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WWI

These collections contains any material relating to Canada from 1914 to 1918 from either the home front or the battlefront. External links in collection descriptions are either to online attestation papers at Library and Archives Canada or casualty and burial information at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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Lee Grant Darrach was born in 1882 and grew up in Clyde River, Prince Edward Island.  At the start of WWI Darrach was living in Boston with his brother Jack. In 1915 he headed overseas with the intention of joining the British Army. Enlisting with the British Lancaster Fusiliers, he trained in England before being sent into combat in Egypt and France, remaining on active service until May of 1919.

The collection consists of thirty-two letters written by Lee to his brother Jack (often also to Jack's wife Beatrice, refered to as "B"), back in Boston. They are an uncommon collection within the Canadian Letters in Images Project in that they document the history of a Canadian soldier not as a member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, but in the British Army with the British Expeditionary Force, which as Darrach describes it, was often a very different environment.

The letters are used with the kind permission of the Clyde River History Committee. More information on Lee Grant Darrach, as well as audio recordings of his letters read by Alan Buchanan, are available through their website at: https://clyderiverpei.com/letters-from-the-great-war.

Harold Keith Davey was born in Enterprise, Ontario in July 1897. Davey enlisted with the 4th Battalion Canadian Engineers in Toronto in June of 1916. He served in France before being discharged and returned to Canada in May 1918. This collection currently consists of one letter, two diaries, two photograhs, one postcard, two railway passes and a rest camp ticket.

Note: In the diary section of the collection, transcriptions of all entries for 1917/1918 can be read together under the respective links to "1917" and "1918".  Scans of the original handwritten diaries can also be accessed here, organized by their individual dates of entry.

 

John (Jack) Davey was born in Somerset, England in September, 1888. He emigrated to Canada 1911-1912 and enlisted in September, 1914. Davey was wounded and taken prisoner in April, 1915. While a prisoner he had his leg amputated, and then was later returned to England during a prisoner exchange. The collection consists of more than fifty letters between himself and his wife Kate.

Victor Leslie Davidson was born in September, 1892 in Chippawa, Ontario. Davidson enlisted in November, 1914 in Toronto, Ontario and went overseas with the 20th Battalion. In 1916 he married Emelia Sears, a nurse in England. The collection currently consists of postcards and photographs, as well as an autograph book kept by Emelia Sears from the hospital in which she was working.

Harry Davies was born in Hamilton, Ontario in December, 1897. He enlisted in March, 1916 in Hamilton, Ontario with the 205th Battalion. Davies went overseas in 1917, was wounded in August, 1918, and invalided back to Canada in early 1919. The collection currently consists of his diary from December, 1916 to June, 1919, as well as several photographs.

George Ansley Davis was born in Stoney Creek, Ontario in November, 1893.  He served overseas with the 54th Battalion until he was demobilized and returned to Canada in the spring of 1919.  The collection currently consists of six letters and one field service card.

Nursing Sister Lena Aloa Davis was born in Beamsville, Ontario, on July 30, 1885. Prior to her enlistment Davis was working as the Superintendent of Nurses at Toronto’s Hospital for the Insane (as it was then named).

She enlisted in Toronto, Ontario, on April 7, 1915, with the 2nd Stationary Hospital, Canadian Army Medical Corps (C.A.M.C.). Arriving in England in May of 1915 aboard the S.S. Corinthian, she went on to serve in France and Macedonia, initially with the 2nd Stationary Hospital and later with the No. 4 Canadian General Hospital, C.A.M.C.

Her nursing work put her in constant contact with infectious diseases. Her Service Record shows she was hospitalized with “Blackwater Fever” (malaria) in September of 1916, and contracted diphtheria the following April. Her malaria returned in early 1918 and she died in hospital in England on February 21, 1918. She was buried at the St. Andrew Churchyard, in Sherborne St. John, England.

External links:
Nursing Sister Lena Davis’ Service Record (Serv/Reg# n/a) can be viewed/downloaded in pdf format through Library and Archives Canada.
Burial information is available at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
A memorial page honouring N.S. Lena Davis can be visited online at the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

Robert Davis was born in London, England in 1896 and enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in London, in September, 1915. Davis served in France and he was killed April 9, 1917 in the assault on Vimy Ridge. The collection consists of two letters and one photograph.

Lieutenant Coningsby William Dawson, Canadian Expeditionary Force, was the author of the 1917 book Carry On: Letters in War-Time. The book's letters, along with more information on Lt. Dawson, can be found in the Special Items Collections section of the website.

Private Thomas Day was born in Walsall, England c. 1886, and joined the British Army Reserve Forces in 1904. Day married Priscilla Anson in Chesterfield, UK in 1909 and they had a son, Bernard, born in Colorado, United States, in 1911. By 1912 he had found his way to Ladysmith, British Columbia.

Day rejoined the British Army with the 1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment, at the European front in December 1914. In early 1916 he was transferred to the Mesopotamia campaign. At the Battle at Sheikh Sa’ad along the Tigris River (present day Iraq) he fell dangerously ill on December 10, 1916. A sudden onset of paralysis was diagnosed as transverse myelitis and he was transferred to the Victoria War Hospital in Bombay (present day Mumbai), India, where he died on January 7, 1917.

Day’s name is listed on the Ladysmith Cenotaph along with forty other soldiers who were born, lived, or worked in Ladysmith, B.C., and who died during the First World War. Seven of these soldiers, including Day, had wartime letters published by The Ladysmith Chronicle newspaper (see links below).

The complete list of soldiers in the can be found in the Ladysmith and District Historical Society collection.

External links:
Pte. Day (Reg.# 9941) served as a member of the British Army; no service file information was available.
Burial information is available at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Pte. Day is commemorated on the Kirkee War Memorial in India, and on the Ladysmith Cenotaph in Ladysmith, British Columbia.
A collection of WWI soldiers' letters published in The Ladysmith Chronicle was undertaken by the Ladysmith & District Historical Society through their work with the Ladysmith Archives.

Jules Julien De Cruyenaere was born in 1894 in Rollegham, Belgium. In 1912 he emigrated to Canada to join his brother Alfred, with the rest of his family arriving in 1914. He enlisted in 1916 with the Winnipeg 100th Grenadiers. He survived the war and returned to Winnipeg, where he died in 1980. The collection consists of four letters written home between 1916 and 1918, and five photographs.

Private Harold Adelbert Dean was born in New Brunswick on April 7, 1894, to parents Rufus Archibald and Sarah Eliza Dean.

Dean enlisted with the British Expeditionary Force in Vancouver, British Columbia and shipped for England on January 15, 1916. He joined in the Mechanical Transport Army Service Corps, 648 Company, as a transport driver and sailed with them for Africa in early March. He spent the next two years in the East African Campaign in British and German East Africa, often based in or near Mombasa, Nairobi or Dodoma.

He was hospitalized several times for malaria while in Africa, and was eventually sent back to England to convalesce in May of 1918. He spent the remainder of the war in England. He was demobilized back to Canada on the S.S. Scandinavian, departing from Liverpool on April 2nd, 1919.

External links:
Because he served as a member of the British Expeditionary Force, and not the Canadian Expeditionary Force, there is no Canadian Service File available for Pte. Dean.
A article about Dean’s experiences in the East African Campaign was published in the Prince George Register on November 2021, and can be read here.

Alexander Decoteau was born on the Cree Red Pheasant Indian Reserve near Battleford, Saskatchewan in November, 1887. He later moved to Edmonton, Alberta where he worked as a police officer and was champion distance runner. Decoteau also competed in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden. He enlisted in Edmonton in April, 1916. Decoteau served overseas in France and Belgium, and died during the Battle of Passchendaele on October 30, 1917. The collection consists of four letters written by Decoteau.

Gordon Alexander DeGear was born in Battleford, Saskatchewan in 1891. Prior to the war DeGear had served in the Saskatchewan Light Horse and enlisted for overseas service at Battleford in May, 1915. He served in France and returned to Canada in 1919. When completed the collection will consist of more than one hundred letters from DeGear to his family.

Levi Dendoff was born in Nanaimo, British Columbia in October, 1898. Dendoff enlisted in Nanaimo with the 102nd Battalion in February, 1916 and served overseas until his return to Nanaimo at the end of the war. The collection currently consists of more than a dozen postcards, some photographs, and images of a trench art souvenier.

Wellington Murray Dennis was born in April 1894 in Maplewood, Ontario.  He later moved west to Weyburn, Saskatchewan where he worked as an implement dealer. Dennis enlisted in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewa in April 1916 with the 229th Battalion.  He served overseas with the 5th Battalion Canadian Infantry and was killed on August 9, 1918.  The collection currently consists of more than thirty letters from Margaret Munro, his fiance, and letters from Murray to Margaret, as well as postcards and photographs.

John Melody Dever was born in Montreal, Quebec in June, 1897. He enlisted in August, 1916 at Kingston, Ontario. Dever served overseas in France until the end of the war, when he returned to Canada. The collection consists of several postcards, photographs, his signalling certificate, and a copy of Arthur Currie's special order for the troops of March 27, 1918.

Private William Herbert Donnelly ("Will") was born in Peterborough, Ontario, in 1882. At the time of enlistment he was living in Calgary, Alberta, working as a mercantile broker with the local firm Donnelly, Watson and Brown. He enlisted with the 82nd Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Alberta Regiment), on March 23, 1916, at the age of 33. 

Following training in Canada, he shipped for England on May 20th, 1916, on the Empress of Britain. In 1916 he was transferred to the 9th Battalion, and then in France to the 31st Battalion. He was killed in action on September 27th, 1916, and is buried at the Courcelette British Cemetery, Somme, France

The collection consists of 7 letters written by Will Donnelly to his parents, Henry & Martha Donnelly of Calgary, as well as to his siblings. Also included is his military will, a copy of which was preserved as part of his personnel records

A memorial page for Pte. Donnelly can be visited at the Canadian Virtual War Memorial .

Frank Beecher Doran was born in Iroquois, Ontario in 1894 and was a school teacher in Iroquois when he enlisted in March, 1916. He served in France with the Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment) and then later transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. He was killed on August 13, 1917. The collection consists of five letters written home to his sister.

George Dorman was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in July, 1893. Dorman enlisted in June, 1916 and served overseas with the 11th Canadian Mounted Rifles. The collection currently consist of one letter, reunion materials, miscellaneous documents, and more than twenty photographs.

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Latest Readings from World War One collections

James Moore

Reads a 09/21/1916 Letter by Drader, Eugene Robert from World War One collections. View full Letter

RH Thomson

Reads a 07/06/1917 Letter by Mayse, Amos William (Will) from World War One collections. View full Letter

RH Thomson

Reads a 07/05/1917 Letter by Mayse, Amos William (Will) from World War One collections. View full Letter