Aikin, David: Service no. 880497


Digitized Service Record

Source: Duty Nobly Done Roll of Honour 18th Bn. compiled and edited by Edward H. Wigney.


Barnardo boy per Dawn Hueston.

British Home Child

Photo of David Aikin – David was killed in action during the Battle for Hill 70. He left a wife and two children. Source: CVWM

[DRAFT of] Letter by Private David Aiken, reg. no. 880497.[i]

Story Map of this Letter

Mar 22. 1917

Well we left Chatham about ten oclock [sic] on the C.P.R. everything was moving fine[,] there was a large crowd at the station to see us off and say Good Bye to the boys nearly every man carried a box of goodies that had been given to him by friends[.] The 241st Kiltie Band led the  parade to the station. We arrived in London at one oclock [sic]. Everything was going good the boys were setting themselves to have a good time on their long journey[.] We met several of our old friends in London that have been transfered [sic] to special service.

The weather was cooler when we got this far  after getting water and coal here we started again[.] [T]he boys were playing games and singing and doing everything for a general good time[.]

Along this route we see the old familiar scenes that we had seen several times before on our way to Camp Borden[.] We arrived in Toront [sic] at six oclock [sic] P.M. here we got off for a few minutes and stretched [?] ourselves and we found a dairy and it certainly was well patronized by the soldiers for a while. We got a change of engines then started on our way again we were begining [sic] to get tired so lay down to have a sleep but were awakened about eleven oclock [sic] P.M. by the playing of Bagpipes and cheering and to our surprize there was a large crowd around there [?] I could not find out the name of the Place.

One thing I did not know was that we were getting into a colder Part of the country than we were used to. When I woke up this morning I was surprist [sic] to see about three and a half feet of snow covering the ground[.] This was quite a change to the place we had left the day before[.] [S]hortly after we were up the train stopped at place by the name of St. Clet[ii] this sounded like a french name to me so I enquired and found that we were about 22 miles from Montreal and right amongst the French Canadians[.] [W]e had Breakfast at 7 oclock [sic] after arriving in Montreal[.] We stayed there for about 2 hours and here we met some of our old friends that had transferred[sic] to the Construction Batt. this seemed like a military meeting place we met the 70th & 71st Battries [sic][.] The 205th Construction Batt[,] the Queens [sic] Ambulance Corps & and the 256th Batt so there was quite a bunch of soldiers there for a while all destined for the same place.

Here we changed from the C.P.R. to the Canadian Government Railways[.] On leaving Montreal we crossed the great steel Structural Bridge 2 ¼ miles long wh over the St Lawerence [sic] River. [A]fter this we struck quite an open country[.] The People were mostly French along here and seem to be living in Settlements[,] their farms are laid out backing up to each other and look as if they were about 40 rods[iii] wide and two miles long T[]he the Roads are about 4 miles apart and here the People are settled like a village.

It looks like Poor farming country and judging by the size of the barns and the appearance of the houses the country is up to much all the buildings have a neglected appearance. [T]his kind of land stretches for hundreds of miles then we come to the foothills of the Laurentians and see some beautiful scenery. We got as far as Diamond Junction we could not see much of it as it was dark when we got there. [W]e could see the lights of Quebec City from there[,] but we did not get close to there.

Mar 24

This morning on awaking we found ourselves at a little town called River DuLoup[iv] [sic] with a population of about 2000 People. [T]here seemed to be a great Lumber industry here although what woods we could see was all scrub Pine and white Birch.

Leaving here we come into sight of the St Lawerence [sic] where one sees some of the most beautiful scenery that is to be seen in the world we run close to the river for a while then it is hid from use by some small mountains these mountains are covered with just scrub and white Birch trees and extend for miles along the river the we emerge from a valley and find ourselves on the very edge of the River bank from here we could see mountains away in the distance accross [sic] the river there are some little fishing villages here and a more prosperous looking ings. now we get to Mont Joli here we have to wait for sidetrack and wait for a train to pass it was loaded with Nurses and wounded soldiers coming from the front we started on our way again and travelled through a rough and hilly country some of the hills were almost mountains some about 600 feet high and covered with deep snow along through here there is thousands of cords of Pulp wood piled along the railroad tracks there are alot [sic] of small sawmills through this part of the country but few of them seem to be working.

Well we got to Campbellton in the evening it is quite a nice town just on the edge of Quebec and New Brunswick Provinces this seemed more like civilization for the People were English speaking. we had travelled a long way through French speaking terrtory [sic] there was quite a crowd at the station when we got there[,] we felt almost at home here. [B]ut we did not stay long as it was getting quite dark by this time for the night.

Sunday Mar 25

We arrived at Moncton this morning a beautiful town it was quite quiet as it was Sunday but it showed signs of being Prosperous now we travelled through a part of this country that was made to look at[.] I think for it is hills and valleys it is worth half a persons life to take a trip through this country. Well we reached Truro at 1 oclock [sic] and we took a little march around the Town for exercise[.] [I]t is a very pretty place with its Brown and grey Stone buildings.

We arrived in Halifax at 4,30 P.M. we had just a short walk to the docks where we got aboard at 7.30 and then we got some supper which certainly tasted good for we had an early dinner and it was [a] longtime wait for supper[.]

Mar 28

Well we are still in the harbour getting accquainted [sic] with the ship, they certainly give us good meals here. We get three course dinners every day and we certainly have good appetites since getting into the ocean air[.]

Just came off guard[.] [T]his make twice I have been on guard since I joined the army[.] [T]his ship is well guarded in case there should be any spies on board. We have had Pysical [sic] drill and life boat drill and wore our life belts for the first time 8.P.M. [W]e weighed anchor at 4 oclock [sic] this afternoon and things became interesting at that time our convoy an auxiliary cruiser leading the way out of the harbour there were some pretty sights to be seen coming out[.] [W]e are now getting out on the real ocean and some are beginning to show signs of it.

Mar 29

Well I got up at six oclock [sic] this morning and took a walk around the Promenade deck[.] [T]he air was cool and bracing it was a beautiful morning the ocean is quite calm the air is so fresh that it made me hungry and I forgot that I used to get seasick so went below and eat a good breakfast[.] [W]ell we did nothing but eat and lie about all day it was to [sic] nice a day to work I guess[.]

Mar 30

[N]ot quite so nice yesterday it is getting a little breezy we seen a little manovering [sic] for action by the boats today and the gunners showed us a little of thier [sic] marksmanship by shooting at a barrel 800 yards away and they smashed it to atoms, some fine shooting that. I don’t think subs would stand any chance with that kind of stuff

Three more days have passed the sea has been quite rough and there has been a lot of sea sickness but we done a little Pysical [sic] drill and carried out our Boat drill[.]

April 4

Well it was a misty raining morning. [T]he sea is calming down and is more like living on we are about to enter the war zone[.] [W]e recieved [sic] our escorts about 9.30 this morning they are torpedo boat destroyers they look to be about 75 ft long and 10 ft wide and they can travel at a great speed. [They] are a trim looking little boat they are scouting around looking for subs all the time[.]

April 5

The morning was fine our escorts are still busy hunting for subs. Well we are going to sleep on the deck tonight in case anything happens the boats are swinging over the sides and rations in them ready for any Emergency calls[.]

Apr 6th

We are still on a calm sea. [W]e will soon be out of the danger zone and we are now in sight of old Ireland and there are all kinds of boats out here and they are fishing boats they all have a nice little gun mounted on their bows so that they can take a shot at a sub or mine[.] [I]t certainly is fine for boat riding on such a calm sea[.] We expect to dock about midnight so quite a few of us are going to stay on Deck and watch the Proceeding of docking.

Apr. 8

Well we have reached camp at Bramshot [sic] we are now under canvas.

[W]ell we had quite an experience coming up to Liverpool when we were about 15 miles from there it was about 12 oclock a.m.[v] we had just got our Pilot aboard and everything looked lovely and we were feeling quite safe so most of us went down below for a little while, till we would get close to the dock. I had just laid down on a bench by the table and was covering my eyes with my cap when there was a crash and rattle everything that was loose and glasses came down[.] [T]he ship seemed to rise right out of the water then it seemed as if it was going away down into the bottom of the ocean. On realizing that something had happened I found myself on my hands and knees [“]hollering grab your lifebelts boys[“] but somebody had already grabbed mine[.] I had laid it on the floor beside me when I laid down but I soon got another. We got up on deck and to our boats as soon as possible[.] [T]here was men Pouring out of the gangways. There was no excitement everyone seemed to be saying “take your time” and they did so. No one got hurt going up. There was two men of the 244 Batt. killed and a couple of men of the 149, and one of our men got hurt by the explosion of the mine. It will take a long time to forget the sound and the gas that comes from it.

We got to our boats and the roll called all men on board answered except two which was killed one of these it was said was seen to fall through the hole that was torn in the ship. After Roll call we stood too [sic] our boats the ship began to settle  – it looked as if we would have to use the lifeboats but the pumps were got to work and we travelled at half speed. We stayed on deck by our boats and sung songs till we got to Liverpool at about five oclock then we went below and got what we could of our equipment we then disembarked and had to wait a couple of hours for a train. At last it came and they were curious looking articles with their little engines and coaches that are divided into compartments ten persons in each part. We had an interesting trip from Liverpool to Liphook on our nearest station to the camp we were quite tired but things were new to us so we took in all the sights along the way. There are some very large cities and they all seem to be very busy. When going through the large cities the Railways are generally overhead up about two stories above the street, and they run under ground quite a bit. Also in the cities they have an under ground railway that will take you to about any part of the city the same as street cars do in The Canadian cities.

[Note on back]

This is about enough to put in one envelope so will write a letter this evening if possible.

[i] Aiken, David. “Untitled Letter.” Received by Myrtle Aikins (Most Probably), 22 Mar. 1917. This letter was contributed by a family member. The letter is edited for clarity inserting punctuation and paragraphs.

[ii] Saint-Clet, Quebec is east of Montreal before the Ottawa River. It is approximately 50 km. from downtown Montreal.

[iii] A rod is approximately 16.5 feet/5 metres in length.

[iv] Rivière-du-Loup.

[v] Most likely the morning of April 7, 1917. At this time no reference to this event is known to the transcriber in regards to a mine or torpedo striking the S.S. Lapland.

Summary of Service[i] for Private David Aikin, reg. no. 880497

September 21, 1892BornBorn Belfast, Ireland.
1901Emigrates to CanadaEmigrates to Canada aboard the SS Tunisia. He emigrates under the Barnardo organization.
March 17, 1916EnlistsEnlists with the 186th Battalion at Chatham, Ontario. He is a married 23-year old labourer living at Wheatley, Ontario. His wife, Myrtle, is his next-of-kin. He has 1 year’s experience with the 1st Hussars. Standing 5’4” he is recorded to have a medium complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. He weighed 130 pounds. He is of the Presbyterian faith.
September 13, 1916Medical ExamMedical exam at Camp Borden. Passed.
February 26, 1917Makes WillMakes out a will leaving all his real and personal estate to his wife, Eley [Elsie] Myrtle, Aikin.
February 28, 1917Medical BoardMedical board at Chatham. Passed.
March 1917Assigns PayAssigns pay of $20.00 per month to his wife Elsie Myrtle Aikin. She is also for a Separation Allowance for the same amount from April 1916.
March 22 to April 7, 1917In TransitDuring his transit he writes a fascinating letter about his journey.
April 7, 1917ArrivesArrives England aboard the SS Lapland.
April 7, 1917TOSTOS with the 4th Canadian Reserve Battalion at Bramshott.
June 16, 1917SOSSOS 4th Reserve Battalion and TOS with the 18th Battalion.
June 17, 1917ArrivesArrives at No. 2 CIBD at Etaples, France.
July 8, 1917ArrivesArrives at 2nd Canadian Entrenching Battalion.
August 18, 1917ArrivesArrives in the field with the 18th Battalion.
August 21, 1917Killed in ActionKilled in action by an enemy shell bursting in road.   The Battalion had been very active in service that month and the War Diary relates the following on that day:   MOVE. See OO #11 attached.
9:30 AM
The Battalion left BULLY-GRENAY at 9.30 a.m. and proceeded to BOUVIGNY HUTS going in Corps Reserve. On the road “D”coy sustained 52 casualties, 23 of which were fatal, by the bursting of an enemy shell (high velocity). This bringing our casualties to approximately 220 during the tour.
Post Death 1917Interred.Interred at Etaples Military Cemetery, Etaples, Department du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France, Plot XVI. D. 12. He rests with 17 other members of the 18th Battalion.   Epitaph: THY WILL BE DONE
February 28, 1920Medals and DecorationsMedals and Decorations for this soldier despatched to Mrs. M. Aikin, Box 106, Leamington, Ontario.   Silver Cross despatched same date to his mother, Mrs. Jane Aikin, 559 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit, Michigan.
July 23, 1920War Service GratuityWar Service Gratuity of $180.00 issued to Mrs. Myrtle Aikin of Leamington, Ontario.
January 13, 1921Scroll DespatchedScroll serial no. 29604 sent to Mrs. M. Aikin, Box 106, Leamington, Ontario.
January 14, 1921Plaque DespatchedPlaque serial no. P24927 sent to Mrs. M. Aikin, Box 106, Leamington, Ontario.


AWLAbsent Without Leave: Generally, a soldier would be deducted 1-days pay for every day absent. In some cases, the soldier would be confined to barracks. Sometimes it was a combination of both.
A ClassificationMedical Board Classification that determined your fitness for duty. A1, A2, A3 and A4 were assigned to different units with the expectation that these men would be able to serve with active combat units. See this link for more information.
B ClassificationMedical Board Classification that determined your fitness for duty. B1, B2, and B3 were assigned to different service units such as railway and forestry corps. See this link for more information.
D ClassificationSee this link for more information.
CAMCCanadian Army Medical Corp
CBConfined to Barracks: a punishment for minor infractions.
CCDCasualty Convalescent Depot: a depot at a base where men, in their final stages of convalescing, would be prepared for duty depending on their rating.
CCHCasualty Clearing Hospital
CCRCCanadian Corps Reserve Camp
CCSCasualty Clearing Station: this facility was attached to rail transportation from the front to hospitals on the coast of France
CDCCanadian Dispatch Camp
CFACanadian Field Ambulance/Canadian Field Artillery. Most common usage would be Canadian Field Ambulance.
CIBDCanadian Infantry Base Depot: This facility was a holding area for soldiers in preparation for their assignment to a unit or battalion.
DAHDisorderly Action of the Heart
DRSDivisional Rest Station
GSWGun Shot Wound – this was a generic term for all projectile penetrating wounds.
In the FieldThis term relates to a soldier arriving at an active-duty unit after transporting from England, to France, and then to his duty assignment. The routing varied from soldier to soldier and could take 2-3 days to several months.
MDMilitary District
OOOperational Order
PUOPyrexia of Unknown Origin: This was a term used for any illness that could not clearly be identified and typically was related to influenza symptoms.
SOSStruck Off Strength
TOSTaken On Strength
CAMCCanadian Army Medical Corp
CCHCasualty Clearing Hospital
CFACanadian Field Ambulance
DRSDivisional Rest Station
GSWGun Shot Wound – this was a generic term for all projectile penetrating wounds.
MDMilitary District
PUOPyrexia of Unknown Origin
SOSStruck Off Strength
TOSTaken On Strength
WORDWestern Ontario Regimental Depot

[i] The Summary of Service for this soldier is meant as just that, a summary of his service. It is not intended to be an exhaustive biographical relation of his life or his war service. Some information may be deliberately suppressed by the author out of sensitivity to the soldier. Readers are encouraged to reference the actual service records available at the Library and Archives Canada in PDF format if they wish to learn more about this soldier. Such additional information (i.e. hyperlinks etc.) are for informational purpose only and no claim to verification or accuracy is made by the author of this summary.

Collage of images regarding Pte. Aikin. Source: From Dawn Heuston Remembering Chatham Kent Heroes Facebook Group
Collage of images regarding Pte. Aikin. Source: From Dawn Heuston Remembering Chatham Kent Heroes Facebook Group
Source: CVWM
“Killed in Action” By a shell burst on road.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: