Thomas Hill's signature

Thomas Hill was born on January 25th, 1876, the son of Henry Hill and Mary (née Loft), who were Mohawks. He married Sarah Brant on December 17th, 1902 and the couple had five sons before Thomas joined the army.

On enlisting on this day in 1915 in Belleville, Hill reported that he had served for 16 years in the 49th Regiment (Hastings Rifles). He joined the 59th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, with the regimental number 454078. He is described as five feet six inches tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair.

Thomas’s service record shows that he arrived in England on April 11th, 1916, where he was transferred to the 21st Battalion. He was invalided home to Canada in March 1918, suffering from dilatation (enlargement) of the heart.

Thomas survived the war and in the 1921 census we find him back in the reserve at Tyendinaga, as a farmer, with Sarah, four sons and a three-day-old daughter. He died on July 6th, 1949 and it was determined that this was a consequence of his war service. The following letter was sent to Sarah after Thomas’s death:

Letter of sympathy on death of Thomas Hill

Dear Mrs. Hill:
The Honourable, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, wishes to extend his sincere sympathy on learning that the death of your husband, Private Thomas Hill, was related to his service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
You are also advised that the death of your husband being related to his service you will shortly receive a Silver Memorial Cross given by the Canadian Government as a slight token of appreciation of the sacrifice you have made.
As the mother of the late Private Hill will, if living, also be entitled to the Memorial Cross, I am to ask that you be so good as to furnish her full name and present address, or in the alternative, the approximate date of her death.
Yours truly,
G. Robertson,
for Director,
War Service Records

Harold Smart's signature

On this day in 1915 Harold Smart signed up in Belleville. He was born on April 26th, 1893 in Tyendinaga, the son of Henry Smart and Julia (née Moses), who were both Mohawks.

The second page of his attestation paper has not yet been digitized, but his regimental number was 412306. He had previously served as a volunteer in the 49th Regiment (Hastings Rifles).

Clarence Maracle's signature

Clarence Maracle signed up in Belleville on this day in 1915. He was born on January 30th, 1896 (he said 1897 when he enlisted) in Shannolville. His parents were Seth Maracle and Catherine (née Leween). There is a four-year-old Clarence living with Seth and Catherine Maracle and younger brother Wesley in the 1901 census in Tyendinaga. The family were Mohawks.

Clarence is described as five feet four and a half inches tall, with dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. He joined the 39th Battalion with the regimental number 412270.

After the war, Clarence married Nellie Leween on September 22, 1920. He died on December 23rd, 1942 of chronic bronchitis and pneumonia which was determined to be a consequence of his war service.

Sam Corby's signature

Sam Corby was a mill hand who was born on October 2nd, 1897 (he said 1896 when he enlisted in Belleville on this day in 1915). He was the son of Joseph Corby and Mary (née Maracle) who were Mohawks. (Sam’s name is spelled Courby in army records, but elsewhere Corby was the usual form.)

On his attestation paper he is described as five feet five inches tall, with dark brown eyes, a dark complexion and black hair. Sam joined the 39th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force with the regimental number 412205.

Corby’s service record shows that he arrived in England on July 3rd, 1915 and was transferred to the 25th Battalion. While serving with this battalion, Corby was awarded the Military Medal.

Sam Corby medal citation

Citation card for Sam Courby [Corby], courtesy of Library and Archives Canada

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on the night of Sept: 28th, 1916, when acting as a runner between Advabced [Advanced] Brigade Hqrs, he volunteered and made six trips under heavy sh shell fire when the runners had failed to find their way.

It was chiefly due to his bravery and determination that satisfactory communication was maintained between Battn and Brigade Hdqrs.

Sam Corby survived the war and married Ethel Blanchard on July 19th, 1923, when his occupation was trackman for the Canadian National Railway. He died on August 1st, 1936, after falling under the wheels of a moving railway car.

Solomon Maracle's signature

Solomon Maracle was born July 22nd, 1895, the son of William Edward Maracle and Julia Ann Williams (who had died in 1912), who were Mohawks.

Solomon enlisted in Belleville on this day in 1915. His gave his occupation as machinist and was described as five feet eight inches tall, with a dark complexion, dark eyes and dark black hair. He joined the 39th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force with a regimental number of 454929. He arrived in England on September 5, 1915.

His service file shows that Maracle suffered multiple injuries on May 20th, 1918 when a bomb was dropped from an aircraft when he was working as an orderly for the Canadian Army Medical Corps in Etaples, France. He was invalided home to Canada on December 17th of that year, travelling on the hospital ship Essequibo (pictured below) and was discharged on March 3rd 1919 as being medically unfit for further service.

HMHS Essequibo

HMHS Essequibo, from the Casgliad Y Werin Cymru/People’s Collection Wales site

Fred Clement's signature

Fred Clement was born in Deseronto on March 3rd, 1892, the son of George Edmund Clement, a builder and member of Deseronto Town Council, and his wife, Mary Jane (née Porter). He was a student in Toronto when he signed up there on this day in 1915.

Clement had some experience with the military before he signed up: his attestation paper notes that he was in the Officer Training Corps and that he had served in the 9th Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery in 1907 and 1911. He was five feet 11½ inches tall, with a fair complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. He served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps, then obtained a commission as a lieutenant in Britain’s Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) in May 1915. He was appointed as a captain in the Canadian Army Medical Corps on July 15th, 1918.

Clement’s service record shows that he left Canada on the S.S. Northland in April 1915. He served in France with the RAMC from July 1915 until July 1918, then was transferred back to Canada. There is a mention of his suffering malaria in East Africa in 1917 in his records.

After the war, when he was still working as an army doctor, Fred married Marion Lois Locke, a nurse from Weston, in Brampton, Ontario on June 25th, 1919. He was demobilized on August 31st, 1920. In the 1921 census we find the Clements at 440 Shaw Street, Toronto, with their ten-month-old daughter Jean and an English maid called Sable. In 1930 the family were at 2417 Middlesex Road [now Middlesex Drive], Toledo, Ohio, and had another child, [Frederick] Locke, who was five years old and had been born in Ohio.

Fred Clement died on March 5th, 1979 in Naples, Florida at the age of 87.

Edward Walter Rathbun's signature

Edward Walter Rathbun enlisted on this day in 1915. He was born in Deseronto on December 28th, 1865, the eldest son of Edward Wilkes Rathbun and his first wife, Elizabeth How Burt. After the death of his father in 1903, E. Walter Rathbun took over the running of the Rathbun Company. He was mayor of Deseronto, like his father before him, in 1914 and was also active in provincial and local politics: between 1905 and 1908 E. Walter represented Hastings East in Ontario’s Legislative Assembly.

In the 1901 census the Rathbun household comprised E. Walter, his wife Aileen and his mother-in-law Emma C. C. Blair. Rathbun had married Aileen Blair in Portsmouth, England, in 1893.

Rathbun was active in the local militia, holding the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel when he enlisted at the age of 49. He arrived in England in March 1915, when his brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery was transformed into the Canadian Reserve Artillery. Rathbun himself was transferred to the Canadian Forestry Corps when it was established in 19161: presumably as a consequence of his experience in running the Rathbun Company’s lumbering business in Deseronto. The Forestry Corps was established to harness Canadian expertise in the lumber industry to supply the Western Front with the wood it desperately needed. It operated in England, Scotland and France.

E. Walter Rathbun died in Deseronto on September 6, 1940. His wife, Aileen, was living in Scotland at the time with her brother, Arthur Blair, and Rathbun’s body was transported to Toronto for cremation and his ashes were then shipped overseas. There is a memorial to the couple in the cemetery at Nairn in Scotland. This image of it is from the Scottish War Graves Project‘s site. It reads:

In memory of Col Edward Walter Rathbun, Royal Canadian Artillery died 6th Sep 1940 and his wife Aileen Blair who died 1944.


1 For a history of the Corps in the First World War, see The Canadian Forestry Corps, by C.W. Bird and J.B. Davies, published in 1919.

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