Empire Day 1915

Brantford Has Done Her Part in Bearing the Empire’s Burdens

BX May 25, 1915

Empire Day at Grandview

Empire Day was fittingly observed in Grandview school last Friday.  The morning being devoted by the teachers of the higher classes to the teaching of facts in connection with the British Empire and the present war, while in the afternoon the school was opened to the parents and friends of the pupils, and the program was carried out.

The program was opened with a flag salute and a song “Our Native Land,” by the pupils.  Speeches were given by J.H. Fisher, M.P., and Postmaster Raymond, the chairman of the Paris School Board, Rev. James Chapman, E.W.P. Jones, Councilor Scace and others.  These were interspersed with patriotic songs by Mr. Farnsworth and by songs and instrumental solos by pupils of the school.

Another pleasing feature of the afternoon’s program was the raising of a beautiful flag, which had been presented to the school some time ago, and which was formally raised for the first time on the fine new flag pole, presently erected by the School Board.  The afternoon’s proceedings closed by all singing the National Anthem.

BX May 22, 1915

Brantford Has Done Her Part in Bearing the Empire’s Burdens – Every Call Has Met Ready Response – To Date, No City Has Made a Better Showing in Number of Men Who Have Placed Their Services at the Disposal of Their Country, Although All Have Done Nobly – Some Figures and Information Gathered for Purposes of Comparison

Brantford stands fifth of the cities of Ontario in the total of exports of manufactured goods.  It stands first in the number of men, who have gone from this city to fight the battles of the Empire in France and Belgium.  First, not in total numbers, but in the proportion of active service men to the total population.  To date fully one thousand men calling Brantford home – even though their birthplace may have been elsewhere, have metaphorically speaking, taken the King’s shilling and have left this city.  Of these at least 20 have given their lives for King and Country, while the list of wounded reveals a large number of Brantford names.

The first contingent which left Brantford, composed of the Dufferin Rifles active service company, with which were joined the 32nd Battery in part, and the 25th Brant Dragoons in part, was formed into one of the double companies of the 4th Battalion, First Brigade, first contingent.  Word was received on Tuesday, May 18 that when this company went into action at the Battle of Langemarck, they were 227 strong, and for six days of the most violent actions in the history of the war to date, they stayed with the enemy.  They were under the command of Capt. M.A. Colquhoun, late company commander of A. Company, Dufferin Rifles, with Lieut. Miller and Jones of this city and two Toronto subalterns.  At the expiration of the six days they came out of action, but what a difference to the full company that had gone in.  No less than 160 of the 227 men had fallen, and were placed on the killed, wounded or missing list.  This included all the subalterns except Lieut. Jones, while the company commanding officer also escaped scatheless.

The second contingent, in which is found a company from the Dufferin Rifles, under Major E.H. Newman, landed in England safely this week.  The third contingent has its representatives for Brantford in the 36th Battalion in training at Hamilton, the battalion being commanded by Lieut.-Col. E.C. Ashton of Brantford, while the staff includes Major A. Nelles Ashton, Paymaster Capt. W. Miller (ex-alderman) Signalling Officer Lieut. Jack Genet, Battalion Sergeant Major W.G. Oxtaby, Musketry Instructor Lieut. Frank Dickson, and Physical and Bayonet Exercise Instructor Sergt. Tommy Foyle, all of Brantford, so that the battalion is in reality a Brantford battalion.

Booming for recruits for active service here was not undertaken.  A campaign was held with much publicity to raise recruits for home defense by means of the Dufferin Rifles, but it was felt by local military officers that it was better to enlist men who wanted to go to the front because of the determination to go rather than with a hurrah and band playing to secure a large number of men who would be of the right stamp, perhaps.  No difficulty was found in getting the quota of men asked for, though with improved times, and little of a floating population to draw from now, the securing of recruits might be a little difficult.

The first contingent and to a large extent the second consisted largely of old countrymen, but the third had a much larger proportion of Canadian-born men.  As time elapses, and further contingents are called out, the proportion will rise, for it is felt here that it was only natural that the British-born should be the first to answer the call from the Motherland, and be the first to go to her defense, the seriousness of the situation having been realized first and to the greatest extent by those who formerly lived in the old land. 

In Berlin

BERLIN, May 22. – Berlin and Waterloo have done remarkably well in providing recruits for the various contingents which have left Canada for the front and are preparing to go.  On August 4th, when war was declared between Great Britain and Germany this city had one company in the Canadian militia, viz., “C” Squadron of the Grey’s Horse.

Since that time Berlin and Waterloo have recruited nearly 150 soldiers for active service, and have formed a city regiment with an enrollment of over 225.  While this may be a small number compared with other cities of a similar size and even smaller, it is a great deal better than the most patriotic dreamer ever dreamt before last August.

Four years ago effort was made to form a city regiment and a large number of young men had signified their intention to enroll.  At this time Sir John French made a tour of inspection through Canada and found more infantry battalions and not enough cavalry.  As the result of this report Berlin’s application to organize an infantry regiment was refused by the militia department.

The city had two companies of the 29th regiment, together with the band, but owing to poor drill facilities and apathy on the part of the officers the 29th Regiment was removed from Berlin to Galt, leaving this city with only C. Squadron of the Grey’s Horse.

When the first call came for recruits 21 volunteers responded, and left the city under the command of Captain Baron Osborne.  The second call found about 35 responding, and the third call 92 answered.  The last call depleted the new city regiment considerably, but the ranks have been filled up again with new recruits.

Berlin’s new regiment is working under a serious handicap owing to the difficulty in securing the necessary equipment.  A large warehouse has been fitted up as armories.  The regiment has been equipped with uniforms, but only D. Company, of Waterloo, has rifles, which have been loaned from the Waterloo cadet corps.

Colonel Bowman confidently expects that when the militia department can provide complete equipment for the regiment including armouries that Berlin will have a city regiment of eight companies which will be a credit to the city and the Canadian militia.

In Guelph

GUELPH, May 22. – This City has been a military camp since the first of the year, the 16th Field Battery and the 34th Battalion of the third contingent being station here.  Like all other cities the call for recruits went out shortly after the outbreak of the war.  Even before this call was made there were many British reservists who answered at once the call, even before notice had been sent to them.  They didn’t pause for a moment.  At the first sign of war they dropped everything and were off.  There was nothing of the spectacular in their departure.  They simply went on the first train that headed in the right direction.  Their actions have been an object lesson to the Canadian young men, but it has been none too vigorously followed, in the first division to leave for Valcartier the great Majority were Old Country men, and the same thing hold true, although in a lesser degree, of the various units that have followed since.  An example of this is to be seen in the window of a local photographer, where there is on display a group photo with the caption, “Twenty-three members of the 34th Battalion from Kent County, England.”  Other counties and shires can show similar bodies of men in the Battalion that has been in training here.

Major Simpson, a Guelph newspaper man is in charge of the 16th Field Battery, admittedly the crack organization of Western Canada at the present moment.  He is of the opinion that the Canadian young man has not played his part in this war.  “The young, unmarried man is not feeling the war at all,” was his point.  “The only thing he knows about it is that he has to pay an extra cent on an occasional letter.  The married man with a house feels it more.  The young men of Canada have a great chance now, one that may never come again,” the major continued, “t come to the front and do their part in the greatest war the world has ever seen.  I think that recruiting meetings would be a good thing.  The people of Canada do not realize what war is yet.  We have lived for years in peace and quiet and a great war has seemed the most remote thing. We have taken it for granted that the British forces would look after us in any event.  I am certain that well organized, serious recruiting meetings, where the needs of the situation could be fully laid before the people, would result in a much greater number of men – single men – offering to enlist.  The unmarried man should be the first to enlist.  Wives and children must have preference over sweethearts and dances.  Too often it is the other way. Why just the other day a fine type of man came to my office and wanted to enlist with the battery.  He had been a British regular, was still in his prime, and was a soldier all through.  I asked him if he were a married man, and he replied in the affirmative, in reply to further questions stating that he had 11 children.  I informed him that if there was a vacancy he would hear of it.  But he has never heard, if that man went to war his family would have to be looked after by the community at large, and although he was willing and anxious to make the sacrifice, he’s not the man to go until the last men are being called out.”

During the last week there has been a marked increase in the recruiting at Guelph.  It may be that Canadian boys in large numbers at the front will be the magnet that will pull some of the indifference out of the young men at home who have so far paid no attention to the call of duty which is being sounded in clarion calls at the present moment. 

In Stratford

STRATFORD, May 22. – Stratford and Perth county men have proven themselves eager and ready to do their bit for the cause of freedom and righteousness in the present conflict and over 500 men and a dozen or more officers have answered the call of duty and their names are inscribed on the roll of honor in one of the three contingents.  Some have died, others been wounded, but the memory of their noble deeds and sacrifices is imperishable.

Thus far no measures have been taken to stimulate recruiting here, for the simple reason that it has been unnecessary, the response in every instance having exceeded the number of men asked for.  And there has been no cessation of that enthusiasm, so that local military men are confident that when the call for further recruits comes there will be the usual brisk response.  The recent murderous outrages of the Prussian autocrat will themselves prove the greatest recruiting stimulant that could be.

The whole heartedness of the answer to the call here is evidenced in the fact that at the present time there is quite a lengthy waiting list of young men, who have come forward and expressed a desire to be enrolled with the next contingent.  There have, since the third contingent left been several small parties of men join the ranks of the local company at Guelph.  Seven or eight officers, too, are on the waiting list.  In the meantime, however, recruits are being drilled at the armory three times a week, while the officers are also receiving further instruction in tactical movements.

This county’s representation in the first contingent, who went under canvas at Valcartier and Salisbury and have recently, distinguished themselves in Flanders, numbers 156.  In addition there were 36 reservists, eight in the corps of Guards and five otherwise attached, making a grand total of 204 men besides the four officers.

When the second contingent call went forward but 50 men were allotted to Stratford.  In view of the previous good showing, this was somewhat disappointing, but they were recruited and sent in to training at London.  Hardly had they left Stratford when a call for 25 more came, some centres apparently having failed to furnish all that were asked of them.  These were secured as readily as the first.  But that was not all.  Ten more were called and the night previous to their departure for London, 15 more were asked for.  In a couple of hours these were secured and thus instead of 50 twice that number was Perth’s offering.

The call to “go higher up” was also evident in the third contingent.  The original allotment was 150, but after these were recruited, another 10 were added without trouble.

As was to be expected, the personnel of the first contingent were largely old country men.  Brought up, many of them in military and naval centres, they were first to realize the seriousness of the situation.  In the second and third contingents the proportion of Canadian born was much more marked.  Since the Canadian troops have been in the thick of the fighting and they have read of a pal or friend having been killed or wounded, the real seriousness of the war has been brought home with force to Canadian boys.  The effect will doubtless be evident when recruits are next called for.

In St. Thomas

ST. THOMAS, May 22. – Recruiting has been up to the mark in St. Thomas.  The Railway City has sent upwards of three hundred to place their lives at the service of the Empire.  To the call for each contingent there was a liberal response and when the call comes for the fourth contingent St. Thomas can and will supply her share of manhood.  
When war broke out, St. Thomas found herself in a more fortunate position than her neighboring cities.  There has been little unemployment here.  For this reason it is believed that the men who enlisted here for active service had something in mind of greater purport than the mere finding of employment.  It meant sacrifice to them, the sacrifice of good positions and family connections.  It cannot be denied that their going did not make way for the employment of others, but the enlistment of St. Thomas men was not an economic necessity on their part.

Many of them were married men, some with families.  In the majority of cases their wives and children were dependent upon them for their livelihood, but this did not prevent their enlistment.  The men were assured by the city that their dependents would be well cared for at the expense of the city.  This would not begin to recompense them for their sacrifices, but it banished one care.

The majority of the men enlisted here were born in the Old Country.  The difference was most noticeable in the first contingent, where nearly all the men were born in the old land.  In the second contingent, out of 107 who enlisted, 27 were born in Canada.  The majority gave England as the land of their birth.  Included in the 107 were several Americans and a number of sons of Old Erin.  The third contingent has, however, shown the best percentage of the three.  Evidently the Canadian born are warmed up to the responsibilities of Canada in the battle against the Hun.

Recruiting in the 25th Regiment has found men of every social position joining the ranks.  When the call for the fourth contingent comes the young men of Canadian birth will be found enlisted in ever increasing numbers.

Few patriotic meetings in the interest of recruiting have been held here, but recruiting evidently has not suffered thereby.  Enlistment campaigns waged by the 25th Regiment have done more than anything to promote enlistment.  The regiment has been depleted greatly, but is once more up to strength and can be called upon again for trained men.

In Woodstock

WOODSTOCK, May 22. – While Woodstock and Oxford County have done a fair share in its sending of men with the three contingents and have borne the sacrifice in killed and wounded in the ranks of the Canadians fighting in Europe, there are evidences that a very large section of the community is lukewarm as regards its responsibility in the great struggle now in progress.  One man, interested in military matter in the city made the striking observation concerning the apparent self-satisfied attitude of a considerable section of the public of this district.

“There is no denying the fact that young men of Canadian birth resident in Woodstock and in Oxford County generally have not shown in the past and do not show now, if one may judge by their actions that this war is Canada’s war.  The young Canadians of this district, as a class, are quite content to allow others to make the awful sacrifices that must be made by the men who have gone and who are preparing to go to the front.  I believe I am safe in saying that more than85 percent of the men who have joined the contingents in this district are Old Countrymen and that less than 15 percent are native born Canadians.  It is, of course, true that little effort has been made in the past to induce the young men of this district to recruit, and to prepare themselves for overseas services, other than the publication of the announcements in the daily press that a recruiting stations was open, and neither do I believe that the actions of the young Canadians who have joined the first, second and third contingents are half appreciated by the self-satisfied public who remain at home and those put themselves in a position to benefit from the sacrifices these young volunteers must make.  If you doubt my word in this matter take a walk along Dundas Street, over to the blowing green, the tennis court, or up to the ball grounds any Monday evening you like and you will find from 100 to 200 stalwart young men engaged at their various games.  Then walk over to the armories where the weekly drill is being carried on and you will find perhaps 50 men of all ages preparing themselves for service when the time comes and fully 70 percent of the men at drill will be found to be Old Countrymen.

“Woodstock people – or a great majority of them – have, it would seem, come to look upon the war as a thing of everyday occurrence and only a few dozen people even take the trouble to walk downtown evenings to get the latest war news.  There was a larger crowd by several times over standing in front of The Sentinel Review office to get the results of the Johnson prize fight and more interest and excitement was manifested over these returns than over any other bulletins published since the opening days of the war.  In my judgment the leading men of the community, the employers of labor, should spend time amongst their men in order to point out to them their duty in the matter of military training, and their duty in the matter of recruiting for overseas service.”

In Galt

GALT, May 22. – The city (soon to be) of Galt is proud of its recruiting record.  And well it may by, so far over five hundred citizens – volunteers and reservists – have left to join the colors and fight for the Empire.  At least twice as many more presented themselves before the recruiting officers, but were unable to achieve their heart’s desire because they did not possess the physical qualifications called for to reach the high standard set by the medical examiners.  This record is believed to be one that cannot be equaled by any other town or city in Canada with a population of only 12,000.

One hundred and eighty Galt men are with the 34th Battalion, C.E.F. which trained during the winter at Guelph.  On Thursday, when the battalion detained at Galt for a couple of hours while en route for the London camp,  the citizens of Galt tendered the mm a strikingly enthusiastic reception which was an outward and visible sign of the deep down loyalty of the people.

As has already been indicated there was no trouble locally in securing recruits – in fact, many more offered tier services than could be accepted.  Major J.D. Clarke, officer commanding the 29th Regiment, H.L.I. does not favor the holding of meetings for securing recruits and points out that under conditions here such a course would be superfluous.  Perhaps one of the greatest factors in stimulating the patriotic fervor of this community was the weekly parades, with three bands, of the 29th Regiment, which never failed to draw a large crowd.

Of the total number of recruits enlisted here, over 90 percent are native of the Old Country, although the fact that the Canadian born are realizing their responsibility in the Empire crisis is indicated that the number of Canadian born in the third continent is greater than that in any other.

That the fighting spirit is predominant in some young fellows is shown by the lengths to which they will go in order to be accepted as recruits.  One Scotchman, possessing a fine physique, was rejected on account of bad teeth.  He immediately sought a dentist and calmly sat in the chair, refusing to take chloroform, while the doctor extracted every tooth in his head.  Equipped with two sets of false masticators he again presented himself before the medical examiner and was accepted.  Several underwent operations in the local hospital so that minor shortcomings could be rectified and they could qualify under the rigid standard for physical fitness.

Among the recruits for the second and their contingents were numbered several young farmers’ sons, and of one Galt family, five are on active service, four brothers being with the 34th Battalion.

Galt has figured quite prominently in the casualty lists, the names of 35 of those enlisted here having already appeared.  Eleven of these were either killed in battle or died of wounds.