Joseph Penn signature

On this day in 1916, Joseph Penn, a teamster, signed up in Hamilton. He was born in Deseronto on August 20th, 1897 (he claimed 1895 on the attestation form) the son of David Penn and Mary (née Powless), who were both Mohawks. In 1911 Joseph was living in the Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford.

Penn joined the 129th Battalion with the regimental number 785036. He was five feet four inches tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. His service record shows that this was his second enlistment – he first signed up in Belleville on February 24th, 1915 with the 39th Battalion but was found to have deserted when the battalion was due to embark for England on June 23rd, 1915.

Joseph left Canada for England with the 129th Battalion, arriving there on August 30th, 1916. His record shows that he deserted again in November 1916. He was taken on the strength of the 124th Battalion in April 1917 and arrived in France in that month. The extract below shows that Penn continued to have a troubled career in the army.

Joseph Penn troubles

4.7.17 O.C. 124th Battn. Sentenced to 21 days F.P. [Field Punishment] No. 1 for
1. W.O.A.S. [when on active service] Drunkeness (3rd.)
2. Creating a disturbance in Camp Lines.
3. Being out of billets after 9.00 p.m. without permission.
Field 3.7.17

2.9.17 O.C. 124th Battn. Sentenced to forfeit 3 days pay, for “W.O.A.S. Being in Ecquoivris, without a pass.”
19.8.17

10.10.17 O.C. 124th Battn. Sentenced to 28 days F.P. No. 1 for “W.O.A.S. Drunkeness 4th Drunk.”
Field 9.10.17

12.1.18 O.C. 124th Battn. Granted 14 days leave
Amiens 11.1.18

2.2.18 O.C. 124th Battn. Rejoined unit
Field 29.1.18

18.2.18 O.C. 124th Battn. Sentenced to 28 days F.P. No.1, for “W.O.A.S.
1.Drunkeness (5th)
2. Loosing by Neglect Govt. Property.
3. Causing by Neglect injury to a mule the property of the Govt.
Field 12.2.18

Things got worse: in March 1919 Penn was tried for being absent without leave for ten days and for committing a civil offence (theft). He was initially sentenced to five months imprisonment with hard labour, but this was commuted to imprisonment at Wandsworth Detention Barrack. Joseph was released on July 18th, 1919 and left England for Canada on September 3rd.

We next find Penn in the 1921 census, when he was a prisoner at the Kingston Penitentiary. He married May Eliza Schuler in Hamilton on May 16th, 1927, at which point he was working as a wood turner. His wife died just over two years later in the Hamilton General Hospital.

Joseph Penn died on May 7th, 1959.

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