Vimy Ridge Pilgrimage Brantford Contingent

Brantford’s “On to Vimy” Contingent - 1936

Those from the County of Brant who attended the unveiling of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial on July 26, 1936

These names were taken from the book “Epic of Vimy,” first published in 1936.  

Mrs. C.V. Bannister, Scotland
Mrs. C.V. Bannister, Scotland
Mr. George William Broomfield, Brantford
Mrs. G.W. Broomfield, Brantford
Mr. Charles Butler, C.F.A., Brantford
Mr. Herbert Clements, R.C., Imp. Brantford
Mr. James C. Cole, 9th C.E., Brantford
Mrs. J.C. Coles, Brantford
Miss Eleanor Cooper, Brantford
Mr. Evan M. Cross, 3rd Res. Batt., Brantford
Mrs. E.M. Cross, Brantford
Mrs. Elizabeth Cullen, Brantford
Mr. Benjamin Garner, 13th C.F.A., Paris
Mr. Archie M. Haight, 15th Bty., Brantford
Mrs. A.M. Haight, Brantford
Mr. Edgar M. Harold, 19th Batt., Paris
Mr. Frederick A. Harrington, 18th Batt., Brantford
Mrs. Mabel Hinchcliffe, Paris
Mrs. Fred Kerr, Brantford
Mrs. George Kerr, Brantford
Mrs. Elizabeth B. Lewis, Paris
Mr. John C. MacKellar, Imp., Brantford
Mr. George Meikle, 75th Batt., Brantford
Mrs. Marie Miller, Brantford
Mrs. James Moore, Paris
Mr. Clifford Naylor, P.P.C.L.I., Paris
Mrs. Clifford Naylor, Paris
Mrs. Annie Naylor, Paris
Miss Jessie Naylor, Paris
Mr. Joseph Pizzey, 1st Batt., Brantford
Mrs. Joseph Pizzey, Brantford
Miss Edna Pizzey, Brantford
Mr. Samson Pizzey, 1st Batt., Brantford
Mrs. Samson Pizzey, Brantford
Miss Fern Pizzey, Brantford
Mr. R.L. Robins, Brantford
Mr. Ernest W. Stanbridge, 21st Batt., Brantford
Mr. William Turnbull, Imp., Brantford
Mr. Robert F. Wakeling, 4th Batt., Brantford
Mrs. R.F. Wakeling, Brantford
Lieut-Col. Henry G. Watson, F.G.H., C.A.P.C., Brantford
Miss Margaret Watson, Brantford
Miss Frances P. Watson, Brantford
Mr. George H. Williams, 15th Batt., St. George
Mrs. G.H. Williams, St. George
Miss Shirley E. Williams, St. George

BX July 16, 1936

“On to Vimy” Party Was Given a Send-Off – Main Contingents Left Last Evening to Monument Unveiling

Amid the sound of music that was reminiscent of the days of the Great War and the cheers of throngs assembled at both the T.H. and B. and C.N.R. Stations, the main body of Brantford’s “On to Vimy” contingent left last night and take ships today from Montreal to cross the seas with Canada’s great pilgrimage army that will be present when the Canadian National War Memorial is unveiled on July 26, by His Majesty King Edward VIII, beloved as the Prince of Wales in the days when Canada’s manhood braved the carnage of war – some living and some dying in defense of the Empire.

Today and tomorrow more than 5,000 of those who lived will take a ship to go back to “Flanders Field,” now freed of the scars of war.  The scene will be changed, but memory will not.

More than 300 were at the T.H. and B. Station to bid bon voyage to Ernie Stanbridge, M.M., popular member of the Brantford Branch of the Canadian Legion and others who left from here and as many more when the band arrived to join in the send-off at the C.N.R. Station.  And the music was stirring: “Tipperary,” “Take Me Back to Blighty,” “Mademoiselle From Armentieres,” and other songs of the soldiers of “those days” over there was played by the band, hummed and sung by the assembled crowds.

At the C.N.R. there was plenty to cheer about, for the train the local contingent, men, women and children boarded was “loaded” with veterans on their way back across the sea – once traveled in days of battle, now in the days of peace.  The long train contained besides many veterans from Western Ontario wearing armbands and berets, veterans from the United States wearing uniforms.

The T.H. and B. Train pulled out at 8.35 and the C.N.R. 10 minutes later.

It was a happy jubilant going away party.  No tears at farewell partings this time.  All smiles and cheers mixed jovial jibes and handshaking and embracing.

The local send-off was but a miniature of what occurred at Toronto as “Canada” started on the first lap of the “On to Vimy” pilgrimage.  At the Union Station in the Queen City, 3,000 ex-service men and members of their families, jammed seven trains, leaving at various points of a two-hour period, all going back to the scene of Canada’s greatest triumph in war.

Three thousand veterans with red berets and blue berets and berets of other hues, some hobbling along on canes and others hopping with crutches, some in shabby suits and some in brand new summer suits, some with old kitbags and some with brand new luggage, but all comrades who had gone through the hell of war to the haven of peace.

Tonight others will go from this City and other points in Ontario, but last night was the “night” and its like will probably not be seen in Canada again.  The first chapter in the epic “On to Vimy” was written.  The big sailing is today, when three boats pull out of Montreal.  Two sail on Friday, Brantford and Brant County’s contingent of men, women and children numbers approximately 75.

This was the big event.  Three thousand men were going back to that awful mount where they had thrown the best days of their youth into the carnage of war!  Back to “The Pimple” where other men had died and where, soon, these live men will pay the greatest tribute in their power to their comrades.

For three hours last night the Union Station was the scene of the wildest excitement of its history. Nothing of any previous sort had ever occurred in its granite walls.  Veterans took possession of it and proceeded to stage their good-bye to Toronto.

Seven Trains

The seven trains, all pools of the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific (three regulars and four specials), left at 9.05, 10, 10.15, 10.30, 10.45, 10.59, and 11.  The station was jammed, and veterans – those who could remember what train they wanted, fought their way through the throng that embraced them and bade them good-bye.

“Hail, hail the gang’s all here,” If a man missed one train, who was there that dared say he couldn’t get on the next one?  Put him on the next one or the next one.  Get him a special train all to himself.  Wasn’t he a veterans?  Wasn’t he going to Vimy?

“Good-bye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square,” A short man, who couldn’t carry a full equipment load today from the station to Queen Street, wheezed asthmatically and pumped at an accordion in front of the station.  Women found themselves dancing on the concrete in the arms of men whom they’d never seen before in their lives.  But hadn’t these men crawled in Vimy’s mud?

“What the hell do we care, what the hell do we are?”  A major general who is noted for his pontifical manner and upright reputation was grabbed by a seating man in shirt sleeves.  The general struggled, suddenly went haywire and the last seen of him he was shouting hoarsely as he struggled through the crowd at the head of the mob that held up a huge Union Jack.

Sixty-six members of Eaton’s Veterans’ Association marched into the station, the crowd paring like the Dead Sea ahead of them.  A hundred of their fellow-members came to bid them good-bye.  The crowd swallowed them in a minute and their green berets were spots in a vast sea of blue and khaki and red.

The Mad Fourth brought the biggest parade into the station and serpentine through the struggling, sweating, screaming mob. Their red berets stayed in long line for almost a couple of minutes.  Then they broke and blended and became just part of a struggling mass.

Extra Police

Extra police (wearing medals) tried to keep things straight but who can hem in the wind or stem a flood?  Gatemen tried to sort out bonafide passengers from the crowds that just wanted to say farewell.  The big fear was that each train would pull out with twice as many passengers as tickets had been collected for.

A corps of signalers was leaving for camp, young men and youths.  Their khaki was somber against the shirts and berets and medals.  And the veterans just swept those signalers along with them.  If some of them wake up in Montreal in the morning, it will be because they couldn’t help it. Vimy had possession last night and Vimy was ruling the world.

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