1910s


Joab Walter Powles signature

Joab Walter Powles, a bushman, signed up in Toronto on this day in 1917. He stated that he was born in Newport, Brant, Ontario on March 11th, 1872 and that his current address was Deseronto. He gave his next of kin as his father, Isaac. Joab may be the son of Isaac and Julia Powless (both Mohawks) who was born in Tyendinaga in 1869.

Joab joined the Toronto Forestry Draft with the regimental number 2250975. He had previously served as a private in the Simcoe Foresters for two years. He was five feet five and a half inches tall, with a medium complexion, grey eyes and black hair.

Thomas Bernard Marrigan signature

On this day in 1917 Thomas Bernard Marrigan, a bookkeeper, signed up in Kingston, Ontario. He was born in Deseronto on November 13th, 1892, the son of John Marrigan and Margaret (née Hayes). Margaret died of pneumonia in Mill Street, Deseronto in 1907. When Marrigan enlisted he gave his home address as 425 Jarvis Street, Toronto and his next of kin as his father, John, who was still living in Deseronto.

Marrigan joined the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery with the regimental number 349757. He was five feet six inches tall, with a medium complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.

Thomas Bernard Marrigan survived the war. He died in Kingston at the Hotel Dieu Hospital on October 6th, 1934 of endocarditis. He was buried in Deseronto.

Leo Clarence Dubey signature

Leo Clarence Dubey, a bartender, signed up in Montreal on this day in 1917. He was born in Deseronto on February 9th, 1894, the son of Honoré Dubé and Helzilda (née Desjardine). Leo was working as a telephone operator in Deseronto at the time of the 1911 census.

He joined the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery with the regimental number 349761. He was five feet six inches tall, with a dark complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair. His service record shows that he arrived in England on December 7th, 1917 on the SS Megantic and joined his unit in France on February 27th, 1918. On July 17th he was admitted to hospital after being injured in an accident while on duty, receiving bruising to his chest and abdomen. He was discharged two weeks later.

On November 2nd, Leo was admitted to hospital again, suffering from a fever. He remained there until November 18th, but somehow found time to be charged with drunkenness and “being in Paris Plage without a pass” on November 14th. For this he was sentenced to forfeit two weeks’ pay. Perhaps he had been celebrating the end of the war that day; on December 24th he was back in hospital suffering from a venereal disease.

Dubey was transferred to England on January 26th, 1919 and arrived back in Canada on the SS Minnekahda in March. He was demobilized in Kingston on March 29th, 1919. In 1921 he was living in Montreal with his younger brother William, working as a clerk.

Elmer Eugene Pringle signature

On this day in 1917 Elmer Eugene Pringle, a munition worker, signed up in Toronto. He was born in Deseronto on October 17th, 1889, the son of Ezra Pringle and Annie Elizabeth (née Watson). On his attestation paper Pringle gave his date of birth as October 19th, 1890. The family had moved away from Deseronto by 1901, when they were living in Tay Township. Elmer’s father, Ezra, died in Fesserton in 1907, while Annie died in Toronto in 1913. Elmer’s brother Ernest had enlisted in 1916. Like Ernest, Elmer gave their sister, Edith Evans, as his next of kin.

Elmer joined the 70th Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery with the regimental number 341269. He was five feet six and a quarter inches tall, with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.

Elmer survived the war and married Mae Kidd in Toronto on September 11, 1926. Family tree information from Ancestry suggests that he died in 1955.

Wilfred Lee Badgley signature

Wilfred Lee Badgley, a tinsmith, signed up in Toronto on this day in 1917. He was born in Deseronto on July 12th, 1898, the son of Edward Badgley and Eva (née Joyce). By 1905, when Wilfred’s sister Hilda was born, the family had moved to Oshawa. They were living in Drew Street, Oshawa, when Wilfred enlisted.

Badgley joined the 71st Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery with the regimental number 342159. He was five feet six inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and fair hair. His service record shows that he arrived in England on December 17th, 1917 on the SS Megantic. spent three weeks in hospital in Aldershot, England suffering from mumps in March 1918. He went to France in April 1918 and was posted to the 13th Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery in October 1918. In December he was admitted to hospital suffering from a fever and he spent a further three weeks in Stourbridge Military Hospital in December 1918 and January 1919 with myalgia.

Wilfred Lee Badgley arrived in Halifax on March 22nd 1919 on the SS Cretic. He was demobilized in Toronto on March 26th, 1919. He married Marguerite Edith Hallett on April 15th, 1920 in Oshawa. Badgley died in Gravenhurst on October 15th, 1939 and was buried in Oshawa Union Cemetery.

Learning to fly was a dangerous business in 1917 and 1918. More than 14,000 of the men who joined the Royal Flying Corps lost their lives and 8,000 of them died while they were in training. The Royal Flying Corps (which became the Royal Air Force on April 1st, 1918) ran two pilot training camps close to Deseronto: Camp Mohawk on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and Camp Rathbun to the north of Deseronto, either side of the Boundary Road. The camps opened in the Spring of 1917, with three training squadrons based at Camp Mohawk and two at Camp Rathbun. In the winter of 1917-1918 the Deseronto wing was transferred  to Camp Taliaferro in Texas to continue training in the warmer conditions there.

Fifty-five men associated with these camps lost their lives, bringing the First World War very close to home for people in Deseronto. Local doctors were called upon to register the deaths. The picture below is believed to show Deseronto doctor Elgin D. Vandervoort (1853-1939) at the site of one of the crashes.

Of the 55 deaths, 40 were caused by flying accidents, 10 by the 1918 influenza epidemic, three from other diseases and two by other accidents. We will be marking the 100th anniversaries of these deaths as part of our First World War commemorative project over the next two years.

The chart below shows a comparison between the number of deaths over the course of the war of the Deseronto and Tyendinaga men who joined the army (in green) and those men who died while attached to the Deseronto training squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps (in blue).

Royal Flying Corps and army deathsNot all the crashes were fatal, despite the flimsy nature of the aircraft of the time. A report from the Deseronto Post  on September 20th, 1917 describes one such event on September 13th:

1917 Sep 20 Deseronto Post report of water landing

On the same day that the Camp Mohawk fatality [the deaths of Cadets Domville and Kramer] occurred a cadet from Camp Rathbun was forced to come down, which he did in about ten feet of water, quite near the Iron Works. After the plunge he rose to the surface and climbing up the tail of the machine calmly smoked a cigarette until rescued from his perch.
On that day no less than thirteen machines were smashed up more or less and yet everybody seemed happy.

Phillip Maracle signature

On this day in 1917, Philip Maracle was reported wounded and missing and was later assumed to have died in the trenches west of La Coulotte (southwest of Lens), France. The war diary kept by the 44th Battalion for May 10th describes the situation he faced.

44th Battalion war diary entry for May 10th 1917, courtesy Library and Archives Canada

44th Battalion war diary entry for May 10th 1917, courtesy Library and Archives Canada

LA COULOTTE 10/5 Enemy shelled front and support areas during day and made extensive use of rifle grenades and gas shells. In spite of this our advanced posts and captured trenches known as the TRIANGLE were retained. Casualties 4 O.R. [Other Ranks] Killed. 44 O.R. Wounded

Maracle’s body was never found. He is commemorated on the memorial at Vimy and in Deseronto.

Deseronto memorial

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