war dead

John Richard Speer signature
On this day in 1918 John Richard Speer was killed in an air accident at Camp Mohawk near Deseronto. Speer was a schoolteacher from Springfield, Manitoba, who had joined the Royal Flying Corps in Winnipeg on November 2nd, 1917. He was officially appointed to the Corps in Toronto on January 7th, 1918 as a cadet. He was five feet six inches tall, with a medium complexion, dark brown hair and hazel eyes. His regimental number was 153957.
The Royal Air Force casualty card for Speer notes that he was involved in a collision when he was killed. The Court of Inquiry held two days after the crash noted that Speer was in a Curtiss JN-4 aircraft, number C-313, part of 89 C.T.S. The aircraft he collided with was C-103, piloted by Cadet Sweet of 79 C.T.S. Cadet Speer’s plane was sent into a nose dive by the collision and Speer died of internal injuries caused by the crash. Cadet Sweet’s plane span out of control, but landed flat and Sweet survived with only minor injuries. He was able to give evidence to the Court of Inquiry.1
Speer was born in Springfield, Manitoba on March 23rd, 1897, the son of James Speer and Elvira (née Beattie). They buried him in the Moose Nose/Sunnyside Cemetery in Springfield and he is also remembered on the war memorial there.

Springfield, Manitoba war memorial, courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society

Springfield, Manitoba war memorial, courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society

1 Court of Inquiry records in Attorney General’s 1918 file RG 4-32/2401 at the Archives of Ontario

Arthur Rosendale's signature

On this day in 1918, Arthur Rosendale died in the Number 12 Canadian General Hospital, Bramshott, Hampshire, England, of influenza. His service record contains his will, which left all his possessions to his wife, Ellen.

Will of Arthur Rosendale

He was buried in the churchyard of St. Mary the Virgin in Bramshott. Every Canada Day, children from Liphook School in Hampshire commemorate the Canadians who are buried here.

Gravestone of Arthur Rosendale in Bramshott churchyard

Image uploaded by Don Knibbs to Find a Grave website

Arthur is also remembered on the war memorial in Deseronto. His widow, Ellen, remained in Deseronto and died in the town in 1943. She is buried in the Deseronto Cemetery.

Deseronto memorial

James Davidson Stephen signatureOn this day in 1918 2nd Lieutenant James Davidson Stephen was killed in a air crash at Camp Rathbun. Stephen had joined the Royal Flying Corps on October 21st, 1917 in Toronto with the regimental number 153410 and was officially appointed on December 10th, 17 days before his eighteenth birthday. He was five feet seven and a half inches tall. Stephen trained as a pilot and in June 1918 he was appointed as a flying instructor with the Deseronto Wing of what was by then the Royal Air Force.

The Toronto World newspaper reported the crash in the following way:

James Davidson Stephen Toronto World report 22 Oct 1918

Young Toronto Aviator Was Instructor at Camp Rathbun in Deseronto
Deseronto, Oct. 21. – Lieut.. J. D. Stephen, 636 Euclid avenue, Toronto, was killed and Cadet W. L. Somerville, of Burritt’s Springs, Ont., seriously injured, when their airplane crashed to the ground about a mile from Rathbun airdrome, at 11.30 a.m. today. The cause of the accident is being investigated.
Second Flight-Lieut. James Davidson Stephen was the son of ex-Staff Inspector James M. Stephen, 636 Euclid avenue, who retired from the Toronto police force about nine years ago. No particulars in regard to the accident have been received except that Cadet W. L. Somerville of Burritt’s Springs, Ont., was in the airplane at the time and sustained serious injuries.
Lieut. Stephen was born in Toronto 18 years ago and would have been 19 years of age on Dec. 27. He attended the Toronto public schools and Harbord Collegiate. His enlistment in the Royal Air Force took place in Dec., 1917. He trained at Burwash, Camp Borden, Leaside, Texas, Camp Mohawk, and Beamsville, where he received his commission.
He wanted then to go on overseas duty but the air force authorities encouraged him to become an instructor and out of regard for his mother he decided to do instructor’s work temporarily. He was assigned to a special course at Armour Heights and put on duty at Camp Rathbun training cadets. He was attached to the 90th Squadron. He had recently applied to his commanding officer for permission to proceed overseas and was promised that his wish would soon be granted.

The Royal Air Force casualty card for Stephen’s crash noted the following facts:

Date of Casualty: 21.10.18
Where occurred: Deseronto Ontario
Type of Machine: Curtiss JN4 C.1024
Nature and Cause of Accident: [blank]
Result of Accident: Killed
Name of other Occupant of Machine: Cadet W. L. Somerville

The image below shows the aircraft after the crash. The cadet involved, William Lawrence Somerville recovered from his injuries (broken bones in his left leg) and was discharged from the RAF in February 1920.

Aircraft in which James Davidson Stephen was killed

In the Royal Air Force’s Court of Inquiry, Cadet Somerville gave the following account of the accident:

Detail of Attorney General's 1918 file RG 4/32 2289 at the Archives of Ontario

Detail of Attorney General’s 1918 file RG 4-32/2289 at the Archives of Ontario

8th Witness:- Can.154662 Pte.II.Somerville, W.L., Cadet for Pilot No. 90 C.T.S., R.A.F., being duly sworn, states:-

On the 21st day of October, 1918, at about 11.30 I went up with 2/Lt. Stephen to practise Camera Gun and Higher Manoeuvres. We were at 3000 feet, and Lt. Stephen put the machine into a right hand spin and we spun 1000 feet. I then did 2 left hand spins, which brought us down to 1000 feet. The machine came out of those spins quite easily. Lt. Stephen then made 2 left hand rolls, and in the second roll he seemed to have slight difficulty in getting it out. On the third roll I could feel him kicking on the rudder-bar, a thing he never did with me before. The machine went into a fast spin and continued so into the ground, I could feel Lt. Stephen working on the controls trying to get the machine out of spin, but I left controls absolutely alone. To the best of my knowledge the engine was full on all the time until we crashed.

Certified true statement. Cadet sent to Kingston Hospital. [signed] W.S. Anderson Capt. R.A.F.

Stephen was the son of James Milne Stephen and Margaret Helen (née Davidson). They buried their son in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto and put up a private memorial to him.

Memorial for James Davidson Stephen from FindaGrave.com, courtesy of Islington

Memorial for James Davidson Stephen from FindaGrave.com, courtesy of Islington

Harry Douglas Barnhardt signature

Harry Douglas Barnhardt was admitted to the 30th Casualty Clearing Station dangerously wounded, on October 13th, 1918. He was serving with the 21st Battalion near Cambrai in France. His unit did not see action that day, but it had on the 11th and on the 12th it was withdrawing from the front line. On that day the war diary noted that two men were missing after the men of the 21st Battalion reached their billets in Escaudœuvres:

21st Battalion war diary 12 Oct 1918

12-10-18. During the night of October 11th- 12th the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade was relieved by a Brigade of the 51st Division, the 6th Gordons relieving the 21st Canadian Battalion. Relief was complete at 0245 hours and the Battalion proceeded to billets in ESCAUDOEUVRES, with Headquarters at T.25.a.10.25. Our casualties during the advance of the day were: Officers, killed,3; died of wounds,1; wounded,6; wounded at duty,2; Gassed,1; Other Ranks, killed,39; wounded 272; Missing,2.

Perhaps Barnhardt was one of the two missing men. He was transferred to the 22nd Casualty Clearing Station on October 17th and died of his wounds on October 21st at the 33rd Casualty Clearing Station. He was buried at the Bucqoy Road Cemetery in Ficheux.

Harry is remembered on the Deseronto war memorial. He was the only conscript in our memorial project who was killed in action.

Deseronto memorial

He is also named on the Belleville war memorial.

Belleville War Memorial

George Dallas Marshall died on this day in 1918. He was a cook, employed by the Royal Air Force at Camp Rathbun and he died of influenza and pneumonia at the Camp Rathbun hospital in Deseronto. RAF records have his date of death as October 19th, but the death registration states October 20th.

Marshall joined the Royal Flying Corps on January 12th, 1917 as a 3rd Air Mechanic with the regimental number 53984. He was promoted to 2nd Air Mechanic on July 1st, 1917 and 1st Private when he was transferred to the Royal Air Force on its formation on April 1st, 1918.

Marshall was born in Ayr, Scotland on September 30th, 1898, the son of Thomas Ganson Marshall and Catherine (née Dallas). Catherine’s home address was 24 Hill Street, Aberdeen, Scotland. She was born in Canada.

George was buried in Deseronto Cemetery, in the Royal Air Force plot.

George Dallas Marshall headstone

Casimer Krolikowski signature
Casimer Krolikowski died at the Royal Air Force hospital in Deseronto on this day in 1918 from influenza and pneumonia. He had joined the Royal Flying Corps on June 11th, 1917 in Toronto and had previously served in the Cycle Corps, originally enlisting in Windsor on February 9th, 1917. He was a machinist by trade and worked as a fitter for the air force, maintaining and repairing aircraft engines. He was five feet five and a half inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair.

Krolikowski was born in Warsaw, Poland on January 13th, 1891, the son of Ludwik and Franciszka Krolikowski. Casimer arrived in the United States with his mother and siblings in 1903 and the family were all living in Detroit at the time of the 1910 US census. Casimer was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery (Sacred Heart of Mary Cemetery) in Detroit.

Emmet Thomas Conroy signatureOn this day in 1918 Emmet Thomas Conroy died of pneumonia caused by Spanish Flu at Camp Mohawk. He had joined the Royal Flying Corps on October 2nd, 1917 as a ‘rigger’: a specialist carpenter responsible for maintaining the structure of the aircraft. Emmet’s elder brother, Paul Servillian Conroy had also joined the Royal Air Force. He was in training as a pilot cadet at the Long Branch camp (near Toronto). Paul also died of Spanish Flu, at the Toronto base hospital, on the day before Emmet. The Montreal Gazette reported on the brothers’ deaths on October 14th:

Conroy brothers' deaths reported in Montreal Gazette, 14 Oct 1918

Montreal Gazette report on Conroy brothers, October 14th, 1918


Paul and Thomas Conroy Were Training at Aviation Camp

The bodies of two brothers, Paul S. Conroy and Thomas Emmet Conroy, both victimes of the influenza scourge, lie in the one mortuary chamber at their parents’ residence, 48 St. Louis square. Both were attacked with the disease while in training in Ontario aviation camps. Much sympathy was expressed on all sides yesterday for the bereaved family. A double funeral will take place this morning to St. Patrick’s Church and thence to the Cote des Neiges Cemetery for interment.

Thomas Emmet Conroy, aged 22 years, and youngest son of Mr Thomas Conroy, died at Mohawk Camp, Deseronto, on Saturday afternoon. His brother, Paul S. Conroy, notary public aged 28 years, died at the base hospital at Toronto on Friday morning. Both brothers succumbed to an attack of influenza, which developed into pneumonia. The body of Paul arrived in Montreal from Toronto on Saturday night, and the remains of his brother Thomas Emmet, reached here on Sunday morning.

Paul was born on December 24th, 1890. He had originally been drafted on July 22nd, 1918 with the regimental number 3089636 but transferred to the RAF on August 3rd. Emmet was born on October 27th, 1895. Their parents were Thomas Conroy and Mary Ann (née Smith). The men were buried in the same grave in the Cotes des Neiges Cemetery in Montreal.

Photograph of the Conroys' grave, courtesy of Graceti at FindaGrave.com

Photograph of the Conroys’ grave, courtesy of Graceti at FindaGrave.com

Percy Joseph Barnett signatureOn this day in 1918 Percy Joseph Barnett died of pneumonia (brought on by Spanish Flu) at the Ongwanada Military Hospital in Kingston. He was an Air Mechanic stationed at the Royal Air Force’s 42nd Wing in Deseronto. The date of death on the death registration is given as October 11th, but other records have October 12th.

Percy had been in hospital in Kingston before: on November 12th, 1917 he was involved at Camp Mohawk in a flying accident with 2nd Lieutenant Harold Robertson Carson as the result of engine failure. Barnett broke his arm, according to the RAF’s casualty card, and Carson was also injured, suffering minor cuts and bruises.

Barnett had been working as a motor truck foreman in Brooklyn, New York and on June 5th he had completed a US Draft Registration card which recorded that he had brown eyes, black hair and was of medium height and build. He joined the Royal Flying Corps in New York on July 5th, 1917 and was appointed to the Corps in Toronto on July 7th, with the regimental number 72910. He gave his next of kin as his mother, Sarah Barnett, of 665 Seven Sisters Road, London, England. On October 1st, 1917 he was promoted to 2nd Air Mechanic.

Percy was born in London, England on November 7th, 1888, the son of Henry Barnett and Sarah (née Fernandez). The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records note that he was married to a woman called Amelia. He was buried in Cataraqui Cemetery, Kingston.

Rupert Cyril Spencer signature
Rupert Cyril Spencer died of influenza and pneumonia at the Camp Rathbun hospital in Deseronto on this day in 1918. He had joined the Royal Flying Corps in New York on July 2nd, 1917 and was appointed in Toronto two days later with the regimental number 72816. He was a draughtsman by profession and he joined the Corps with the rank of 1st Air Mechanic. Spencer gave his next of kin as his wife, Martha Lenore Spencer, of 1100 Market Street, Berwick, Pennsylvania.

He completed a US draft registration card on June 5th, 1917 on which he was described as tall and slender, with dark brown hair and blue eyes. On his RFC attestation his height was recorded as five feet nine and a half inches. Spencer was born in Oldbury, Worcestershire, England on February 15th, 1890, the son of James Harry Spencer and Alice Jane (née Goring). In 1912 he left England for North America, arriving in New York on October 28th. He married Martha Lenore Bates in Berwick, Pennsylvania on June 14th, 1916. The couple had a daughter in January 1918.

Rupert was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Berwick.

Arthur Richardson signature
Arthur Richardson died at Camp Mohawk near Deseronto on this day in 1918. There are conflicting accounts of his death: the registration of his death in the records held by the Archives of Ontario states that he died of a fractured skull after a fall with an aeroplane:Arthur Richardson's death registrationHowever, other records give drowning as the cause of death and there is a file at the Archives of Ontario in the Attorney General’s series with the title “Report re death of Cadet A. Richardson who fell down hole at Camp Mohawk. And as to instituting proceedings for criminal negligence against Works foreman who failed to guard the hole.”The Royal Air Force casualty card for Richardson also notes that he “Drowned at Deseronto, Canada (result of falling into pit)”. This record has the date of the accident as October 4th.The Attorney General’s file at the Archives of Ontario holds details of the inquiry into the accident. It was decided that a criminal prosecution should be pursued against the foreman of the team who dug the hole, George Vanderwater:

Detail of Attorney General's 1918 file RG 4-32/2186 at the Archives of Ontario

Detail of Attorney General’s 1918 file RG 4-32/2186 at the Archives of Ontario

Re Cadet Arthur Richardson
Onn the 3rd inst. Arthur Richardson a Cadet at Camp Mohawk near Deseronto fell down a hole or pit about 16 feet deep and was illed. This pit which was constructed for drainage purposes was unguarded and unlighted, owing, in my opinion, to the negligence of George Vandewater the Foreman – Imperial Munitions Board at Camp Mohawk.
The pit lay close to the Cadet Barracks and adjacent to a walk over which 35 men were accustomed to go, 10 to 15 deep and about 10 by 5 feet wide at the top, being narrower at the bottom and containing some water.

Richardson was born in Gateshead, England in 1890, the son of William Summerbell Richardson and Dorothy (née Burn). He attended the Royal Grammar School at Newcastle-upon-Tyne from 1902. He moved to New York in 1913, arriving on the RMS Adriatic on October 3rd, 1913 (five years to the day before he died). He was a chartered accountant by profession.

Arthur joined the Royal Flying Corps on April 11th, 1918 in Winnipeg (technically by then it was the Royal Air Force) and was officially appointed to the Corps on April 15th in Toronto with the regimental number 171458. He was five feet ten and three quarter inches tall, with a dark complexion, black hair and brown eyes.

He was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri. A blog post on the Sacrifice site explains why.

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