Thursday, 9 June 2016

The story of a British Home Child ...... born in London, enlisted in the C.E.F., and died in Manchester in 1918

There is a story yet to be told about the twenty-six men of the Canadian Expeditionary Force who are buried here in Southern Cemetery.

Grave of Thomas John Loveland, 1918, Southern Cemetery
They will all have been patients in the nearby military hospital which until the Great War began had been the hospital for the local Workhouse.

And each will have died while recovering from their wounds or illnesses.

In time I want to follow up each of their lives in as much detail as I can.

For now I know that this is the grave of Thomas John Loveland of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps who died on November 6 1918, just days before the Armistice and end of the war.

He was just 21 years old and had been born here in the United Kingdom in London and he may even have been a British Home Child because his Attestation papers show his trade as a farmer and his next of kin as Eliza who was still living in the UK.

Cover of Canada in Khaki, 1917
Eliza was his sister who was just six years older than Thomas.  

Their father who had been a gas labourer had died in 1903 at the age of 35 leaving his wife Eleanor to bring up five children on her own. 

The eldest who was Eleanor was eleven years old and the youngest was just two. 

By 1911 they were living in a four roomed house at number 4 George Street at Walsoken in Cambridgeshire.  

But only Eliza and her mother are in the property which they share with a William Fearis and his daughter who was 18 months old. 

Both Mr Fearis and Mrs Loveland give their status as widowed and she describes herself as “Domestic housekeeper.”

In time I am minded to explore the story of Mr Fearis but for now I am content just to record that on the night of census Mrs Loveland’s youngest son was visiting. 

He was eleven years old, is described as a “scholar” and this offers up the possibility that he too was in care.  I doubt that he could have been living with either of his elder siblings because they were only sixteen and fourteen.

A page from Canadian Khaki
So I think we can be confident that on the death of Edward Loveland in 1903 all the children bar Eliza went into care.

In 1915 Eliza is still at the address when Thomas enlists in Canada.

And there the trial pretty much comes to an end.  I don’t yet know when their mother died or what happened to Eliza although her elder brother was killed on the Western Front in 1917.

All of which sort of brings the strands together.  Our own British Home Child like Thomas enlisted in the August of 1915 but he survived, we live just minutes way from Southern Cemetery where Private Loveland lies.

In little over three weeks there will be a special ceremony in Southern Cemetery to mark not just the centenary of the Battle of the Somme but also for Canada Day.

And the picture of all twenty-six graves of the men of the CEF were taken by David Harrop who has commemorated the centenary of the Somme with a special exhibition in the Remembrance Lodge at Southern and which will feature memorabilia connected to the Canadian Expeditionary Force, including the book Canada in Khaki.

And just as I posted the story Liz who is the archivist of the Together Trust  suggested that "he was a Barnardo’s boy by the looks of it."*

Southern Cemetery
The Together Trust was the old Manchester and Salford Boys'and Girls' Refuges and from 1870 were active in offering care to disadvantaged young people in the twin cities of Manchester and Salford.

Their archive is a wonderful collection of material covering the work carried out by the charity.

 And as Canada awoke and got into its stride Catherine West kindly did the research and confirms that
Thomas was a Barnardo's Home Child. He is listed on the Library and Archives Canada site at either www.bac-lac.gc.ca or www.collectionscanada.gc.ca 

Once there go to online research and search the British Home Child database."

So a pretty good result all round and another bit of international research.

The story of Manchester's involvement in the Great War is featured in the new book Manchester Remembering 1914-18, published today by the History Press.

Location; Southern Cemetery

Pictures; from the collection of David Harrop and of Southern Cemetery from Andrew Simpson

*Getting down and dusty/

**Manchester Remembering 1914-18 by Andrew Simpson

Order now from the History Press, 


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