Saturday, 29 July 2017

Thomas Williams of the Canadian Expeditionary Force ............. born in Ontario and buried in south Manchester

Now sometimes stories just have a habit of evolving and so it is with this one.

Over the space of the last few days I have been moving effortlessly from my great uncle Roger who was both a BHC and fought in the Great War to those members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force who are buried in our local cemetery.

Like all stories its beginning was a promising one starting with an exhibition which opened on July 1last year  in the Remembrance Lodge of Southern Cemetery.

It had been organised by David Harrop who had drawn from his vast collection of memorabilia from two world wars and was special in that some at least of the exhibits were linked to men who are buried or commemorated in the cemetery.

And just yards away is the line of gravestones of the men of the CEF of which this one belongs to Thomas Williams of the 4th Canadian Mouthed Rifles...

When I  started the research  I only knew him as a name but a little research on the database of the Library and Archives of Canada showed him to have been born in August 1894 in Ontario.*

He was a butcher by trade, stood 5’ 6’’ tall with fair hair and a fair complexion and had blue eyes.

He enlisted in the August of 1915 just days before his 22nd birthday.

So far there is only his Attestation Papers to go on but it is a start and has begun to bring this young man out of the shadows.

He was buried on March 15 1917 and I assume died of his wounds.  It is more than likely that he had been cared for in the big military hospital nearby which before the war had been the hospital of the Withington Workhouse.

It was a hospital I knew well as two of our children were born there in the 1980s and its A&E department saw plenty of us as the lads progressed through a series of sporting injuries.

It closed years ago and has long since been demolished but like Southern Cemetery it is just a few minutes way from where we live.

So with that in mind I resolved that even if I didn’t find out anything more of Thomas Williams I would  be standing in front of his grave on July 1st, which I did.

Location; Southern Cemetery, Manchester

Pictures; the gravestone of Thomas Williams and a Canadian silk postcard from the collection of David Harrop

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