100 Years Ago: Letter from Harry Thomas

The Intelligencer May 31, 1915 (page 3)

“Driver H. Thomas, of 32nd Battery, 1st Brigade, now at the front, writes to his father, Mr. G.I. Thomas, 377 Front St. Belleville: Dear Father and mother and all—We had a very hot time for a while, but we are out, having a rest and getting prepared to go in again. I suppose you have heard about Leo Ross and Gomes being killed. They died game anyway, and they were always on the job; it’s too bad, but they died for a good purpose, didn’t they?

Well, dad, it has rained all day and still at it now. We had a party last evening at our battery; it was got up by our captain. We had a fine time. We had beer, cigars, cigarettes and etc., and had a good time all right. I received a letter last evening from Larry and it was sure full of news. Love to all, HARRY THOMAS.”

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100 Years Ago: 15th Regiment Band Carnival, Letter from Pat Yeomans

The Intelligencer May 29, 1915 (page 2)

“XV. Regiment Band’s Big Carnival. To Be Held on Victoria Park. After considerable labor and pains that worthy organization the XV Regiment Band, which needs no introduction to the public, has completed arrangements with the Big Pierson’s Shows for their big Carnival for a solid week on Victoria Park, commencing Monday evening the 3rd inst. and continuing every night for the balance of the week with special afternoon performances on the King’s Birthday and Saturday, 5th June at 2 o’clock. …

In the motor-drome three of the world’s greatest motor cycle speed kings defy death at every turn as the spectators gape down in blood tingling amazement. The days of ’49, commemorating the old frontier life of the lawless wild and wooly west …  The athletic show …  The circus side show …  The dog and pony show …  The $10,000 Merry-Go-Round, with the latest Coney Island Jumper will give every one from dear old granddad to the kiddies heaps of fun and exhilaration. …  There will be fun galore. Everybody wants fun and everybody wants to help the band, as they have given so much pleasure to others and with their funds have helped so many needs in the past.”

The Intelligencer May 29, 1915 (page 3)

“Interesting letter from Bombardier Horace Yeomans. France, May 13. …  It is not war out here, Mamma, it is slaughter, pure and simple. It is no longer a case of ‘survival of the fittest,’ but merely a game of chance, in which a man is a victim of circumstances where his brains and brawn count of absolutely nothing. Some day there will be a good and reliable account written and published of the two weeks’ fighting and then the outsiders will be able to form a good idea of the things that are going on here. Your loving son, Pat.”

By | May 29th, 2015|Intelligencer WW1 Local News|0 Comments

100 Years Ago: Leo Ross Killed in Action

The Intelligencer May 28, 1915 (page 1)Gunner Leo Ross & siblings1

“Leo Ross Killed in Action at Langemarck. Mr. James Ross of this city, to-day was officially notified that his son, Gunner Leo Ross, had been killed in action. Gunner Ross was a member of the 34th Battery and went with the First Contingent. His many friends will regret to learn of his demise and sympathy will be extended to the bereaved parents and members of his family.”

[Note: Gunner James Leo Joseph Ross died on April 30, 1915. He is commemorated on Page 34 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.]


By | May 28th, 2015|Intelligencer WW1 Local News|0 Comments

100 Years Ago: Harry Ablard’s Death, New Testament Presented to Men of 39th

The Intelligencer May 27, 1915 (page 3)

“Death of Sergt. Ablard. Mrs. H.C. Ablard of Wharf street, Belleville, has received the following letter from Sergt. Malcolm A. Neilson. …  I feel I must write you a few lines to express to you my great sympathy for your loss and also to tell you something of the splendid conduct of your husband in the last fight.

I shared a tent with Harry and two other Sergeants all the time we were at Salisbury Plain, and since we came out here I had lived with him practically all the time. I really cannot tell you what a splendid comrade he was. …  You will be glad to hear that his thoughts were often with you and his children. He would speak of you and them with pride and affection, and you have good reason to be proud of him.

In the great fight near Ypres our company had a hot corner to hold. On the morning of Friday, April 23rd, he gallantly placed himself in a very dangerous position, from which one or two men could fire into the German trench. Someone had to do the work and most heroically it was done. Your husband, I am told, shot down sixteen Germans before he was shot in the head. He lay unconscious for about an hour, and then died. He cannot have suffered at all. …  Harry was reverently and carefully buried by his comrades at a spot not far from the village of St. Julien, of which you may have read in the papers. I am Yours very sincerely, Malcolm A. Neilson.”

The Intelligencer May 27, 1915 (page 8)

“Presentation to Local Soldiers. Men of 39th Battalion Presented With Copies of New Testament. An interesting ceremony took place at the canning factory grounds this morning when the soldiers, who were drawn up at attention before Col. Preston, were formally presented with a khaki-bound copy of the New Testament scriptures. The presentation was made by the Rev. Chas. Geo. Smith, B.D., in the absence of the General Secretary, the Rev. Jesse Gibson, of Toronto.

Mr. Smith read a statement from Rev. Mr. Gibson, showing that over 60,000 copies had been presented by the Bible Society to the Canadian soldiers of the expeditionary forces, and the Society aims to present a copy to each officer and soldier on active service. Reference was made to the acceptance by the King of a copy, and his Majesty’s earnest wish that every soldier would consider it a part of his daily duty to read a portion of God’s word.”

By | May 27th, 2015|Intelligencer WW1 Local News|0 Comments

100 Years Ago: 34th Battery at Langemarck, Letters from Soldiers, Leo Ross Reported Wounded

The Intelligencer May 26, 1915 (pages 1, 4, 8)

“The 34th Battery at Langemarck. By Sergt. Gerald Spafford. On the Firing Line, Belgium, May 7th, 1915. Dear Mr. Bowell: …  You all have heard the story of what the infantry did, and those acquainted with the situation and formation of the line here will appreciate the following brief sketch of the part the boys of Belleville’s Fighting 34th Battery—now a part of the 2nd Battery, 1st Brigade—played in the battle. We were in the thickest part of it from beginning to end. …

While the sacrifice is a noble one, and we realize that they have done their duty for their King and Country—’tis sad. I herewith refer to one of my comrades who has been associated with the 34th Battery since its inception—a lad well known and popular with all who knew him, and many of the G.T.R. boys will regret to hear of his death. I refer to Gunner Leo Ross, who died as only any hero dies, fighting at his post of duty. No braver or more efficient soldier ever wore a uniform.

Leo was one of the 1st Brigade’s best gunlayers, and while fulfilling this duty in action on April 31st, 1915, under a terrific fire, he was killed. Our position enfiladed the enemy’s trenches. We were exposed to frontal, enfilade, and rear fire, but had to stick to it to support our infantry, who were rushing a position. We saw him buried in a beautiful garden of a near-by chateau. A cross marks the spot. We all extend our heartfelt sympathy to his bereaved parents. May it be a source of comfort to them to know Leo did his duty, never flinching, and did it well.

We also lost our section commander, Lieut. Helmer, the following day. We feel his loss keenly. His fine example and unselfishness shall always be remembered. Many of our boys with the other section are wounded. I cannot learn their names. Driver E.A. Carre, one of my boys has been wounded, but is still doing his duty. I cannot express my true feelings as to the splendid behavior of everyone of our boys. We all send our kind regards, and trust a speedy termination of the war will bring us back soon. Respecfully, SPAFFORD.”

The Intelligencer May 26, 1915 (page 2)

“The following letter has been received by Mrs. Lavin of 23 Charlotte street, Belleville, from her husband, Sergt. J. Lavin. St. Johns & Elizabeth Hospital, London, N.W.

I am getting on fine, but I had a very painful time. I have four bullet holes in me but one bullet did the lot. It struck me in the back of the arm, about 4 inches above the wrist, went through my arm, breaking a bone, entered my hip and came out through my back about 1/2 inch off my back bone. I was very lucky I did not bleed to death. …  We had a terrible time. Out of six officers in my company four were killed and two wounded. …

This is a fine hospital. It is a Catholic Hospital, but they treat anyone here no matter what religion, and the nuns are splendid; they will do anything for us. …

I forgot to tell you where I was wounded. It was at a place called Ypres, which is nothing but a hell upon earth. It is impossible for me to describe its wholesale slaughter.”

The Intelligencer May 26, 1915 (page 2)

“Gunner Paterson Wounded. Mrs. D. Patterson, 8 Victoria Ave., Belleville, has received the following telegram from the Adjutant General, dated Ottawa, May 25:—Sincerely regret to inform you 40469 Gunner William Paterson, 1st Field Artillery Brigade officially reported wounded. Further particulars when received will be sent you. Adjutant General.

The following is the last letter received by Mrs. Paterson from her son: Belgium, April 30, 1915. Dear Mother:—I have received all letters and papers up to this date. …  I got a wound on the fingers of my left hand and am back of the horse lines. …  Do not worry about my fingers. I would not have told you, only I was afraid it would get in the papers and you would not know what happened.

I was lucky to what some of the others were. I also had the side of my serge torn by a piece of shell, but my aluminum cup in my pocket turned it.”

The Intelligencer May 26, 1915 (page 8)

“Gunner Leo Ross Reported Wounded. Mr. James Ross of this city, this morning, received the following telegram: Ottawa, May 26th. Mr. James Ross, Belleville,—I sincerely regret to inform you that No. 40488 Gunner James L. Ross is officially reported as wounded. Further particulars, when received, will be sent you. Adjutant General.”

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100 Years Ago: Ladies’ Patriotic and Red Cross Society Appeal, Victoria Day Observed

The Intelligencer May 25, 1915 (page 2)

“An Appeal By the Ladies’ Patriotic and Red Cross Society of Belleville. …  Boxes of Hospital supplies have been sent to the Queen’s Hospital at Shorncliffe and to the 2nd Canadian Expeditionary Hospital at Le Touquet, France, and another is about ready to be sent to the Toronto University Hospital. …

The funds raised by the entertainment in the Armouries and by contribution from members and others is exhausted, and if the Society is to continue its good work more money is required at once. The executive, after full consideration, has decided to make an appeal to the citizens for contributions to the funds of the Society, feeling sure of a generous response considering the great and growing necessity caused by the thousands of our wounded soldiers streaming back from the battle line maimed and invalided, and it was decided to make the appeal through the churches.

The clergymen of all denominations on Sunday last brought the matter before the members of their congregations. It is proposed to place envelopes in the pews of all the churches so that the contributions can be made on Sunday next, May thirtieth, at both services. All contributions will be acknowledged through the daily papers.”

The Intelligencer May 25, 1915 (page 2)

“Victoria Day was fittingly commemorated in this city. Taking advantage of the 39th Battalion being in the city it was decided to have a military parade and sports at the Agricultural Park, the proceeds of which were to be devoted to the 39th Battalion funds. …  there was a hearty response by the citizens who gathered at the grounds in large numbers.

At 1:30 p.m. a parade was formed led by the 39th Battalion Band. It was composed of the 39th Battalion, being 1,000 strong, the 15th Regiment Band and the Cadets of the High School, Queen Mary, Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra and St. Michael’s Schools. …  The line of march was up Pinnacle street, down Victoria Avenue to Front Street, to West Bridge Street and thence to the Park. The streets were lined by spectators during the march.

Upon arrival on the ground the troops formed up—the 39th on the right and the High School Cadets and 8th (Queen Mary School) Cadets on the left …  Accompanied by his A.D.C., Col. Sir Mackenzie Bowell repaired to the saluting base immediately opposite the grand stand, when the Battalion marched past in columns of platoons. …  Col. Preston on behalf of the 39th Battalion, thanked Sir Mackenzie for his kind words of encouragement. The members of the Battalion were then dismissed and a programme of sports was carried out.”


By | May 25th, 2015|Intelligencer WW1 Local News|0 Comments

100 Years Ago: Gallantry of 49th Hastings Rifles at Ypres, Cheese Board Makes Grant to 39th Battalion

The Intelligencer May 22, 1915 (page 7)

“Great Gallantry of 49th Hastings Rifles. France, May 5th, 1915. My Dear Colonel Ketcheson,—I feel it my duty to write to you to tell how the men of the 49th Hastings Rifles did honor to themselves, their country and the Empire; and yet, in relating the glorious achievements that they have accomplished there is a sadness and regrettable result in that some of the brave fellows have fallen.

Never were men called upon to show such courage and fortitude that these men were from April 23 to April 27, and I can only say, Colonel, that I am proud—as every officer is proud—of the behavior and conduct of these men under such fire. …  Accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of these gallant fellows. …  Fraternally yours, Richard D. Ponton, Capt., 2nd Batt.”

The Intelligencer May 22, 1915 (page 8)

“Cheese Board Makes Grant to 39th Batt. For Extra Comforts for the Men Who are Soon to Leave. At a very enthusiastic meeting of the Cheese Board this morning a grant of $500 was made to the 39th Battalion. This money will be used for extra comforts for the men, which were not supplied by the government.

Colonel Preston addressed the board and stated that he wanted $10,000 for this purpose and the government allowance would be entirely separate from this amount. …  The motion was unanimously passed upon the motion of Mr. Sprague, seconded by Mr. George Nicholson, of the Sidney Town Hall Cheese Board.”

By | May 22nd, 2015|Intelligencer WW1 Local News|0 Comments

100 Years Ago: Ad for Victoria Day, Five Soldiers Recover from Meningitis

The Intelligencer May 20, 1915 (page 2)Victoria Day Citizen's Celebration1

“Victoria Day Monday, May 24th. Citizens’ Celebration and Farewell to the 39th Battalion, C.E.F. Military Field Day, Mobilization of the Cadet Corps of the District. Sports, Races, Baseball. Belleville Driving Park 2 p.m. Parade From Market Square 1.30 p.m. God Save the King.”

The Intelligencer May 20, 1915 (page 2)

“Five Recover From Meningitis. Very encouraging news was received this morning from the spinal meningitis cases. For some time there have been seven cases in the local hospital and for the last couple of days five of these patients have been able to be walking about and today they will be allowed passes and leave. …  These men are Privates McDinnick, Beard, Milberry, Scruver and Murray.

There have been no outbreak of any new cases for some time, and no carriers have been discovered for the last ten days. Apparently this epidemic is completely obliterated. Out of the 80 carriers, who were at one time at the exhibition camp, the number has dwindled down to 30.”

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100 Years Ago: Reported Death of Leo Ross, Gunner Gomes Killed in Action, Victoria Day Plans

The Intelligencer May 19, 1915 (page 1)

“No Official News of His Having Been Killed Has Been Received to Date. Mr. J. Ross, father of Leo Ross, who was stated in a letter from the front to have been killed, received the following letter this morning from the Adjutant-General:—’Name of Gunner, J.L. Ross, 1st Artillery Brigade, has not appeared on any official casualty list received at military headquarters to date. So far as is known he is still serving with the corps. Any casualty will be telegraphed to you as soon as received. Adjutant General.”

The Intelligencer May 19, 1915 (page 7)

“Batteryman Killed At the Front. Word has been received in this city that Gunner M.A. Gomes who went from this city with the 34th Battery, has been killed. His death was the result of a shell bursting beneath the horse he was riding. The victim was twenty-six years of age, and was born in British Guiana. He attended the Ontario Business College here and was for some time night clerk at the Grand Trunk Railway station. He left his city with the 34th Battery and went to the front with the First Contingent. The news of Gomes’ death is much regretted by those who knew him.”

[Note: Gunner Manuel Antonio Gomes died on April 26, 1915. He is commemorated on Page 16 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.]

The Intelligencer May 19, 1915 (page 8)

“Military Field Day, Victoria Day, May 24. As the 39th Battalion is likely to be ordered to the front at once, the Citizens Celebration Committee has made arrangements for a Grand Re-union and Military Field Day for the officers and men of the 39th Battalion and their friends from their own home district, to meet at the Driving Park on Victoria Day.

The committee will perfect arrangements to-night. There will be military manoeuvres by our fine regiment, which is in good shape now for the front, as well as manoeuvres by the Boys Cadet Corps. …  Get busy to extend to the 39th a splendid farewell.”

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100 Years Ago: Children Send Scrapbooks to Front, Letters from Overseas, Rumored Death of Leo Ross

The Intelligencer May 18, 1915 (page 3)

“From Scholars To Old Boys At the Front. The various Public Schools of the city have from week to week been sending to the front scrap books of interesting clippings culled and selected by the pupils boys and girls for the benefit of the men at the front, in order to keep them in touch with their city and county, and so that the lines of communications may not be broken with the dear old homes. …

Queen Alexandra School has been particularly fortunate in enlisting

Queen Alexandra School, Belleville

Queen Alexandra School, Belleville

the voluntary services of a genuine artist who, with loyal fervor, each week illuminates the backs of the books which are being sent forward, in most artistic fashion. With a modest patriotism which becomes him, he does not desire his name mentioned, but the identity of an honored citizen and professional man, who has attained his three score years and ten, and who can still wield the colors and the brush as he does, cannot remain long a secret. He has also done some splendid work for the boys and girls of Grier street and Queen Mary’s schools. …

Colonel Ponton, Chairman of the Board of Education, has placed eight copies of this week’s work in the windows of the Merchants’ Bank, so that the public may share in the delight, which the boys at the front will feel when they receive the covers and the contents prepared by loving hands.”

The Intelligencer May 18, 1915 (page 7)

“Cambridge Military Hospital, Aldershot. Dear Mrs. Yatman, I am writing to you for your son Thomas, who arrived here 1st May. He sends you his very best love and to say he is not too badly wounded, but I’m so very sorry to have to tell you the truth, that he is seriously injured, his spine has been damaged; but he is such a hero and talks and laughs quite a lot and there is never a murmur of complaint from him.

His chief worry I think is that you will be worrying about him, and, so please, when you write, cheer him up. I will write to you every week and let you know how he goes along. We got 150 wounded in on Saturday last, and quite a lot of Canadians, and the majority of them such laddies. I feel it an honor to nurse them. Yours sincerely, PEGGY M. BOLAND.”

The Intelligencer May 18, 1915 (page 8)

“Driver Tryon. May 5th, 1915. Dear Nellie:—As I sit down here to write you these few lines, I hope they find you all well, as it leaves myself well at present, but I have sad news to tell you. We have lost a few of our Belleville boys, which does seem hard, and yesterday morning we lost one of our officers. We have had some very hard and severe fighting the last ten days which is not over yet. It is something fierce; no one has any idea. There never was a war before like this. We have been under shell fire for the last ten days. …

It’s a shame to see the towns and villages which have been torn down and burned. It is terrible to see the poor people having to leave. No homes to go to. …  Well, Nellie, Leo Ross was killed on May 1st, which was very hard for us to get over. He was killed in action. It will be hard for his poor mother but you know our turn will come in time. Good bye, Driver Tryon, 2nd Battery, 1st Brigade, Canadian Contingent; British Expeditionary Force.”

The Intelligencer May 18, 1915 (page 8)

“The Rumored Death of Leo Ross. In reference to the above letter, which states that Leo Ross was killed on May 1st, a reporter of the Intelligencer, saw Mr. Walter Ross, father of Leo, this morning and stated that he had heard nothing of his son’s death.”

By | May 18th, 2015|Intelligencer WW1 Local News|0 Comments