Friday, 24 August 2018

The records of the men who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force ....... revealed

Now, many Canadian will already know that the grand plan to digitise all the Canadian army personnel records from the Great War has now been completed by Libraries and Archive Canada [LAC].*

James Rogers/ Roger Hall signs up, 1915
But I suspect some of those on this side of the Atlantic who had BHC who enlisted will not know.

LAC completed the digitisation of 620,000 files on August 8 2018, and it is now possible to search the database of more than 30 million images, including casualty and medical forms as well as pay books , passports, personal photographs and correspondence.

And this is particularly significant when over here, something like 60% of the army records of British servicemen from the Great War were lost during the Blitz.

August 5 1915
So in our case although we had six members of my direct family in uniform, we have only the partial records of my great grandfather, nothing on my grandfather, one great uncle or my two uncles.

All of which leaves the great uncle migrated to Canada by Middlemore on behalf of the Derby Union and for him we have a full set.

The records begin with his Attestation Papers and finish with his demob, which given we have few other documents, make this LAC file very important.

The same LAC records also allowed me to track many of the Canadian soldiers who were buried in Southern Cemetery, which is just up the road from us, and was beside the Withington Workhouse which had been taken over as a military hospital.

George Bradford Simpson, 1918
All of which makes the work of LAC so vital for all of us wanting to search for family members who served in the C.E.F.

And of course what is revealed is often surprising.

In the case of my great uncle, the records show that he didn't take to army discipline, which given that he was in and out of institutions  from an early age, and was running "ferrel" meant that he and authority were never going to get on.

Equally interesting is that he gave his aunt as his next of kin, despite his mother being alive.

And this may have been connected with what has slowly come out of the shadows about his mum, our great grandmother, who appears to have found it difficult to cope, and by the 1930s had been committed to the local asylum.

As ever the bits of the jigsaw which help explain his migration are all over the place, and his army records have thrown light on a possible reason for his being sent to Canada, and more athan a bit on what the man was like.

First City Battalion 16th Manchester's
Pictures; Attestation Papers of James Rogers [Roger James Hall] August 1915, George Bradford Simpson circa 1918, from the collection of Andrew Simpson and C Company of the First City Battalion of the 16th Manchester’s 1914 courtesy of Bob Potts.

Location; Canada

* Libraries and Archive Canada [LAC],

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