Joseph Edward Barnhardt signed up in Kingston on this day in 1916. He was born in Shannonville on March 6th, 1901, the son of David Barnhardt and Susan (née Bey), who were both Mohawks. David had died in December 1913 and Susan had died in May 1916. Barnhardt claimed to have been born in 1898 and he gave his sister Celia as his next of kin.
Joseph joined the 155th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force with the regimental number 637180. He was five feet six inches tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and brown hair.
Joseph’s service record shows that his unit sailed for England on October 17th, 1916. He had been treated for syphilis while in Kingston. In England he was transferred to the 4th Battlaion, Canadian Mounted Rifles and he joined them in France on November 29th, 1916.
After six months of active service, Barnhardt was admitted to hospital in Calais suffering from appendicitis. He was treated at the 2nd Western General Hospital in Manchester, England, where he stayed for 92 days. He was discharged from hospital in September 1917, but at some point suspicions about his age must have arisen. There is a copy of his birth registration in his service record, the copy having been made on October 4th, 1917.
This information proved that at 16 years old, Barnhardt was too young to be serving in the army. He sailed from Liverpool on October 18th, 1917 on the SS Missanabie (this ship was sunk by a German submarine in the following September). Joseph was discharged from the army on March 12th, 1918 six days after his 17th birthday. He was then two inches taller than he had been when he enlisted.
Joseph married Alice Sutton in Shannonville just a few months after leaving the army, on August 16th, 1918. He gave his occupation as mechanic and his age as 18. In 1921 the couple were living in Front Street, Belleville and had two children. Joseph was working as an electrician.