Today in the Dauphin Herald – April 22, 1920

G.W.V.A. Notes

We wish all comrades to note that before they can make entry on Dominion Lands, both homestead and soldiers grant, they must have attestation certificates. If they will look after this matter before time of making entry, it will save them a lot of trouble and delay.
We note that Comrade Roy Armstrong is now with the Soldier Settlement Board as supervisor and takes in the district of Winnipegosis, Ochre River and Makinak.
At the last meeting of the Association we had a very fair attendance to hear Comrade Batty give his report of Montreal convention. He gave a general outline of the work done at the convention. We hope to see an increased interest in the meetings. Come out to them. The matter of the War Veterans’ home was up before the meeting and some discussion took place. We are still waiting on the results of the work of the Memorial Committee before making any public campaign for funds for our building. In the meantime we are getting all the money we can gather toward our building fund.
Comrade Herman, of Ashville, who has been in the hospital, is convalescent.
Comrade Garth Johnston has gone to Prairie River to start operations on his farm.
Hugh Lys and E.R. Bewell, supervisors for the S.S.B., are out on soldier settlement work.
We have had a number of men make use of the rooms this month while passing through and who appreciate same very much.

Bicton Health

Winnipegosis, April 20.
The rain Tuesday was welcome. Warmer weather is now assured. Don’t let us be impatient; you know we are promised seedtime and harvest as long as the world lasts.
The United Famers of the district held a meeting on the 17th at the home of Mr. Dumas. Important business was transacted. A resolution was passed requesting the Grain Growers to build an elevator at Winnipegosis the coming summer. The question of taking political action was brought up and discussed. A vote showed the meeting to be in favor of such a move.
The corduroy road leading to the school is nearly complete.
James Laidlaw is drawing his house and stable over to the homestead.
Frank Sharp has purchased a fine team of horses from Mr. Pruder.
A meeting will be held in the Orange Hall, Fork River, on the 27th inst. and it is expected that delegates from every local in the Ethelbert constituency will be present and it will then be decided whether a farmers’ candidate will be placed in the field.

Fork River

Father and Son Banquet—Boys’ work has come right into the limelight in Fork River with the introduction of the Canadian standard efficiency training under a local advisory council composed of Messrs. W. King, J. Williamson, A.J. Little, Fred. Cooper, C.E. Bailey and Milton Cooper.
A Trail Rangers’ camp has been formed with E.V. Lockwood as mentor, Robt. Williams chief ranger; Arthur Jameson, sub ranger Nathan Schucett, tally, and Ben Schucett, cache.
So interested are the boys that the ladies of the district, to encourage them, supplied a splendid banquet on Friday night last at which some 43 fathers and sons sat down and enjoyed the substantial repast. When the eating was finished the chief ranger bade them toast “The King,” which was done with musical honors.
The following toasts were enthusiastically honored: “Canada,” proposed by Arthur Jameson; “Tuxis Boys,” by N. Schuchett; “Our Dads,” by B. Schuchett; “Our Sons,” by W. King. A very nice little speech by D. Robertson on the “Kind of Dad I Like,” was responded to with excellent advice to boys on the “Kind of Son I Like,” by D.F. Wilson. “Our Homes” was given by Mr. Lockwood, and this was followed by three sort addresses by Prof. Williamson on the advantages of an education; Tuxis boys at large by Rev. H.P. Barrett and the boy and the church by Rev. E. Roberts. Votes of thanks to boys, ladies, speakers and officers were proposed by W. King, D. Lockwood, E.V. Lockwood and Rev. H.P. Barrett. The national anthem brought to a close an evening long to be remembered in the annuals of Fork River.

CORRESPONDENT CRITICIZED.
To the Editor of the Dauphin Herald:

SIR:—
O’wad some power the giftie gie us
To see ourselves as others see us.
So wrote the poet long years ago and we hope the writer of the article in your last issue entitled, “Fork River,” will be given that blessed gift, it may reach him sometime that it is very bad form to wash his dirty linen in public and still worse to do it in such a way as to convey the impression that it is editorial news.
Have very good first hand information as to all that happened at the returned soldiers “get together” in Fork River on a recent Saturday night and I suggest that the moralist who penned the account in the paper would be better employed in taking an active and religious interest in the welfare of the young folk of the district than in writing scurrilous articles under the cover of anonymity.
I am dear sir, yours faithfully,
HARRY P. BARRETT,
Priest in charge of Fork River.

Winnipegosis

The regular monthly meeting of the Women’s Institute was held on Friday evening, April 16th, in the Union Church. A large number of the members were present. After the business was finished. Dr. Medd gave an interesting and most instructive address on “Child Welfare,” which was greatly appreciated by all present. The social part of the evening consisted in songs and a recitation, which were much enjoyed. Tea was served by the refreshment committee. The proceeds of the evening were placed to the credit of the Library fund.
The Fisherman’s ball, held last Thursday at the Rex Hall, was a great success.

Robert P. Johnston (1885-1917)

Although a few months late, as I originally started this post in November of last year, I decided to finally post the work I’ve done related to one of my first cousins. I have collected the files of every WWI serviceman in my family that I have so far identified and this is but one of those stories.

Robert P. Johnston was born on December 15th, 1885 to parents William John Johnston (1861-) and Martha Ann Johnston (1854-1933) in Renfrew, Ontario, Canada. The medical history sheet from his war file reveals he was born in Forester Falls which makes perfect sense as this is where the Johnston clan settled in the area.

Robert can be found in the 1891 census living in the township of Ross with his parents and four siblings, James P. (1884-), John Samuel (1887-1978), William Andrew (1889-1971), and Noah Thomas (1890-). Interestingly enough, I believe his brother James was named after his maternal grandfather, James Patrick Johnston (1827-1905) and who is the first of the Johnston line to immigrate to Canada.

Another interesting tid-bit is that Robert’s middle initial is listed as ‘P’ in one census record while the other is listed as ‘B.’

1891censusrpjohnston

1891 Census.

I found the family in the 1901 census where they’ve made a substantial move west now living in Westbourne, Manitoba. This was a distance of over 1,600km. I’m curious as to whether or not the move was made so that Robert’s father could work and own a farm of his own rather than work as a labourer in Ontario. I was able to find a Western Land Grant for William Johnston Jr. which may be Robert’s brother but I am unable to confirm at this time.

1901censusrpjohnston

1901 Census.

There are some inaccuracies when it comes to birth years of the children between the census records and they are as follows:

Name Dates Difference
James P. 1884 vs. 1882 2 years
Robert P/B. 1885 vs. 1883 2 years
John Samuel 1887 vs. 1885 2 years
William Andrew 1889 vs. 1888 1 year
Noah Thomas 1890 vs. 1889 1 year

The children’s birthdates are a few years off, but I’m more inclined to believe the dates themselves are correct as Robert’s birthdate December 15th matches what is found on his attestation paper.

I’ve been stalling on writing this piece because I’ve had difficulty locating certain family member’s records. For instance, I don’t have James’ birth record; the same can be said of his younger brother John. This frustrates me as I’ve found the birth records for Robert, William, and Noah.

Furthermore, I’m unable to find the family in any census records for 1911 or 1916. I’ve located a few family members in the 1921 census, but a lot has happened in that 20 year period. For now, I will continue to focus on Robert, before I touch on some of the other family members.

Sometime between the 1901 census and the birth of his daughter, Grace Loretta Johnston (1915-2014), Robert married Eleanore Loretta Schneider (1895-1991).

Eleanore, also known as Ella, lived with her family in Edrans, where she is found with her parents and her six siblings in the 1911 census.

The date of their marriage can be narrowed to sometime between 1911 and 1915 yet I have not been able to locate it. The distance between the two communities is 40km, so I imagine the Johnstons might have moved closer to Edrans or the Schneiders towards Westbourne. I am leaning a bit more towards the latter since I found Eleanore’s parents and siblings living in Westbourne in the 1916 census.

I would like to search the census records a little closer to Edrans based on some other locations mentioned in other documents including Keyes, Wellwood, and Austin. These locations are mentioned as later residences for Robert’s wife and mother. All of these locations are further west than Westbourne.

On September 11th, 1915, Robert travelled south-west to Hughes Camp, previously known as Sewell Camp, and attested. He enlisted as a private and his regimental number was 623165. Robert is described as thirty years and nine months old, 5 foot 9 1/2 inches with brown hair and eyes. Some 48 days later, Robert arrived in England on October 30th, 1915, after travelling on the SS Lapland from Halifax.

The next of kin listed is Robert’s wife under a PO Box in Wellwood, Manitoba. There are some additional notations on the attestation paper which appear as though Robert original next-of-kin listed was going to be his mother but he apparently changed his mind. An “A” was originally written but was crossed out and replaced with an “R.” There is also the start of what I believe to be the word “mother” but was replaced with the word “wife.”

From Robert’s pay book, signed March 30th, 1916, he indicates in his Will that everything should go to his wife, Ella, living in Edrans. The time between when Robert attested and when he signed his Will was 6 months while it was some 15 days before he was sent to France.

Another address lists Robert’s wife living in Keyes dated August 12th, 1918. Additionally, Robert’s mother, Martha Ann, is listed as living in Keyes as well.

Yet another document list’s Ella as living in Austin with a stamp on the reverse dated October 25th, 1922. This same address is found on a second card.

After Robert landed in Europe in October, he contracted influenza which he sought treatment for on November 18th, 1915. He was treated at the Bramshott Military Hospital and discharged on November 30th, 1915. This would not be the last time Robert would seek treatment at a medical centre.

Robert was originally assigned to the 61st Battalion but was transferred to the 44th Battalion on October 16th, 1915. This information can be found on Robert’s casualty form which also states Robert embarked and arrived overseas with the 27th Battalion on April 15th, 1916. He left the Canadian Base Depot (CBD) with his unit on May 4th and arrived in the field on May 6th, 1916.

A month later, on the 6th of June, Robert was wounded in action at the battle of St. Eloi. He was thrown onto a stake hurting his ribs on the right pectoral region. Below are excerpts from the 27th Battalion war diaries.

F CAMP. JUNE 6, 1916.
Battalion in Brigade reserve at F Camp. Weather, heavy rain in early morning clearing towards noon. Wind fresh westerly. At 3:50PM received message to fall in and move at once to the Asylum past west of Ypres H12d central.

A CAMP. JUNE 6, 1916.
4:15PM. Battalion moved as ordered. [Diving] to shelling of road battalion moved by platoons at 100 yard intervals. Met by guides and proceeded at once to the Ramparts in Ypres at I14b24 ref sheet 28.

6:30PM. Arrived at Ramparts where Battalion headquarters were established along with Brigade headquarters. Brigade front was held by 28th Battalion in left sub-sector and 31st Battalion in right sub-sector. After an intense bombardment lasting some hours the enemy blew up four mines at Hooge covering a frontage of 200 yards and then attacked and made some ground. Sent “C” Company and 100 men of “D” boy to occupy Zillebeke Switch in I16 in support of 31st Battalion. Furnished carrying parties of 150 men for front line at night. Men not in trenches were quartered in Infantry Barracks in Ypres.

On June 23rd, 1916, Robert was transferred to the Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre (CCAC) via the HS Newhaven and was admitted to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London. He was transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital at Bromley on July 5th, 1916, and later to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital at Epsom (also known as Woodcote Park) on July 7th, 1916.

It was during an exam on July 5th that the doctor recounts how Robert was injured and the severity of those injuries. Robert’s ribs had healed but with some irregularity on the third rib in addition to pain on coughing and breathing.

On August 21st, 1916, Robert was transferred from the CCAC to the 11th Reserve Battalion in Shroncliffe. He was taken on strength by the Battalion on August 22nd, 1916, where he remained until a little after 1917. In September 1916, Robert sought treatment for an ailment at the Military Hospital in Shorncliffe and was transferred to the special Canadian Hospital in Etchinghill.

Robert was transferred to the 27th Battalion overseas on March 6th, 1917. He landed and was taken on strength in France where he fought with his unit. Seven months later, on September 11th, 1917, Robert was awarded a good conduct badge during training exercises. Below is a copy of the training schedule from the war diaries.

ESTREE CAUCHIE. SEPTEMBER 11, 1917.
Battalion in rest ESTREE CAUCHIE. Weather fair. Wind S.W. Remainder of Battalion bathed. Training as per Syllabus.

Time Schedule 1 Schedule 2
9:10AM to 10:00AM Physical Training Section and Platoon Drill. Bayonet Fighting. Rifle exercises.
10:00AM to 10:30AM Interval. Interval.
10:30AM to 12:30PM Musketry. Company in Attack. Rifle Grenades. Bombing, Lewis Gun. Musketry.

Communication Section and Company Signallers 9:10AM to 10:00AM instructed by Bomb Officer. 10:30AM to 12:30PM – Signalling.

Company Scouts and Snipers will report to Scout Sgt. after C.Os. parade on days in which their Companies have Bombing.

Sixteen men per Coy. will report to wiring instructor during Bombing period.
All Companies will practice attack as well as Bombing and musketry with Gas Respirators on.

“A” and “B” Companies will follow Schedule 1, “C” and “D” Coys. will follow Schedule 2 September 11th and will alternate following days.

Company Officers will spend one hour each afternoon on map reading and Compass work. Opportunity should be given Senior N.C.Os. to take advantage of this work.

Nearly two months later, Robert is reported missing on Nov 6th, 1917. This date is particularly interesting as it appears he was likely killed by a shell during the Battalion’s assault on the village of Passchendaele.

I have transcribed the following page from the Battalion’s war diaries.

PASSCHENDAELE. NOVEMBER 6, 1917.
Battalion in front line in front of PASSCHENDAELE. Weather dull. Wind N.E. Battalion assembled for the assault and all in position at 4AM. Zero hour was at 6AM. Battalion attacked the village of PASSCHENDAELE with the 31st Battalion on the left and the 26th Battalion on the right. All objectives captured at 7:40AM.

Day spent in consolidating position. 9 Machine Guns and 76 prisoners were captured. Approximate casualties were: 13 Officers and 240 O.Rs. Operation Orders No. 197 for move from HILL 37 to Assembly Position attached.

There were two Victoria Cross recipients for this date and their participation in the fighting on Nov 6th, 1917. One of the recipients was James Peter Robertson who was part of the 27th Battalion and was awarded the cross posthumously. I wonder whether the two men knew each other, and how many of their friends died alongside them that day.

On June 28th, 1918, Robert is reported as having been killed in action and his name can be found on the Ypres Memorial. He was 31 years old.

casualtyrjohnston

An interesting remark on one of the forms in his file indicates that Robert’s wife married his brother, William, only 32 days after he was declared dead.

 

payform

War Service Gratuity Form.

 

On July 30th, 1918, Ella married William Andrew and on September 26th, 1918, Robert William Johnston (1918-2018) was born. Based on his date of birth, Robert William was likely conceived sometime in December 1917 or January 1918 only a few months after Robert went missing in France. I wonder then, whether anything was going on between Ella and William before Robert’s disappearance or if their relationship developed suddenly when it appeared Robert would not return.

Both explanations are plausible, but with a piece of information I received from two researchers in Ontario who work with WWI records I’m leaning more to the first scenario. If a soldier required treatment or hospitalization for venereal disease their pay home would be stopped for that period. In turn, this would lead to family questioning why pay was stopped which might serve as a catalyst for a new relationship. Robert was in hospital receiving treatment from October 11th to December 18th, 1016 which meant his pay would have been stopped for two months – a substantial amount of time.

Two more children would be born to Ella and William, Anne Louise Johnston (1920-2004) and Vernon Andrew Johnston (1923-1944).

Ella and her three children, Grace, Robert, and Anne can be found living with Ella’s brother, Albert Schneider in the 1921 census. I don’t know where William is, though I suspect he is working somewhere on another farm. The full family of William, Ella, Grace, Robert, Anne, and Vernon can be found in the 1926 census split between two pages.

1920censusejohnston

1921 Census.

 

1926census

1926 Census.

 

Both Robert and Vernon served in the second world war although only one would return home. Vernon rose to the rank of Corporal with the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) and was killed September 13, 1944. He was buried at the Calais Canadian Military Cemetery in St. Inglevert, France.

Robert was injured in 1942 and 1944, with the second injury being severe enough to have him sent back to Canada where he convalesced at Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg.

Based on the information above, I believe the only child born to Robert and Ella was their daughter, Grace. Grace married Norman George Bowden Hay (1898-1958), who was 17 years her senior, on October 19, 1940. She had met him while working on the Hay family farm. They would have 7 children before Norman passed away on March 19, 1958.

Grace passed away in 2014 while her brother, Robert, passed away in 2018.

One of the reasons why I wanted to do a write-up of Robert is not because of anything specific to him, but because of the following doodle I found in his file. It amused me to see this little smiling pumpkin and I bet you the person who drew it likely never thought it would see the light of day.

 

doodle

Assigned Pay Sheet.

 

Today in the Dauphin Herald – June 19, 1919

Bootleggers Busy

Bootleggers are enjoying a thriving trade with the construction gangs at work on the railway. A Ste. Rose correspondent writes that much of the liquor being sold is said to be of home manufacture.

Cross Duck Mountain by Auto

A Minitonas automobile party accomplished a feat on Tuesday which will stand as a record. They crossed the Duck Mountain in cars. One car contained Reeve Roy Johnston, Clerk J.H. Cannon, Thos. Tedford and H Bigham, and the other Geo. Hayes, W. Shiels, Mose Leslie and Wm. Sifton. The cars left Minitonas at 7 in the morning and arrived at Pine River on the opposite side of the mountain at 10 p.m. The distance is round about a hundred miles. The road followed was the old Sifton colonization trail. The cars met with no great obstacles on the trip beyond fording a stream or two. The members of the party are enthusiastic in describing the scenery in the mountain.

Fork River

Mrs. L. Rawson and family have arrived from the States. Mr. Rawson intends moving on to his farm which he recently purchased from H. Little. The farm adjoins the townsite.
Councilor Hunt has purchased a car. No doubt he will find the lumps on the road when he speeds up.
Ben Cannon is spending his vacation in Winnipeg.
W. Williams is putting his sawmill in shape to cut the logs brought in last winter.
A good heavy rain fell on Saturday. It was needed and has revived the crops.
Service will be held in All Saints’ Church at 3 p.m. Sunday school meets at 2 o’clock.

Today in the Dauphin Herald – May 29, 1919

C.N.R. Shopmen Drop Tools

The big strike is assuming greater proportions every day, and the universal question is, “Where is it going to end?” The railway mail clerks went on strike on Wednesday and there is practically no mail for outside points moving.
The men in the C.N.R. shops here struck at 10 o’clock this (Thursday) morning. This move will do much to cripple the operations of the company. The best of order, however, prevails.

G.W.V.A. Notes

Meeting of the above association, held Thursday, May 22nd, Comrades F. Scrase and G.F. Johnston both being away, Comrade Roy Armstrong took chair for the meeting.
Seven applications were received for membership. All were accepted.
Comrade Roy Armstrong reported on his trip to Winnipeg in connection with the question of memorial. He reports that Winnipeg is anxious to get a provincial memorial erected in Winnipeg, funds to be raised throughout the province. This does not meet with the approval of outside points, which desire memorials at local points. The question was referred to a committee, and another meeting will be held. He also stated that the general feeling favored a community hall.
The thanks of the association were tendered to Comrade Neeley for erecting doors for club room.
The Ladies’ Aid have turned over a balance of $100 to the association, and our thanks are due them.
The Sports Day committee met Friday, May 23rd. Citizens of the tow have generously supported the committee, and one of the best Sports day should result.
The Veterans’ baseball team played the C.N.R. on the 26th, and went under. More practice is needed to ensure better success.

“Ivens, the Terrible”

Recv. “Bill” Ivens is one of the leading figures on the labor side in the big strike. He was on the Ochre River circuit for several years and while there kept things going. During a recent visit the returned soldiers refused to permit him to speak. The Winnipeg Free Press refers to him as “Ivens, the Terrible.”

Married

READER-STORRAR – At the Parsonage, Dauphin, on May 27th, by the Rev. J.A. Haw. Alex. Reader to Eva May Storrar, both of Fork River.

Record Hot Weather

He hot weather for the past ten days is unprecedented for the month of May. The records in existence show nothing to equal it. The registering of the government thermometer since May 22nd is as follows:
May 22 …. 95 deg.
May 23 …. 92 deg.
May 24 …. 95 deg.
May 25 …. 95 deg.
May 26 …. 93 deg.
May 27 …. 95 deg.

Fork River

Pte. Alex. Reader has returned from overseas and, what do you think, came all the way to Fork River to pick out a wife. He was married at Dauphin on Tuesday to Eva May Storrar.
We are supposed to have a herd law at Fork River, but not withstanding many animals roam at will about the street at night.
John H. Richarson and Frank Hafenbrak made the trip to Dauphin on Tuesday by car. They report the roads good.
Fred Tilt has been appointed a justice of the peace. He will balance the scales evenly.
Adolf Rudinski has purchased a Clydesdale stallion from E.E. McKinstry, of Dauphin. The introduction of a better clam of stock in our district is what is needed.
Strike or no strike the Herald came to hand as usual last week. The large circulation of the paper at this point is evidence of the appreciation of the people.
When Mr. W.J. Osborne, municipal auditor, was here he assured a number of ratepayers hat he would have the auditor’s report printed this year. So far as can be learned the report has not yet made its appearance.

Today in the Dauphin Herald – May 22, 1919

G.W.V.A.

Regular meeting of the above mentioned association held Thursday, May 15th, some 30 of the Comrades being in attendance.
Application for membership received from 16 returned soldiers. All of these were accepted.
Moved by Comrade R. Armstrong, seconded by Comrade T. Boyce, that this branch endorse the resolution prepared by the Winnipeg branch of the G.W.V.A. and remain neutral with regard to the strike that is on at Winnipeg, and it was also resoled that should such occasion arise the G.W.V.A. in this town place their services at the disposal of the authorities to maintain order.
Moved by Comrade Price, seconded by Comrade Cocking, that a separate fund in connection with the work of this branch of assisting sick comrades and their dependents. And that in the future all grants under this heading shall be paid from that account and that moneys donated to this association shall be placed at their credit of same and shall not be used for any other purpose.
Moved by Comrade Percy, seconded by Comrade C. Lane, that this branch appoint a delegate in the Dominion convention to be held at Vancouver on June 8th. Vote taken and Comrade G.F. Johnston was appointed delegate.
General committee in charge of the G.W.V.A. sports day met Friday, 16th, to make further arrangements on this project. These committees are now completed and they were instructed to commence operations at once in the preparation of a program.
The association begs to acknowledge receipt of the sum of $64.20, raised at a box social held in Dauphin last Saturday evening, under the management of F. Tacuik.
Owing to the strike in Winnipeg the Better ‘Ole has been postponed. The new dates are Monday and Tuesday, June 2nd and 3rd.

The Strike Situation

The greatest strike in the history of Canada was declared in Winnipeg last Thursday. It is outcome of differences between employers and employees which include several matters besides the question of wages. Shorter hours and the recognition of the principle of bargaining are among these. It will be realized that it is not an easy matter to settle matters of this nature offhand. It is somewhat of a revolution; but there are days of revolutions and the issues must be squarely faced. In the meantime the public are not only suffering in convenience, but loss.
There have been no daily papers for the past week from Winnipeg and the absence of the papers is keenly felt. The last copies of the papers to be received was Friday and the newsy on the train sold these at from 10 to 25 cents each. It proved a bonanza for the agent.
There has been no mail going to Winnipeg for a week and during the past two or three days none south of the boundary.
The express service south and west have been discontinued for a week.
The managers of the moving picture theatre are obliged to go to Winnipeg to or three times a week to get the films. But this is better than having to close up.
The price of eggs has declined as there is no means of sending the hen fruit to outside markets.
Senator Robertson, Minister of Labor, was billed to arrive in Winnipeg on Wednesday. The outcome of his visit will be waited with much interest.

Fork River

Pte. A.E. Eales has purchased the n.w. ¼ 6-30-18, and intends improving the property.
The Returned Soldiers’ Committee will meet on the 24th to arrange for a banquet and transact other business. The ladies are invited to attend.
Rev. H.P. Barrett, rector of St. Paul’s Dauphin, will hold service in All Saints’ Church on Sunday, June 8th, at 3 o’clock.
Max King has started breaking on the home farm with a 10-20 Titan and a 20 inch breaker. He is doing good work.
All Saints’ Sunday School has been reorganized and started on Sunday with W. King as superintendent, and Mrs. A. Russell, Mrs. McEachern, Miss I. Briggs and Miss S. Briggs as teachers.
Service was held in the Methodist Church by Rev. Mr. Hook on Sunday afternoon. There was a good attendance.
The dance given by the Returned Soldiers’ recently was well patronized and all who attended had a good time.
Edwin King, weed inspector for the municipality, has started on his rounds. Winn is some hustler, but he will have to go some if he keeps ahead of the fast growing weeds these days.

Today in the Dauphin Herald – May 15, 1919

Four Men Badly Injured

Mr. Arthur Fisher, who resides in the Burrow district, is erecting a large barn. Last Friday four men, John Neely, Frank Potter, John James and Geo. Smith were engaged erecting the rafters when a whirlwind came up suddenly collapsing the timbers. Neely, Potter and Smith were badly injured by the failing timbers. James, who was working on the top, jumped when the rafters commenced to fall, but was unable to clear himself and was struck and injured. Mr. Neely was so badly injured that his condition will not yet permit of his removal to town.

G.W.V.A.

The regular meeting of the above association was held on Thursday, May 8th, between 30 and 40 of the comrades being present. Owing to the unavoidable absence of the president, Capt. F. Scrase, Comrade G.F. Johnston, vice president, took the chair.
Applications were received from 13 returned soldiers for membership, all of which were accepted. This makes the membership of the local branch 195 and a considerable increase on this is expected in the near future.
The secretary has since this meeting been informed that a special meeting has been called by Premier Norrie to consider the memorial question for this province, on May 16th. It has, therefore, been decided to send a delegate to this meeting to represent this branch.
During the past week a donation of $112.65 was received from the citizens of the Ethelbert district, per Rev. G. Tymchuk. The thanks of the association are due to all the subscribers of the above mentioned donation.
A grant of $25 to this association has been received from the Dauphin Automobile club. This has been acknowledged and thanks are due to the members of the club for same.
On May 23rd and 24th the “Better ‘Ole” is being put on at the Star theatre. This is to be under the auspices of the G.W.V.A. Ask any returned man what he thinks of it and he will soon convince you, to say the least of it, that it will be well worth seeing, and at the same time give the association a lift.
A meeting was held on Friday, the 9th in connection with the G.W.V.A. Sports Day, to be held on 1st July, and arrangements made for appointing the various committees to make same a success. Posters are to be got out advertising same. The committee are requested to note that the next meeting will be held on Friday, may 16th, at 8 p.m. sharp. A full attendance is essential.
Members are asked to note that the Manitoba Provincial Command have issued a weekly paper devoted to the returned solider. It is known as the Manitoba Veteran, and will be issued weekly. The rate is 5c per copy or $2 per year. Sample copies have been received and if the paper continues like the sample a bright future is assured. Subscriptions are taken by the local secretary of the G.W.V.A.

Fork River

Billy Tuck has gone to Dryden, Ont., for a short trip.
W.R. Snelgrove is around again after his illness. He has moved on to the Chase farm, having exchanged his Dauphin residence for the property.
Steve Warrawrork, of Volga, has purchased the Slobodizan farm from W.R. Snelgrove.
Corp. Duncan Briggs and Private Tom Briggs and H. Craighill have arrived from overseas. They are looking hale and hearty.
Mr. and Mrs. Ed. Cameron and children, from Neepawa, are visiting at Mr. Nat Little’s house.
Robt. Rowe intends Fording it to town for the future, having purchased a Ford car from Nat Little.
Wm. Northam is busy fencing the farm be purchased south of town.
All Saints S.S. will meet as usual at 2 o’clock, Sunday, 18th inst.
Rain is falling as I write and it is welcome. All the wheat is about in. The season for work has been very favorable.

52 Ancestors – Week 8 – William George Washington Johnston (a 71-year-old mystery)

For this week in Amy Johnson Crow’s genealogist challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, I would like to present a 71-year-old family mystery that has yet to be solved.

Throughout my genealogical research one of the topics that I’ve enjoy the most is learning about family members who have served in war. This is especially true for two of my direct Johnston relatives, consequently, both named William.

William Henderson Johnston was the brother of my great-grandfather, James Washington Johnston. He was born 18 May 1890, in Black River, Michigan and died ‘in action’ just outside of Arras, France on 29 Mar 1917. While not mentioned by name, based on the 31st Alberta Battalion war diary for that day, I’ve concluded that he might have been killed by artillery fire.

Two other ranks are unaccounted for, but I think that it is established that they were struck by a shell when crossing “NO MAN’S LAND” escorting three prisoners. Major Seaton states that he saw a shell strike in the middle of a party that he took to be three prisoners and two of our men, and two others bear witness to having seen such a party. (31st (Alberta) Battalion Order No.138. – 29-3-17.)

I digress, William Henderson is not the subject of this post, that honour belongs to his nephew, my grandfather’s brother, William G.W. Johnston. I wanted to give some brief history of William’s uncle for a note further below.

William George Washington Johnston was born 10 Jun 1917, to parents James Washington Johnston (1876-1967) and Sophia Harriett Basham (1890-1959). A brother to my grandfather, James Henderson Johnston (1913-1981), he was my great uncle, and like many of my relatives he was one that I will never get to meet in this lifetime.

c. 1929 (Ern, Jim, Bill)

c. 1927 (Ern, Jim, Bill)

Like his siblings, he attended, Mowat School where he completed seven and a half years of classes and can be found in the school records from 1924 to 1931. In the image below, the 1929 Mowat December Attendance Record, you can see that Bill is 12 years old and in Grade 6 while his older brothers are in Grade 7 and Grade 9.

c. Dec 1929 (Mowat School Attendance)

c. Dec 1929 (Mowat School Attendance)

My great aunt wrote a bit about her step-brother, “Brother Bill was a born farmer. But World War II was just around the corner and life changed for all of us.” The two photos below are some of my favourites; I love the poses and the clothing they’re wearing. I wish I had a better copy of the tractor photo.

c. 1939 (Bill, Jim, Ern)

c. 1939 (Bill, Jim, Ern)

c. 1939 (Ern, Jim, Bill)

c. 1939 (Ern, Jim, Bill)

On 15 June, 1942, Bill was called up to the Canadian Military in Winnipeg, MB. On the occupational history form he listed his occupation as a farm labourer and he wished to return to this type of work when the war was over. He completed 60 days of basic training as well as 60 days of advanced training with the Winnipeg Light Infantry.

On 11 January, 1943, he was interviewed in W.L.I. Vernon, B.C. The interviewer noted a few interesting things about Bill, “Doesn’t smoke and drinks very little. He would like to be in the heavy artillery because he thinks he’d like it. Dull type, average physique, and not particularly interested in anything. Limited learning ability and no particular liking for Carrier Pl. Unlikely to improve greatly.” He was recommended as either an infantry rifleman or a carrier pl. (Bren Gunner).

Bill was admitted to the Vernon Military Hospital on 11 July, 1942, and was discharged on the 31st. He was then granted sick furlough from 1st of August to the 22nd. His sick leave was extended to 5 September and he returned on the 4th of September.

On 1 March, 1943, a transport warrant #A362, 085 d/17 Feb 43 was issued.
S.O.S. W.L.I. on t’fer to 3rd ??? BN Regina Rifles on 23 July, 1943.
S.O.S. for A-P 3 rd Regina Riles on 17 August, 1943.
T.O.S. for A-P 2nd Airfield Defence Bn. (Regina Rifles) on 18 August, 1943.
Attached for a/p ex pay to #12 Dist Depot (Farm Duty) on 31 August, 1943.
Ceases to be att’d f.a.p. on retuning to Unit 17 October, 1945.
S.O.S. F.A.P. on transfer to 31st (Alberta) Recce Regiment on 5 November, 1943.
T.O.S. 31st (Alberta) Recce. Regiment on transfer from 2nd Airfield Defence Bn. (R.R.) on 6 November, 1943. Rank is now a trooper.
Granted leave and furlough with R.A. to 3 December, 1943. TWA547586
Att. for rations and qtrs. to KORC(CA) Victoria to 7 December, 1943.

Bill never made it to any battlefields. The record of military service indicates that he was listed as being A.W.L. at 2200 hours of 27 February, 1944. He was never seen alive again.

Sadly, with special grief to Jim and our mother, Bill had died while in the army…Bill of the blue, blue eyes and the kind and honest heart.

On 10 February, 1945, Bill’s body was found in brush outside of Chiliwack, B.C. The causality notification form indicated that the presumed date of death was the day he went missing on 27 February, 1944. A letter was sent from G.S. Perrin, Brigadier, of the Department of National Defence Army, to my great grandmother, Sophia Johnston, that indicated the body of her son had no evidence of bone fractures and because of the advanced state of decomposition the coroner was unable to record the actual cause of the death.

Winnipeg Free Press

Winnipeg Free Press (13 Feb 1945)

Bill’s body was discovered wholly by accident when an 18-year-old boy, Gerald Walsynuk, found it in a remote spot of Oscar Hotchkiss’ Farm near Lickman Road. The body was found lying behind a log, under some cedar trees, near a stream of water. The body was fully dressed in battle dress including black coveralls and a black tam on the head.

The British Colombia Police report sent along with military records from LAC is able to fill in a few questions. Lieut. Chet Woods, who was attached to the 41st. Alberta reconnaissance Regiment, Vedder Crossing, B.C., while talking to a Miss A. Flynn, informed her that a private of that unit had gone insane and wandered away from the camp and that they had searched for the man but without success. If the above is true then it is possible that William G.W. Johnston is the man in question. Capt. Mooney was there that night and might be able to shed some light on the matter.

This is where the report ends abruptly. I do not know whether the police were able to get a hold of Capt. Mooney or whether they were able to conclude the report. I contacted the Chilliwack RCMP office but to no avail as their records only go as far back as 1971 and anyone who might have known if there were earlier records have either died or retired. The Chilliwack Archives were able to provide me with a few newspaper articles but they also do not provide a conclusive answer. My next step is to contact Canada National Defence to determine whether they have an archives department that might hold something. I also want to contact the Canadian Military Education Centre Museum to see if they have any ideas on where I should turn next, however, their hours of operation are limited and I have not had the time to contact them.

I have no idea what happened to my grandfather’s brother and I don’t know if I ever will. Was the pressure of his post too much for him? Did he loose his mind and commit suicide or was he a victim of homicide? I wonder if a more conclusive answer would have been made if his body was found sooner. It seems like such a bizarre set of circumstances I really don’t know what to make of it. Based on my current knowledge of Johnston family we have no obvious history of mental illness. The closest instance I can think of is that Jane Atchison (1854-1893), William’s grandmother, died of asphyxiation during an epithetic fit.

Chilliwack Newspaper (7 Mar 1945)

Chilliwack Newspaper (7 Mar 1945)

Bill was buried on 5 March, 1945, with full Military Honours in the Canadian Legion Cemetery in Chilliwack, B.C. Row C, plot 57. He is one of 9 individuals buried there. After the death of William George Washington there was some superstitious feelings on naming any further Johnston babies William in case further tragedy might befall the family again. Consequently I have no uncles, cousins, or nephews named William.