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Nature’s Hymn – Birdsong

Posted By on April 15, 2017

Easter Dawn 1916

Easter Dawn. I am with you alway[s]. At our Easter communion we are praying from you. From All Saints’ Clapham Park SW. F. Beaumont-Edwards, Easter 1916. From us all”

Dawn of a New Day

With each new day there is a chorus of birds chirping and flitting about from one branch to another announcing the dawn. Content to rejoice as the sun shines upon their places, bringing them warmth, my slightly weary eyes open one at a time. It is dawn, a new beginning.

I enjoy the sound of our feathered friends. Their work, as heralds, never disappoints me. And so as the dawn of Easter approaches it is a good time to think upon their work – how the song of birds…birdsong afar…in France, Flanders and elsewhere has and continues to be nature’s hymn amidst and after the tumult of war.

…and in the sky…The larks, still bravely singing, fly…Scarce heard amidst the guns below.

(John McCrae, In Flanders Fields, published December 8, 1915)

When I go to a Commonwealth War Graves cemetery…it is like walking into a very beautiful church and you have to be silent…there is usually no music except birdsong and it’s a time for reflection.

(Michael Morpurgo. Silent Witnesses, The Cemeteries of the Somme, CWGC, 2016)

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Nature’s hymn, the song of birds adds the soundtrack to our wanderings of these silent cities. These guardians announce themselves upon our arrival and continue their song, without audience, upon our leaving. Within their realm we see new life reborn, nature’s cycle of gentle green grass, the colour of flowers and the weeping of trees tending these gardens of souls whose shortened lives knew their song.

My Vimy

Posted By on April 11, 2017

Private Ole Berget late of the 31st BAttalion CEF. Missing in action Fresnoy 3 May 1917.

My Vimy . Private Ole Berget, 2007 Vimy Memorial Rededication.

It is as if Vimy is the start of what I do

Vimy is connected to family. Its personal.

This I learned many years ago from my grandmother who told me stories about her father…..which were…..upon reflection…..stories her mother had told. This was the man Grannie knew…..memories…..passed from one generation to another. Grannie was two years old or thereabouts when her Papa left this plain for another place, at another battle – known as Fresnoy – now so near to a 100 years ago.

Watching this past Sunday, I learned of many who followed this desire that rises in some of us to see for ourselves. I did not go this time but have been before and will go again. There is peace in what I do. I am at home here – walking, cycling, feeling these places as they ache into the heart and allow me to find connection through the space of years from conflict to calm. What noises, sites and smells were here then and what is here now? Patient, continuous observation without the chaos, within my own plain.

There can be no doubt that the consideration to remain at home was for a reason. I did not go. I did not speak – but found solace in words and thoughts from the wreckage of this past. My Vimy was 2007 at the rededication of the Vimy Memorial when I took my Great-Grandfather’s portrait with me and upon that ridge looked into this man who somehow brought me here. That day Private Ole Berget, late of the 31st Battalion CEF seemed to say, “I have been here before……………take me home”……….he just wanted to come home.

Somehow, I like to think that this is what many of us feel when we watch amongst this emotion and search for our peace. We find ourselves, our Vimys, our Fresnoys…….…its personal.

Advocate for Wounded Veterans

Posted By on April 11, 2017

Ethelbert "Curley" Christian

On left: One of Canada’s best known black soldiers of the Great War, American-born Ethelbert “Curley” Christian. 1936 Vimy Pilgrimage.

Ethelbert “Curley” Christian

Enlisting in 1915 with the 108th Battalion CEF, Curley Christian served on the Western Front with the 78th Battalion CEF, a unit of the Fourth Canadian Division. At the Battle of Vimy Ridge “Curley” Christian was crushed and trapped for two days, his wounds becoming gangrenous requiring the amputation of his forearms and legs. Curley’s recovery story seems a familiar one, falling in love with his caregiver a volunteer aide named Cleopatra McPherson, they were married in 1920 and raised a son, Douglas.

Curley’s life as the only CEF soldier to survive four amputations is not so familiar. After his surgeries at London’s Bethnal Green Military Hospital, Curley was transported back to Canada aboard the SS Llandovery Castle, and once in Toronto stayed at Euclid Hall for seriously wounded veterans. Curley was then moved to the Christie Street Veterans Hospital where he met his “Cleo”. Tending to Curley’s needs was a full time commitment for the couple but with the hospital director’s assistance, an appeal resulted in the establishment of a financial supplement for full-time carers of Canada’s wounded veterans. Such is the legacy of Curley’s Great War circumstance that the carer’s Attendance Allowance remains in place today.

Prosthetic arm

Prosthetic arm in the Great War galleries at the Imperial War Museum, London, England. (P. Ferguson image, March 2017).

In 1936 Curley Christian with his wife Cleopatra returned to Vimy as part of the pilgrimage and memorial dedication. At the ceremony Curley spoke with King Edward VIII who had met Curley previously when, as the Prince of Wales, Edward was on a Canada wide tour promoting the 1919 Victory Loan and taking part in many civic engagements.

Active with The War Amputations of Canada* organization for many years, Curley Christian, an advocate for Canada’s wounded veterans passed away in Toronto in 1954 and is buried at Prospect Cemetery.

Record of Amputations within the Canadian Expeditionary Force

Both Legs and Both Arms – 1
Both Legs – 47
One Leg – 1,675
One Foot – 232
Both Feet – 11
Both Arms – 6
One Arm – 667
One Hand – 141

Sir Andrew McPhail Kt., OBE, The Official History of the Canadian Forces in the Great War, The Medical Services, 1925, pages 393 – 394.

*’The War Amputations of Canada was first organized in 1918 as  The Amputation Club of British Columbia.

The True North Strong and Free

Posted By on April 10, 2017

Mourning figure at Vimy RIdge.

Mourning figure at Vimy Ridge.

They did not waiver.
This was Canada at its best.
The Canadians at Vimy embodied the true north, strong and free.

Extract from Prince Charles’ speech, Vimy, April 9, 2017

Within these few lines some words from Canada’s national anthem, …the true north, strong and free. Words to ponder upon a ridge or to feel at home or wherever Canadians might be, some place in life or at rest in this world of ours.

This past Sunday saw thousands of visitors upon a ridge in France, gathered to remember a battle of 100 years ago. Much was mentioned, stories told and yet one story escaped our  attention…those national words of our anthem and its Great War.

Robert Stanley Weir wrote the English lyrics to O’Canada in 1908 while sitting at his piano. Words of unity, a message that with the Great War it was said, “O Canada” was the patriotic song of choice among Canadians fighting in the trenches of Europe. Taking these words beyond the trenches to the men and women in uniform behind the lines, at home and abroad, instructing, training, recording – providing the administrative roles that kept the Canadian Expeditionary Force advancing let us remember them too. So too remember that casualties in war, soldiers in, and out of the line did not always die from bullets and shell bursts, gas or other human harm…but from infections and viruses, bacteria and other maladies.

Captain Douglas Weir served with the Canadian Army Service Corps and the Canadian Forestry Corps.

Captain Douglas Weir served with the Canadian Army Service Corps and the Canadian Forestry Corps.

One such soldier in uniform was Robert Stanley Weir’s son, Douglas, a biologist who in 1915 served our nation as an instructor in the uniform of the Canadian Army Service Corps.  On 10 May 1916 Douglas joined the CEF and once overseas was appointed as Chief Forester with the Canadian Forestry Corps serving in London, England and Scotland. It was while in Edinburgh that Douglas, on attachment to the Transport Service, became ill and one day after the Great War ended, Robert Weir and his wife Margaret lost their son 12 November 1918 to pneumonia following influenza.

Captain Douglas Weir was 34 years of age.

They did not waiver…..they lived…..felt dawn…..saw sunset glow. Loved and were loved….. wherever they may be…..our home and native land…..the true north strong and free.

Mourning figure at Vimy RIdge.

Mourning figure at Vimy Ridge.

Vimy Pilgrimage 1936 and the 16th Battalion CEF

Posted By on April 9, 2017

The Torch Be Yours to Hold it High

Vimy Memorial illustration incorporating a few lines from John McCrae’s, In Flanders Fields.

The Torch Be Yours to Hold it High

Pilgrimages to the Western Front especially by family members in search of their fallen sons and daughters was discouraged during the Great War. However, with the end of the war in November 1918, many families, friends and fellow veterans returned to these places of conflict to seek the final resting place of their kin.

Organized during the Great War, the Graves Registration unit which in turn became the Imperial War Graves Commission and now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission took upon the task of registration, reburial, the creation of memorials, war graves and their maintenance.

Montrose List

Vimy pilgrims passenger list from the SS Montrose. Six ocean liners transported the pilgrims overseas.

In 1936 the Canadian Legion organized the first large-scale pilgrimage for the dedication of the new Vimy War Memorial. Large visits to the site occurred again in 2007 for its re-dedication after restoration and in 2017 for the centenary.

Welcome to the Vimy Pilgrims

Welcome to the Vimy Pilgrims

The 1936 Vimy Pilgrimage Itinerary

The Voyage (July 16 – 25)
Arras (July 25)
Vimy Ridge (July 26)
Ypres (July 27)
London (July 27 – 31)

The French Tour: Organized from St, Martin’s Hall, London

Paris (August 1 – 2)
Amboise (August 3)
Blois (August 3)
Rouen (August 4)
Dieppe (August 5)

Pilgrims on the Vimy Memorial, 1936.

Pilgrims at the Vimy Memorial waiting for the arrival of King Edward VIII, 1936. (Image from The Epic of Vimy)

In addition to the many pilgrim there was also an official “organizing” party that departed prior to July 16, 1936. These officials were involved in a number of other visits. At the end of the tour the pilgrims returned to England from Dieppe and on to Canada.

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Vimy Pilgrimage Medal

The  Canadian Legion 1936 Vimy Pilgrimage Medal features a depiction of the monument. (PMPC stock image).

The following nominal roll is a record of known 1936 Pilgrims with connections to the 16th Canadian Infantry Battalion. Compiled from The Epic of Vimy.

CANADA

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Mr. Robert Craig, New Westminster
Three Robert Craigs are known to have served with the 16th Battalion.

Mr. Allan M. Davies, Prince Rupert
Private Allan Morton Davies joined the 30th Battalion CEF (2nd British Columbia Regiment) and transferred to the 16th. Davies served on the Western Front with the 16th from 26 April 1915 to 28 May 1916

Mr. R,O. Frisby, Vancouver
Mrs. R.O. Frisby, Vancouver
Private Robert Owen Frisby served on the Western Front with the 16th Battalion from 9 February 1915 to 22 May 1915. Frisby subsequently served with the Canadian Army Service Corps.

Mr. John J.K. Frost, Vanderhoof
A Private John Frost joined the 30th Battalion CEF and served on the Western Front with the 16th from 26 April 1915 to 4 September 1915, Frost was wounded 30 August 1915.

Mr. William J. Griffiths, Sapperton
Private William J. Griffiths originally joined the 47th Battalion CEF (New Westminster). Griffiths served with the 16th on the Western Front from 2 March 1916 to 16 May 1917 and 29 March 1918 to 29 December 1918. He was wounded 1 September 1918.

Mr. E. Homewood, Port Alberni
Private Edward Homewood joined the 30th Battalion CEF. Homewood who served with the 16th from 28 April 1915 to 30 May 1915 was wounded 19 May 1915.

Mr. Malcolm M. Lamb, Prince Rupert
Private Malcolm Manson Lamb originally joined the 30th Battalion CEF and served with the 16th from 26 April 1915 to 4 October 1918. Lamb was wounded 1 October 1918.

Mr. William S. Main, Vancouver
Mrs. W.S. Main, Vancouver
Acting Corporal William Sutherland Main an original member of the 16th served with the Battalion from 9 February 1915 to 16 September 1917.

Mr. Joseph Mason, Sidney
Mrs. Joseph Mason, Sidney
Private Joseph Mason joined the 30th Battalion CEF in 1914 and on the Western Front with the 16th Battalion CEF from 26 April 1915 to 13 January 1916. Mason was wounded 17 September 1915 and subsequently served with the 1st Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery from 14 January 1916 to 26 February 1919.

Mr. George Mossman, Vancouver
Miss Nina Mossman, Vancouver
Mr. Watkin Mossman, Vancouver
Mr. Wm. Mossman, Vancouver
Corporal George Mossman first joined the 47th Battalion CEF. He served with the 16th from 29 February 1916 to 10 October 1916. Mossman was twice wounded 7 September 1916 and 8 October 1916.

Mr. George T.J. Perowne, North Vancouver
Private George Thomas J. Perowne joined the 47th Battalion CEF. He served with the 16th Battalion from 8 May 1916 to 22 September 1916.

Mr. John C. Popham, New Westminster
Private John Christopher Popham served with the 16th from 26 April 1915 to 16 September 1915. He was wounded 8 June 1915. Afterwards Popham served with the 1st Divisional Signal Company in France from 17 September 1915 to 9 April 1919.

Richardson family at Adanac

Alice, David and Mary Richardson at Adanac Military Cemetery visiting the grave of Piper James Cleland Richardson VC. (Image courtesy of the Richardson family to the PMPC)

Family of Piper James Cleland Richardson VC
Miss Alice P. Richardson, Vancouver (Sister)
Mr. D. Richardson, Chilliwack (Brother)
Mr. David Richardson, Chilliwack (Father)
Mrs. Mary P. Richardson, Chilliwack (Mother)

Mr. Arthur E. Thomas, Vancouver
A Lance Corporal Arthur Thomas served with the 16th Battalion CEF from 9 February 1915 to 12 October 1916. Thomas also later served with the 3rd Field Ambulance, Canadian Army Medical Corps from 16 September 1915 to 3 July 1916 and with the 1st Field Bakery 4 July 1916 to 4 March 1919. Thomas also held positions with the Assistant Provost-Marshall and Canadian Record Office.

Mr. Alexander  Thomson, New Westminster
Mrs. Alexander Thomson, New Westminster
Private Alexander Thomson first joined the 43rd Battalion CEF (Cameron Highlanders). Thomson served with the 16th from 17 July 1915 to 24 May 1916 and from 5 September 1916 to 17 June 1918. Thomson was wounded 16 May 1916. Following service with the 16th he transferred to the Canadian Forestry Corps from 18 June 1918 to 28 January 1919.

ALBERTA

Major Thomas C. Floyd, Nanton
Acting Major Thomas Clive Floyd was an original member of the 45th Battalion CEF (Manitoba Regiment) and served with the 16th throughout the Great War. Floyd who first served on the Western Front 8 July 1916 was wounded three times 8 October 1916, 10 April 1917 and 9 August 1918. He last served with the 16th, having been in and out of the line multiple times 28 October 1918. Floyd was awarded the Military Cross (London Gazette 26 July 1917). The award was probably made for his actions at Vimy Ridge. “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He took command of his company during the advance. Though wounded, he led his men through machine gun fire tothe final objective, remaining until the end of the operation.”

Mr. K.C. Hicks, Calgary
Entry error in The Epic of Vimy. Kenneth Charles Hicks served with the 27th Battalion CEF not the 16th. Hicks is not recorded in the history of the 16th Battalion CEF.

Mr. Alec S. Irwin, Jasper
Mrs. A.S. Irwin, Jasper
Miss Gloria Irwin, Jasper
Miss Betty Irwin, Jasper
Lieutenant Alexander Staples Irwin first joined the 43rd Battalion CEF and commenced service in France with the 16th from 17 July 1915. Irwin, who was commissioned from the ranks, was wounded on three occasions 8 September 1916, 12 September 1917 and 30 September 1918. Irwin was awarded the Military Medal, for Bravery in the Field during hte Battle of Hill 70, “For great gallantry and determination on the 15th of Aug 1917. In leading his men forward he displayed the greatest initiative in systematically and thoroughly mopping up the whole area and capturing prisoners. It is impossible to speak too highly of his conduct throughout.”

Mr. Joseph W. Lackenby, Lethbridge
Mrs. Harriet Lackenby, Lethbridge
Private Joseph Wardle Lackenby first joined the 113th Battalion CEF (Lethbridge Highlanders), and served at the front with the 16th Battalion from 12 November 1916 to 17 April 1917. He later served with reserve units in England.

SASKATCHEWAN

Mr. Tom Michas, Saskatoon
Not shown in the 16th unit history as Michas and no Michas recorded in the CEF personnel service records database. Probably Private Athanasios Mihas, born at Thebes, Greece, who joined the 65th Battalion CEF (Saskatchewan Battalion). Served in France 8 March 1916 to 12 June 1916. Wounded 3 June 1916. Later served with the Canadian Army Medical Corps in England from 27 June 1917 to 6 December 1917.

Mr. Percy Twidale, Meadow Lake
Miss Enid M. Twidale, Meadow Lake
Private Percy Twidale originally joined the 113th Battalion CEF (Lethbridge Highlanders) and served on the Western Front with the 16th Battalion CEF from 28 November 1916 to 16 April 1917. Twidale was wounded 7 April 1917.

Mr. Otto H. Zimmer, Moose Jaw
Otto Henry Zimmer came to the 16th Battalion CEF from the 46th Battalion CEF. Zimmer served on the Western Front from 17 June 1916 to 10 September 1916 and was wounded 5 September 1916.

MANITOBA

Mr. James Cannon, Winnipeg
Not traced in 16th Battalion history. Five possible James Camerons recorded in the CEF personnel records database.

Mr. Ernest A. Hamp, Winnipeg
Mrs. E.A. Hamp, Winnipeg
Private Ernest Alfred Hamp joined the 236th Battalion CEF (New Brunswick Kilties) and served with the 16th Battalion CEF from 11 May 1917 to 14 August 1918. Hamp was wounded 8 August 1918.

Mr. George W. Hardwick, Nesbitt
Lance Corporal George William Hardwick came to the 16th Battalion CEF from the 101st Battalion (Royal Winnipeg Rifles). Hardwick served on the Western Front with the 16th from 27 August 1916 to 28 March 1919.

Mr. Philip H. Kindon, Russell
Correct spelling Kingdon. Lance Corporal Philip H. Kingdon came to the 16th Battalion CEF from the 236th Battalion and served on the Western Front from 21 June 1917 to 12 October 1918. Kingdon was wounded 1 October 1918.

Mr. Thomas Morris, Winnipeg
Private Thomas Morris joined the 108th Battalion CEF (Selkirk and Manitoba Battalion). On the Western Front Morris served with the 16th Battalion from 20 April 1917 to 20 August 1917. Morris was wounded on 15 August 1917.

Mr. Arthur Riches, Winnipeg
Mrs. A. Riches, Winnipeg
Private Arthur Riches formerly of the 101st Battalion CEF served on the Western Front with the 16th Battalion CEF from 13 November 1916 to 9 January 1919. Riches was wounded 1 October 1918.

ONTARIO

Mr. Walter Ahier, Toronto
Sergeant Walter Ahier served with the 16th Battalion from 9 February 1915 to 7 September 1916. He was wounded sometime between 7-9 September 1916.

Mr. Ben W. Allen, Ottawa
Mrs. Ben W. Allen, Ottawa
Lieutenant Benjamin Wood Allen first served in France with the 3rd Canadian Field Ambulance, Canadian Army Medical Corps, 9 February 1915 to 30 March 1916. Commissioned from the ranks Allen joined the 16th on the front 26 April 1917 and remained with them to 23 March 1918. Allen was wounded 4 March 1918.

Mr. William Bailey, Kenora
Two William Baileys are known to have served with the 16th Battalion. The second Bailey is also provided with initials for two other given names, William G.K. Bailey.

Mr. Peter Birnie, Fort William
Private Peter Birnie joined the 94th Battalion CEF and transferred to the 16th Battalion serving with them on the Western Front from 27 August 1916 to 14 November 1916, Birnie was wounded 9 October 1916.

Mr. Frederick A. Burt, Timmins
Private Frederick Audrey Burt originally joined the 94th Battalion CEF and served on the Western Front with the 16th Battalion from 17 August 1916 to 8 October 1916. Burt was taken prisoner of war 8/9 October 1916.

Captain William Douglas, Ottawa
Mrs. Wm. Douglas, Ottawa
Two William Douglas’ are recorded in the 16th Battalion unit history. However only one was commissioned. Honorary Captain, formerly Private, William Douglas served with the 16th Battalion from 9 February 1915 to 3 May 1915. Douglas was wounded 22 April 1915 and afterwards served with reserve units in England as well as the Canadian War Record Office in London. Douglas’ name was brought to notice of the Secretary of State for War.

Captain Percy F. Godenrath, Ottawa
Mrs. P.F. Godenrath, Ottawa
Acting Sergeant Percy Francis Godenrath first served with the 30th Battalion CEF. From 26 April 1915 to 2 September 1916 Godenrath served with the 16th Battalion on the Western Front. Subsequently commissioned in the 236th Battalion CEF (New Brunswick Kilties) Godenrath was posted to the Canadian Record Office in London, England.

Dr. J.H. Langtry, Fort William
Mrs. J.H. Langtry, Fort William
Sergeant John Harold Langtry joined the 101st Battalion CEF (Royal Winnipeg Rifles). Langtry served with the 16th from 10 September 1916 to 26 October 1918. Langtry was wounded 16 August 1918 and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), the Military Medal (MM) and the French Medaille Militaire. Langtry’s DCM was awarded “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during a raid. When an enemy machine gun opened a destructive fire on the party, after discharging a rifle grenade he rushed forward alone and leapt into the trench bayoneting the machine gunner and killing three others. His courage on this and on all other occasions has been most outstanding.” (London Gazette 3 September 1918). A citation for the award of the Military Medal has not been traced. The award was announced in the London Gazette 3 July 1919. The French award, the Medaille Militaire, was announced in the Canada Gazette 21 September 1918.

Mr. Frank McIlvenny, Toronto
Private Frank McIlvenny came to the 16th Battalion CEF from the 92nd Battalion CEF (48th Highlanders). On the Western Front, McIlvenny served with the 16th from 7 May 1916 to 16 September 1916 and was wounded 4 September 1916.

Mr. Charles S. Thompson, Toronto
The only record for a Charles Thompson in the 16th Battalion unit history is a Charles Bradlaugh Thompson. Charles S. Thompson not traced. CEF personnel records record three Charles S. Thompsons, whose records have not been scanned.

Mr. Thomas Valentine, Toronto
Private Thomas Valentine served with the 16th Battalion from 9 February 1915 to 18 July 1916. He then joined the 3rd Field Bakery remaining in France until 2 March 1919.

Mr. Frank S. Williams, Fort William (94th Battalion)
Mrs. F.S. Williams, Fort William
Mr. L. Douglas Williams, Fort William
Mr. Frank Williams, Fort William
Miss Margaret Williams, Fort William
Private Frank Smith Williams joined the 94th Battalion CEF serving on the Western Front with the 16th from 28 August 1916 to 4 October 1916. Williams was wounded 25 September 1916.

NOVA SCOTIA

Mr. Gerald S. Thompson, Truro
Mrs. G.S. Thompson, Truro
Acting Lance Corporal Gerald S. Thompson was a member of the 17th Battalion CEF (Seaforth Highlanders) before joining the 16th Battalion CEF. Thompson served on the Western Front from 12 March 1915 to 16 October 1916 and was twice wounded, 6 June 1916 and 8 October 1916.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

CALIFORNIA

Mr. Stanley C. Pomeroy
Mrs. S.C. Pomeroy
Private Stanley Clark Pomeroy was an original member of the 30th Battalion CEF. Pomeroy served with the 16th Battalion CEF from 3 May 1915 to 14 April 1917. Following service on the Western Front Pomeroy served with reserve units in Endland  from 15 April 1917 to 18 November 1917.

PENNSYLVANIA

Armour, SD

Major Stuart Douglas Armour DSO Served with the 16th Battalion CEF (Canadian Scottish) and commanded No. 1 Company, 67th Battalion (Western Scots.) (Image from The Western Scot Commemorative Number)

Major S.D. Armour
Lieutenant Stuart Douglas Armour was an original member of the 16th Battalion CEF serving with them as a Lieutenant from 6 April 1915 – 27 April 1915. Armour then transferred to the 67th Battalion CEF (Western Scots) and then the 102nd Battalion CEF (North British Columbians). His service was recognized with the awards of the Distinguished Service Order (London Gazette, 3 June 1919) and the Belgium Croix de Guerre. Armour was also Mentioned in Despatches. His final rank in the CEF was Major.

CONNECTICUT

Mr. Morris G. Jenkins
Lieutenant Morris Graham Jenkins was commissioned from the ranks and served with the 16th Battalion CEF from 9 February 1915 to 9 October 1918. Some of this service was spent recovering from wounds received in action 22 April 1915, 12 April 1917 and 2 October 1918.

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