Bromley, Joseph Edward: Service no. 53547

Digitized Service Record

Source: 18th Battalion Nominal Roll, April 1915.


Served with the Battalion until he was transferred to the 3rd Canadian Tunnelling Company. Prisoner of War.

Sapper Joseph Bromley, regimental number 53547, disobeyed Army regulations in England and in the field. He forfeited one day’s pay for being absent without leave in August 1915. For being drunk on active service, he was sentenced to twenty-eight days Field Punishment No. 1 in December 1915.109 On 28 November 1916, he was put under open arrest, according to Captain Urie, after he “…got too familiar with the [stolen] jug containing the rum issue in the dugouts at the mine at Trench 123.”110 The war diary records that sometime between 8 and 9 p.m. on 28 November, twenty-one-year-old Bromley deserted and went over to the enemy. The Daily Orders for31 December acknowledged Bromley’s desertion by logging: Absent without leave 28/11/16. (Auth: … 8/12/16).111 Bromley certainly possessed considerable information. But had he spilled the beans to the enemy? Did they act on it?112 The war diary for 20 December records that the enemy had concentrated shelling on trenches 122 and123 after Bromley had deserted. Urie recounted that the Germans launched a raid after saturating the area with shelling, inflicting casualties.

Upon returning to Canada, he was admitted to hospital where he claimed to have been wounded by a bomb and taken prisoner at Armentières on 28 November 1916.114 He had been hospitalised with wounds to his right hand and leg from a grenade according to his German POW file.115 He was approved for a war service gratuity even though soldiers were not to be paid if they had contributed to their own captivity by cowardice or neglect. Therefore, he was either not interviewed or not rigorously interrogated during the twenty-four hour repatriation process at the reception centre in Ripon.116 Bromley moved to Detroit upon demobilisation. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. The latter was returned in July1921. Bromley died August 1962 in Windsor Ontario and his widowr eceived a pension.

Source: Pascas, Brian (2018) “Clay-kickers of Flanders Fields: Canadian Tunnellers at Messines Ridge 1916-1917,” Canadian Military History:
Vol. 27 : Iss. 2 , Article 16. Pages 25-26.
Available at:

Excerpt from 3rd Tunneling Company War Diary outlining the “desertion” of this soldier.
Discharge Cert Joseph Bromley 53547
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