Henry Walter Mungham

Henry Walter Mungham was my 2nd Great Uncle, older brother to my Great-Grandfather, James Charles Mungham, and Albert Mungham who I profiled in the early summer.

Born in England and immigrating to Canada with his family when he was 11, Henry was the oldest of Harry Mungham and Ellen Perring’s eight children.  Harry enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on September 17, 1915, just over a year after Britain and consequently Canada declared war on Germany. He was 18 years old.

Portrait of Henry Walter Mungham in Uniform

Henry Walter Mungham

Henry joined the 45th (Manitoba) Battalion, sailing for England in March of 1916.  The 45th was used as a reserve battalion to reinforce other groups, and in May of 1916, Henry was reassigned to the 31st  (Alberta) Battalion, and sent to join them in France.  The 31st was part of the 6th Infantry Brigade of the 2nd Canadian Division.

The summer into the fall of 1916 was the famous Somme offensive, a time where the remaining trappings of 19th century warfare gave way to the full-on industrialization of battlefields. The 2nd Canadian Division, including the 31st battalion, became most directly involved in this part of the conflict in September 1916 with the Battle of Fleurs-Courcelette. On the morning of September 15, 1916, the men were ordered to go “over the top” of the trench after a series of artillery fire was meant to clear the way. Zero hour was 6:20am.

In the immediate aftermath of this battle, Henry was listed as “wounded and missing.”  His family was informed, and this remained his status until June of 1917 when he was “declared, for official purposes, to have died on or since September 15, 1916.”  This status was changed yet again in February of 1918, when he was deemed to have been “Killed in Action on September 15, 1916.” Henry was 19 years old.

Henry’s remains were never found, and he is memorialized at the Canadian monument at Vimy.  I remember seeing pictures of my Grandmother, Henry’s niece whom he would have never met, standing beside his name at the memorial when she had the opportunity to visit it. She would sometimes say that her uncle died at Vimy, Canada’s most famous battle, but of course this was not the case.  As mentioned above, Henry’s brother Albert also enlisted, though never went overseas, a blessing for a family that had already lost a son.

I am honoured to share the commemorative certificate from the Commonwealth Ware Graves Commission for my uncle here.  I dedicate this post to my Grandmother and Henry’s niece, Mary Ellen Rajotte (nee Mungham), who passed away earlier this month.

Albert George Mungham

Albert George Mungham was my 2nd Great Uncle, older brother to my Great Grandfather, James Charles Mungham. He was seven years old when his family arrived in Canada and eventually settled in Newdale, Manitoba to farm in 1908.

Albert volunteered in early 1916, and was sent to Winnipeg with the 190th Overseas Battalion in anticipation of sailing overseas.  Like many, he was not entirely honest about his age on his attestation papers.  He aged himself by three years, saying he was 18 years and 10 months old, when really, he was 15 years and 10 months old.  He was tall and strong, working as a farmer, so it is likely that he was not questioned.

His service record is very thin, with a mention of a brief hospitalization for a sore throat and then a transfer to a depot battalion, and then there are discharge papers signed in March 1917 in Winnipeg in which he discharged due to being medically unfit.  Whether this had anything to do with the fact that he still would have been not quite 17 at the time is hard to say.

Although Albert never left Manitoba, he still gave over a year of his life to military service, at least part of it thinking that he could go overseas and face very real dangers–dangers that would have been very clear to him based on his brother Henry’s service which we will explore further later in the year.  This is still a commitment I think is worth remembering.

He later married and had two children.  He lived in various places in Manitoba and British Columbia, and passed away in New Westminster, BC in 1983 at the age of 83.

 

 

Richard John Perring

Richard John Perring, my 3rd Great Uncle, was born 122 years ago today. His parents, Annie Bester and Walter Perring, were my 3rd Great Grandparents.  Another way to look at this was that he was my Great-Grandfather’s uncle.  In fact, it is likely that my Great-Grandfather, James Charles Mungham, and his uncle knew each other, as there was only an 8 year age difference between them.  My Great-Grandfather emigrated from Britain to Canada with his family, including his parents Harry Mungham and Ellen Perring in 1908, arriving when he was three and a half years old. Ellen Perring was the eldest child of Annie Bester and Walter Perring, and though I can’t be sure, it is very possible that her and her family’s decision to move to northern Ontario was in part due to her parents’ decision to do the same thing the previous year. So when My 2nd Great Grandparents and their children arrived in Orillia, Ontario in 1908, Ellen’s parents, and her younger siblings, including Richard, who would have then been 11 years old, were there to greet her.

Three years later, in the 1911 census, Richard was listed as working as a labourer at a “wheel works.” Sometime between then and late 1914, he had moved south to Winchester, Ontario, slightly south-east of Ottawa, and began to pursue a career as a baker. It was also in Winchester that he married Mary Elizabeth Lambert in December of 1914 when they were both 19 years old.  Almost exactly a year later, in December of 1915, Richard attested to the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the 87th Battalion (Canadian Grenadier Guards) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

His unit sailed for Britain on the 23rd of April, 1916, one day after his 20th birthday. He spent the rest of the spring and the early part of the summer in training, and then on August 10, 1916, the unit sailed for France. By the fall of 1916, the 87th was fully involved on the 1916 Somme offensive. At some point during the more than month-long battle of the Ancre Heights, Richard went missing.  It was later declared that he had been killed on or before October 22, 1916, exactly 6 months after his birthday.  His remains were never found.

Back in Orillia, Ontario, my 2nd Great Grandmother had lost a brother.  She also had 2 sons of her own “in khaki” at the same time.

My birthday is April 22. I have now had 21 more birthdays that Richard ever experienced. Had he not been killed in France, there is even a possibility that he would have lived to celebrate his 81st birthday on the day I was born. The what-if’s of so many young lives resonate a lot more somehow when one can connect these kinds of clear timelines to them.

Richard is memorialized at the Vimy memorial in France.  I am honoured to post the Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorative certificate for my uncle here.

 

 

Joseph Perring

Joseph Perring was my fourth great-uncle and the father of Edmund Alfred Perring and Alfred Charles Perring. One hundred and three years ago today, he attested to the British Expeditionary force in the Army Service Corps.

Attestation Papers

Excerpt from attestation papers of Joseph Perring.

By the time he attested, his son Alfred had already been overseas with the 1st Welch Regiment for over two months.  He claimed on his attestation papers to be 45 years of age.

Age claim

Excerpt from attestation papers of Joseph Perring.

This, it would become clear before too long, was a lie.  Joseph was born in Rickling, Essex in 1862, the second youngest child of  James Perring and Emma Law, who were also my 4th Great Grandparents.  By the time he was 21, he had moved to Edmonton (London), and he married Sarah Elizabeth Oliphant, a domestic servant. Together, they would go onto have thirteen children, Edmund and Alfred being the 5th and 6th respectively.  What possessed him to volunteer is difficult to say.  He was under no obligation.  Even once conscription arrived in Britain, it only applied to men under 41 years old.

Regardless, join he did, as part of the Army Service Corps which provided provisions and supplies to the troops at the front. It is unclear what part of the corps he served in, but he was in France from April to October of 1915 which included the timeframe when his son, Alfred, was wounded and eventually died of his wounds.

In October of 1915, Joseph’s lie about his age began to unravel.  He ended up in hospital in France that month due to “muscular rheumatism,” and was invalided back to England.  For the following several weeks he was able to perform occasional light duty, but by January of 1916, his medical status was being evaluated by the medical board.  He then revealed that his true age was in fact 55, and that he had suffered from rheumatic symptoms off and on since 1902.  He was discharged in February of 1916 as being no longer physically fit for war service.

He went on to live a long life, even living through the entirety of yet another world war, before passing away in Edmonton, UK in late 1949 at the age of 87.

John Brady

This is an interesting post for me as this is the first entry where I have memories of people who had direct connections to the subject of the post. This makes it feel both more personal and more difficult to write.

John Brady was my 2nd Great Uncle.  He and his siblings, my Great Grandmother Elizabeth Brady, my second great uncle Thomas, and my second great aunts Emily (who my father remembers fondly) and Charlotte (who I met several times as a child), were all born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to John Brady and Emily Topping.  The family emigrated to Canada in 1904 when my Great Grandmother was 14, Thomas was 12, Aunt Em was 11, John was 8, and Aunt Charlotte was 3. The family settled in Toronto on Salem Avenue where John was a carpenter, as was his son Thomas according to the 1911 census.  In April 1911, John contracted Influenza and died soon after of pneumonia.  His eldest child, Elizabeth, had already married John Russell Miller in 1910, and had delivered her first child, Samuel, just ten days before her father’s death.  John’s other four children were still at home at the time of his death, the oldest of whom, Thomas, was 19.  In October of 1913, Thomas died of “phthisis pulmonalis,” otherwise known as Tuberculosis. Less than a year later, Canada was at war.

On February 5th, 1915, at the age of 19, John Brady enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, in the 7th Canadian Mounted Rifles. He arrived in England in June of 1915 where he was transferred to the 2nd Canadian Divisional Ammunition Column. It was with the 2nd CDAC that he first arrived in France in September of 1915.  From arrival in France until April 2, 1916, the John was was stationed near Berthen, about 20 kilometres south-west of Ypres, where the Divisional Ammunition Column functioned as the railhead where divisional ammunition was stored before being shipped to the front.  On April 2, John and 21 other ordinary ranks were transferred to the 6th Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery.  Just over a month later, he was transferred to the 5th Brigade stationed in Dikesbusch, Belgium due to a reorganization of the brigades.

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John Brady, Age 19

It is in May 1916 that there is a first mention in his record of an issue with his hearing as he was admitted to hospital for an infection in his ear.  This became a chronic problem for him, and was attributed to his exposure to gunfire. He spent the duration of the war alternately serving in artillery units and in hospital for his painful ear.

He finally returned to Toronto in May 1919 at the age of 23.  In March of 1920, he married Gladys Louisa Moat, and together they started their family. His first three children were born in Toronto, and at some point between 1922 and 1926, he and his family moved to the United States, first to Iowa, then eventually to Illinois, settling in Chicago. In total, he and Gladys had 8 children. In an email exchange with his Granddaughter, she told me that he worked at the Chicago Tribune, and was beloved by his coworkers; so much so that when he suffered a stroke at work in 1964, a group of them carried him to a nearby hospital, where sadly, he passed away at the age of 68.

I would like to thank John’s Granddaughter for sharing her memories and family stories with me as well as for permission to use the above photograph of John in uniform.

 

 

 

 

Genealogy Terminology

The firsts and the seconds and the 4ths and how many times removed… it can make your head spin. A quick look at the terminology of ancestors may be in order before you meet the Davids starting in less than a month. I hope this works as a reference that we can return to if things start to get confusing!

Pedigree

Generationally speaking, my great war ancestors tend to be 3 to 4 generations in the past. The simplest way to look at this is in terms of pedigree, or, from whom I’m directly descended.  For instance, two of my Great Grandfathers fought in the Canadian Expeditionary Force as seen in this first diagram.

Uncle

In other cases, I am not directly descended from the soldier in question, but rather they are an uncle or husband of an aunt.  Because we add the “great” to our uncles and aunts one generation earlier than our grandfathers (making my Grandmother’s sister my Great Aunt, the number of “greats” before an aunt or uncle’s title can make it seem that they are more distantly related than they are.  In the case of the second  diagram, he is my 3rd Great Uncle, and his sister is my 2nd Great Grandmother.

1st cousin

Cousins are where it gets a bit more complicated.  While any child of an aunt or uncle (no matter how many “greats”) is a first cousin, how far “removed” that cousin is depends on how many generations separate you.  In this example, this cousin is three times removed from me. The same person is my father’s first cousin twice removed and my children’s first cousin four times removed.

 

Removed cousin

Finally, what makes for a 2nd or 3rd cousin? As I mentioned above, any child of an aunt or uncle is a first cousin. That cousin’s children then become your second cousins, and their children your third cousins. The same rules of how to count the “removes” still apply, but the generational separation will have also been impacted by how many steps of cousins we are discussing.