War Museum in the 1960’s.
Officially, it had been ‘misplaced’. In 2004 it came up for auction in London,
Ontario. Prof. Luciuk learned about this in time to alert the RCMP and have
the stolen medal recovered. It now has a place of honour in the new war
Branch 360 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Toronto was
named after Konowal and was a meeting place for veterans of Ukrainian
ancestry. In 2005 the Legion headquarters closed down Branch 360 and Prof.
Luciuk has been active in attempts to have this decision reversed.
After lunch Glen Kerr announced that the membership had
climbed to nearly 50 members. Kevin Shackleton spoke about the trip he had
taken recently to visit places associated with the 18th Battalion CEF and the
Essex-Kent Scottish which perpetuates it. He is in the final stages of his
book on the history of the units that formed part of the militia in Essex and
Kent counties in Western Ontario from the War of 1812 to the present.
Two members reported on research they were doing on CEF
winners of the DCM. New member Dave Vose is researching the military career of
his father Sgt. J. Ernest Vose DCM. Mark Giroux is working on the record of
Sgt. Percy Halloway Mitchell DCM. 469536, 26th Battalion. Other members
brought us up to date with the projects they are pursuing.
18 Dec 05
The AGM of the Central Ontario Branch was
held in the Town Hall, Newcastle, Ontario. on Saturday 3 December 2005. The
chairman, Glenn Kerr, welcomed two new members. Peter Warren and Jim
Leishman who had driven from Cambridge, Ontario, on a snowy wintry morning.
Peter and Jim are originally from Glasgow, Scotland, and both have a long
time interest in the Great War.
David Vose who had joined the branch at
the last meeting, told us the interesting story of his father, John Ernest
Vose, DCM, who had served in two armies in two wars. Always called Ernest,
he was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England in 1892. He was a member of the
Loyal North Lancashire TF. In 1910 he immigrated to Canada and settled in
Swan River, Manitoba. When the Great War broke out he, like thousands of
other ex-patriate Brits, joined the CEF. He joined the 10th Battalion in
Winnipeg. He was promoted to sergeant in the signals section of the
battalion, wounded at Caix at the Battle of Amiens and won the DCM for
bravery under fire while repairing signal wires in the last days of the war.
He was then promoted to lieutenant.
After the war, Lieutenant Vose returned to
the Canadian West and married. He moved to California where he operated a
painting and decorating business in Beverley Hills. Here he had several
movie stars as customers but the Great Depression of the Dirty Thirties
wiped him out financially, so he returned to England. When the Second World
War broke out he rejoined the British army and rose to the rank of major,
ending up in charge of a POW Camp at Purfleet. In 1947 he returned to Canada
and settled in British Columbia. Dave Vose showed us many mementos of his
father’s military career in two world wars.
After lunch, the chairman conducted the
AGM. He reported that the branch now has about 50 members. There is about
$577.00 in the branch bank account but the financial situation has been
complicated by the retirement of the treasurer and the need to appoint
another because two signatures are required on cheques. The chairman pointed
out that since some of the banking has to be done at the bank branch in
Bowmanville, it would be preferable if a member living within easy driving
distance would take on the responsibility. After some discussion, Diane
Johnson, who lives in nearby Cobourg, agreed to assume the position and the
members agreed unanimously. The chairman and Diane will arrange with the
bank the necessary paper work to enable the branch to use the account.
The chairman then brought up the question
of the branch website. Benjamin Keevil inaugurated the site and has been
running it since its inception. He desires to step down, Floyd Low has
volunteered to reorganize and operate the site at a cost of $15.00 a month
to the service provider. It was agreed by the members that this should be
Our excellent and highly regarded Maple
Leaf newsletter is the work of many members who contribute articles but
especially of Glenn Kerr who edits, publishes, and prints the Maple Leaf on
his home computer. He also packages and mails the 65 copies that are sent
out four times a year. This is taking a lot of his time, absorbing a big
part of our budget, and making it difficult to meet deadlines. He would
prefer to have each issue come out just before a meeting so as to save some
mailing costs. Several members suggested that the Maple Leaf be put on line
and mailed only to those who preferred it that way. All members commended
Glenn for the excellence of the publication and the time he devotes to it.
Glenn is hoping that some member with more expertise in this kind of
publication can offer suggestions and help.
A suggestion was made that next year a
meeting be scheduled in Ottawa to visit the new War Museum or in some other
city such as Guelph or Brantford where members could visit sites holding
interest for students of the First World War. It was agreed that the
suggestion should be explored.
Glenn Kerr agreed to serve as Chairman of
the branch for one more year. The members present were unanimous in their
praise for the work that Glenn had done in the past year.
COBWFA Executive December 2005-December
Chairman: Glenn Kerr
Vice-chairman: position vacant
Treasurer: Diane Johnson
Secretary: Gordon MacKinnon
Website: Floyd Low
Historical Officer: Mark Giroux
Sergeant-at Arms: Larry Levett
After the AGM, members discussed various
matters of interest and concern. Peter Warren and Dave Vose showed rich
collections of artefacts from the wars. The meeting broke up at 3:30
1 Apr 06
The first meeting of 2006 was held at the
Newcastle Town Hall with twenty members in attendance. After an animated
half hour in which old friends met and new ones were made, the Branch
Chairman, Glenn Kerr, called the meeting to order at 11:00 o’clock. He was
happy to call on Captain (Ret’d) John Haslam CD, the Honorary President and
founder of the Branch, to open the meeting with the two minutes silence.
John has been absent from meetings over a considerable period because of
serious personal health problems and the need to look after his sick wife.
John’s wife passed away and the members offered him their condolences.
The chairman called on our special guest,
Brigadier General (Ret’d) A.J. ‘Butch” Waldrum, OMM, MSC, CD, to address the
group. Butch (as he prefers to be called) began with a little personal
military history. He is the third of a line of soldiers named Alexander
Waldrum who served in the Canadian forces. His grandfather was born in
Dundee, Scotland, and he and five of his brothers immigrated to Canada
before 1914. Five of the six brothers served in the CEF. Of these brothers,
Daniel was killed in action and William won the MC and Bar. Alexander served
in the Machine Gun Corps. Butch’s own father served in the Canadian army in
the Korean War. Butch served 32 years in the Canadian Forces and retired in
1993 with the rank of brigadier general. During his time in uniform, he
served in Canada, Germany, the Golan Heights, Damascus and the United
States. In the first year of retirement, he served as Director of Logistics
for the UN Peacekeeping Directorate at the Secretariat in New York City.
Since leaving the UN he has been involved in running and working for his own
company as a consultant for companies wishing to do business in the defence
and humanitarian sectors. BGen Waldrum had chosen to speak about two topics
in which he was greatly interested: the repatriation of the Canada’s Unknown
Soldier and the effects of IEDs on battlefield mobility.
The Repatriation of the Canadian
BGen Waldrum was still serving in the
Canadian Armed Forces when the idea of repatriating an unknown Canadian
soldier from France or Flanders was beginning to be contemplated seriously.
There are 28,000 Canadian soldiers who have no known grave and Butch and a
number of other officers and retired personnel were concerned that Canada
had no official unknown soldier. By agreement among the First World War
allies, the remins of all British Empire soldiers who died in France or
Belgium in the First World War came under the jurisdiction of the Imperial
(later renamed Commonwealth) War Graves Commission. Canada has no
independent right to repatriate any bodies of Canadian soldiers which come
under the control of the CWGC. The CWGC has a policy of not allowing
repatriation of war dead from ‘overseas’. This word was used from a British
perspective and meant outside of the shores of the United Kingdom. The CWGC
did not have the same control over the remains of the wounded who died in
hospitals in the UK; however, none of these would be unknown men. The CWGC
was reluctant to allow the repatriation of any remains because it saw the
eventual identification of these remains as an essential part of its
mandate. The Canadian government of the day showed little interest in the
proposed repatriation. It was not until the Royal Canadian Legion, working
with a number of veterans’ organizations, took up the cause in 1997 that
sufficient popular pressure was exerted on the Canadian government to use
its considerable influence with the CWGC to bring the project to a
successful conclusion. Butch Waldrum worked as one of the volunteers to
achieve this goal. Nevertheless, three more years were required before the
remains of Canadian soldier “known unto God” was returned to Canada for
burial in a national shrine in Ottawa on 28 May 2000. The whole project took
ten years from beginning to end.
The committee preferred a soldier who had
been killed in the Vimy Ridge area. Although bodies of CEF men are still
occasionally unearthed in France, it was decided to exhume the remains of an
unknown Canadian soldier buried in the Vimy area and one was chosen from the
Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery, ten kilometres north of Arras on the road to
Béthune. BGen Waldrum was in the party present at the exhumation along with
Paul Métivier, a 99 year old CEF veteran of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and
also the father of a soldier of the Second World War who has no known
grave. It was essential to confirm that no mistake had been made at the
time of the original burial, and Paul Métivier was able to state positively
that the gas cape and boots on the remains were uniquely Canadian in design.
A group including BGen Waldrum, Sergeant Ernest “Smokey” Smith VC, Canada’s
only surviving VC winner at the time, Paul Métivier, a veteran of the First
World War, Mr Gordon Strathy, the Korean war witness, Sergeant Rejeanne
Bélanger representing Peacekeepers, two young Canadians, and two French
youths, received the remains from the CWGC on behalf of the government and
people of Canada. A few days later, on 24 May 2000, the group was present at
the burial of a CEF soldier named David John Carlson 100731 whose body had
been found by a tourist near Courcelette and identified by his dog tag.
Private Carlson had enlisted in the 8th Battalion CEF and went missing on 8
September 1916. He is now buried in the military cemetery at Pozières.
The re-interment of the Unknown Soldier
directly in front of the National War Memorial was an event of great
solemnity and emotion. Veterans had been invited to pay their respects
before the dedication. The huge numbers of Canadians who attended the
ceremony, especially when compared to the few who attended the dedication in
Ottawa of the Peacekeeping Memorial on 8 October 1992, indicated the deep
and widespread respect of Canadians for their armed forces and the
sacrifices these men and women had made. The dedication of the Tomb of the
Unknown Soldier has undoubtedly resulted in increased public support for the
Canadian Armed Forces, in the opinion of our speaker.
BGen Waldrum digressed in response to a
question to state that real soldiers have not changed over the years in
their devotion to duty, their country, and to the welfare of their fellow
soldiers. This is particularly true of the NCOs and other ranks. What has
changed is the requirement that promotion to senior officer rank of major
general and above has meant that the soldier becomes aware of the necessity
of being politically astute. To get to any senior officer rank has the
potential of compromising the officer’s leadership role for “political”
considerations. The present Chief of the Defence Staff, General Rick
Hillier, is attempting to change this tendency. Butch told some anecdotes
from his own experience in Rwanda that show even soldiers from Third World
countries have a similar ethos to soldiers from the industrialized
Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and
their impact on mobility on the battlefield.
BGen Waldrum drew parallels between trench
warfare of the First World War and the effect of IEDs on the modern
battlefield. By 1914 the industrialization of warfare by the introduction of
machine guns, quick-firing field guns, and barbed wire had caused the war of
movement of August 1914 to freeze into the stalemate of trench warfare. It
took three years of slaughter for tactics to be evolved to restore mobility,
although still at a heavy cost in soldiers’ lives. The IEDs planted by
non-traditional forces not operating by international codes of war have
reduced mobility on the contemporary battlefield. Today’s “terrorists”,
“resistance fighters”, “guerrillas”’ “militants” use tactics that require
regular forces to use non-conventional methods to protect themselves. People
whose actions follow a pattern that gives a reasonable apprehension that
they are suicide bombers must be killed to protect the troops. Mistakes are
made but this “collateral damage” has to be accepted by the military.
Progress has been made in countering some
methods of detonating IEDs. Those set off by electronic means using cell
phones can be prevented by electronic jamming. This also results in taking
out all cell phone use in the area. Bombers use cell phone frequency because
they think the other side will not sacrifice the cell phone network and the
network is widely available. Wire detonated IEDs are somewhat easier to deal
with using a tactic known as “speculative fire”. If someone appears to be a
potential bomber, troops fire near him. If he returns fire, troops shoot to
kill before he can detonate the device. Mistakes are made, but the leader
has to accept the collateral damage in the interest of protecting his
It was now 12:20 and by this time we had
run out of time but not questions or interest. Chairman Glenn Kerr thanked
BGen Waldrum for his very interesting and insightful remarks and hoped he
could return to Newcastle to increase our understanding of the modern
Canadian military. After further discussion, the meeting broke for lunch at
Afternoon Branch Business Meeting
The group re-assembled in smaller numbers
The creation of a new website is still
on-going. Attempts are being made to find the most cost-effective way of
The Maple Leaf
Glenn announced that the current issue was
available for distribution. As announced at last meeting, he planned to have
each of the four issues available at each meeting primarily to reduce high
postage costs. This issue is the result of collaboration between Glenn and
Bruce Cane. Bruce will be taking on the editing of future issues. This is
the first issue to be printed by a professional printer instead of
laboriously on Glenn’s computer printer. Some glitches occurred but this is
still a high quality mini-magazine consisting largely of articles written by
our own members.
Treasurer Diane Johnson reported that
signing authority and control of the Branch’s account was now transferred to
her. As of 25 March there was $18.00 in petty cash and $598.00 in the
account. A brief discussion took place as to whether the annual dues should
be increased to relieve the pressure on the Chairman to economize on the
mailing costs etc. Glenn thought the low fee and high standard of the Maple
Leaf was an important inducement to get people to join even if they could
not always get to meetings.
Glenn reported that he had explored the
possibility of having a meeting at the National War Museum as part of a
visit to the museum and other places of interest to military historians in
Ottawa. He was not encouraged because the National War Museum charged
$1000.00 for a meeting room and did not show any inclination to give special
consideration to our group.
As of 1 April there are 59 members of
Peter Warren said that he had talked to
someone at the Canadian Military Heritage Museum in Brantford who would be
happy to welcome our group to a visit of the museum. Peter also showed a
Ghurka knife and a cavalry sword from the First World War. Kevin Shackleton
announced that his Official History of the Essex-Kent Scottish regiment was
now at the printers. Diane Johnson spoke of her continuing research into her
family’s military history. Steve Nichol displayed a German pickelhaube
from his collection and described its features. Gord MacKinnon gave the
members some insight into the continuous service the branch members,
particularly Gord, Glenn, and Mark Giroux, provide to people who find our
website and ask for help in locating information about their ancestors who
served in the CEF. John Haslam outlined at length his hope to organize a
pilgrimage and historical tour to France and Flanders in the future.
10 Jun 06
The June 2006 meeting of the Central
Ontario Branch met in the Newcastle Town Hall on a beautiful spring morning
with 18 members in attendance. After the opening ceremony and brief remarks
by the Chairman, Michel Gravel, author of Tough As Nails, (CEF
Books), gave a Power Point presentation of how Lt. George Burdon McKean, VC,
14th Battalion, won an MC for his bravery at Cagnicourt on 2 September 1918.
The CEF had broken through the Drocourt-Quéant Line and McKean, although
wounded twice, followed the barrage closely and was in the village before
the German defenders had time to man their defences. Michel followed
McKean’s advance through the village almost step by step. He used postcards
showing Cagnicourt in the immediate post-war period and pictures he took
himself to show that the rebuilt village of today has the same roads and
many of the same buildings. The fall of Cagnicourt caused the German high
command to evacuate the Vis-en-Artois Salient and withdraw behind the Sensée
River and the Canal du Nord. Michel has spent a lot of time in the village
and has come to know many of the villagers. He learned the remarkable fact
from them that the Germans imported plants from their colonies in German
East Africa to use as camouflage for their gun emplacements. These plants
grow three metres high and still flourish in the neighbourhood of the
village. The villagers have named the area in front of the church in honour
of Lt. George Burdon McKean, VC, MC, MM. Lt. McKean survived the war but was
killed in an industrial accident when a saw blade shattered in a sawmill he
owned and wounded him fatally in 1926.
Another of our members, Terry Daisley,
whose special interest is Canadians who served in the RFC, told the story of
the almost incredible bravery shown by Lt. Alan Arnett McLeod that resulted
in his winning the VC in the last year of the war. The pilot of a slow FK8
bomber/reconnaissance plane, he was attacked by eight German triplanes near
Albert at Bray-sur-Somme. He and his observer shot down three of the much
faster and more agile German planes. A bullet punctured the gas tank and the
spilled gas set the plane alight. McLeod climbed out on the wing to escape
the flames and was able to control the plane by leaning into the cockpit. He
managed to crash land the burning wreck and to rescue his wounded observer,
Lt. Hammond. McLeod himself had been wounded and burned but the plane had
landed in No Man’s Land and the two men couldn’t be rescued until after
dark. Miraculously, both men survived. McLeod was able to attend his VC
investiture at Buckingham Palace on 4 September 1918. He was repatriated
back to Winnipeg but sadly this brave young man caught the Spanish Flu and
died 6 November 1918.
After lunch, our new Webmaster Floyd
Low, told us something about the new site
which is now online. Additions are still being made which will make this
site of increasing value to our members and to visitors.
FINANCIALS Some membership
fees were received during the day and some bills for the website were
presented for payment. The branch financial situation is strong. A more
detailed update will be presented later.
NEXT MEETING The next meeting
will be held on 30 September.
will have the agenda when it is finalized.
30 Sep 06
Our guest speaker, Dr. Nathan Greenfield, opened the
meeting at 11:05 with the act of remembrance. There were 21 members and
guests in attendance.
Chairman Glenn Kerr made some introductory
announcements. The Maple Leaf was ready for members and it would be
distributed at the end of the meeting. The Chairman had been the editor of
previous issues and had acted as assistant editor to Bruce Cane on this
issue. Bruce Cane would be the editor-in-chief from now on and members
should submit articles to Bruce or to Glenn who would pass them on.
Glenn announced that long time member John Hurst had suffered
a broken leg and the Branch sent its condolences. Member Byron Perry had become
the father of a baby boy since we last met and the Chairman offered
congratulations on our behalf.
Glenn then introduced Len Shurtleff, from Gainesville,
Florida, and his friend Dick Vandenbrul from Livonia, Michigan. Both gentlemen
are members of the American branch of the WFA. Len, who is also a member of our
Branch, is a founding member of the American branch, served as Chairman of that
branch from 1996 to 2004, and is one of the Honorary Vice-Presidents of the WFA
in the UK. Glenn welcomed Len to our meeting and called on him to tell us
something of the American branch. It has about 350 members and meets only for an
annual weekend conference each year.
Glenn then introduced Dr. Nathan Greenfield of Algonquin
College who has written a book on the CEF at Second Ypres. The book is in its
final editorial stages and the expected publication date is about a year hence.
In a very dramatic reading, Nathan read one of the completed chapters. This
dealt with the second wave of gas attacks on 24 April 1915. The clear
presentation of the events of that day were highlighted by many well researched
anecdotes about individual Canadian soldiers. After the reading, a lively
discussion ensued about the failure of the Canadian-made Ross Rifles and the
effects of the use of chlorine gas.
After the lunch break, members had time to discuss interests
and seek information. Dwight Esler showed us a book on trench publications. It
comes as a surprise to many that the troops had time to publish news sheets
while at war. The stationary nature of the Front permitted this and the obvious
morale boosting effects encouraged army support. The book is called Wipers
Kevin Shackleton is another of our branch’s authors. His
second book, Duty Nobly Done: The Official History of the Essex and Kent
Scottish Regiment is being printed and some copies should be available for
purchase at our next meeting. The book is co-authored with Sandy Antal who did
the section from the first European settlement of Western Ontario to 1840. Kevin
wrote the section from 1840 to the present. The Essex and Kent Scottish
perpetuates the 18th Battalion CEF and there is an extensive section on this
Great War unit. Kevin shared with us some insights into how a non-academic
historian like himself could research a subject that had not been written before
and bring it to an outstanding conclusion.
To try to find material such as letters and diaries still
in the possession of the family of a dead soldier, select uncommon names. This
narrows the field. For example, one of the officers who was killed in action
while serving with the 18th Bn was named McKeogh. Kevin contacted a former
Ontario cabinet minister from Western Ontario named Darcy McKeogh to see if he
was related. In fact, Darcy McKeogh was a nephew of the man and was in the
process of transcribing the written material he had left.
Spread the word around that you are researching a topic.
The person you tell might not have material but he might know someone who
Write in sections. Kevin composed the First World War
section, then the Second World War Section, and finally the section on 1840-
1914. Since this book was commissioned by the regimental association, the
Scottish Borderers Foundation, the author submitted each section to the
association for their perusal and suggestions. It turned out that the
association was only concerned with entries about people that they knew, and
some time was spent on getting acceptable readings on these men.
Get quotations from illustrious fellow historians for the
cover. Kevin asked three: Desmond Morton, Jack Granatstein, and A.M.J. Hyatt
who responded with glowing tributes to the book’s excellence. HRH Prince
Michael of Kent is the Colonel-in-Chief of the Essex-Kent Scottish and he also
contributed a short encomium.
Kevin also made a couple of comparisons between the 18th Bn
of WWI and the Essex-Kent Scottish of WWII. The 18th men were almost all
amateur soldiers and spent long periods in training when they weren’t
fighting. Replacement officers were found mostly from among the battalion’s
NCOs who were "commissioned from the ranks"(CFR). In WWII half the officers
were CFRed by the end. The Essex-Kent were almost wiped out by casualties and
being taken prisoners at Dieppe in 1942 and then in Operation Atlantic in
Normandy in 1944. By the time of Operation Totalize in August 1944 the
regiment had been rebuilt and it took its objectives.
After Kevin concluded his remarks, other members told us of
their activities. Cliff Nyenhuis has been researching German units of WWI and is
a re-enactor for one of the German units. He also is interested in British and
German trench maps. Steve Nichol showed us another of his interesting framed
medal groups where he was able to find a photograph of the soldier and an
account of the action that was the likely cause of the award of the MM. Dave
Vose spread the word that he was looking for someone to share expenses during a
trip next April to the rededication of the Vimy Ridge Memorial.
Glenn introduced three other visitors to the meeting: Chad
Minter, John Johnson, and Chris Laverton.
Financials: After the expenses for the current Maple Leaf
are deducted the Branch has a balance of about $700.
The meeting ended at 4:15 pm.
2 Dec 06
COBWFA Meeting 2 December 2006
By Gordon MacKinnon – Branch Secretary
Twenty members and guests assembled in the Newcastle Town
Hall for the regular meeting and our Annual General Meeting on a bright,
blustery morning. After nearly an hour of animated conversation among those
present, the chairman, Glenn Kerr, called the meeting to order at 11:00 am and
conducted the act of remembrance.
Our guest speaker was Lt. Col. Howard Coombs. He is a teacher
at Queen’s University, Kingston where he is completing his Ph.D. He is also the
commanding officer of the Princess of Wales Reserve Force in Kingston, the unit
that formed the basis for the 21st Battalion CEF in the First World War. His
grandfather, Lineas Coombs, and great uncle James J. Howard, were soldiers in
the Newfoundland Regiment, which went over the top at the Battle of the Somme on
1 July 1916. At the conclusion of the deadly attack, James J. Howard was missing
in action. His remains have never been found and he is commemorated on the
Beaumont-Hamel Memorial. Lineas Coombs was seriously wounded. His leg had to be
amputated but he survived to live to old age.
Lt. Col Coombs and his brother, Derm, were participants in a
television film made by YAP Films of Toronto. The documentary was called
Battle of the Somme: The True Story and follows the parallel
stories of the disastrous attack by the Newfoundland Regiment on 1 July 1916 and
the cinematic filming of the opening hours of the battle by Geoffrey Malins.
Controversy has arisen over what parts of Malins’ film were genuine and what
parts were posed. In addition, conflicting claims have been made about the
identity of some of the soldiers whose faces are clearly presented in the film.
Using modern investigative tools such as photo comparison, forensic lip reading,
and War Records, some startling results were arrived at.
Members viewed the film on DVD, and Lt.Col. Coombs told us
much about the making of the film and answered questions.
After lunch, the group re-assembled for the AGM and for
Annual General Meeting
Glenn Kerr announced that he would continue to serve as
Chairman for one more year. Members praised Glenn for his great efforts in
rebuilding the Branch membership.
Gordon MacKinnon, the Branch Secretary, volunteered to be
Vice-Chairman but made it clear that he had no intention of succeeding Glenn.
Anyone interested in discussing taking on a greater involvement with the branch
can contact Glenn at any time.
There were no other changes in the Executive.
Membership: The chairman has also been in charge of
membership. Glenn was pleased to announce that with the addition of two
memberships received at this meeting, the COBWFA now has 70 members. Nearly all
are in good standing.
Financials: Diane Johnson, the Branch Treasurer,
presented a detailed financial report, which showed that with payment of dues
received at the meeting, the branch had a strong financial position starting the
Maple Leaf: Bruce Cane, the Editor of the branch
newsletter, reported that members’ articles were insufficient to compose a
complete edition for this meeting. A couple of additional pages will make it
possible to complete it for mailing.
Future Meetings: At least three members are going to Vimy
Ridge for the re-dedication of the Memorial in April 2007. This will necessitate
the delay of the spring meeting to late April or early May. It is hoped that
this meeting will be held in Kingston where visits to RMC and the Princess of
Wales Reserve Force will be arranged.
Web Site: Floyd Low is to be commended for his fine work
on the www.cobwfa.ca
John Johnson: John displayed a medal group including a
Military Cross that had been awarded to Capt. Ingvar Edward de Sherbinin. John
had obtained the set in a shop in Bowmanville and had done some research on
Capt.de Sherbinin. He was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1896 and enlisted in
the 70th Battery Canadian Artillery in 1916. He was later commissioned from the
ranks. John hopes to find more information about this man and will keep us
informed at a subsequent meeting.
Kevin Shackleton: Kevin had copies of Duty Nobly Done:
The Official History of the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment for sale at
$59.00. Kevin is the co-author of this book having written and researched the
period from 1840 to the present. Members can contact Kevin to purchase a copy.
Because of the weight of this 828-page book, mailing costs in Canada are an
additional $16.00. E-mail
Diane Johnson: Diane showed a seaman’s box, which had
belonged to her grandfather, Jacob Miller, who had served in the Newfoundland
Naval reserve and the Newfoundland Constabulary before the First World War. The
box contained some objects from his service in Newfoundland and also some from
his service in the 3rd Machine Gun Company CEF.
Stewart Robinson: A new member, Stewart told us something
of his background in Ypres and Britain and the forthcoming publication of
a book he has been working on.
Chris Laverton: Chris bought a series of post cards sent
by Arthur A. Nicholson who served in a Casualty Clearing Station during the war.
Chris took out a branch membership and we welcome him to our branch.
Bruce Cane: Bruce has given a number of illustrated talks
on his book It Made You Think of Home. He is giving a presentation
at the RCMI on the 1914 Christmas Truce on 13 December.
Ron Smith: Ron told us of meeting a resident of Port Hope
who had served in Kandahar and had been near the site in which four Canadian
soldiers had been killed in a ‘friendly fire’ incident.
Cliff Nyenhuis: Cliff has been bidding on WWI maps on
Ebay but often loses out to another member.
Glenn Kerr: Glenn invited members to look at his Ross
Rifle and other artefacts.
The meeting ended around 4:00.