Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Stories from Canada of a Manchester boy and the Great War

I always enjoy the stories which appear on the Together Trust’s blog which explores the archives held by the organisation which from 1870 cared and campaigned for some of our most vulnerable young people.

Today’s post is the second to focus on the Great War.

“The charity’s roll of honour extends to over 400 men and includes committee members and officers in charge as well as refuge lads. 33 never made it back.”

Of these 400 men, 58 were from youngsters who had been migrated to Canada and fought in Canadian Expeditionary Force.

“This is in comparison to 55 in the Manchester Regiment.
It is apparent that many of those who were migrated across to Canada in childhood, voluntarily enlisted to fight for the country they were born into.

This perhaps speaks volume of the strong connections many Home Children still felt for England.

So today we tell the story of one of those men who emigrated across to Canada and fought in World War One.

Henry was admitted to the Central Refuge on Francis Street in 1906 aged 10. He was brought across to us by the Reverend Alfred Cook of the Salford Central Mission after his father passed away, leaving him and his 3 siblings as orphans.

The following year Henry set sail for Belleville, Canada where he was placed with a farming family. Here he was taught how to milk the cows, harvest the fields and enjoyed a strong relationship with the family he lived with.

Henry's letter
In 1913 letters from him received by the charity speak of his desire to continue his education at Belleville High School after passing his entrance exams.

After working hard to pay his fees he eventually gained a free scholarship and studied law.”

And for the rest you will just have to follow the link and read the Trust’s blog.

But that is not entirely the end, because Henry’s story mirrored that of my great uncle who also made that journey from a disadvantaged home to Canada and like Henry followed the Colours back to Britain. 

And reading his letter reminds me of one of great uncle Roger’s letters which was also written to the charity which sent him and follows Henry’s almost word for word.

Nor will I be alone in finding echoes in the story which I suspect will make it a welcome addition to the contribution made by British Home Children to the Great War.

Pictures; from the collection of the Together Trust

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