January 15, 2017
Clare William Malley, a drug clerk, signed up in Kingston, Ontario on this day in 1917. He was born in Deseronto on August 18th, 1895, the eldest child of William James Malley and Ada (née Moodie). His younger brother Arthur had signed up in April 1916. Clare had previously served in the 34th Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery (CFA).
Malley joined the 73rd Battery of the CFA with the regimental number 343972. He was six feet tall, with a dark complexion, black eyes and black hair. His unit travelled to England on the RMS Olympic, arriving on May 7th, 1917.
He survived the war and married Elizabeth Laughlin on 26 July 1926 in Belleville, when he was still working as a druggist in Deseronto. He died in 1963 and was buried in Deseronto Cemetery. Elizabeth lived until 1996 and was also buried in Deseronto.
January 13, 2017
On this day in 1917 Cornelius Edward Dowling signed up in Winnipeg. He was born Richmond Township near Deseronto on November 3rd, 1889, the son of Robert Dowling and Mary (née Roach). When he enlisted, he was living in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and working as a bank clerk.
Cornelius joined the 174th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force with the regimental number 693330. He was five feet seven and a quarter inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. On April 22nd he was transferred to the 79th Cameron Highlanders of Canada, where he was appointed Quartermaster Sergeant on May 13th, according to his service record. He fell ill in September 1917 and was admitted to Winnipeg General Hospital on December 3rd, 1917 with chronic appendicitis. His appendix was removed in St. Boniface Hospital, Winnipeg, in January 1918 and he was released from hospital on February 22nd.
Dowling was discharged from the army on July 31st, 1918 as “medically unfit for further war service”. His intended address after discharge was 287 Redwood Avenue, Winnipeg. Dowling married Margaret Ellen Cusick in Thunder Bay (Port Arthur) on October 31st, 1927, at which time he was working as an insurance agent. Margaret died in Thunder Bay in 1937 and was buried in the Roman Catholic section of Deseronto Cemetery. Cornelius was buried there in 1962.
January 12, 2017
On this day in 1917, John Henry Maracle
was killed by an enemy rifle bullet while cleaning his own rifle at the front line near Vimy, France. He had joined the 44th Battalion at the front line one month earlier, on December 12th, 1916.
The war diary for the days leading up to Maracle’s death show that deaths at the front line were a daily occurrence for the battalion.
John was buried in the Villers Station
cemetery. He is remembered on the Deseronto war memorial. His widow, Harriet, died on February 3rd, 1918.
January 5, 2017
Albert Arthur Johnson, a yardmaster, signed up in Ottawa on this day in 1917. He was born in Deseronto on October 2nd, 1891, the son of Samuel Johnson and Clarissa (née Hadley). When he enlisted, his home address was 262 George Street, Toronto.
Albert joined the No. 1 Section Skilled Railway Employees with the regimental number 2124812. He was five feet eight inches tall, with a dark complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. Johnson’s unit left Halifax on the SS Ausonia in March 1917 and arrived in England on March 15th. It was redesignated as the 12th (Canadian) Light Railway Operating Company, Royal Engineers on March 16th and No. 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company (Canadians) Royal Engineers on April 7th, 1917. It arrived in France on April 19th, 1917, where it worked to transport troops and supplies behind the lines. The unit was disbanded on April 19th, 1919 in Knotty Ash, England.
Johnson’s service record shows that he travelled back to Canada on the RMS Aquitania in May 1919 and was demobilized in Toronto on May 27th. He married Ruby May Greenwood in Port Colborne on February 11th, 1922. He was still working on the railway: as a conductor. A note on his service file records that he died on November 21st, 1972.
January 4, 2017
On this day in 1917 David Stanley Bernhardt (sometimes written Barnhardt), a machinist, signed up in St. Catharines, Ontario. He was born in Deseronto on January 25th, 1880, the son of Robert James Barnhardt and Catherine (née Maracle), who were both Mohawks. In 1901 the family were still in Deseronto, but they had moved to Midland, Ontario by 1911. Robert died in Midland in 1913. David was living in Port Dalhousie when his daughter, Beatrice Catherine Bernhardt, was born in July 1913. Beatrice’s birth registration states that David married Jennie Gordon in Penetanguishene in 1907.
David joined the 256th Battalion with the regimental number 1099026. He was a quarter of an inch over five feet tall, with a dark complexion, grey eyes and black hair. His service record shows that he arrived in England in April 1917 and was transferred to the 10th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops, joining them in France in June.
Bernhardt survived the war, travelling back to Canada on the RMS Celtic in March 1919. He was demobilized in Toronto on March 21st.
December 22, 2016
On this day in 1916 Stafford Claus signed up in Picton. He was born on May 25th, 1902 (he claimed 1898) in Deseronto, the son of Arthur Claus and Margaret (née Maracle), who were both Mohawks. By 1916 Arthur and Margaret were living in Oshawa and Stafford gave his home address as Picton.
Claus joined the 235th Battalion with the regimental number 1027582. He was five feet four and a half inches tall, with a dark complexion, black eyes and black hair. His service record shows that Stafford was examined by a medical board at Belleville on February 16th, 1917. The board determined that he was under age and should not serve until 1920, when he would be 18.
Extract from medical board report in Stafford Claus’s service record, courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.
10 (a) Disease or disability. Under -age
(b) Date of origin. 1902, May 25th
11. Present Condition (Most Important). Under age but in excellent health and is a good soldier.
Stafford was discharged from the army on March 10th, 1917. He married Ada Violet Maracle on November 18th, 1925 in Christ Church, Tyendinaga. He served in the Second World War and worked at Metcalfe Foods in Deseornto for many years. He and Ada had nine children. Stafford died on December 2nd, 1971 and was buried in Deseronto Cemetery. When he died, he had 31 grandchildren and 71 great-grandchildren.
December 22, 2016
James Albert Banister signed up in Belleville on this day in 1916. He was born in Prince Edward County in 1902 (he claimed 1898), the son of Alexander Banister (whose mother was Mohawk) and Mary Louisa (née Smart), a Mohawk. Alexander had left his family in 1913, according to his son. His home address was Shannonville.
Banister joined the 235th Battalion with the regimental number 1027583. He was five feet six and a half inches tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. His service record shows that he arrived in England on the SS Megantic on May 14th, 1917.
Banister never served in France: he seems to have spent much of his time overseas in hospital in England with various infections. In November 1917 he was sent back to Canada. This was explained in a second service file, where it appears that his true age had been detected. He was transferred to No. 3 Special Service Company, but went absent without leave in December 1917 and was struck off as a deserter on January 8th, 1918.