Welcome to the Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County

The Community Archives of Belleville and Hastings County preserves the history of our community through the records of local governments, individuals, families, businesses and organizations. Find us in the Belleville Public Library building at 254 Pinnacle Street, Belleville, Ontario.

The archives is open Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 12pm and 1pm to 4pm and on Friday and Saturday by appointment.

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Belleville in World War I

Follow the citizens of Belleville and Hastings County as they face the challenges of the home front during the First World War through excerpts from The Daily Intelligencer, August 1914 to November 1918.

100 Years Ago: 235th Battalion Recruiting Campaign Opens, Initial Dance for 254th Sergeants, Canadian Patriotic Fund Rural Giving, 235th Battalion Recruiting Poster, 235th Intermediate Team Are Hockey Victors, Christmas Letter from Overseas

The Intelligencer January 20, 1917 (page 1)

“A whirlwind opening characterized the Citizen’s Recruiting Campaign now on in this city. Promptly at one o’clock to the accompaniment of steam whistles and bells, the men of the 235th Belleville Battalion, headed by their brass band, moved up Front Street, which was alive with more than the usual Saturday throng of people.

Following the parade two open air meetings were held at prominent city corners, the people pressing close to the automobiles from which the speakers launched their appeal for men. The recruiting officers, sergeants and men working industriously in and out of the listening crowds.

During the morning hundreds of cards were distributed among the merchants and business men of the down town section. In signing these cards the men visited pledged their best efforts to secure at least one recruit for the cause. The officers charged with the duty of securing these pledges report that but an occasional citizen refused to pledge his aid in the effort to get men.

During the afternoon the city was deluged with hand bills announcing the two big meetings to be held tomorrow; the mass meeting for men only to be held at 3 p.m. in the City Hall, at which Capt. McCorkell and Major Southey, officers returned from the Front, are to relate their experiences, and the huge recruiting rally to be held in the Opera House at 8.30 o’clock on Sunday night when Major Campbell, Col. Scobell, Capt. Clarke, Mrs. Capt. Parsons and Sgt. Mellor are to make their appeals. The 235th Brass Band will play patriotic selections.

A feature of the program for Saturday will be the holding of recruiting meetings in the several pool and billiard halls, where Mrs. Parsons and uniformed speakers will task the youth of the city to take war seriously, to consider their duty and to don the khaki.

A departure from ordinary recruiting methods is the campaign tomorrow. Uniformed speakers will appear in practically all of the city churches at the evening service and make a ten minute appeal for co-operation of the various congregations in the week’s campaign and in the business of securing recruits generally.

On Monday the 235th Battalion will send speakers to the various manufacturing plants and to the schools, where short addresses will be made. At the factories a direct effort will be made to secure recruits and inasmuch as the battalion has been promised the co-operation of those in control it is anticipated that the result will be immediate.

During the next few days every school in the City will be visited, and each factory. At a meeting of the School Board on Friday night a resolution was adopted favoring the brief addresses at the schools.

On Monday night a mass meeting of all the patriotic women and girls of the city will be held in the auditorium of the High School, where Mrs. Parsons and others will outline the present campaign and its possibilities and ask for the active co-operation of all. It is particularly desired that those who have relatives in Khaki and at the front be present at this meeting. The meeting will commence at 8.00 p.m. sharp.

At a well attended meeting of business men held in the City Hall Friday night extraordinary interest in the campaign was aroused and the men present each and all signed pledge cards to secure one or more recruits and to forward the campaign in every possible way.

The campaign will be prosecuted vigorously until Thursday night when the Battalion will open a similar campaign in the town of Trenton.”

The Intelligencer January 20, 1917 (page 2)

“The Initial Dance of the Staff Sergts. and Sergeants of the 254th Battalion, C.E.F., was held last evening in the large hall at Johnstone’s Dancing Academy, under the esteemed patronage of Lieut.-Col. and Mrs. A. P. Allen, Capt. and Mrs. B. L. Hyman, Capt. and Mrs. Sandford, Capt. and Mrs. Hamilton, and the members of the Khaki Club Committee.

The musical programme was exquisitely rendered by the orchestra of the 254th Battalion, under the direction of Bandmaster Hinchey. There was a very large attendance of the elite of the city, who tripped the light fantastic until the early hours of the morning. The decorations were most appropriate and unique. The refreshments left nothing to be desired, and the committees of the 254th Battalion desire to tender their sincere thanks to the many ladies who were instrumental in making their opening dance the huge success that it was.”

The Intelligencer January 20, 1917 (page 5)

“The Canadian Patriotic Fund Rural Giving. There is one argument in favor of grants to the Canadian Patriotic Fund from County and Township councils that does not apply to cities and towns. The farmer is ready to help the fund by personal contributions but he cannot be reached in a local campaign, as can the man in the city. He cannot be readily canvassed; the appeal to him cannot therefore be made as forcibly as to his city comrade.

It is reasonable, then, to employ the regular machinery of the councils and raise by taxation a sum that represents, more or less roughly, the collective desires of the people. By local taxation the ratepayer pays in proportion to his wealth. …

It is important that whatever be done by a council be done unanimously. It is not desirable that a municipal grant represent perhaps the views of only a small majority of the council, and thus becomes a subject of permanent controversy.

It must be remembered that the unorganized districts of Ontario, while they cannot make county grants, have given freely of their men, and that therefore the old districts of the Province are bound to help them. The sections long on cash must help those that are long on patriotism, but short on cash.”

The Intelligencer January 20, 1917 (page 6)

“Listen! The ‘Cry for Men’! Have You Heard It? It comes straight across the Seas from the Boys in the Trenches who, hard pressed by the Hun, are battling heroically for home and country.

Send Us Reinforcements! Have You a Heart? Have You a Conscience? Can you at this hour, when the fate of the Empire hangs in the balance, ignore the call?

Join the 235th Battalion in Its Campaign this week to secure Recruits for Overseas Service—for any branch or unit of that service as the Recruit prefers.

If You Are Fit! Now is the Accepted Time to Enlist! If you are ineligible. Now is the Time to Do Your Bit, viz: Get some man who is fit, to go in Your Place. If You can’t persuade him To Put On The Uniform, ‘Send Us His Name’ and ‘We’ll Get The Man’

Let Us Comb the City to the Last Available Man. Then Belleville Will Have Done Her Full Duty.

Headquarters – Corby Building – Lt.-Col. S. B. Scobell, Officer Commanding.”

The Intelligencer January 20, 1917 (page 8)

“235th Team Defeats The Depot Batteries. A most excellent brand of hockey was that put up here last night by the Depot Batteries Intermediate team, and the local 235th Intermediates, the locals winning out by one goal, after a hard and continuous struggle throughout the whole time the teams were on the ice, and thereby administering the first defeat of the Garrison boys of Kingston.

The teams were so well-matched that little body-checking was indulged in, and Referee Jacobi, who handled the game perfectly, was so strict, and discouraged any attempt at heavy checking and slashing, by penalizing the offenders, that a most noticeably clean game resulted.”

The Intelligencer January 20, 1917 (page 10)

“From Percy Palmer. Dear Mother,—Have received all seven boxes, in good condition. I received the box containing the sweater and lemon biscuits yesterday. The cakes were great and the sweater was exactly what I wanted. …

I was in hospital for a week with swollen glands and a very bad cold. They sent me then to a convalescent home in which I did not stay long as it was not a very nice place. I stayed there one day and then asked to be sent back to the Battery. It was twenty miles and I had to walk back. I had no map to go by and did not know the way, but eventually after a lot of roaming around, I reached camp at eight o’clock Xmas Eve. I had very sore feet and legs for three or four days, but am all right at present.

Taking everything into consideration and along with the fact that there is a war on, I spent a very enjoyable Xmas. We only did stables and had the rest of the time to ourselves. We had a very nice dinner, which consisted of mashed potatoes, beefsteak and onions, following with plum pudding, so we did not fare too bad. …  Hoping this letter finds you well. I remain, Your loving son, P. Palmer.”

100 Years Ago: Rules for Unemployed Senior Officers, Meeting for Men Only, Quinte’s Own 254th Battalion

The Intelligencer January 19, 1917 (page 1)

“Drastic Orders for Supernumerary Officers. London. The Canadian authorities here are dealing in drastic fashion with the problem of several hundred unemployed supernumerary officers of senior rank. Colonels and majors, without appointments, in the Shorncliffe area numbered 238 a few months ago, and the total since has greatly increased. Their unemployment is due partly to the breaking up of battalions, partly to amalgamations, and mainly to the absurd system of giving civilians entirely without military knowledge or qualifications high military rank.

Every senior officer without employment is now offered the choice of reverting to junior rank and filling any vacancy immediately available, or returning to Canada.”

The Intelligencer January 19, 1917 (page 2)

“Meeting for Men. Capt. J. E. McCorkell, who left Belleville with the 39th Battalion two years ago, and who is now at home on furlough from the 5th Brigade Machine Gun Co., will address a mass meeting for men only, that is to be held in the City Hall at 3 o’clock on Sunday afternoon, and which is to be one of the big features of the Citizens’ Recruiting Campaign to be launched by the 235th Battalion to-morrow.

Capt. McCorkell leaves on Monday next to rejoin his unit in France, and this will be an opportunity for his townspeople to hear from his lips the story of ‘Life in the Trenches.’ The meeting will offer an opportunity for the distribution of pledge cards for personal service in securing recruits, and the battalion hopes that it will be largely attended. This is not, however, a recruiting meeting.”

The Intelligencer January 19, 1917 (page 8)

” ‘Quinte’s Own’ 254th (Overseas) Battalion C. E. F. Lieut. Col. A. P. Allen, O. C.

Your King and Country Need You. Join Now. Be Loyal to Your Own County Battalion and Make it a Success. The 254th.

Come on Boys. A Free Hunting Trip to Europe. You Know What for—Freedom.

Ammunition, Rifle and Clothing Supplied Free of Cost. Will You Come?”

100 Years Ago: May Order Canadian Wives Home, At Home Reception for Melbourne Sprague, How Major Gilroy Met His Death, Another Belleville Hero Home, 235th Junior Hockey Team Wins

The Intelligencer January 18, 1917 (page 1)

“May Order Canadian Wives from England. Toronto. Canadian authorities here are seriously contemplating the advisability of ordering Canadian wives and women relatives of soldiers to return to Canada to help the food situation here and avoid the possibility of future shortages, says a London cable to The Evening Telegram. …

It is estimated there are sixty thousand wives and other relatives of Canadian officers and men living here, and all thinking Canadians deplore this state of affairs, which puts an extra and often needless tax on the food resources of this country at a critical time, helps raise rents, and generally makes it harder for the wives of British soldiers, who have no separation allowances like the Canadians.

It is stated that wives of Canadian officers at British base camps often obtain the army meat rations at rates which are much below the open market. Many Canadian women come over here against the express wishes of their soldier relatives. It is known that the Canadian authorities have disapproved of Canadian women coming to England. War work is frequently an excuse, but many Canadian women here are doing practically nothing.”

The Intelligencer January 18, 1917 (page 2)

“The Pink branch of the Rainbow Club gave a reception yesterday from four to nine o’clock at the spacious and beautiful home of Miss Bleecker on Moira street to Hero Melbourne Sprague. The receipts for the benefit of The Red Cross Society totalled forty dollars. The At Home proved in every way a most enjoyable and marked success.

The Circle thanks all who assisted in making the At Home so great a success: The 254th Battalion orchestra for delightful music rendered. The J. M. Greene Co. per Mr. J. A. Goodsell for the beautiful Edison Phonograph, truly termed the phonograph with a soul. Mr. Robert for a donation of five dollars. Givens and Son for flowers donated.

The spacious dining-room was decorated in the circle colors and much admired. The lady employees of Sinclair’s Company attended in a body and presented the hero with a beautiful bouquet of carnations and in response Melbourne gave the ladies a half hour talk describing his experience in the trenches before and after having been wounded.

During the afternoon Mrs. F. E. O’Flynn and Mrs. Dr. Yeomans representing the Belleville Women’s Red Cross and Patriotic Association in the absence of the President, Mrs. Col. Lazier, made a presentation to Pte. Sprague of a handsome and appropriately engraved match safe. Although taken completely by surprise the recipient made a becoming reply thanking the ladies for their kindly considerations for the men at the front.”

The Intelligencer January 18, 1917 (page 3)

“How Major Gilroy Met His Death. Sergt. T. E. Hyland, who left Belleville with the 80th Battalion, in writing to a friend in this city, gives the following account of the death of Major Gilroy, also of the 80th Battalion, an officer who was much respected by the men under him:

It was in the advance on the Regina Trench that we ran across his body, lying all by itself, and it was Lewy Bolton, the old drummer of the 80th Bugle Band, who recognized him. So after we had won the battle and routed the Germans, a few of us stole back and took a look, and sure enough, it was our dear old Major of the 80th, but then of the 16th, and his revolver and everything had been taken off him.

We buried our dear comrade about 20 yards to the rear of the entrance to Regina Trench, and a large white cross now marks the spot. Poor old Lewy Bolton, who first recognized the body, was some time later in trying to make his way back to the dressing station, shot through the head by a German sniper. So we lost another of the good old 80th boys. Will try and tell you some more later, but you can be sure that the good old Major was shot by a German sniper, and now rests in peace in France. Sergt. T. E. Hyland.”

The Intelligencer January 18, 1917 (page 5)

“Another Belleville hero arrived here to-day, but his home coming was not known, hence there was no demonstration accorded him. The hero was Private Gifford, who left Belleville with the 39th Battalion two years ago.

He was in engagement at Ypres, and it was there that he was severely wounded. With a number of comrades Gifford was in a trench, when a high explosive shell burst in their midst. The result was that some were killed, and Private Gifford had a leg injured to such an extent that amputation above the knee was necessary. After being in a hospital for some time he was provided with a cork leg. He was to-day met by many friends who extended to him a hearty welcome home.”

The Intelligencer January 18, 1917 (page 6)

“Leaders of Toronto Group Lose in Exhibition Game. The 228th Battalion Juniors received a rude jolt in an exhibition game here last night with the local 235th Junior team. With three straight victories to their credit in their respective group, the Men ‘O the North were quite confident of their ability to dispose of the locals in easy fashion. It was not to be, however, as they came out on the small end of a 11 to 3 score.

The game was one of the best junior games here this season, and was marked by good checking, combination and clever stick-handling. The locals were a little heavier and in better condition than the Northern Fusiliers and used their weight effectively.”


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