Thursday 30 July 2020

Gee, there must be a pandemic or something …

Today, we took a coastal drive to Peggys Cove.

During the summer or in fact any good day in the year, it is always a location which is extremely busy with tourists, but due to Covid-19 certainly not today. It was so quiet, unlike a few previous visits, I was able to take many pictures of the famous lighthouse without hoards of people walking into the photo frame.

Just outside the village of Peggys Cove is Polly’s Cove hiking trail, a location of rugged terrain with a mixture of bog, glacial erratic’s, and short scrubby brush. With its spectacular panoramic coastal views, the trail starts out wide, but when it is not snaking over the granite boulders, it soon narrows to just a few inches wide. There appears to be many little paths shooting off in all directions, which look interesting and provide a good reason to plan a future trip there

Thursday 23 July 2020

The Lost Voices of WWI Middleton and District

A few months ago, I had the privilege of being asked to contribute and assist in the writing of the book “The Lost Voices of WWI Middleton and District”, which is the second in a series of “Lost Voices” books, the first being “The Lost Voices of WWII RAF/RCAF Greenwood”, see more at this link ~

The Lost Voices of WWI Middleton and District, is about thirty-one young guys who left the small Nova Scotia town of Middleton and its surrounding area during WWI and never returned home, they were ~

Frederick Bruce                        Harold B. Layton

Charles Carey                          John L. Lightizer

William Clark                           Stuart C. Marshall

Stanley H. Clark(e)                     Robert McLaughlin

Harold G. Cox                          Frederick E. Neily

James A. DeLancey                     George F. Neily **

Lloyd A. Dorman                       Vance L. Neily **

Carl R. Early                           Philip M. Palmeter

John H. Feindel                        Ralph O. Pearson

Garnett D. Garber                     Charles R. Ray

Pearley Parker Goucher                 Herman W. Roy

Albert V. Hansford                     Louis B. Schaffner

Thomas Harris                          Edgar S. Spurr

Chester Hayes                         Murray L. Tupper

Lewis E. Howard                       Roland F. Turner

Lloyd H. Langille                

**Denotes – Brothers

The book begins with the chapter “Summer 1914: a prelude to change”, an idyllic time prior to WWI, when life in Middleton was very much next to perfect. A small but very prosperous community in the heart of Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, where the local economy thrived on agriculture and the expanding railway system, which provided the transport links for the locally produced livestock, vegetables, fruit and berries to other provinces and to the USA.

The latent hostilities in far-off Europe during that summer which the book describes in the chapter “Growing Tensions”, had no effect on the day to day life of those in Middleton. The local farmers were busy haying and harvesting their fields, while at home the women folk would be preparing to preserve fruit and vegetables for the long winter months ahead. But soon this would all dramatically change, by a chain of events in Europe which would weave itself into the fabric of the local community, and interrupt the perfect way of life in Middleton, Canada and indeed the wider world.

With Britain’s declaration of war upon Germany on August 14th 1914, the chapter “Canada at War”, describes how Canada’s legal status a British Dominion, left all foreign policy decisions in the hands of the British parliament, which automatically brought Canada and similarly Australia, New Zealand and other Empire countries into the conflict.

Of the thirty-one guys the book honours, all except for one were volunteers, who joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), which by war’s end would grow to almost 620,000 enlistments. The chapter “A call to arms”, tells of when war broke out, how Canadians in large numbers hurried to enlist out of a sense of patriotism, a desire for glory, or a chance of a free trip to Britain and the misguided belief that the war would be over by Christmas. This rush to war included several hundred from Middleton and the surrounding district.

The part of the book which required a huge depth of careful research is the chapter “We will remember them”. Within those pages are many details about each of the thirty-one. It includes their date and location of birth, their parents, their occupations, spouses and siblings, date of enlistment, military training, the ships which took them to Britain, in chronological order their military movements and battle involvements in France and Belgium, then finally the circumstances of their deaths. Most of this information was made available with much gratitude from Library and Archives Canada ~ Personnel Records of the First World War.

This chapter is written in a very personal way to give a “voice” to each of the thirty-one, it includes where possible photos of the guys, their family, their graves in France or Belgium and where they have no known grave, their inscriptions on memorials in Europe. Also, within this chapter are the occasional selected scanned extracts from their hand-written military records, this include sign-up papers, in the event of death their will, pay records, injuries and much more.

A chapter “The Regiments and Units” covers all the twenty-two regiments and military units each served in throughout the war, it includes pictures of the relevant cap badges and other related information. This section of the book also tells of where and when the regiments were formed and summarizes the various theaters of war each fought in during WWI.

The final chapter “The Troop Ships”, gives details on all the thirteen troop ships which transported the guys on their one-way trip to Britain before deployment to France or Belgium. Within this part of the book are photographs of each ship, data on where they were built and some additional information about their post-war existence. 

As indicated by the book’s title, its main purpose is to give a “voice” to those thirty-one guys who over 100 years ago, left Middleton and the surrounding area, never to return to their homes, parents, wives and children. As written at the beginning of the book in the section “The need to Remember”, it is hoped the reader will pause at the pages dedicated to each of the thirty-one souls named and remember that they share in abundance, an equal tragic loss with over a million other Commonwealth troops from World War I. That loss in part being, the missed years and the absent life experiences that we all take for granted. Even though it was over 100 years ago, I also hope the reader will spare a thought for the grieving families and loved ones who were left behind and endured a lifetime of loss.

Finally, and perhaps more importantly, my hope is that the “Lost Voices” named within this book and their Commonwealth comrades will never be forgotten.

Below are a selection of pictures included in the book ~

The Dominion Atlantic Railway (DAR) Station in Middleton in 1910, a lifeline to the local growing economy

Many hurried to enlist out of a sense of patriotism, a desire for glory, or a chance of a free trip to Britain and the misguided belief that the war would be over by Christmas.



 Newspaper Clippings from 1917 reporting on the death of Major James Arnold DeLancy MC

Captain Edgar Smith Spurr MC ~ the following was said about him by Private Harrison Livingstone a fellow serving soldier ~

"He was a born leader of men, who helped to make trench life bearable. He used to come to our outpost at night and talk about home; his family, and his apple orchard in the (Annapolis) Valley." 

    The grave of Captain Edgar Smith Spurr MC at Wailly Orchard Cemetery; Pas de Calais, France

A hand written Will for Private Garnett Douglas Garber, a document required by every soldier before going overseas. He killed was in action at Canal de L’Escaut by a bomb dropped from an enemy aircraft, aged 20 and is buried at Ramillies British Cemetery, Northern France

Private Philip Marvin Palmeter’s inscription at the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium ~ he has no known grave

A notice from 13th January 1922 for the posthumous award of Private Philip Marvin Palmeter’s service and war medals to his father Russell Palmeter. The Memorial Cross (more often referred to as the Silver Cross) is given to his mother Mrs. E. Palmeter

From 1916 Lance Corporal Stuart Charles Marshall, he was killed during an attack South of Haucourt, France, aged 22 and is Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery, Haucourt, Pas de Calais, France. He shares this grave with another soldier who is “Known Unto God”, unidentified

A military record of pay for Private Thomas Harris, which stopped when he died from gun-shot wounds to the head at 49 Casualty Clearing Station, aged 24. He was buried at Contay British Cemetery; Somme, France

From the military records of Private Charles Russell Ray, the entry dated 8th July 1917 states “Dangerously wounded…”. ~ The next line on the 14th July, “Died of wounds ….”.

Private Ray is the oldest at the age of 38, of those honoured within the book and is buried Lilers Communal Cemetery; Pas de Calais, France

Those left behind ~ Private Vance LeRoy Neily (brother to Lance Corporal George Fremont Neily) in uniform, standing with his wife Margaret Amanda Staffen and sitting is his sister Marjorie.

Private Vance LeRoy Neily was Killed in the Battle of Hill 70, aged 28 and was buried at Loos British Cemetery; (Lens Canadian Cemetery No. 2) Pas de Calais, France

Private Carl Russell Early’s inscription on the Vimy Memorial, France. He killed in action in the vicinity of Vimy, France, aged 19. The son of William and Bessie Early of Margaretsville, Annapolis County, he has no known grave

Private John Lightizer’s Attestation Paper (a personal information form that the volunteers for the Canadian Expeditionary Force completed during the enlistment process throughout WWI). The document states his year of birth as 1897, when in fact he was born 10 February 1900 ~ like many from WWI, he lied about his age. He died at No.3 Canadian Casualty Station, Remy Siding, of shrapnel wounds to the chest and abdomen, aged 16, the youngest honoured within the book, a tragic loss to his parents Harry and Hannah Lightizer of Middleton.

They only ask to always be remembered

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Around about in black and white

Over the last couple of days, I have been out and about to Blue Rocks and the LaHave Islands. During those visits I decided to take some black and white photos. I find on occasions that textures, contrast and emotions are stronger in black and white than in colour. I think the main reason for that is black and white removes distractions which can be found in colour and lets you focus on particular feelings.

The first three pics from below are taken in early afternoon at Blue Rocks, while the rest are at sunset on the LaHave Islands.

One colour photo is included at the end, it is a Heron who located himself very close to me while on the Islands. We were in each others company for about half an hour, during which time he was regularly plucking fish out of the water.