Military Service

On January 20th 1916 Private Harry Robinson of the 10th battalion sent a letter home to Gleichen which was published in the Gleichen Call. He says the trenches are in bad shape and filling with water to the knees and is starting to freeze up. He goes on to say that they are firing more shells in a day than during the whole of the Boer war. Another article on the same day says that Private J. Gittins and the 50th Battalion are currently in Bramshott England. Also Private T. Osler is back home for a month of leave after having been injured by artillery and having had 7 pieces of shrapnel removed from his groin.

 

A article from the Gleichen Call dated December 7th, 1916 says the 211th Battalion left on December 2nd for Europe. The 211th was drawn from volunteers in the Gleichen area, though some of the men came from as far away as Calgary to enlist. Mayor Farquhason and Rev. Major Kirby both gave speeches and the community put on a dance and a dinner for the men.

A January 4th, 1917 article lists the men from Gleichen and area who have volunteered to fight and have left for Europe. Some with the 211th and others from units previously sent over. Of those 2 had already been killed in action; J. Weddell of the 12th mounted rifles and Mark Noddle of the 175th battalion. On January 6th a Sgt. Jack Roberts visited Gleichen and when he left nine more men had enlisted. Also in the January 6th paper the list of men in various units from Gleichen was reprinted with those missed from the article on the 4th added in. There was additional fatality listed: L.J. Engstron of the 12th mounted rifles.

There is a 1914-1918 circa picture of Walter James of Gleichen in his uniform, he served with the 113th Battalion called the Lethbridge Highlanders. Walter survived WW1 and came home on the S.S. Carmania in may of 1919.

There is a picture of Tom Bates of Gleichen taken during WW1 that shows him in his Ambulance Corps uniform. There is another picture of him taken with his mother at the 1916 Calgary Exhibition.

The first airplane to land in Gleichen was piloted by a Captain Fred McCall and landed outside of town in 1919 on his way to the Calgary exhibition. On July 5th he crashed on takeoff at the exhibition injuring himself and his two passengers when his engine failed on takeoff and he crashed into the merry-go-round. He was a decorated war ace with 35 confirmed kills in world war 1, he was the 8th ranked ace of the Canadian airmen. He founded a air freight company and later re-enlisted to fight in WW2. McCall way in Calgary is named after him.

The following 32 individuals are listed on the Great War Project Website as having been from Gleichen when they enlisted in WW1. The website is adding more records all the time so these are all they currently have on the site. The January 4th article listed above was done at the time and lists the men who had left.

3 Responses to Military Service

  1. Sammy Birkett says:

    My great grandfather was alfred parker, i am the granddaughter of his son raymond henry parker.

    My grandfather seems to have changed his name whilst serving in India to BIRKETT although he did sometimes use Parker-Birkett. Family rumour is that he was disowned by his parents for having an affair with his 16 year old babysitter (my grandmother)

    very happy to have found my great grandparents in canada as none of the family have any idea about it.

  2. joy green says:

    My grandfather was Thomas Bates.

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