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When my Granddad went to war...

by Rick Baker
On Nov 11, 2019

In late 1915, as WW1 continued, our community began to recruit for the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force.

Military paperwork dated September 6th, 1915 confirms a young fellow, William Charles Morgan, born July 28th, 1895 enrolled and was examined at Carling Heights [Wolseley Barracks]. The medical records for this young fellow from Berlin, Ontario confirm he measured 5’-4” and he had a scar on a finger of his left hand.

Military paperwork dated February 14th, 1917 confirms a young fellow, William Charles Morgan enrolled at Kitchener, joining the Canadian army. The medical records confirm this young fellow measured 5’-8” and he had been vaccinated twice on his left arm. He had a tattoo of a maple leaf, above a scroll containing “Canada 118”. There were a few other tattoos…”Gwen”, “Emma”, “Beckie”, and a serpent on the right forearm. And, he had a one-inch scar one inch below the left angle of his mouth.

That’s what we found when we looked up my grandfather’s World War 1 records.

You may wonder, back during World War 1, were there 2 William Charles Morgans in our community?

No…the same man enrolled twice…he applied for overseas service twice…he was accepted twice.

Then - why would a young man enrol for the army twice?

What’s the story behind the growth in height?

And, what about the facial scar and all those tattoos?

The war records confirmed the stories my Mom told me about her Dad.

In 1915, my Granddad was too young to join the army. So, he lied about his age. In 1915, the army accepted my Granddad Morgan’s application and he became a bugle boy in the 118th Battalion.

Then in 1917, when he was of legal age he enrolled a second time.

My Grandfather served in the trenches of Belgium. He was exposed to chemical warfare…he was gassed. As a result, he had half his stomach removed and he was a sickly man for the rest of his life. This did not stop him from serving in World War 2…but it did preclude him serving overseas. In WW2, my Granddad was a Captain of the Army Signal Corps, serving in London, Ontario. Apparently, my Granddad could draw maps with both hands at the same time.

My Granddad Morgan died in his early 60’s, in 1963, when I was a child. I shall always  remember laughing together while I sat on his knee. I shall think about the blurred tattoo on his arm…the tattoos were something I had forgotten all about until I read his WW1 records…and childhood memories came to me.

I shall think of my Granddad Morgan today…

…I shall think of a brave, patriotic, adventurous, courageous, naive, restless, young fellow leaving Canadian soil, crammed on a ship with his mates…

…and, today, I shall think of that young fellow aging quickly, living each day as fully as he could while he shared the shock and awe of WW1 trench warfare with his mates…

…and I shall think of that young fellow, still a teenager…but with 3 years of hardened army service on his record…coming home to Canada…a man…a changed man.

…and, today, I shall think of my Granddad Baker who refused to talk about the 7 years he spent in the army, overseas, in World War 2.

…and I shall think of my Dad, who enrolled in the Canadian Navy as soon as he turned 18, serving in Halifax during 1944 and 1945.

…and, today, I shall think of my 2 sons who, thankfully, have not faced the weapons of enemies.

 

Tags:

Beyond Business | Family Business and CFFB | Hero Worship

Comments (3) -

Adeel
6/2/2013 4:22:31 AM #

Wow. Great post.

Adeel
7/9/2013 7:48:36 AM #

I am thinking of the sacrifice your fore-fathers made.

We are indebted to those who have fought to protect our freedoms.

What great courage. What a legacy.

rick baker
7/10/2013 8:37:55 PM #

Yes Adeel...we are very fortunate.

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