Three buddies, aged 25, 27, and 31-years old, from Walkerton joined the 18th Battalion on the last two days of October 1914. They were from Walkerton, Ontario, and they would be distinguished as being three of the few “Originals” to serve the entire war with the Battalion. We have a unique perspective of their war... Continue Reading →
The photograph in the newspaper clipping is grainy, yet you can tell that the young man in it is smiling proudly, at ease, in his 7-button Canadian Expeditionary Forces uniform. The date of the photograph is unknown but is undoubtedly taken at some time prior to the September 1918 publication in the London Free Press.... Continue Reading →
John Taylor Dewar (left) with his older brother, William Robb Dewar (Right). Man in middle is unknown. My Great-Uncle, Private John Taylor Dewar, reg. no. 730016, died from wounds received near Telegraph Hill, south-east of Arras, France on April 3, 1918. He was 20-years old at the time and his death became an object memory... Continue Reading →
Christmas 102-years ago. The 18th Battalion was stationed in the Allner region of Germany. It had arrived December 17, 1918, and with the war’s end and the approach of Christmas the men of the 18th were going to be able to celebrate their first Christmas in peace since 1913. Below is the War Diary entry... Continue Reading →
Captain Frederick George Newton was an original member of the 18th Battalion when it was formed in the fall of 1914. His records indicate he joined the Battalion on December 28, 1914 and served with the Battalion until he was assigned to the 4th Field Company on October 21, 1917. During his service with the... Continue Reading →
The last in the 3-part series about Private Hugh Russell, reg. no. 54180, a British Home Child. Thanks to Kristen Den Hartog for this detailed account of this man. This helps us keep the memory of those that served and the variety of the backgrounds of the men who served with the 18th Battalion.
“We all sympathize with you in your great affliction…”
In Part 1 of Hugh Russell’s story (see also Part 2), I recounted Hugh’s early years and his arrival in Canada with the Barnardo’s organization in 1906. I mentioned, too, that his sister Ethel followed with the same organization in 1908, and that his brother, Robert, came in 1912. What prompted parents Thomas and Sarah Russell, the coppersmith and weaver from Belfast, to send their young children away? I haven’t quite got to the bottom of this, but I have been able to find out a little more about Ethel and Robert.
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Part 2. Kristen Den Hartog expands on the life and experience of this soldier with additional research and insight.
“It seems a person is in danger wherever he is.”
Last time, I told you about the early years of Hugh Willis Russell, who came to Canada at age 11 with the Barnardo’s organization, and landed in Wingham, Ontario, only to cross the ocean again in 1915 as a soldier. In January 1916, in a letter to young Graham Wray, the son of the farmer Hugh worked for, Hugh claimed war was “a great life,” and that soon he’d be able to “kill a lot of Germans.” But his enthusiasm for war quickly diminished.
It’s interesting to note that when Hugh first enlisted, he was described as having no distinguishing marks or tattoos, but at some point overseas, he had a horse’s head and a horseshoe tattooed on his forearm. His love of horses is evident in his letters home to Graham, some of which were published in the
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Kristen Den Hartog expands on the life and experience of this soldier with additional research and insight.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m currently working on a new book about WW1 soldiers and medical staff returning to Canada after the war. The book is non-fiction, though not family-related this time, however the research chops Tracy and I acquired writing The Cowkeeper’s Wish have come in extremely handy for this new project. Sometimes the stories are so fascinating I go down rabbit holes and disappear for great lengths of time.
So it went when I came across an article about a man named Hugh Russell. I was on a mission to find out more about shell shock — what we would now call PTSD — and how men grappled with it for years after the war was over. In a newspaper archive, I found a 1937 article about a veteran having gone missing from the farm he was working on near Wingham…
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With special thanks to Kristen Den Hartog who made me aware of this soldier. She is currently researching this soldier. Please reach out to her if you can assist her. The impact of physical and psychological injuries to the soldiers that served with the 18th Battalion will never be fully understood. These injuries were, however,... Continue Reading →
McCalmont, Alexander: Service no. 880093 This soldier died of wounds on June 11. 1918. He received these wounds on June 10, 1918. Immigration Story regarding this soldier. June 1918 War Diary.
Submitted by Dawn Hueston in memory of one of our valiant soldiers... 101 years ago this soldier perished for his country. Albert Newman, by all accounts (through research) was an orphan boarded out at least by the age of two to family(s) in England. He would eventually be shipped to Canada in 1907, by Dr... Continue Reading →
Introduction One of the challenges about researching the men of the 18th Battalion is that the information on hand, though very valuable, in the form of their individual service records at the Library and Archives Canada gives a snap shot of that person’s war experience. This is more of a “photograph” of time. Each page... Continue Reading →
In a letter written in the fall by Private Joseph Edgar McAfee, regimental number 651738 the news that Neil McDermid[i] late of Glamis [Glammis], Ontario was wounded made its way across the Atlantic to find its way into the Paisley Advocate as “news from the front.” In the letter, Private McAfee relates that a fellow... Continue Reading →
History and memory can be tenuous. As time passes and the source of history - the people who experienced the events - fade with each death. With each passing year after an event, be it small or world shaping, there is a loss of the source of information about the event. There are books, archives,... Continue Reading →
On the 22nd of September 1914, the war was in its 39th day[i]. A young man, all of 20-years joined the 1st Battalion CEF which had only been created 20-days before. This soldier, reg. no. 1288904[ii] served with that battalion with a clean record, but it was determined that on October 2, 1914 at Valcartier,... Continue Reading →
With thanks to Patrick Dennis, Colonel (RET’D), OMM, CD who reached out to me and pointed me in the right direction. His work to inform us about the role of conscription can be best appreciated by his book, “Reluctant Warriors: Canadian Conscripts in the Great War” Without his help and his work my interest and... Continue Reading →
Private (later Lieutenant) Wesley Strang Caldwell[i] was yet to earn the Military Medal for his actions at Courcelette, the Somme, when this letter was published in the Huron Expositor on March 10, 1916. He was 20-years old, just shy of his 21st birthday by 40 days. He was a combat veteran claiming to have served... Continue Reading →
Thanks for Peter Moogk for reaching out to me we have another moment if the 18th Battalion's history captured and shared. This image shows the officers of "C" Company in September 1915 at West Sandling. To put that month in context, the Battalion left for England on the night of the 14th and had been... Continue Reading →
Bouvigny Huts. Bouvigny Huts. Those two words may have spelled mixed feelings with the Battalion. This would be the first time they ware billeted there but other battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force reported the conditions for this facility in the rear that “…life in the trenches was less irksome and monotonous and no more... Continue Reading →
The PDF file attached to this post is a copy of the 18th Battalion War Diary as one contiguous document. The document is comprised of the monthly diary entries as each one was written and are now combined into one document compiled from all the entries that were transcribed. There is information in the forward... Continue Reading →