Souvenirs of War

Day 6 of the 11-day Military Challenge

My grandfather John M. Dever was a Signaller during WWI and he came home to Montreal with a few souvenirs from his time in overseas.

DrawingDever John WWI drawing

DEver John drawing back

France Oct 26/18 Picked up a few yards from the front line.

I have often wondered about the artist and the subject but I have not had any success finding information about either.

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If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them!

Postcard in German –

Dever, John M. Postcard - German pg.1

A post to the Genealogy Translations Facebook group gave me some answers –

“Out of Love” is the front of the postcard

?hausen, June 1, 1918.

Dear brother, it is in very good health that I take the quill to write you a postcard. I’m quite fine and hope that the same is true for you. Mother sent you a postcard, too, on May 31.”

The address was a little more difficult, so with possible errors –“Kasimir Gollensteiner”,  (Fussersatzabteilung, 2.Batterie), can’t read the third line. Fourth line says “Deutsche Feldpost”, German military mail.

Dever, John M. Postcard - German pg.2

Poster – Another interesting item he returned home with is this poster which he wrote on the back “I took this off of a wall of a room in a chateau in Tilloy a few days before we captured Cambrai.”

Dever John WWI poster

Google translate tells me the poster reads

The enemy is listening! Caution on the phone!

I am grateful to have these items of my grandfather’s.


My Military Ancestor – Alfred Lee Norton

Day 5 of the 11-day Military Challenge

Alfred was born in Sorel, Quebec in 1888 to parents Thomas Lee Norton, a baker and his wife Esther Douglas, joining siblings Thomas Lee and Alyce May. Four more children were born after Alfred but only one of his younger siblings survived.

When Alfred was ten he lost two family members, his newborn brother Arthur died in February and six days later their mother Esther died as well. After losing their mother things became tough for the Norton children, the 1901 census reveals Alfred’s sisters living in an orphanage while Alfred is nowhere to be found.

Alfred Lee Norton 1900 8 yrs old Quebec Canada 2.

The only photograph I have of Alfred.

At the age of 26, Alfred signed up for WWI on 26th September 1914 at Valcartier, Quebec. It wasn’t his first military foray, he had previously served for three years in the 8th Royal Rifles and two years with the QOCH (Queens Own Cameron Highlanders). At the time of enlisting Alfred had hazel eyes, brown hair and was standing a tall 5’7″, his occupation is a clerk.

Alfred sailed out on the S.S. Andania and served in England and France.

It was during the battle at Ypres that Alfred earned the Military Medal with the 14th Infantry Ballalion when he showed –

persistent devotion to duty at all times since the Regiment arrived in France. This man has shown good ability and has several times carried up ammunition under heavy fire. His conduct under fire in the Ypres Salient has been splendid especially on May 25, 1916, in tending wounded under shell fire



Military Medal

After the war, Alfred returned to Montreal where he went back to working as a clerk. He married Elizabeth Walker Johnson in 1930 at the St. Giles Presbyterian Church.

Alfred’s heath may have suffered from his war service as he died suddenly at the age of 42 with no children.

Alfred is buried in Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal, Quebec.

Alfred Norton headstone


Resources –

Veterans Affairs Canada – Medals and Decorations

LAC – Military Medals, Honours and Awards, 1812-1969

Featured image –  S.S. Ardania from the Wreck Site 


My Military Ancestor – Benjamin Nelson Harrop WWI Pilot

Day 3 of the 11-day Military Challenge

In rural Saskatchewan (before it was a Province) in a small town called Indian Head, Benjamin Nelson Harrop was born on a fall day in October, 1894.

Growing up on the farm, helping his father William with chores seems a long way off from piloting planes in WWI but that is where life took him.

Benjamin wasn’t the Harrop to fight in WWI but he was the only WWI pilot in my family. I located a photograph of him on Ancestry in the database Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificates, 1910-1950

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Benjamin received his certificate on a Maurice Farman biplane at the Royal Naval Air Station in Eastbourne in 1916.



Maurice Farman biplane  – Wikimedia Commons

While in England he married Cecil Powel in 1917 and at the end of the war returned safely to Canada with his bride.

In WWII he became Wing Commander and was the chief supervisor at an Air School in Winnipeg.


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The Winnipeg Tribune 30 Sept 1942


Benjamin spent his life as a pilot.

I was able to locate his death record on the Royal B.C. Museum database and upon learning he died in Kelowna a search at Find-a-Grave lead to me to his headstone.

R.I.P. Benjamin Harrop.



The Three Jay Brothers in Khaki

I don’t have Jay’s in my family tree but in case anyone is out there searching for them I found an old newspaper clipping in my grandmother Beatrice Jordan’s papers.

The newspaper mentions Mrs. Jay of Cadieux street, Montreal, her son’s names were George Arthur, John and William. The connection to my family is likely George Arthur Jay who with the Signalling Company. My grandfather John Dever was also a Signaller, and George Arthur Jay likely a friend.

Jay boys in Khaki

Mrs. Jay of 863 Cadieux street, has given her three sons to the Empire’s service, all of whom have appeared in the casualty lists. Reading from left to right they are: Pte. George Arthur Jay, of the 3rd Canadian Divisional Signalling Company, who has just been admitted to hospital suffering from gas poisoning; Pte John Jay, of the R.C.A, now in hospital at Bonscombe; and Sergt. William A. Jay, who went over with the First Contingent, now in the convalescent hospital at Epsom, England. The latter has been wounded four times since going to the front. 


John Brown Jordan & His WWI Service

John Brown Jordan was born August 12, 1888, to parents William and Agnes Brown in Kingston, Ontario. It is not surprising he heeded the call to serve in WWI as his father was a career soldier, as well as his older brother Samuel. John was not new to soldering, he already served nine years with the Royal Canadian Artillery and seven years with the Canadian Army Service Corps. John married to Celina Collins in 1905 at St. Matthew’s Church, Quebec City and they had three children, Celina Agnes Becroft (Bee) born in 1906, John William Sidney (Syd) born in 1908 and Mary Patricia arrived in 1913.

John enlisted September 10, 1914, and is described as fresh complected, with dark blue eyes and medium brown hair. He wasn’t the tallest in stature measuring in at 5’4”.

He sailed on the S.S. Alaunia which transported the first Canadian troops to head overseas. John left for France July 19, 1915, joining the 3rd division and was mentioned in dispatches Dec. 28, 1917. John’s daughter Mary Patricia died while he was gone in 1918. John survived the duration of the war and returned to Canada Sept. 6, 1919, sailing on the S.S. Minnekahda.

John continued working for the military, returning to England and working there as a clerk to the Imperial War Graves Association. John and his wife Celina divorced, and John married Rose Emma Matthews Davis, a widow from England. Rose and John’s only child, a son Leslie was born in 1921 in England.

Leslie also became involved in the military, in WWII he was a Flight Seargent with 108 Squadron. Leslie’s plane crashed in Dundalk, Ireland killing seventeen people. Leslie is remembered on a plaque in Brighton (Downs) Crematorium in England.

John Brown returned to Canada after WWII, and he and his wife settled back in Kingston.

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Rose and John Brown Jordan visiting relatives in Montreal. c1950 

John died there in 1951; he is buried at Cataraqui Cemetery.

  • A memory that told to me by John’s nephew, Herbert Jordan was that John was very hard to understand as he had been gassed during the war and had a hole in his throat.

OGS – Genealogy Without Borders

I have happily arrived at the OGS 2014 conference held at the Brock University in Ontario.
My first session yesterday was with Glenn Wright. I have been wanting to attend one of his presentations for the past couple of years and I am happy I did.
The session with Glenn was focused on Canada World War I service records and getting the most out of those service records many of us have sitting on a shelf at home. The first thing to help us gather the most from those records is to create a time-line of them. Start with their enlistment and work your way through the records until you get to their demobilization papers. This will give you a great working perspective to research further into the records. Once you have gathered all the information in a much easier to use format you can then proceed to the Library and Archives website and peek at those war diaries that have been added. You can then get even more details on your ancestors time in the war!
I must have about 20 of those files at home and have decided my #1 project will be to create these time lines.
This is a wonderful project just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Great War!