Tag Archives: Canadian Expeditionary Force

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: 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: Second Lieutenant Arthur Bentley

Second Lieutenant Arthur Bentley

Arthur Webb Butler Bentley was born on 1st January 1884 to Dr Arthur Bentley and his wife Letitia. The oldest of five children, they were a well-travelled family. Dr Bentley had been born in Devon, but his and Letitia’s first two children were born in Singapore, while their second two were born in Ireland, where Letitia herself had been born.

By the time of the 1891 census, the family were living in Paddington, London, where Arthur’s father was a medical practitioner.

Arthur Jr looked set to follow in his father’s footsteps; becoming a student of medicine in Edinburgh, although it seems his life was destined to take a different route.

By 1905, his father was working at a practice in Egypt. It was around this time that his mother made the newspaper headlines.


A painful story was told at the Clerkenwell Sessions when Letitia Bentley, the wife of a doctor holding an official position in Cairo, pleaded guilty to the theft of a diamond and ruby ring from the shop of Messrs. Attenborough, Oxford Street [London]. It was stated that Mrs Bentley was addicted to the drinking of spirits and chlorodyne, and that 240 empty bottles which had contained the latter drug had been found in her rooms in Bloomsbury.

Dr Bentley said he would keep his wife under strict supervision in the future, and she was bound over.

Shetland Times: Saturday 3rd June 1905.

The ring concerned was valued at five guineas (around £700 in today’s money), and another report confirmed that her husband “supplied her with ample means” [financially].

In the 19th century, chlorodyne was readily used as a treatment for a number of medical conditions. Its principal ingredients were a mixture of laudanum (an alcoholic solution of opium), tincture of cannabis, and chloroform, it readily lived up to its claims of relieving pain and a sedative.

Letitia does not appear in any other contemporary media; sadly, however, she passed away “at sea” in June 1907, presumably on the way to or from Cairo, where Arthur Sr was still working. She was just 47 years old.

Arthur seems to have taken the decision to move away, and he emigrated to Canada, settling in Winnipeg. Leaving England behind, he left the idea of medicine with it, finding work as a lineman instead, constructing and maintaining telegraph and power lines.

Arthur’s father is the next member of the family to appear in the local newspapers. Working in Cairo during the winter and Llandrindod Wells in the summer, he travelled to Wales in April 1911. One evening he collapsed and died while in the smoking room of his hotel. The media reported that he was “formerly Colonial Surgeon to the Straits Civil Service, Singapore” and that “he was going to deliver a lecture at Owen’s College [now the Victoria College of Manchester] on tropical diseases, upon which he was an expert.

Arthur Jr was now 27, and had lost both of his parents. War was on the horizon, though, and he seemed keen to become involved. He enlisted in December 1915, joining the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His sign-up papers gave him as just short of 32 years old, standing at 5ft 8ins (1.72m) tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. The document also recorded his next of kin as his brother, William, who was living near Cairo.

Arthur arrived in England on 25th September 1916; during his time in the army he remained on English soil, primarily at a signal base in Seaford. Transferred to a reserve battalion in January 1917, he was eventually discharged seven months later, although the is no record as to why happened.

It may well be that the reason for Arthur’s discharge was his transfer from the Canadian Expeditionary Force to the Yorkshire Regiment. He is recorded as enlisting the latter with a commission, although there is no confirmation of when this happened.

Second Lieutenant Bentley was assigned to the 3rd Special Reserve Battalion but never saw action in Europe. The troop’s main duties were to train men for service overseas and to provide coastal defences. While there is no confirmation of exactly where Arthur was based, there were units in and around Hartlepool, County Durham.

Sadly, there is little further information about Arthur. By the end of the war, he was living in Taunton, Somerset, where his younger sister Eileen had settled. Second Lieutenant Bentley survived the war, but passed away not long afterwards, on 2nd December 1918. There is no cause given for his death. He was just 35 years old.

Arthur Webb Butler Bentley lies at rest in St Mary’s Cemetery in Taunton, Somerset.