Geoffrey Still - Lest We Forget

Geoffrey Still was born December 11, 1888 at Birkenhead, Cheshire, England. He was the son of Arthur and Liddesdale Frances Still. He had a least one sister, Marion Charlotte. In 1914 Geoffrey’s parents lived in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. It was while living in Lloydminster that Geoffrey gained four years of military experience with the Saskatchewan Light Horse. After the war his parents resided in Hamilton, Ontario. In 1914 Geoffrey was employed as a locomotive fireman working for the Canadian Pacific Railroad out of the Revelstoke Division. He was also active in the YMCA. When war broke out in August 1914 he was one of the first 69 men from Revelstoke to volunteer to serve in Canada’s army overseas. 

Geoffrey Still signed his enlistment papers September 12, 1914 at Valcartier, Quebec, the assembly point for the First Contingent of Canadian volunteers to serve in the Great War. His regimental number was 17059. He was 25 years old, single, 5’ 10” tall with black hair and brown eyes. His religious affiliation was Anglican. The First Contingent sailed for England in October 1914 and spent the winter in training on the wet and damp and cold Salisbury Plain.

Geoffrey Still participated in Canada’s baptism of fire, the Second battle of Ypres. This was the occasion when for the first time in modern warfare poison gas was used in a battle. Geoffrey wrote a couple of letters home that were printed in the local newspaper describing this battle and some of the effects on the Canadian soldiers, and in particular on some of the Revelstoke volunteers. He ended one of his letters with this sentence... “I wish I were back in Revelstoke for a time, a game of tennis and an ice cream would be very welcome right now.”

 Geoffrey Still died November 11, 1917 during the battle of Passchendaele. He was almost 29 years old. At the time of his death he was a Lieutenant serving with the 7th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (British Columbia) Regiment. He is buried at the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.

 The name of Geoffrey Still is inscribed on the Courthouse and Cenotaph plaques and on the YMCA Honor Roll.

Posted on November 7, 2018 .

Bedford Allen Stiles - Lest We Forget

Bedford Allen Stiles (or Styles) was born July 20, 1892 at Upper Nappan, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. His father was George Allen Stiles. Bedford worked as a locomotive fireman and was a member of the 102nd RMR, the local militia. There is much confusion around the spelling of his last name. He enlisted under the name Styles, but signed a declaration in October of 1917 declaring that his true name was Stiles.

 Bedford Stiles enlisted with the Second Contingent of Canadian Volunteers on November 10, 1914 at Victoria. His regimental number was 77689. He was 22 years old, single, 5’ 6” tall with dark brown hair and blue eyes. His religious affiliation was Methodist. He is mentioned in a letter from Camp Willows, Victoria as being part of a group of recruits who met up with some Revelstoke girls at a skating rink in Victoria.

 A letter from Hart Munro published in the Mail-Herald on January 20, 1915 mentioned that there were only two Revelstoke boys still in his Company: Stiles and Pavey, who were both stretcher-bearers.

 On March 11, 1916, Bedford was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal for his bravery under fire. The citation reads: “For conspicuous gallantry during an action; he assisted to carry wounded all day and night, under heavy fire, and only gave up when thoroughly exhausted and having been slightly wounded.”

 Bedford Stiles died November 7, 1917, probably during the battle of Passchendaele. He was 25 years old. At the time of his death he was a Lance Corporal serving with the 15th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario) Regiment. His body was never found or identified and his name is memorialized on the Menin Gate (Ypres) Memorial, Belgium.

 His name is inscribed as Stiles, Bedford on the Courthouse and Cenotaph plaques.

 

George Frederick Soames - Lest We Forget

George Soames was born March 4, 1891 at Butler, Indiana, USA. He was the son of Fred Soames, born May 29, 1859 in the United States, and Florence Soames, born December 26, 1865, in England. Fred immigrated to Canada in 1898 and worked as a railway switchman. Florence emigrated to Canada in 1899. George had a sister, Grace, born March 3, 1899 in the U.S. Fred Soames died at Revelstoke Mar. 28, 1937 age 77 and Florence Soames died at Vancouver Dec. 4, 1957 age 91. The family’s last name is spelled Somes in some listings and Soames in others. George enlisted under the name Soames. On December 21, 1910, George’s sister Grace Elizabeth Soames married Timothy James Somes. In the 1911 census George is noted as working as a boilermaker, probably with the CPR. According to school district records, George attended the Revelstoke High School in 1904. Florence Soames was the secretary for the Revelstoke Red Cross Society for most of the war, and was also very active on the Wounded and Returned Soldiers Committee.

 George Soames was one of the first 69 men to immediately volunteer for service when war broke out in August 1914, but was not immediately accepted. However, on July 5, 1915, George Soames signed his enlistment papers at Vernon. He was one of about 100 men from Revelstoke to enlist with the 54th Battalion in the spring and summer of 1915. His regimental number was 443318. He was 24 years old, a rancher, single, 5’ 9” tall with dark hair and grey eyes. He gave his religious affiliation as Methodist, though the rest of the family was Anglican. He left Halifax on the HMT Saxonia on November 22, 1915, arriving at Plymouth, England on December 1, 1915. He began overseas service in France on August 13, 1916.

 George Soames died January 3, 1917. He was 25 years old. At the time of his death he was a Private with the 54th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (British Columbia) Regiment. His body was never found or identified and his name is memorialized on the Vimy Memorial.

 The February 1, 1917 edition of the Revelstoke Review printed a letter from George’s commanding officer to his mother:

            “Dear Madam:- before receiving this you will have been officially informed of your son’s death. I trust it will soften the blow to know that he died instantaneously and could never have known anything. His comrades buried him in the little graveyard behind the lines; I have just come from attending his funeral. Though I have only recently been appointed to the command of the platoon to which he belonged, I have known him for some time, always cheerful and brave. Last night he was with me on a tour of the trenches, and we had a conversation together. He was in excellent spirits and spoke of his home and mother in B.C.”

            The name of George Soames is inscribed as “Somes” on the Courthouse and Cenotaph plaques as well as on the Chancel Screen at St. Peter’s Anglican, the Methodist Church Honor Roll and the YMCA Honor Roll.

 George Soames and Evelyn Haner in Revelstoke, 1915. P3801

George Soames and Evelyn Haner in Revelstoke, 1915. P3801

Robert Smith - Lest We Forget

Robert Smith was born October 4, 1873 at Waterloo, Ontario. On his attestation papers he gave his sister, Miss Jane W. Smith, as his next of kin. In 1914 he was working as a surveyor for the B.C. Land Survey. He was active in the local militia, the 102nd RMR. The local newspaper stated that he was a civil engineer who had lived in Revelstoke since 1904. When war broke out in 1914 his name was frequently mentioned as being active in the Home Guard and taking part in practice shooting.

 Robert Smith signed his enlistment papers on September 29, 1915 at Vancouver. His regimental number was 129840. He was 41 years old, single 5’ 10” tall with brown hair and brown eyes. His religious affiliation was Anglican. He was medically examined in Revelstoke by Dr. W.H. Sutherland.

 Robert Smith left Halifax on the Empress of Britain on April 22, 1916, and arrived in Liverpool on May 5. He proceeded for overseas service on August 12, 1917, and died just one month later on September 15, 1916 during the battle of the Somme. He was 42 years old. At the time of his death he was a Private with the 72nd Battalion, Canadian Infantry (British Columbia) Regiment. He is buried at the Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, Belgium.

 The September 30, 1916 edition of the Mail-Herald newspaper reported on his death:  “Robert L. Smith killed in action Somewhere in France. Mrs. Scafe of the Post Office department received a letter yesterday from Private Robert L. Smith’s sister advising her that he was killed in action somewhere in France on September 15. “Bob,” as he was known to his many friends…had lived in Revelstoke for the past 12 years, being one of the best civil engineers in the district. Before coming to Revelstoke he spent a number of years in Rossland.  He was…a graduate of the Toronto University. He leaves his mother, a brother and two sisters. The late Private Smith left with the 72nd Highlanders and passed through Revelstoke on his way to the front in May.”

 The name of Robert Smith is inscribed on the Courthouse and Cenotaph plaques. It is also inscribed on the chancel screen at St. Peter’s Anglican Church.

 Rocky Mountain Rangers militia at Revelstoke Drill Hall, circa 1906. Robert Smith is in the bottom row (behind buglers), 4th from left. P764

Rocky Mountain Rangers militia at Revelstoke Drill Hall, circa 1906. Robert Smith is in the bottom row (behind buglers), 4th from left. P764

Robert Bruin Comings Smith - Lest We Forget

 Robert Bruin Comings Smith was born December 17, 1883 at Chester, Nova Scotia. He was the son of Curran and Annie Frances Smith, of Chester, Nova Scotia. Robert likely arrived in the Arrowhead area between 1906 and 1908 with his father Curran and brother Winton. Robert worked as an engineer on the sternwheelers or tugboats plying the Arrow Lakes.

 Robert Smith signed his enlistment papers July 6, 1915 at Vernon. His regimental number was 443326. He was 31 years old, single, 5’ 9” tall with dark hair and grey eyes. His religious affiliation was Presbyterian. He was one of about 100 men from the Revelstoke/Arrowhead area who enlisted with the 54th Battalion in the spring and summer of 1915. The local newspaper reported that in the summer of 1915 there was only one unmarried male of military age living in Arrowhead. All the rest had joined up.

 Robert Smith died on July 4, 1919 onboard the ship Araguaya. He had been admitted to hospital in England on April 22, 1919, and was diagnosed with acute endocarditis, which is an infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers and heart valves. He was invalided back to Canada, but died during the voyage, and was buried at sea. He is memorialized at the Hollybrook Memorial, Hampshire, United Kingdom.

 In July of 1919 Robert Smith would have been 35 years old. He held the rank of Sergeant with the 54th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario) Regiment.

 The name of Robert Smith is inscribed on the Courthouse and Cenotaph plaques under the Arrowhead listing.

George Smith - Lest We Forget

George Smith was born October 17, 1892 at Aberdeen, Scotland. The 1911 census claims that George was born in 1891 and came to Canada in1904. He was an employee at the King Edward Hotel, for 39 weeks in 1910. He also appears to have worked for 13 weeks as a Wiper for the CPR. On his 1915 attestation paper he gave his next of kin as his father, John Smith of Lumby, B.C.  He was also known to live in Lavington, B.C., near Vernon.

 George Smith signed his enlistment papers March 3, 1915 at Victoria. His regimental number was 43046. He was 22 or 23 years old, single, 5’ 5” tall with fair hair and grey eyes. His religious affiliation was Presbyterian. At that time he was working as a locomotive fireman for the CPR.

 George Smith died June 3, 1916 during the battle for Mount Sorrel. He was 23 or 24 years old. At the time of his death he was a Private with the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Pioneers. His body was never found or identified and his name is memorialized on the Menin Gate (Ypres) Memorial, Belgium. 

George Smith’s brother, Private Alex S. Smith, who had enlisted May 18, 1916 at Vernon, died of wounds October 12th 1916 near Courcelette. He was with the 102nd Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario) Regiment.  e was 27 years old and is buried at Contay British Cemetery, France. It appears that George and Alexander’s parents, John and Margaret Giles Smith, moved back to Aberdeen, Scotland, at the end of the war.

 The name of George Smith is inscribed on the Courthouse plaque as Smith, G.  On the cenotaph plaque the name inscribed is Smith, C.

Peter Boyd Shaw - Lest We Forget

Peter Boyd Shaw was born June 21, 1888 at Inverness, Scotland.  He was the son of Alexander and Elizabeth Shaw of Urchany Cawdor, Scotland. His occupation was bank clerk. At the time of his enlistment he was living in Vancouver.

 Peter Boyd Shaw signed his enlistment papers on October 4, 1917 at Vancouver.  His medical examination took place in Vernon. His regimental number was 2557322. He was 29 years old, single, 5’ 11” tall with black hair and grey eyes. His religious affiliation was Presbyterian.

 Peter Boyd Shaw died on October 3, 1918 during the One Hundred Day final Canadian offensive of the war. He was 30 years old. At the time of his death he was a Gunner with the 12th Siege Battalion, 3rd Brigade, Canadian Garrison Artillery. He is buried at the Bucquoy Road Cemetery, France. At some point between his enlistment and death he married Catherine Shaw of Inverness, Scotland.

 The only mention of Peter Boyd Shaw we were able to locate in the local newspapers of the war era was an item carried in the May 13, 1916 edition mentioning him among a list of voters objected to by the local Liberal party Association.

 The name of Peter Boyd Shaw is inscribed on the Courthouse and Cenotaph plaques.

 

John James Rushton - Lest We Forget

John James (Jack) Rushton was born on November 25, 1885 at Liverpool, England. He listed no next of kin on his attestation papers. His occupation was dairyman. He may have been working for Mrs. Andrew Carlson of Revelstoke.

John James Rushton signed his enlistment papers on July 9, 1915 at Vernon.  He was 29 years old, single, 5’ 4” tall with black hair and brown eyes. His regimental number was 443312. His religious affiliation was Anglican. He was one of about 100 men from Revelstoke to enlist with the 54th Battalion in the spring and summer of 1915. Rushton sailed out of Halifax on November 22, 1915 on the Saxonia, arriving at Plymouth on December 1. He proceeded for service at the front on June 18, 1916.

John James (Jack) Rushton died October 15, 1916 of wounds suffered in the Somme offensive. He was almost 31 years old. At the time of his death he was a Private with the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Eastern Ontario) Regiment. He is buried at the Contay British Cemetery, France.

The November 2, 1916 edition of the Revelstoke Review carried this notice of the death of Jack Rushton:

“Mrs. Andrew Carlson was notified last night of the death of Private Jack Rushton, who died of wounds received in the recent battles on the Somme front in France.”

The name of Jack Rushton is inscribed on the Courthouse and Cenotaph plaques.

 

James Rowbottom - Lest We Forget

James Rowbottom was born on December 5, 1887 in Liverpool, England. His mother was Mrs. Margaret Rowbottom, a widow whose address was listed as 420 St. Paul Street, Kamloops.

James Rowbottom signed his attestation papers on or around October 6, 1915 in Kamloops. His regimental number was 129961. He listed previous military experience with the Canadian Engineers. He was a trainman with the Canadian Pacific Railway. He was 5’9 ½ “ tall, and had grey eyes and brown hair. He sailed from Halifax on the Empress of Britain on April 23, 1916, arriving in England on May 7, 1916. He proceeded for service in France on August 12, 1916.

James Rowbottom died October 30, 1917 at the age of 29. At the time of his death he was a Corporal in the 72nd Battalion, Canadian Infantry (British Columbia) Regiment. His body was never found or identified and his name is memorialized on the Menin Gate (Ypres) Memorial, Belgium.

The following item was reported in the Revelstoke Review on November 29, 1917: “Word has been received that James Rowbottom, formerly a CPR brakeman of this city, was killed while in action in France on October 30th. The sympathy of the people of Kamloops will go out to the mother who is now living in Revelstoke.” The newspaper reported that another son had been killed eight months previously, but the only other member of the Rowbottom family to serve was James’ brother, Thomas Harold Rowbottom, who survived and returned to Canada. He married Annie Blair in Kamloops in 1921.  

The name of James Rowbottom is inscribed on the Courthouse and Cenotaph plaques. His name is also on the YMCA Honor Roll.

 

Posted on August 21, 2018 .

Walter Ernest Robinson - Lest We Forget

Walter Ernest Robinson was born August 19, 1893 at Revelstoke. He was the son of John Robinson, born July 1, 1866 in Ontario, of English descent, and Alice Robinson, born June 30, 1871 in Nova Scotia, of German descent. Alice Robinson died in 1902 and John Robinson remarried Alice (Hendricks) Jackson in 1904. John came to Revelstoke around 1891 to work for his brothers Dan and Fred at Revelstoke’s first sawmill. Walter had two sisters: Ada, born 1892 and Myrtle, born 1896 and two brothers: Victor, born 1895 and Arthur, born 1898. All the Robinson children were born in Revelstoke. Walter also had many cousins in Revelstoke, the children of Dan and Fred.  Walter was in the employ of P. Burns & Co. butcher shop at the outbreak of the war and was living with his sister, Mrs. P. Loesch, whom he listed as next of kin.

Walter Ernest Robinson signed his enlistment papers February 9, 1915 at Victoria. He had volunteered with the Second Canadian Contingent. His regimental number was 51395. He gave his occupation as soldier. He was 21 years old, single, 6’ tall with light brown hair and brown eyes. His religious affiliation was Presbyterian.

Walter Ernest Robinson died April 22, 1915 during the battle of Ypres. He was the first Revelstoke man to die in battle in the Great War. He was 21 years old. At the time of his death he was a Private serving with the 16th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Manitoba) Regiment.  His body was never found or identified and his name is memorialized on the Menin Gate (Ypres) Memorial, Belgium. 

Walter’s brother Arthur also perished in the war. He perished very near the end while Walter perished at the beginning.  Arthur’s body was also never found or identified and his name is memorialized on the Vimy Memorial. Thus the two memorials to the Canadian overseas dead bear witness to two brothers from Revelstoke. Another brother, Victor, also served but he managed to survive the war. They also had at least two cousins who served overseas, Beverley and Fred, both sons of Dan Robinson.

On May 1, 1915 a letter from Walter Robinson, sent on April 11, 1915 sent to J.E. Dickson, was printed in the Mail-Herald. By the time the letter was printed, Walter was already dead. In it he told of the battle of Neuve Chappelle and said that he had gone through places which the Germans had bombarded and it was an awful sight. Walter said that he came into the trenches on the night of April 9, 1915 about 1 am and bombardment started around 6:30 am along with a lot of enemy rifle fire. Their section managed to make their objective without casualties. They were a nervous bunch but excited and happy. Official word of Walter Robinson’s death was not received until the middle of July of 1915, as there was previously some confusion as to whether he had been taken prisoner.

The name of Walter Robinson is inscribed on the Courthouse and Cenotaph plaques as well as on the Methodist Church Honor Roll and St. Peter’s Anglican Chancel Screen.