Harry Willie Edward Dodd

Harry William Edward Dodd was my first cousin three times removed.  We are both descended from Francis Joseph Langton and Sarah Bishop who were my third great grandparents, and Harry’s Grandparents. As a refresher since it has been a while since I wrote about this branch of my family, the Langtons arrived in Upper Canada (later Ontario) sometime before 1825, and the Bishops sometime before 1847 which was the year Sarah married Francis in Newmarket.  After settlings in Peterborough, ON, Francis and Sarah had 11 children, one of which being Harry’s mother, Sarah Ellen, and another being my 2nd Great Grandmother, Ada May Langton.

Sarah Ellen married John J. Dodd, a barber, in 1875 in Peterborough at the age of 22. Two years later, Harry was born, and he grew up in Northumberland county, just south of Peterborough. He grew up here, and began work in the tannery in Cobourg, which was a significant industry for the town. In 1897, he married Mary Eliza Raycroft, and the two started their family in Hastings, Ontario, still in Northumberland county. By the time the war began in 1914, Harry and Mary had eight children, one son, and seven daughters.

Harry enlisted in the 139th overseas battalion of the CEF in January of 1916 when he was 38 years old. After training, he sailed for England in September of 1916, and on arrival was transferred to the 36th Battalion, then again to the Royal Canadian Regiment before being sent to France in late December of 1916. The conditions he arrived to were atrocious. For the day he arrived with the regiment, the war diary states:

Very heavy rainfall. Deep dug-outs leaking, trenches in very bad condition, sides caving in, flooding C.T.s and Front Line. This is due to taking over unrevetted trenches with no Draining System. This work should have been done in the summer months.

Harry was with them for 15 months in France, which happened to coincide with 15 of the most active months for the RCR.  During this time, they were actively involved at Flers-Courcelette, Vimy, Hill 70, Ypres–some of the most intense battles of the war. In early 1918, Harry was sent back to England due to some generalized complaints about pain and nervousness.  He claimed he couldn’t march more than 1 mile, or walk more than 3.  His medical board report states that he has some generalized discomfort, and that “patient appears nervous.”  He was diagnosed with slight “disordered action of the heart.”  I am not a medical professional, but I can’t help but wonder if what Harry was suffering from was panic attacks.

Harry served the rest of the war in England with a service corps team.  He was again reviewed by the medical board before discharge, and was again recorded as being nervous with an inability to stand still, but nothing that indicated his military service would interfere with his ability to work upon return home. He returned to Canada in March of 1919. In the 1921 census, he is listed as living in Hastings with his family and working as an “agent.”

That 1921 census entry makes me sad.  It is so normal.  I know a census is not meant to me a narrative history of a person, but it still feels mean somehow that it doesn’t take into account the three year separation from his family, the experiences he had while away, and the impact it may have had over the two years since he was home. It embodies the expectation that things would return to normal.  He, I suppose was considered one of the lucky ones given that there were so many other young men from southern Ontario who didn’t return at all. Harry passed away in 1951 at the age of 74.

There is only one more entry left in this project, the 52nd David, my Great Grandfather Joseph James Foster.  I am taking some time with that post, and it may or may not appear next weekend, I may decide to post closer to the centenary of armistice the following weekend.  Until then!

Emma Perring and Frederick William Dyson

Emma Perring was my first cousin four times removed.  We are both descended from James Perring and Emma Law who were my 4th Great Grandparents, and Emma’s Grandparents.  As I detailed in earlier posts on this branch of my family, at some point between 1841 and 1851, James and Emma Perring and their family were committed to the Saffron Walden Union Workhouse.  In the 1851 census, the couple and four of their children are listed as “inmates” at the facility.  Charles, Emma’s father, was born in 1855, so it is possible that he was born at the workhouse, or soon after the family left.  At any rate, by the 1861 census, when Charles was 5, the family’s fortunes had improved enough that they were living in their own home, with James and his three oldest sons working as agricultural labourers, and his daughter Mary working as a house servant.

By the 1871 census, Charles, like his father and brothers was also working as an agricultural labourer, and three years later, at the age of 19, he had left Essex, and married Sophia Elizabeth Gray in London, after which they settled in Clapton in the east London borough of Hackney where Charles worked as a coachman and a groom. In 1876 Emma Sophia was born, the second child born to Charles and Sophia.  By 1891, Emma was no longer living with her parents, which I suspect means that she was a live-in servant elsewhere by the time she was in her mid-teens.  This would be consistent with her sisters Florence, Edith, and Daisy, all of whom were in service at some points as young women.

In 1903, at the age of 27, she married Frederick William Dyson, also 27, in Paddington.  Frederick worked as a milk carrier for a dairyman. They had two sons, in 1906 and 1908 respectively.

Frederick’s war records are not available, presumably burnt; therefore, I don’t know exactly when he enlisted.  He was a member of the 15th battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment, which was formed in late 1916, and was a transport battalion that spent the war in England, mostly in Southampton.  Frederick was a Lance Corporal with the unit, so had some leadership responsibilities.  The records I do have state that he died at the University War Hospital in Southampton on October 21, 1918, one hundred years ago this past week.  He was 41 years old: the same age I am now. I do not know whether there was an accident or an illness that resulted in his death, but the result was that my cousin Emma lost her husband, and she was left, also at 41, with her two young boys.  Emma lived the rest of her life in Paddington and passed away in 1939 at the age of 62. I am honoured to post the Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorative certificate for my cousin’s husband here.

 

Edwin George Mungham

Edwin George Mungham (or Mungeham) was the older brother of Frederick Thomas Mungham who I wrote about late last month. Four years older than his brother, Edwin bucked the trend of many of his family with a much more white collar job than those who were in the brickfields in Kent, and worked as a government porter in London. He was married in 1910 to Sarah Dunn, and at the time of the 1911 census, they were living in Lewisham.

His records, like his brother’s, were burnt, so I do not know precisely when he joined the war effort, but, regardless of his enlistment date, from the earliest points of the war, he would have been impacted due to his brother’s death in Belgium in the fall of 1915. His father, Edwin Sr., passed away in June 1918, adding another sorrow to his lot.

By the fall of 1918, the 15th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment was part of the final offensive of the war.  In Belgium, a series of liberating battles were being fought as the German forces were pushed further and further east by the creeping barrage style fighting of the allied forces.  The morning of October 14, 1918 saw the beginning of the Battle of Courtrai, and the British forces advancing at a pace of 100 yards per minute.  The war diary for the battalion said that:

…too much credit cannot be given to the men who though tired out and suffering of exposure, rose to the occasion, and put up the best show ever given by the Battalion.

Between the 14th and the 19th, landmark after landmark was gained by the British, and this major part of the offensive was a significant part of the 100 days push at the end of the war.  Edwin, as part of “the best show ever given by the Battalion,” was killed in action on October 14, 1918.  100 years ago today.

Edwin, and many others from the Cheshire Regiment, are memorialized at Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium.

Mungeham Tyne Cot (1)

I am honoured to share the commemorative certificate from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for my cousin here.

Thomas George Henry Newbury

Thomas Newbury was my first cousin four times removed.  We are both descended from Sarah Gill and Charles Bester who were my 4th Great Grandparents, and Thomas’ Grandparents. I am descended from their third child, Annie, while Thomas is descended from their 6th child, Caroline.

22-year old Caroline Bester married 28-year old widower George Newbury in Edmonton, Middlesex in 1887.  George had lost his wife the previous year, and had two sons, ages 6 and 8.  Five additional children were added to this family between 1888 and 1899, the youngest of which was Thomas.  George Newbury died in 1904 leaving Caroline with five children still in her care from ages 5 to 17.  Her two stepsons were by this time independent.  After four years on her own with the children and seeing her eldest daughter marry, Caroline decided to emigrate with her children, Millicent, William, Annie Constance, and Thomas, to Canada to join her sister Annie (my 3rd Great Grandmother) and her family, who had made the move to Canada the year before.

Caroline and her children, like Annie’s family, settled in Orillia, Ontario, a place where I still have many relatives to this day. Two years later, her daughter, Elizabeth, her husband, Harry Allinson, and their four year old daughter also joined the family in Orillia, and the Allinsons and Newbury families combined households.  Sadly, Elizabeth died soon after giving birth to her second daughter in 1911 due to eclampsia. Millicent Newbury,  like her sister, also had a daughter in 1911, but under very different circumstances.  At the time of the 1911 census, she and the baby were both living in York, Ontario (now Toronto) at Redemption House, a home for women “tired of a life of sin.”  William Newbury had also at this point moved to York, and would eventually relocate further south to the U.S. All in all, 1911 was a difficult year for the Newbury family.

The following years would see a stabilization for the family.  In 1912, Caroline married widower John Henry Coleman Armstrong with whom she would live out the duration of her life.  Annie Constance moved to York and married that same year.  Millicent returned to Orillia with her daughter, and in 1914 married a man who adopted her daughter and with whom she had 3 more children.  Thomas became an apprentice printer.

In June of 1916, at 16 years and 9 months of age, Thomas attested to the CEF and in July of 1916, he sailed from Halifax for England with the 116th Overseas Battalion. He trained at Hastings and Bramshott before being posted with the Canadian Military Hospital in Bramshott.  Throughout the rest of the war he trained with the “boy’s battalion” or the “young soldiers corps,” but he never left left England.  The entirety of his time overseas was in England.  He was among some of the first Canadian soldiers returned to Canada in late November of 1918.  He had just turned 19 the previous month.

In 1921, Thomas married Alice Edith May Latham in Toronto.  He and Alice had 5 children.  Thomas died in 1948 at the age of 48 in Bath, Ontario.

Mr. John Babcock, the last surviving Canadian Veteran of the First World War who passed away in 2010, was also part of the Young Soldiers Corps.  He describes his experience in that corps here.