Private Francis Theodore Edwards – 195803 – ACTIVE SERVICE (World War I)
On March 14, 1916 Francis Theodore completed the Attestation Paper for the Canadian Army, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). He was 27 years, 2 months old when, as a married man with three children (two boys and a girl), he enlisted for the duration of the War. Francis Theodore indicated that he was born in Lakefield, Ontario, and gave his birth-date as January 10, 1889. On his Attestation Paper, he indicated; he did not presently belong to a Militia Force nor had any previous Military experience. There is nothing on his File to indicate where he was educated or to what level. As far as his Trade or Calling is concerned, he lists Labourer; he was actually a Labourer with a Blacksmith. Francis Theodore was 5′ 3” inches tall, with a 34” chest (expanded). There is no indication of his weight on enlistment. He had a dark complexion, with grey eyes, and black hair. His Medical Examination was completed March 14, 1916, in Lakefield, Ontario. He had no medical issues or physical limitations, and as such he was deemed fit for Overseas duty with the CEF. His next-of-kin was listed as his wife; Mrs. Charlotte Ann Edwards of Lakefield, Ontario. Francis Theodore signed the Oath and Certificate of Attestation on March 14, 1916. The Certificate of Magistrate was signed March 14, 1916 in Peterborough, Ontario. Francis Theodore Edwards was taken-on-strength with the 93rd Battalion (Bn) CEF as a Private (Pte) and was assigned Service Number 195803.
The 93rd Bn was authorized and formed up December 22, 1915. After training through the winter and spring at 5 different area Centres, Apsley being one, the Bn departed by train from Peterborough on May 29, 1916. The Bn made a short stop at Camp Barriefield, located at Kingston, Ontario, before moving on the Main CEF Training Centre located at Valcartier, Québec, so as to complete Basic Infantry Training, before being transported overseas, to the UK.
Pte Edwards and the 93rd Bn embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the SS Empress of Britain on July 15, 1916.
Pte Edwards and the 93rd Bn disembarked in England on July 25, 1916. They were stationed at Shorncliffe, England. The 93rd Bn provided reinforcements to the Canadian Corps in the Field.
On October 6, 1916 Pte Edwards was transferred to the 39th Bn at West Sandling, England. On the same day he was taken-on-strength with the 39th Bn. October 27, 1916 he was transferred to the 21st Canadian Infantry Battalion (Cdn Inf Bn), also at West Sandling. November 3, 1916 he arrived at the Canadian Base Depot (CBD) at Le Havre, France where he was taken-on-strength with the 21st Cdn Inf Bn.
The 21st Canadian Infantry Battalion (Eastern Ontario) was attached to the 4st Canadian Brigade – 2nd Canadian Division.
On November 18, 1916 Pte Edwards was transferred to and departed for the 2nd Canadian Entrenching Battalion (Cdn Ent Bn). He arrived and was taken-on November 21, 1916.
There are no entries in his Military File from November 21, 1916 to February 24, 1917. To track the movements of Pte Edwards, during this period, the War Diary of the 2nd Cdn Ent Bn was used.
November 1916 – When Pte Edward joined the 2nd Entrenching Battalion (2nd Ent Bn) it was in billets in a Convent at Hersin, France. On the 21st the Battalion was training per the syllabus, which included; Company drills, bayonet fighting, musketry (rifle), bombing, and gas helmet practice. The 22nd was spent in training on carpentry construction, loading and unloading lorries, and general fatigues. For the rest of the month, the Battalion basically alternated between training per the syllabus and training in carpentry construction, etc.
December 1916 – The first half of the month was spent alternating between training per the syllabus and training in carpentry, etc. During the second half of the month; the Battalion was primarily engaged in laying communication cables under the guidance of Signalling Officers and route marches. No training or other activities took place on Christmas Day.
January 1917 – The Battalion was still in billets at Hersin. The month was pretty much a repeat of December with training per the syllabus and training in carpentry, etc. The laying of communication cables was replaced with construction of a broad gauge railway line. They also provided guards for German prisoners sent back from the Front.
February 1917 – The Battalion was still in billets at Hersin. Activities continued as per January.
On February 24, 1917 Pte Edwards along with 49 other ranks left for the 21st Cdn Inf Bn as reinforcements, arriving on February 26, 1917.
There are no entries in Pte Edwards’ Military File from February 26, 1917 to May 6, 1918. To track his movements, during this period, the War Diary of the 21st Canadian Infantry Battalion was used.
When Pte Edwards arrived the Battalion had just relieved the 19th Cdn Inf Bn in the Front-Line in the Thelus Section. The trenches were reported in terrible shape with the mud knee deep in many places. The enemy was reported as quiet. On the 27th both sides were exchanging artillery fire. In the afternoon, enemy trench mortars were very active. Enemy aeroplanes were overhead. Bn Patrols were out along the Front-Line, but encountered no enemy. The 28th was reported as misty and very quiet.
March 1917 – Enemy artillery was very active on the 1st, but Allied artillery replied very strongly. Bn Patrols covered the whole Front, but had nothing to report. The weather was clear on the 2nd. The enemy was fairly quiet. Allied artillery quite active. Many aeroplanes overhead. Patrols covered the whole Front, nothing to report. On the 3rd the Bn was relieved by the 19th Cdn Inf Bn. Following relief the Bn proceeded to Bois Des Alleux in Divisional reserve. During the 4th to 8th every available man was employed on daily fatigues. They also had a bath parade, which was most appreciated. On the 9th the Battalion was relieved by the 20th Cdn Inf Bn in Divisional reserve and it moved forward to Brigade support, where they found the trenches in terrible shape. The 10th to 14th were spent with all available men on fatigue duties, which included; tunneling, building artillery emplacements, dressing stations, and cleaning up communication trenches. Casualties were 3 other ranks wounded. On the 15th the Battalion was relieved by the 20th Cdn Inf Bn and upon relief proceeded to Divisional reserve at Bois Des Alleux. The Battalion spent the 16th to 20th supplying fatigue parties building gun emplacements, and resupplying ammunition depots, etc. The weather was described as very bad and the Camp very muddy. On the 21st the Battalion proceeded to Brigade reserve at Bois Des Abris and relieved the 20th Cdn Inf Bn. Artillery, on both sides, were very active on the 22nd and 23rd. The men were employed in fatigue and work parties. On the 24th the Battalion proceeded to Bois Des Alleux and relieved the 28th Cdn Inf Bn. On the 25th it moved to another location identified as W.14. C.4.9. This was a ”tent camp”. From the 26th to 31st March they engaged in strenuous training, including; Platoon and Company in attack, physical drills, bombing, and musketry. The weather continued very bad.
April 1917 – The Battalion remained in the tent camp. On the 1st the Bn received lectures on bombing. On the 2nd and 3rd they participated in a Brigade practice attack in a specially marked training area. On the 4th two Platoons proceeded to relieve two Platoons of the 31st Cdn Inf Bn in the right sub section of Thelus Sector. The two Platoons proceeded to orward position to prepare the trenches and cut wire prior to the rest of the Battalion taking over. During the 5th to 7th the balance of the Battalion continued to practice attack tactics. In the afternoon of the 8th the Battalion marched to Mont St. Eloy, where they rested. At 8:15 PM they moved overland to the orward area taking up their positions in the ”jumping off” trench. It was reported to Brigade HQ that they were in position by 4:00 AM on the morning of the 9th.
April 9, 1917 was the start of the Battle for Vimy Ridge.
Battalion strength was shown as 24 Officers and 644 other ranks. From 4:00 AM to 5:30 AM (Zero Hour) the Battalion sustained four casualties: one Officer and three other ranks wounded. At precisely 5:30 AM a massive artillery barrage fell on enemy positions and the 21st Cdn Inf Bn following; the 18th and 19th Cdn Inf Bns proceeded to the attack. ”A” Company was on the right, ”B” Company in the centre, ”C” Company on the left, and ”D” Company in support. Each Company was three Platoons strong with the surplus Platoons remaining at the Transport Lines. At Zero Plus 35 minutes, it was reported that the Black Objective had been gained and everything was going well. At this point the Battalion reorganized and at Zero Plus 60 minutes proceeded to move on Red Objective. At Zero Plus 105 minutes it had captured Red Objective, which was the Final Objective for the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade. Although some of the Companies encountered stiff resistance during the advance, it was reported that enemy machine guns and trench mortars were the chief resistance encountered during the attack. The enemy artillery was basically silent. When the Bn Companies cleared through the Hun trenches, the evidence of how effective the Allied artillery barrage had been was evident as only the outlines of many of the trenches remained. Bn casualties up to this point were: 10 Officers and 205 other ranks killed, wounded, or missing. At this point, the 6th Cdn Inf Brigade passed through the Red Objective on its way to the Final Objective at Zero Plus two hours. The success of this attack was attributed to the practice that the Brigade had gone through. The balance of the day was spent by the 21st Battalion reorganizing and consolidating. During the day of the 10th, orders were received for the Bn to relieve the 2nd Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers, (KOSBs) on its left. The relief was carried out without a hitch and no casualties. The Battalion was in position by 11:00 PM. At 4:00 PM on the 11th Major T.F. Elmitt took over Command of the Battalion. With strong winds, snow and being very cold the 12th was very unpleasant. A number of discussions took place, among Officers, of a further advance. At about 12:30 PM on the 13th the Battalion was instructed to send out Patrols to reconnoiter Vimy Ridge. The night of the 13th/14th the Battalion was relieved by the 26th Cdn Inf Bn. The morning of the 14th the Bn proceeded to billets in Bois Des Alleux and remained there until the 16th reorganizing and re-equipping. The 17th to 19th the Bn remained in support. During this time a large work party of 400 men were assigned to the 186th Tunneling Company. On the 20th the Bn relieved the 24th Cdn Inf Bn in close support of the Divisional Battle Front-Line with the 20th Cdn Inf Bn. Throughout the 21st and 22nd the enemy artillery barraged the Lines constantly. The Bn relieved the 20th Cdn Inf Bn the night of the 23rd/24th in the Front-Line. During the period from 24th to 26th the enemy shelling ranged from intermittent to intense, but resulted in few casualties. The 4th Cdn Inf Bn was on the 21st Battalion’s right and the PPCLI was on its left. The Battalion was supported by the 5th Division Artillery. The Battalion was relieved by the 25th Cdn Inf Bn the night of the 26th/27th. Following the relief the Bn marched to a Brigade Camp North West of the Village of Aux Rietz Corners. The 27th was spent in rest after its hard tour in the Line. The 28th was spent cleaning up, reorganizing, and issuing what necessaries that could be issued from stores. On the 29th a Church Service was held in the morning, and the Battalion marched to bathes at Chateau de Acq in the afternoon. On the 30th the Battalion supplied fatigue parties to Aux Rietz Corners.
May 1917 – On the 1st the 21st Cdn Inf Bn was inspected by Brigadier General R. Rennie – Officer Commanding the 4th Cdn Inf Brigade, 2nd Cdn Div. He was satisfied with what he saw. The Battalion proceeded to the support area of the Divisional battle Front at Berliner Haus. The 3rd to 5th they remained in this area enjoying the beautiful weather. The Bn relieved the 22nd French Cdn Inf Bn (Van Doos) in the Observation Line at Thelus cave.
May 6, 1917 Pte Edwards was taken-on-strength at the Canadian Base Depot from the Assistant Director of Medical Services (ADMS) TB (an unknown abbreviation). May 17, 1917 he was en route to join his Unit in the Field. An entry in the File indicates that on June 5, 1917 he was shown as ”at duty from Hospital” with the 21st Cdn Inf Bn in the Field.
Nothing in the File indicates what Hospital he was at, the circumstances, or when he actually rejoined his Unit. It was assumed that he rejoined in June.
June 1917 – When Pte Edwards rejoined the 21st Bn they were billeted at Coupigny Huts in the area of the Barlin Training area. The 5th to 10th was spent in resting and cleaning up. There were bath parades, and clean clothes were issued. Divine Services were held. Training in musketry (rifles), bombing, and bayonet fighting took place in the morning and recreation in the afternoon. The 11th to the 16th were a repeat with the Bn training in the morning and sports in the afternoon. The Bn paraded for Divine Service on the 17th. The Bn paraded for a Brigade Sports day on the 18th. It did quite well, coming away with six first place prizes, one second and one third. The 19th to 22nd were spent training in the morning and sports in the afternoon. On the 23rd the Bn attended the Divisional Sports in the morning and a Concert in the afternoon. It paraded for Divine Service on the 24th. The 25th was spent training in the morning and sports in the afternoon. On the 26th it paraded for inspection by the Bn Officer Commanding. The Bn paraded on the 27th for inspection by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the 2nd Cdn Division. It was a very close inspection with close attention paid to rifles and kits. Following the inspection the General had many complimentary comments about the Bn. The 28th to 30th were spent training as per previous days.
July 1917 – The 1st and 2nd were spent training. On the 3rd the Bn proceeded to the area of Bouvigny – Boyeffles, France. The 4th to 6th were spent training. On the 7th the Bn proceeded to the area of Posse 10. The 8th to 10th were spent training. During the evening of the 10th the Bn proceeded to relieve the 22nd Cdn Inf Bn in Brigade reserve in the Angres – Lens Sector. On the 11th both sides were exchanging artillery barrages. On the 12th the Bn relieved the 29th Cdn Inf Bn in the Laurent Section of the Front-Line. The 13th passed quietly. On the 14th the enemy fired occasional bursts of shrapnel on Bn position resulting in six other ranks wounded. There was significant aerial activity overhead. The 15th passed very quietly. The Bn snipers were quite active. Allied artillery fired 345 gas shells into enemy defences on the 16th. The Bn was relieved by the 25th Cdn Inf Bn commencing at 10:30 PM and completed by 3:45 AM on the 17th. The Bn proceeded to Angres to form Brigade reserve in the Lens Section. The day passed relatively quiet. One other rank was killed and three were wounded. The 18th passed very quietly. One other rank was wounded. The enemy shelled the area very heavily, on the 19th, but caused no casualties. Bn support artillery retaliated. The 20th was quiet, but enemy aeroplanes were very active. Enemy artillery was very active on the 21st and 22nd, but did little damage in the area of the Bn. During the evening the Bn proceeded to Posse 10 to form Divisional reserve. On the 23rd the Bn rested, had bathes, and were issued clean clothes. The Bn was engaged in special training on a taped course on the 24th to 26th. The Bn carried out practice attacks on the taped course on the 27th and 28th. The 29th to 31st were spent in preparations to proceed to the Front-Line.
August 1917 – The planned operation was postponed indefinitely and the 21st Bn stayed at Posse 10 from the 1st to 3rd carrying out light drills. On the night of the 4th the Bn relieved the 27th Cdn Inf Bn in Brigade reserve at Bully Grenay. The 5th was spent in a state of readiness to move to the Front-Line. The Bn paraded daily on the 6th to 8th for physical and respirator drills, bayonet fighting, and musketry (fire control and discipline). On the night of the 8th – 9th the Bn, along with details from the 18th and 19th Cdn Inf Bns, carried out a raid on the enemy Front-Line trenches. The raid which was successful resulted in only 8 slightly injured Bn casualties. The 11th and 12th were spent resting, bathing, being issued clean clothes. The Bn moved to the Forward area where it carried out raids between the 13th and 18th. These raids were also successful with few casualties. The night of the 18th the 21st Bn was relieved and proceeded back to Posse 10. The 19th to 20th were spent resting, cleaning up, bathes, and being issued clean underwear. The Bn moved to billets at Villers Au Bois on the 21st. The 22nd to 24th were spent training. The Bn paraded for Divine Service on the 25th. Following the Service the entire Brigade assembled and carried out some Ceremonial drills in preparation for the visit of the Commander in Chief, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, on the 26th. The Brigade was inspected. Field Marshal Haig had many compliments on the appearance and turnout of the Brigade. He also referenced the fighting ability of the Brigade during the month in the area of Lens. It was back to training the 27th to 30th. Lt Gen A.W. Currie was present the morning of the 31st while the Bn went through its training. He spoke very highly of the work of the 21st in the action NW of Lens August 15th to 18th.
September 1917 – the 1st to 14th were spent training, including; physical drills, bayonet fighting, and musketry (rifle). The night of the 14th/15th the Bn relieved the 4th and 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles in the Front-Line. The 15th and 16th were very quiet, with absolutely no artillery activity. Wiring parties and Patrols were out at night and reported no enemy activity. On the 19th and 20th Allied artillery shelled the rear of Enemy Lines. There was no response from enemy artillery. The 5th Cdn Inf Bn relieved the Bn on the 21st. Following relief the Bn marched to billets at Port George (La Targett), where it stayed for breakfast before continuing on to billets at Villers Au Bois. The 22nd was spent training and bathes. There was a Divine Service on the 23rd. The Bn paraded daily on 24th to 28th to a taped course where it underwent special training. The Bn was inspected by the Officer Commanding of the 4th Cdn Inf Brigade. The Bn attended a Corps Sports Event in the afternoon. A Divine Service was held on the 30th.
October 1917 – The Bn spent the 1st, training as usual. The night of the 2nd/3rd the Bn relieved the 31st Cdn Inf Bn in support of the Divisional Front-Line, located East of Vimy Ridge. The 3rd to 7th were spent in work parties. Few casualties were sustained. On the night of the 8th/9th the Bn carried out relief of the 20th Cdn Inf Bn in the Chaudiere Section – Avion Trench in the Front-Line. Periodically during the day the enemy treated Avion Trench with trench mortar shells, but few casualties resulted. It was reported that it continued to rain, as it had for several days. Patrols were out at night and came back with nothing of importance to report. The night of the 10th/11th the Bn was relieved by the 31st Cdn Inf Bn and proceeded to Surburban Camp at Villers Au Camp. The 11th to 14th was spent preparing for the Division move to Flanders. At 8:30 AM on the 15th the Bn paraded, along with other Battalions of the 4th Cdn Inf Brigade, and proceeded to billets at Ourton. It was reported that the weather was ideal for marching. The Bn was inspected en route by Maj Gen Sir H.E. Burstall – Divisional Commander. Upon arrival on the 16th the Bn occupied comfortable billets. The Bn carried out its usual training schedule on the 17th to 23rd, plus it spent time practicing attack. During this time all Battalions of the 4th Cdn Inf Brigade were inspected by the Army Commander. His remarks to the Officer Commanding of the Bn were most complimentary, and he wished it Good Luck in the fighting at Flanders with the Cdn Corps and an early return to the First Army. Lt Col E.W. Jones, returning from Leave, assumed Command of the Bn. At 1:10 Pm of the 24th the Bn marched to Ligny St. Flochel Station where it entrained for Godewaersvelde, Belgium. After it detrained the 21st Bn marched, in the rain, to Caestre where it occupied tents. It was during this time that Major T.F. Elmitt left the Bn to take up a senior Command position with another Unit. He was very well respected in the Bn and many Officers and other ranks showed him off. The days were spent in the usual training, and practicing attack.
November 1917 – On the 1st a party of 4 Officers and 35 other ranks proceeded, by bus, to the 72nd Cdn Inf Bn position and received information with regards to its relief by the 21st Bn the following night. The Bn marched to Caestre Station where it entrained at 12:45 PM on the 2nd for Potijze area east of Ypres, Belgium. It was dark when it arrived and after a hot meal was served it proceeded forward to relieve the 72nd Cdn Inf Bn in the Front-Line in front of Passchendaele. Relief was completed by 2:15 AM on the 3rd. At 4:45 AM the enemy opened a barrage on the position, resulting in 12 casualties. At 5:10 AM enemy ”Storm Troopers” attacked the Front and entered Bn trenches forcing a withdrawal of 50 yards. The men quickly re-organized and counterattacked ejecting the enemy and the Line was re-established. At 5:40 AM the enemy attacked again, but were beaten back by Lewis Gun and rifle fire. The enemy suffered heavy casualties for their efforts. Bn casualties during this period were 2 Officers wounded, 41 other ranks were killed and 89 wounded. During the night of the 3rd/4th in conjunction with the 19th Cdn Inf Bn a line of outposts were established 75 to 100 yards in advance of the Front-Line. The night of the 4th/5th during which the Bn was relieved by the 29th Cdn Inf Bn another outpost was established. Upon relief the Bn proceeded to the Potijze area where it entrained for Brandhoek. Upon arrival it marched to Erie Camp. The 6th and 7th were spent resting and being re-equipped. At 7:50 AM on the 8th 529 all ranks marched to Brandhoek where it entrained for Ypres. Detraining it marched to Potijze, arriving at 10:30 AM. After a hot meal was served the Bn marched to an area identified as D 16, arriving at 5:30 PM. Upon arrival, Officers and men dug themselves in, making funk holes, and such protection against the weather as possible.
Funk holes were small areas scraped out of the side of the trenches which were used as protection from the weather.
On November 9th the Bn took over the ground held by the 26th Cdn Inf Bn, but not in all in the nature of a relief. The Bn supplied a working party of 4 Officers, 8 NCOs, and 200 other ranks to the 4th Cdn Brigade on the 10th. Due to heavy shelling in the area of the work party, 1 Officer was wounded, along with 61 other ranks. The Bn was ordered, on the 11th, to reinforce the 18th and 19th Cdn Inf Bns in the Front-Line. One Company was sent each of the Bns. The afternoon of the 12th the 45th Cdn Inf Bn relieved the Bn. Upon relief the Bn marched to Ypres Station, on the 13th, where it entrained for Brandhoek. The Bn rested on the 14th. On the 15th it was moved by bus to Haverskerque. Arriving at 2:30 PM. It was moved again by bus on the 16th to Marles Les Mines arriving at 1:00 AM of the 17th. In the afternoon of the 17th it moved to billets at Camblain L’Abbe. The 18th was spent re-equipping and re-organizing of Companies and Sections. The 18th to 20th were spent bathing, being issued clean clothes, and the usual training was carried out. Forty-Five other rank reinforcements were received. The Battalion marched to the Camblain L’Abbe – Mont St. Eloy Road on the 21st where they were conveyed by buses to Les Tilleuls Corner. From there they marched to the Front-Line and relieved the13th York and Lancasters Regiment (British). Strength of the Bn was shown as 19 Officers and 432 other ranks. The weather was misty with a light rain, as the men settled into the conditions of trench warfare. Bn Patrols were out continuously all night keeping in touch with the 31st Cdn Inf Bn on its left and the 18th Durham Light Infantry (British) on its right. The situation was reported as quiet. On the morning of the 23rd the trenches were inspected by the Battalion Commanding Officer who found the situation quiet and satisfactory. The day was spent improving dug outs and trenches. Patrols out, but didn’t encounter any enemy. The morning of the 23rd was very quiet. The weather had cleared and as a result there was considerable aeroplane activity. Patrols out trying to locate enemy, but returned without success. There was nothing of interest to report on the 24th. Patrols were out, as usual. One spotted a small enemy Patrol which quickly withdrew before contact could be made. The Bn was relieved on the 25th by the 20th Cdn Inf Bn and proceeded to support trenches on Vancouver Road. The day started out misty and cold and at 1:30 PM a snow storm took place lasting about one half hour; the first one of the year. The men spent the day settling in. the situation was quiet. No casualties. The men spent the 26th improving trenches and dug outs, also clearing up Vancouver Road near Bn HQ. Work parties were supplied to complete the BN HQ Orderly Room and Brigade Bombing Store. Major General H. Burstall visited the trenches in the afternoon. The 27th passed quietly. The men continued to work on improving trenches. Work parties continued to be supplied. On the 28th Brigadier General R. Rennie visited the Lines. Work parties continued to be supplied. Enemy shelled the vicinity of the Bn HQ in the afternoon, resulting in 1 other rank wounded. The morning of the 29th the Bn was relieved by the 18th Cdn Inf Bn and it proceeded to Les Tilleuls Corner, where they were transported by buses to the Brigade reserve area at Surburban Camp – Villers Au Bois. Arriving at 3:30 PM. The 30th was spent resting, cleaning up, and having bathes.
December 1917 – The Bn spent the 1st to 6th carrying out the usual training schedule. Polling for the Canadian General Election commenced and much enthusiasm was displayed. On the 7th the Bn proceeded to Cellars Camp at Neuville St. Vaast and formed Brigade reserve.
December 7, 1917 Pte Edwards was granted a 14-day Leave. He rejoined his Unit (21st Cdn Inf Bn) on December 23, 1917.
When Pte Edwards rejoined his Unit they were in billets at Auchy Au Bois in the St. Hilaire area. The time was spent in physical training, bayonet fighting, musketry, specialists training, etc. There was no training on the 25th, rather the Bn enjoyed Christmas Dinners by Companies. Brigadier General William S. Pierre Hughes and Lt Col T.F. Elmitt sent their congratulations to the Bn for a job well done. The 26th to 31st were spent by the Bn in strenuous training. The weather was cold and there was much snow on the ground.
January 1918 – The weather was cold and snowing the 1st to 5th. The men continued the strenuous training regimen. Church Services were held on the 6th. Major General H.E. Burstall, Divisional Commander inspected the Bn in ”Marching Order”. The inspection was very thorough, and at the conclusion the General expressed his satisfaction with the appearance of the Bn on parade and the degree of efficiency which it had attained during its period of training. The Bn comprised of 23 Officers and 525 other ranks. The Bn continued training the 8th to 11th. On the 12th it paraded in ”Fighting Order” with the other Bns of the 4th Cdn Inf Brigade at Westrehem, where they were inspected by Lt Gen Sir Arthur W. Currie. The 13th was devoted to Church Services. The weather on the 14th was mild as the Bn prepared to move to the the Forward area. All Companies and Sections carried out a short gas drill parade, and musketry (rifle) practice was completed on the range. A large number of civilians were out when the Bn proceeded to Raimbert on the 15th. It was raining heavily the morning of the 16th as the Bn marched to Estree Cauchie. At 10:00 AM on the 17th the Bn proceeded to Villers Au Bois where it went into billets at Surburban Camp. In-spite of the inclement weather it was reported that the march discipline was very satisfactory. During the previous three days, the 4th Cdn Inf Brigade had moved as a Unit. At noon on the 18th the Bn proceeded Souchez. Here they were served a hot meal before moving on once gain to the support area in the Avoin Sector between La Coulette and L’Hirondelle, where it relieved the 50th Cdn Inf Bn in support. Relief was completed by 7:10 PM. The 19th to 22nd passed quietly for the Bn. The men were employed in work parties improving the trenches. Only 1 casualty was reported. The night of the 23rd/24th the Bn relieved the 10th Cdn Inf Bn in the Front-Line. For the period of the 23rd to 28th the Front was quiet. The Front was actively patrolled every night. Due to bright moonlight wiring parties were unable to work in No-Man’s-Land. On the night of the 28th/29th the Bn was relieved by the 28th Cdn Inf Bn. Following relief the Bn marched to Division Reserve at Camblain L’Abbe. The 29th to 31st were spent in the usual periods of kit inspections, baths, specialists training, and musketry (rifle) practice on the range. Arrangements were also made for the Bn to be ready to move from Reserve to a Forward assembly area in the Red Line in the event of an enemy attack on the Divisional Front.
February 1918 – The Bn remained in Divisional reserve from the 1st to 7th. During this time large fatigue parties worked in the Forward area. On the 8th the 4th Cdn Inf Brigade relieved the 5th Cdn Inf Brigade in the Front-Line. The 21st Bn relieved the 22nd Cdn Inf Bn in the Merricourt Section. The 9th was quiet. Patrols were out and had nothing to report. No casualties were reported. Enemy gas shells were dropped in the area of Bn HQ on the 10th, but there were no casualties. Patrols out, but had nothing unusual to report. The 11th and 14th were quiet. Patrols out as usual, nothing to report. No casualties. On the 15th the Bn was relieved by the 19th Cdn Inf Bn and upon relief it moved to the Brigade support area. The men spent the 16th to 18th in fatigue parties improving trenches. There was significant enemy aeroplane activity. The enemy sent a number of ”Red Balloons” over the area for the purpose of testing the wind and air currents. On the 19th the Bn was relieved by the 2nd Cdn Mounted Rifles. The Bn moved to Divisional reserve at Alberta Camp in the area of Carency. The Bn remained in Alberta Camp from the 20th to 27th. The men continued to be employed in fatigue parties in the Forward area. They also spent time in musketry (rifle) practice on the range. The afternoon of the 28th the Bn relieved the 26th Cdn Inf Bn in Brigade support in the Lens Sector. Relief was complete by 9:30 PM.
On February 28, 1918 Pte Edwards reported and was being treated at the No 6 Canadian Field Ambulance with was described as Shrapnel wounds to the back of right hand, right temple, right shoulder and right buttocks. He was in a stooped position when he was hit and fell unconscious. He was transferred and was admitted to the No 6 Canadian Clearing Station on March 1, 1918 where he was operated on to remove the Shrapnel fragments. On March 9, 1918 he was transferred to AT 16 (unknown abbreviation). On the same day he was admitted to No 7 Canadian General Hospital at Étaples, France. March 11, 1918 he was listed as seriously ill. He was invalided to England on March 28, 1918 and was posted to the Eastern Ontario Regimental Depot at Seaford from the 21st Cdn Inf Bn. On the same day he was admitted to the Horton (County of London) War Hospital at Epsom. June 15, 1918 he was transferred to the Manor (County of London) War Hospital. July 3, 1918 he was transferred to the No 16 Canadian General Hospital at Orpington in Kent. July 31, 1918 Pte Edwards was admitted to Granville Canadian Specialist Hospital at Buxton – Derbyshire where he remained until he was discharged on September 20, 1918.
Based on the results of a Medical Examinations, where it indicated that; he had a partial loss of function of his right arm and hand, partial loss of function of his right hip, and partial loss of his nervous system. Pte Edwards was invalided to Canada for further medical treatment on September 20, 1918 aboard His Majesty’s Ambulance Transport Ship Neuralia disembarking in Halifax October 1, 1918. He was posted to the Hospital Section and granted 17 days Leave from October 5, 1918 to October 21, 1918. On October 21, 1918 he was admitted to the Military Orthopedic Hospital in North Toronto. October 30, 1918 Pte Edwards was discharged and admitted to the Whitby Medical Hospital. He was discharged February 18, 1919 and was taken-on-strength at No 2 District Depot for disposal. On February 25, 1919 Private Francis Theodore Edwards was discharged from the 21st Canadian Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force due to being Medically Unfit.
There is no reference, in Private Francis Theodore Edwards’ Military File indicating what Military Medals he was awarded but based on his Military Service, he should have received:
British War Medal 1914 – 1920; and
He also qualified for War Service Badge CEF Class “A”.
Based on his Military File, Private Francis Theodore Edwards served a total of 2 years, 11months and 11 day with the Canadian Expeditionary Force: 9 months and 6 days in Canada, 9 months and 12 days in England, and 16 months and 23 days in France.
Francis Theodore Edwards died on July 4, 1969.
An excerpt from an article in Maclean’s Magazine by Barbara Ameil, September 1996:
”The Military is the single calling in the world with job specifications that include a commitment to die for your country. What could be more honourable”?
FRANCIS THEODORE EDWARDS
Francis Theodore Edwards was born in Lakefield on January 10, 1889, son of John Edwards and Augusta Jane Rosa “Emily” Roche. After attending school, Francis learned the blacksmith trade and worked on the family farm.
Francis Theodore Edwards, 20 years old, married Charlotte Ann Rowe, 16 years old in Lakefield, Ontario on April 17, 1909. They made their home on the Old Young’s Point Road across from the House of Refuge. Francis farmed the land and worked as a blacksmith. There Francis and Charlotte raised a family of eleven children: Arthur Cephas born stillborn December 7, 1909 William Thomas, born January 14, 1911; Ethel Irene, born June 20, 1912 – died November 22, 1912; Francis (Jr) “Frank” James, born August 24, 1913; Thelma Emily, born February 11, 1916, Stanley Theodore born September 5, 1919, Eva Jane, born circa December 1920, Leslie George born July 4, 1922, Charlotte “Beatrice” and Sherman Edwards. Francis Theodore died in Civic Hospital on July 5, 1969 and Charlotte Ann died at her residence on March 13, 1986; both are interred in Lakefield Cemetery.
Francis Theodore’s brother, William Daniel was a member of the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force from September 10, 1915 to February 23, 1918.
FRANCIS THEODORE EDWARDS’ FAMILY OF LAKEFIELD
Francis Theodore’s paternal grandparents are John and Ann Edwards, his maternal grand-parents are Augustus Roche and Jane Cragg/Craig.
Francis Theodore’s parents; John Edwards was born in Otonabee Township on June 10, 1845 and Augusta Jane Rosa “Emily” Roche was born in Port Hope, Ontario on January 8, 1845 and they were married in Peterborough, Ontario on November 8, 1868. John and Emily had 9 children, four girls and five boys: John Augusta R., born July 20, 1869; James Albert, about 1872; William Daniel, born April 11, 1873; Annie Emily, born August 27, 1874; Margaret Elizabeth born February 14, 1877; Alice Maud born April 3, 1881; Samuel Andrew born June 3, 1883; Georgina Carolyn born March 28, 1885 and Francis Theodore born January 10, 1889. Augusta Jane Rosa “Emily” Edwards died at her residence on January 3, 1924 and John (Sr) Edwards died June 18, 1935; both are interred in Hillside Cemetery, Lakefield.
The family was living in Smith Township on the 1881 Census, on the 1891 & 1901 Census and from 1903 – 1924 they were living on Clementi Street in Lakefield.