Category Archives: Canadian Infantry

CWG: Private Joseph O’Hara

Private Joseph O’Hara

Joseph O’Hara was born in Manchester on 30th May 1882, the son of John and Kate O’Hara. There is little information available about his early life, although it is clear that at some point the family emigrated to Canada, settling in Toronto.

When war broke out, Joseph enlisted, joining the 1st Battalion of the Canadian Infantry. By 1916 Private O’Hara was not only back in Europe, but fighting on the Western Front. Details are scarce, but a contemporary newspaper sheds a little light on what happened to him next.

A contingent of 132 wounded men was detrained at Faversham last Friday morning. Forty-four of the number were taken to The Mount, seventy-one to Lees Court, and seventeen to Glovers (Sittingbourne).

With one exception the cases were all “sitting up” cases and were in a separate train by themselves. This train, however, was preceded by a train of “cot” cases which was going through to Chatham, but owing to the serious condition of one of the men – Joseph O’Hara, of the Canadian Expeditionary Force – the train was stopped at Faversham for his removal to the Mount Hospital. O’Hara had been badly wounded in both legs and he died at the Mount a few hours after his arrival there.

Faversham News: Saturday 23rd September 1916

Private Joseph O’Hara was 34 years of age when he passed away. He was laid to rest in the Faversham Borough Cemetery.

Private Joseph O’Hara

CWG: Lieutenant Arthur Tett

Lieutenant Arthur Tett

Arthur Hopkins Tett was born on 22nd August 1881 in Bedford Mills, Ontario, Canada. He was one of six children to lumberjack John Tett and his wife, Harriet. Both sets of Arthur’s grandparents had moved to Canada in the 1830s – John’s from Somerset, Harriet’s from Ireland – and his paternal grandfather had gone on to represent the county of Leeds in Ontario’s first parliament.

Arthur wanted to see the world, and viewed the army a a way to do that. After leaving school, he attended the Royal Military College, and was subsequently appointed a Signaller in the 3rd Canadian Mounted Rifles. He spent time in South Africa and, on returning to his home country, he took work as a bank clerk with the Union Bank, where he worked his way up to Head Office in Winnipeg..

He soon sought another challenge, and set up business in Outlook, Saskatchewan. In January 1913, Arthur married Bessie Kearns, an artist from back in Westport, Ontario. The couple settled in a detached property on Bagot Street, Kingston, Ontario and went on to have a son, John, who was born in 1917.

Arthur was still active in military circles at this point, playing a part in the local 14th Regiment. When war was declared, he again stepped forward to play his part, taking up a role of Lieutenant in the 253rd Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force: this was a regiment made up mainly of students from the Kingston area, and it is likely that Arthur’s expertise would have been welcomed.

Having initially enlisted on 1st November 1916, Lieutenant Tett was declared fit a few months later and sent to Europe in May 1917. Based in Somerset, Arthur was not far from where his paternal grandparents had come from, nor where his cousins still lived. Sadly, however, his time in England was not to be a long one.

Lieutenant Tett was admitted to the Military Hospital attached to Taunton Barracks, suffering from pneumococcal meningitis. Sadly, this was to get the better of him, and he passed away on 26th August 1917, days after his 36th birthday.

Arthur Hopkins Tett was brought to the village of Kingstone in Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in the graveyard of his second cousin George’s local church, St John and All Saints.

Bessie Tett did not marry again after her husband’s passing. She remained in Ontario for the rest of her life, passing away in October 1974, at the age of 89.

Arthur and Bessie’s son, John, was a babe in arms when his father died. He also remained in Ontario for much of his life, although he served in Europe during the Second World War. He married Sylvia Bird in September 1941; the couple went on to have two children. They returned to Canada when the war was over, and remained in Ontario until August 1974, when he passed away.

CWG: Ordinary Seaman Knight Cooke

Ordinary Seaman Knight Cooke

Knight Cooke was born in Vancouver, Canada, on 10th December 1892. He was one of nine children to John and Mary Cooke. John was a tallyman, selling goods by instalments. Knight, however, preferred working with his hands, and when he left school, found a job in a wood mill, as a planer.

When war came to Europe, those in the Commonwealth were asked to play their part. Knight enlisted, joining the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 22nd April 1916. His service records show that he stood 5ft 9ins (1.75m) tall and weighed 135lbs (61kg): he had dark brown hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion.

When he arrived in England, Knight was initially transferred to the 72nd Regiment of the Seaforth Highlanders, although he was quickly moved again to the 13th Field Ambulance. Within a matter of weeks, Knight was discharged under the King’s Regulations that suggested he would not become an efficient soldier.

At this point, Knight’s trail goes cold. It seems that he remained in England, and it seems that he was still keen to play his part. What is clear is that he enlisted in the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve at some point in the months after being discharged from the army.

Knight was given the rank of Ordinary Seaman, and was, by the summer of 1917, based at HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard at Chatham in Kent. This was a busy, overcrowded place at that time, and Knight found himself billeted in temporary accommodation at Chatham Drill Hall.

On the 3rd September 1917, the German Air Force carried out its first night-time air raid: Chatham was heavily bombed and the Drill Hall received a direct hit; Ordinary Seaman Cooke was among those who were killed. He was just 24 years of age.

Knight Cooke was laid to rest alongside the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham, not far from the Dockyard in which he finally managed to serve.

Knight’s headstone gives his surname as Cook, although his service records – and signature – give the spelling as Cooke.

CWG: Sergeant James Owen

Sergeant James Owen

James Alfred Owen was born on 4th August 1877 and was the middle of three children to James and Sarah Owen. James Sr was a woodman from Herefordshire, who had moved the family to Radnor in mid-Wales.

James Jr’s early life has been lost to time, but by the time he turned 30, he had emigrated to Canada. He settled in the west coast town of Prince Rupert and found work as a salesman. On 28th January 1910 he married Hattie Whidden: the couple went on to have three children – Annie, Louisa and Dorothy.

War was coming to Europe, and James wanted to play his part for King and Country. He enlisted on 4th December 1915, joining the 103rd Battalion of the Canadian Infantry. His service records show that he stood 5ft 9ins (1.75m) tall and weighed 156lbs (70.8kg). His physical development was recorded as ‘average’, he had a ruddy complexion, brown hair and brown eyes. It was also noted that he had a birthmark in his left groin and his teeth were poor and required attention.

Private Owen departed for England in July 1916 and was assigned to the Oxney Camp in Hampshire. He was promoted to Corporal and then to Sergeant and, over the next few years, he remained in England. He was primarily based in barracks at Bramshott – also in Hampshire – though did spend time in Seaford in Sussex.

Sergeant Owen survived the war, but was admitted to the Ripon Military Hospital on 8th February 1919, having contracted bronchitis and malaria. The hospital didn’t have any specific expertise in contagious diseases, so it is likely that his move to Ripon was one stage of his move back to Canada.

Sadly, the conditions proved too much for James. He passed away on 17th February 1919, at the age of 41 years of age.

James Alfred Owen’s body was brought to Castle Cary in Somerset, where his sister Eleanor lived with her family. He was laid to rest in the town’s cemetery.

CWG: Lieutenant Herbert Marshall

Lieutenant Herbert Marshall

Herbert William Hare Marshall was born in Ambala, India, on 19th August 1890. His father – Herbert Seymour Marshall – was a Colonel in the army, and was serving in India with his wife, Charlotte, when their children – Charlotte (known as Jessie) and Herbert Jr – were born.

The family were back in England by 1898, and had set up home in the Somerset seaside town of Weston-super-Mare. When Herbert Sr passed away that year, Charlotte was set up on a widow’s pension, and this allowed her to send her son to St Peter’s, a private boarding school in the town.

When her son’s schooling was complete, Charlotte took the family off to Canada. They settled in British Colombia, in Revelstoke, a mountain town halfway between Calgary and Vancouver. Here, Herbert found work as a bank clerk, but war came to Europe, and he felt a need to do his bit for King and Country.

Herbert enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in November 1914; his service papers record him as being 5ft 8ins (1.73m) tall, 148lbs (67kg) in weight. He had black eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion – something that he may well have inherited through his mother’s genes.

Shipped to England, by August 1915, Private Marshall had been discharged from the CEF as part of a transfer to the New Army – also known as Kitchener’s Army, the volunteer British Army raised as a direct result of the outbreak of war.

Detailed information about Herbert’s military service is lacking, although it seems that he joined the 17th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment, one of the regiments heavily involved during the Battle of the Somme.

By October 1916, however, the now Lieutenant Marshall had made another mover, this time joining the Royal Flying Corps. On the afternoon of 26th August 1917, he was an observer on a flight at Marham, in Norfolk. The pilot, a Lieutenant Challington, was banking the aircraft, when it dived and crashed, killing both men. Lieutenant Marshall had turned 27 years old the week before.

Herbert William Hare Marshall’s body was brought back to his adopted home of Weston-super-Mare. He lies at rest alongside his father in the town’s Milton Road Cemetery.

CWG: Ordinary Seaman William Stanley

Ordinary Seaman William Stanley

William Alfred Stanley is one of those names that seems destined to be lost to the annuls of time. Little documentation exists for his early life, but what there is gives some hints at a determined young man.

William was born in London to an Annie Stanley, who lived in the Kentish Town area of the city. At some point, he emigrated to Canada as, according to his wartime enlistment papers, he joined up in Ontario.

William enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 5th November 1915, and was initially assigned to the 44th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry. His troop embarked for England in July 1916, and, on his arrival he was transferred to the 98th Battalion.

It was at this point that things too an unusual turn. With a few months, Private Stanley was again transferred, this time to the 19th Battalion, and then again to the 4th Reserve Battalion from where he was discharged from the Canadian Infantry in February 1917 for being underage.

At this point, William seems to have been undeterred.

The next record for him – in fact the memorial to him – is his headstone. This confirms that he had enlisted in the Royal Naval Canadian Voluntary Reserve as an Ordinary Seaman. He was based at HMS Pembroke, the shore establishment at Chatham Dockyard, but there is no other information for him.

Ordinary Seaman Stanley died on 28th December 1917, at the age of 21. (His previous military discharge might suggest that he was, in fact, younger than this, but that is conjecture on my part.) There is no record of a cause of death and nothing in contemporary newspapers to suggest anything out of the ordinary.

William Alfred Stanley was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent, not far from the Naval Dockyard where he had been based.

CWG Private William Ridley

Private William Ridley

William Frederick Ridley was born on 7th April 1887 in the New Brompton area of Chatham/Gillingham, Kent, one of eight children to John and Elizabeth Ridley. John was an engine fitter in the nearby naval dockyard and, as the key employer in the area, William followed in his father’s footsteps.

Sadly, John died in 1904, and this seems to have been what spurred his son on to a better life. In 1907 William emigrated to Canada, settling in the town of Wentworth, on the banks of Lake Ontario.

It was in Ontario that William met his future wife. Edith Wass was the daughter of a local labourer; the young couple married on 5th June 1909, and went on to have two children, John, born in 1910, and Wilfred, who was born five years later.

During this time, William was putting his engineering skills to the test; his marriage banns confirm he was a machinist. While there is nothing to confirm any specific trade, given his proximity to the coast, dockyard employment seems probable.

On the other side of the Atlantic, war was breaking out; keen to do his part for King and Country, William enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 28th July 1915. Initially enlisting in the 76th Overseas Battalion of the Canadian Infantry, he was shipped to England a year later and transferred across to the 4th Battalion.

Once on the Western Front, Private Ridley was thrown right into the thick of things. His battalion fought at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette – part of the Battle of the Somme – and it was here, on 18th September 1916, that he was wounded.

William received shrapnel wounds to his head, hand and right leg. Initially treated on site, he was quickly evacuated back to England, and admitted to the 2nd London General Hospital in Chelsea. Sadly, however, his wounds appeared to have been too severe; Private Ridley passed away from them on 30th November 1916, aged just 29 years old.

With his widow and children still in Canada, William’s body was taken back to Kent. He lies at rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, close to where his mother was still living.

Larger memorial image loading...
Private William Ridley

CWG: Private Charles Dyer

Private Charles Dyer

Charles William Dyer was born on 12th May 1895, the youngest of seven children to Harry and Mary Dyer.

Harry was a farmer, who brought his family up in the village of Kewstoke, just to the north of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. He seems to have been keen to try new things because he and Mary lived for a while in Australia, and their first two children were born there. They then moved back to the UK in around 1887, settling back in Somerset.

By the time of the 1911 census, Charles was 16 years old, and all of the family were helping out on the farm. He seemed to share his father’s sense of adventure; in 1913, he emigrated to Canada, setting himself up as a farmhand in Winnipeg.

War was coming to Europe, however, and Charles joined up. He enlisted in October 1917, joining the Canadian Infantry. Leaving Canada on a troop ship on 19th February 1918, he arrived back in England on 4th March.

Private Dyer was soon installed at the Canadian Infantry camp at Bramshott in Hampshire. Within weeks of arriving in England, however, he had contracted influenza; this developed into pneumonia, and was admitted to the camp’s Military Hospital on 22nd May. Sadly, a week later, Private Dyer was dead. He was just 23 years old.

Charles William Dyer was taken back to Weston-super-Mare and laid to rest in the Milton Cemetery there.

Charles Dyer (on right) in Canada
(Courtesy of

CWG: Lance Corporal William Neads

Lance Corporal William Neads

William John Neads was born on 16th December 1892, the middle of three children to cab driver and groom William Neads and his wife Ellen. Both William Sr and Ellen were from Somerset, although William Jr and his brother Charles – who was eleven months older – were both born in the Monmouthshire village of Cwmcarn.

William’s parents soon moved the family back to Clevedon in Somerset, and, when he left school, he found work as a farm labourer. He was eager to see more of the world, however and, in April 1913, he emigrated to Canada.

After working as a labourer there for a year or so, back in Europe war was declared. Keen to do his bit for King and Country, William enlisted in the 1st Battalion of the Canadian Infantry in January 1915. He soon found himself caught up on the Front Line.

In October 1916, he was involved in the Battle of the Somme – either at Le Transloy or The Battle of the Ancre Heights – and received a shrapnel wound to his left shoulder. Initially admitted to the Canadian General Hospital in Etaples, he was subsequently evacuated to England and the Northern General Hospital in Leeds. He spent three months recovering from his injuries, and was back on the Western Front in January 1917.

Later that year, William – now a Lance Corporal – was involved in the fighting at the Second Battle of Passchendaele (part of the Third Battle of Ypres). He was wounded again, this time receiving a rather unceremonious gunshot wound to the right buttock. Treated at the scene, he was evacuated back to England and admitted to the Fusehill War Hospital in Carlisle on 17th November.

Sadly, despite treatment, Lance Corporal Neads’ health deteriorated, and he passed away from his injuries on 16th December 1917, his 25th birthday.

William John Neads was brought back to his family’s home of Clevedon, and buried in the clifftop churchyard of St Andrew’s, overlooking the sea.

Tragically, William’s father had died in May 1917, at the age of 51. While no details of his passing are recorded, it meant that Ellen had, in just over a year, seen her son wounded, her husband die and her son wounded again and die as a result.

CWG: Private Oliver Chubb

Private Oliver Chubb

Oliver Job Chubb was born on 3rd December 1884 in the village of Smallbridge in Devon. He was one of six children to Job Chubb, who was an agricultural labourer, and his wife Louisa. Oliver did not seem to be one for settling down; after his parents had moved the family to Ilminster in Somerset when he was just a child, by 1901 he was living in Lyme Regis, working as a carter in a market garden.

In 1902, at the age of 17, Oliver enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry. Eighteen months later he transferred to the Royal Navy, serving as a Stoker on a number of ships during what would become twelve years’ service, including the Royal Oak, Skirmisher and Newcastle.

In 1906 he married Rosina Keirle, a brickmaker’s daughter from Somerset. The wedding was in Bridgwater, and the couple went on to have three children, Olive, Albert and Cecil.

There is a sense that Oliver either had perpetually itchy feet, or that he was always running from something. The 1911 census found him aboard HMS Suffolk in the Mediterranean, where he listed himself as single. By the end of his naval service in November 1915, however, Stoker Chubb disembarked in the port of Victoria, British Colombia, and immediately signed up for military service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Again, however, indecision seems to have set in. He listed his marital status as ‘single’ and confirmed his next of kin as his sister Elsie, but on his military will, he left everything to Rosina.

Private Chubb was assigned to the 29th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry; they served on the Western Front from early in 1915 through to the end of the war. He was involved in the fighting at Ypres, and, in September 1916, was treated in England for an inguinal hernia. After three months’ recover, he returned to the front.

While Private Chubb seems to have had a good overall manner, there were blips in his character. In May 1917, he was sentenced to three days’ field punishment for being absent without leave for 21hrs. In March 1918, he was sentenced to another five days’ field punishment for going AWOL for 48 hours. On 11th April 1918, Private Chubb received 14 days’ field punishment for drunkenness on duty.

In December of that year, Oliver was invalided back to England for medical treatment; he was admitted to the Fort Pitt Military Hospital in Chatham with lymphatic leukaemia. Sadly, Private Chubb passed away shortly after being admitted, dying on 17th December 1918. He was 34 years old.

Oliver Job Chubb lies at rest in St John’s Cemetery in Bridgwater, where his family still lived.