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
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.
“DEDICATED IN THE MEMORY OF THE FOLLOWING
WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR”
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."
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
Other related blogs ~
Remembered 100 years on
The Lost Voices of WWII RAF/RCAF Greenwood
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth ..
One of many, remembered today …
WWII RAF Ferry Command, Newfoundland
Remembrance Day 2016 ~ Halifax
Remembrance Day 2017 ~ Lunenburg
Remembrance Day 2019 ~ Bridgewater
Remembrance Day 2020 ~ Bridgewater