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Pandemic: Its Reappearance

Posted By on March 14, 2020

Influenza, Victoria Cross, Royal Flying Corps

The grave of Alan Arnett McLeod VC, at Kildonan Presbyterian Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba. McLeod died from influenza in 1918.
(P. Ferguson image, July 2017)

It has occurred, an unwanted centenary

Following commemorations marking the days and events of the Great War Centenary, we now face the reappearance of an unwelcome 2020 visitor – a global pandemic. Mimicking the timing of the influenza pandemic of 1918 – 1920 we now have Coronavirus or COVID-19. The new virus first appeared towards the end of 2019 and continues to enfilade the globe through 2020.

Some 100 years ago the earlier pandemic infected the lives of nearly 46,000 Canadian soldiers and nursing sisters. Sir Andrew MacPhail, author of a Great War history of the Canadian Medical Services wrote, There were 45,960 cases, of which 2,672 were amongst officers and 43,228 in the other ranks. Of these 776 ended in death (…) No specific treatment was discovered by any serum, and the remedial measures common in civil life were hard to apply. (p. 266)

The virus knew no boundaries, crossing at will across the divides created by our species and claiming in its wake several million souls estimated between 17,000,000 – 100,000,000 lives. It knew no distinction between class or clan, rich or poor the charitable or the greedy. It knew no respect, honour or care for who it claimed. This disingenuous harvest of life belongs to no one and yet to everyone.

In 1884 a cholera epidemic led to the French government creation of the Médaille d’honneur des épidémies (Medal of Epidemics) to recognize individual devotion to duty. The medal honoured those individuals…

Exposing themselves to the dangers of contamination, by providing care to patients suffering from contagious diseases; Preserving, by personal intervention and worthy of being reported, a territory or locality from the invasion of an epidemic disease; Helping to spread the practice of disinfection operations during an epidemic.

The Médaille d’honneur des épidémies is presented in one of four classes – gold, vermeil, silver and bronze. Several soldiers and nursing sisters of the Canadian Army Medical Corps were presented with the honour between 1919 and 1926 including seven awards of the 2e Classe en Vermeil, 59 awards of the 3e Classe en Argent and 119 4e Class en Bronze.

The Great War related influenza respected no form of courage and claimed the lives of those recognized for valour. After surviving the battlefield at least five recipients of the Victoria Cross died from influenza and its related complications.

  • Captain Julian Royds Gribble VC, 10th Service Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Died as a prisoner of war 25 November 1918 at Kassel, Germany. Buried at Niederzwehren Cemetery, Kassel, Germany. Headstone inscription “SON OF GEORGE J. & MRS. GRIBBLE OF 34 EATON SQUARE, LONDON AND KINGSTON RUSSELL HOUSE DORSET”. Age 21.
  • Able Seaman Albert Edward McKenzie VC, Royal Navy. Died 3 November 1918 at Chatham Naval Hospital, Kent , England. Buried at Camberwell Old Cemetery, South London, England. Headstone inscription “ALSO HIS BELOVED MOTHER FOR THEIR TO-MORROW WE GAVE OUT TO-DAY”. Age 20.
  • Lieutenant Alan Arnett McLeod VC, Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force. Died 6 November 1918 at Winnipeg Manitoba. Buried at Kildonan Presbyterian Cemetery, Winnipeg. Age 19.
  • Lieutenant George Raymond Dallas Moor VC MC and Bar, 1st and 2nd Battalion Hampshire Regiment. Died 3 November 1918 at Mouvaux, France. Buried at Y Farm Military Farm Cemetery, Bois-Grenier, France. Headstone inscription “VINCAM ET VINCAM” (Win and Win). Age 22.
  • Captain William Leefe Robinson VC, Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force. Died 31 December 1918 at the home of his sister, Baroness Heyking, Stanmore, England. Buried at All Saint’s Churchyard Extension, Harrow Weald, Middlesex, England. Following Robinson’s Victoria Cross action he was shot down and taken prisoner of war. His brother Second Lieutenant Harold Leefe Robinson, 103rd Mahratta Light Infantry, age 22, was killed in Mesopotamia 10 April 1916. W.L. Robinson VC was aged 23.

Story is everywhere

Posted By on March 6, 2020

Connection to place

Not so long ago…finding ways to tell story…a journey across Saanich Inlet.
(P. Ferguson image, February 2020)

Yesterday

It seems an hour plus more of feeling through articles of history, sensing the writers’ directions, passions and dedications has come to a close for this time. I wander to the deck and stand before the behemoth twins. As the starboard bow opens…its wheel provides the sharp but not unpleasant tones of the skakuhachi. Seconds pass before the port bow begins its motion, the wheel’s sound of a leisurely creature rolling upon a dock as the aged wood structure absorbs the new balance.

These are familiar sounds to this single audience. These sound observations are soon dashed from behind as Peterbilt or Kenworth disturbs my study…we have docked as the fading ocarinas of Totoros float gently within the rain, below the sounds and weather lost to much of history.

Not so long ago

…a week plus some days there was another journey northwards along a familiar road to a familiar place. Coffee and morning munching…with family and friend. There was a plan this day but instead we venture from our familiar towards another dock…another watery tide from bay to bay aboard the M.V. Klitsa (Kleet-sah). It is while aboard the open deck vessel that my girl Rosemary begins voicing her own history, searching for landscapes once traveled, landmarks once familiar and of sails filled with the gentle wind of the day with family and friend. One wonders what sounds, what day was given to her that these memories have long lastingly endured?

Sailing across Saanich Inlet  aboard M.V. Klitsa. (P. Ferguson image, February 2020)

Sailing across Saanich Inlet aboard M.V. Klitsa.
(P. Ferguson image, February 2020)

As I step across the deck, with my slight explorations, I find vantage points for the active shutter. Across the deck, the bow, towards the sun, colour and contrast…images for the day. As I step across the sill into the passenger’s lounge…the background wall is home to story…

The Start of an Era

The SS Cascade, built in 1906 as a 95-foot tramp steamer, was initially employed as a coastal freighter.  In 1919 the Cascade was sold to five Royal Navy officers from H.M.S. Avoca who formed the Cascade Freighting and Towing Company and used Cascade to transport coal, between Union Bay, Nanaimo and Seattle and at other times to haul dynamite to James Island for Canadian Industries Limited (C.I.L.). In 1924 Cascade’s life changed when, at Yarrows Shipyards, Victoria it underwent a refit being converted from freighter to ferry. Its inaugural voyage taking place 6 October 1924.

Story is everywhere

I return to the deck to see Rosemary still at the port bow, her mind filled with her own times of not so long ago. There is story everywhere of self and place beneath today’s gentle sun. As the vessel courses across Saanich Inlet I know I will remember this day by finding the right words and connections – together with the vessel’s wake and flags, Rosemary’s voice, “their” voice amidst the sounds and weather of history.

Connection to place

Not so long ago…finding ways to tell story…a journey across Saanich Inlet.
(P. Ferguson image, February 2020)

The Right Words – the Right Notes

Posted By on February 8, 2020

Concerning Hobbits
Lord of the Rings

Oneness

So far from Scotland and piping – yet the sound of a tin whistle brings the days of the Celts – Picts and Gaels to mind. The age of then is here within a much read and spoken story – time and time again. With each line by Tolkien how did he lend his mind to hand to craft the right words for the sentence…within the paragraph…for the chapter…of the books?

Each Tolkien word became an inspiration for Walsh, Boyens, Lesnie, Jackson and others…spoken by a rich cast of players across the screen. Combined together with the chosen notes from the lines and spaces of Howard Shore’s musical staff, the multitude of Tolkien’s inspiring work is delivered – multiple forms of the arts as one. It is this oneness that brings me here today.

Only after attempting to find my words, from other films, I turn again towards the trilogy. Other films have not made it through my psyche until now. There is richness here as I gather my day’s thoughts – inspired voices, images, landscapes, costumes, cuts and sounds.

I relax deep-set within my recliner… The journey has begun as the musical score provides the breath to fill my sails of this exploration, Tolkien and oneness.

The History of the Ring Theme
Lord of the Rings

Closer to the Heart

Posted By on January 10, 2020

Farewell to the King

In September 2016 a friend I had not seen since 1979 or so re-appeared.

Peter managed to track me down (after all these years) through the Pipes of War website. Back in the day -…1978 – 1979…the days of youthful university Peter and I spent considerable time listening to and analyzing the Neil Peart lyrics of Rush. To this day I recall sitting in my residence room with the tunes turned to loud (volume 11)…rocking away…reading the liner notes and album covers…time seemed endless and meditative.

At that time Mr. Lee, Mr. Lifeson and Mr. Peart were my band (our band)…the ones I had to hear…the first Rush concert I managed to get to…A Farewell To Kings (1977)…more concerts followed. But from that one concert a twirling drumstick thrown towards the audience…towards me…and with a gracious hand the stick was caught…my hand grip wrapped solid…I was thrilled.

The drumstick remains with me…so too the Rush albums…I even managed to get my father to one of the trio’s concerts in Vancouver. Dad wanted to see them…the seats were grand…not close…not near…not far…we were together…the only major rock concert Dad ever attended. It was an experience for him to be sure…through the haze, the ever-changing backdrops, the lights, the music. How can three guys make so much noise? he asked afterwards. Dad loved it.

But now today is sadder as our first snowfall covers our way…perhaps the snow dog will appear? And in this new day white covering of this land a bit of old youth has slipped away…but not nearly so much sadness as for the Peart and Rush families. Neil Peart has left our world to drink the milk of paradise. I for one see my friends (again) those who spent hours amongst the black and red vinyl to play, replay, to chord at air guitars and lift searing solos above the frozen mountaintops…to read and re-read lyrics closer to the heart.

Thank you Rush for all the music and the words. To Mr. Lee, Mr. Lifeson and the Peart family I am so sorry for your loss. To Mr. Peart…thank you for the fine drumstick…long may you drive like the wind and always begin the day with a friendly voice…the road is very much open now.

Neil Peart O.C.
12 September 1952 – 7 January 2020

Behind the Wire – 1918

Posted By on January 10, 2020

Barbed wire, familiar to all soldiers on the Western Front. The barbed wire symbol, in this instance of French origin, was sometimes used by PoW veteran's organizations.

Barbed wire, familiar to all soldiers on the Western Front. The barbed wire symbol, in this instance of French origin, was sometimes used by PoW veteran’s organizations.

16th Battalion C.E.F. Prisoners of War (Part 3)

Every two years (in January) I have returned to my 16th Canadian Infantry Battalion Prisoner of War research project. To my surprise the battalion does not appear to have had any service personnel captured during 1917. Of particular interest in this the third and final installment are the number of soldiers drafted under the Military Service Act, 1917 and soldiers captured during the 16th Battalion’s last major engagement of the Great War…1 October 1918…Cuvillers.

See also Behind the Wire 1915 and Behind the Wire 1916.

(DATES OF CAPTURE IN BOLD)

 12 April 1918
Arras – Brigade Reserve.

Lieut. Thompson No. 4 Coy. Reported that Lieut. D. Clelland M.C. and runner had left No. 4 H.Q. at 10:30 a.m. and had not yet returned. Search parties were sent out but could find no trace of them.

(16th Canadian Infantry Battalion War Diary, 12 April 1918)

No news of Lieut. Clelland and runner.
(16th Canadian Infantry Battalion War Diary, 13 April, 1918)

Clelland, David
Lieutenant          27265
Released             29 November 1918

Military Cross
London Gazette 26 July 1917
Date of publications suggests an award for Vimy Ridge.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He commanded his company during the attack, and though wounded consolidated his position and reorganized and protected his flank until supporting troops arrived. 

Cowx, Ernest Harold
Private                 129938
Released             2 December 1918

16 August 1918
Front Line Parvillers. Parvillers-Schwetz Wood captured.

The enemy resistance was by no means so weak as was suspected. The Alpine Corps was in the line, and its men proved themselves excellent fighters.

 The losses of the 16th Battalion in the engagement, considering it was nothing more than a patrol affair, were heavy…

(Urquhart, H.M. The History of The 16th Battalion (The Canadian Scottish), 1932, p. 282)

Carey, Patrick
Private                 736759
Released             4 December 1918

Ducharme, Harry Georges Garfield
Private                 1000906
Released             12 December 1918

Eliasson, Elias
Private                 722090
Released             12 January 1919

Howard, Albert Thomson
Private                 701154
Released             20 November 1918

Jordan, Harold John
Private                 1001191
Released             11 December 1918

O’Connor, Jeremiah J.
Private                 859397
Released             6 December 1918

Powell, Alfred Edward
Private                 1001211
Released             6 December 1918

Wade, William Casebourne
Private                 859189
Released             5 December 1918

Walls, James
Private                 114887
Released             1 December 1918

1 October 1918
Haynecourt. Cuvillers.

…before he (Lieutenant Kerans) got in touch with any of these officers (company commanders); intense machine-gun fire broke out from Abancourt ridge, directed in enfilade against the 16th outpost and resistance lines, Cuvillers, and positions in rear. Every feature on the 16th front lay open to this high ground, including the sunken roads which all ran directly towards it…

 He (Sergeant-Major Kay) was placing his men in the houses at the northerly outskirts of Cuvillers and along a road running from that village in a southwesterly direction towards Blécourt. By the time Kerans arrived it had become clear that this position was untenable, for it came under fire from the left rear, from points in or near Blécourt as well as from the Abancourt ridge.  Sniping and machine-gun fire from both these quarters were very severe.

Both Kerans (Lieutenant) and Kay (Sergeant-Major) now realized that the tactical position of the Battalion generally was little short of desperate; the troops in both the resistance and the outpost lines were in danger of being surrounded…

(Urquhart, H.M. The History of The 16th Battalion (The Canadian Scottish), 1932, p. 305)

Appel, Frank Joseph
Private                 2021790
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             3 December 1918

Bouvier, William
Private                 2129346
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             22 November 1918

Brown, Abraham
Private                 736490
Released             6 December 1918

Buckboro, Bonner Mason
Private                 622624
Released             5 December 1918

Caine, James George
Private                 29310
Released             5 December 1918

Colegrave, William Ralph (Jr.)
Private                 2021895
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             5 December 2918

Crampain, Raymond Earl
Private                 865795
Released             25 November 1918

DeSchouwer, Emiel
Private                 2380719
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             6 December 1918

Ferens, John Charles
Private                 736452
Released             13 January 1919

Gilmour, Duncan James McKenzie
Corporal              736662
Released             6 December 1918

Gray, Robert James
Private                 2379264 previously 216332
Previously volunteered with 100th Canadian Infantry Battalion.
Discharged 7 October 1916, being medically unfit for military service.
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             21 November 1918

Hanson, Henry Charles
Private                 180059
Released             18 December 1918

Henderson, Wilbert Duncan
Private                 2129280
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             22 November 1918

Hough, Norman
Private                 225886
Died of Wounds as Prisoner of War 2 October 1918
Buried Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France

He was last seen going in the direction of the Sunken Road, in front of Cuvillers, on October 1st 1918. A report was later received that he had died from the German authorities on transit from Chief Dressing Station at Estain.

Exhumed from Soldier’s Cemetery, Hordain, S. Of Bouchair.

(Canada, War Graves Registers (Circumstances of Casualty), 1914-1948 card.)

Jackson, William Henry
Sergeant             29406
Released             5 December 1918

Jenkins, James Rodolphus
Private                  2136376
Escaped               20 November 1918

Admitted to 30 Casualty Clearing Station for treatment of scabies and boils. No details of escape reported. (Service Record)

Kirkconnell, John
Private                 150451
Released             15 December 1918

Larson, Guttorn
Private                 2129176
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             7 December 1918

Lindsay, James
Private                 721919
Released             11 December 1918

Little, Joseph
Private                 2129315
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             27 November 1918

Llewhellin, George Warren
Private                 871437
Released             12 December 1918

Lunan, George
Private                 700361
Released             5 December 1918

MacLennan, James
Private                 721823
Released             30 January 1919

MacMillan, Alexander
Acting Sergeant 29476
Released             17 December 1918

Margetts, Charles
Private                 922590
Died of Wounds as Prisoner of War 25 October 1918
Son of John Henry Margetts, of Carswell Farm, Faringdon, Berks., England
Buried Mons Communal Cemetery, Belgium

Previously unofficially reported Died of Wounds Whilst Prisoner of War now officially reported Died of Wounds Whilst Prisoner of War at Maedchenschule War Laz 27 – Mons, (Heart failure, following amputation).

(Canada, War Graves Registers (Circumstances of Casualty), 1914-1948 card.)

McCurdy, John
Private                 2129179
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             21 November 1918

McGurr, John
Private                 871980
Released             13 January 1919

McIsaac, Hugh Daniel
Private                 2129181
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             22 November 1918

Medlicott, Oscar Richard Reeves
Lance Corporal 701193
Released             6 December 1918

Millar, George Sinclair
Private                2128971
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             21 November 1918

Munro, George McLean
Private                429226
Released             18 December 1918

Murray, Hedley
Private                1060181
Released             1 January 1919

Murray, Thomas Alexander
Private                 257504
Released             22 November 1918

Mustard, Earnest Hugh
Private                 2129047
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             22 November 1918

Newstead, John Charles
Private                 257442
Released             22 November 1918

Ogden, James LeRoy
Acting Corporal 2379605
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             6 December 1918

Pasich, Tony
Private                 2378951
Released             7 January 1919

Patton, Royden Percival
Private                 2128826
Died of Wounds after escaping 12 October 1918
Son of Harry Patton and Margaret Ingram (formerly Patton) of Roseisle, Manitoba.
Buried Quiévrain Communal Cemetery, Belgium

Previously reported Prisoner of War at Parchim, and according to German records escaped from Field Lazaret 319, 10-10-18, now for official purposes presumed to have Died between October 10th 1918, and January 10th, 1919.

(Canada, War Graves Registers (Circumstances of Casualty), 1914-1948 card.)

Pearson, Karl Anton
Private                  2380890
Released             9 December 1918

Pike, Charles Edward Cyril
Private                  255341
Released             5 December 1918

Poole, Kingsley Gower
Private                  2379354
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Died of Wounds as Prisoner of War 8 October 1918
Son of Reverend Montague Gower Poole and Hannah Poole of 403, First Street East, Cornwall, Ontario.
Buried at Niederzwehren War Cemetery, Germany

Died whilst Prisoner of War now for official purposes presumed to have Died whilst Prisoner of War at Lazarette, Gottingen.

(Canada, War Graves Registers (Circumstances of Casualty), 1914-1948 card.)

Porter, William George
Private                2128934
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             1 January 1919

Ramsey, Westall
Private                2128921
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             1 January 1919

Reid, Robert
Private                2379629
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             6 December 1918

Roy, Aubrey Rutherford
Private                 2379366
Released             2 January 1919

Rutherford, Thomas
Private                 2129663
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             1 January 1919

Scott, John Clarence
Sergeant             28670
Died of Wounds as Prisoner of War 3 October 1918
Husband of late Mrs. H.E. Scott
Buried at Valenciennes (St. Roch) Communal Cemetery, France

Died whilst Prisoner of War, previously reported Wounded and Missing.

On October 1st, 1918, it became necessary for his platoon to retire from its objective. The Platoon Officer took part of the men, and while leading the rest, Sgt. Scott was wounded. At the time there was considerable confusion and one of the men examined him and thinking him dead, left him. Information was later received that he had died (shell wound lung) whilst prisoner of war at Military Hospital, VALENCIENNES.

Exhumed from Military Cemetery at Valenciennes, Grave No. 1928.

(Canada, War Graves Registers (Circumstances of Casualty), 1914-1948 card.)

An article about Sergeant John Clarence Scott entitled, Tells of Stirring Incidents at Front, appears in the Daily Colonist 16 June 1915, page 7.

Smith, John
Private                 871049
Released             3 December 1918

Smith, Robert James
Private                 2129308
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             22 November 1918

Smith, Sidney James
Private                 2379862
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Died of Wounds as Prisoner of War 13 October 1918
Buried at Niederzwehren War Cemetery, Germany

Reported Prisoner of War and Wounded in Hospital @ Gottingen, Hann.
Now Reported Died Whilst Pris of War
At Lazerett (sic) Gottingen, Hann. (Letter from British Help Commission D/16-10-18)
Presumed Died of Wounds whilst P. of W . (____) Lazarett at Gottingen 13-10-18

(Service Record)

Strange, Archibald
Private                 2380132
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             1 January 1918

Stretch, Joseph Buxley
Private                 1263521
Released             4 December 1918

Stroud, John Clarence
Private                 2129654
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             25 November 1918

Stubblefield, Robert Westley
Private                 1069931
Released             1 December 1918

Previously served 3 1/2 years in United States navy. (Service Record)

Troke, John Joseph
Private                  258517
Released             22 November 1918

Vandal, Gabriel
Private                 258198
Released             10 January 1919

Voorhis, Robert B.
Private                 872085
Died of Wounds as Prisoner of War 12 November 1918
Son of Milton T. Voorhies and his wife Mary L. Brown Husband of Mary McGill Voorhies.
Buried at Niederzwehren War Cemetery, Germany

Reported missing Oct. 1st 1918.
Rept. miss. is P of W at Gottingen
Nov. 14th 1918.
D. whilst P of W Gottingen
Correct date of death Presumed dead 13-12-18 (sic)
Alternate spelling of surname given as Voorhies. Soldier signed as Voorhis.

(Service Record)

Waldie, Walter
Private                 257979
Released             3 December 1918

Whiffin, Thomas Alfred
Private                 2128924
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             7 December 1918

White, Earl Leslie
Private                 256326
Released             29 November 1918

Whittick, Thomas William
Private                 512164
Released             2 December 1918

Willes, Frederick Charles
Private                 624339
Released             13 January 1919

Wilson, Stanley
Private                 2115180
Released             13 January 1919

Wood, Frank
Private                 1072122
Released             6 December 1918

Woods, Alfred Robert
Private                 258016
Released             16 December 1918

Wrench, Harold
Private                 257962
Released             24 November 1918

Yarrington, Everett
Private                 722273
Released             27 November 1918

Zerbin, Gustaf
Private                 2129268
Drafted under Military Service Act, 1917
Released             22 November 1918

Zimmerman, William George
Private                 693086
Released             1 December 1918

At four a.m., October 2nd, the remnant of the Battalion – three officers and seventy-five other ranks – were relieved; the 16th had fought its last major engagement of the War;…

(Urquhart, H.M. The History of The 16th Battalion (The Canadian Scottish), 1932, p. 311)

8/9 October 1918
Brigade Support

Burt, Frederick Audry
Private                 199110
Released             2 December 1918

———-0———-

List of Prisoners of War (16th Battalion CEF) compiled from:
Wigney, Edward H. “Guests of the Kaiser; Prisoners-of-War of the Canadian Expeditionary force 1915-1918”, (CEF Books, 2008)