Private William Daniel Edwards – 195066 – ACTIVE SERVICE (World War I)
On September 10, 1915, William Daniel Edwards completed the Attestation Paper for the Canadian Army, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in Peterborough, Ontario. He was 42 years, and 5 months old when, as a married man with 5 children, he enlisted for the duration of the War. William Daniel was born in Lakefield, Ontario, and gave his birth-date as April 11, 1873. William Daniel indicated ”he did not presently belong to an Active Militia, and that he had never served in any Military Force”. 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. William Daniel was 5′ 2” tall, with a 39” chest (expanded). There is no indication of his weight. He had a dark complexion, with blue eyes, and dark brown hair. William Daniel’s Medical Examination was completed August 31, 1915, in Peterborough and other than a small Tattoo on his left forearm, he had no medical issues or physical limitations, and as such he was deemed fit for Overseas duty with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His next-of-kin was listed as his wife, Mrs. Florence Foster Edwards of Lakefield, Ontario. William Daniel signed the Oath and Certificate of Attestation on September 10, 1915, in Peterborough. The Certificate of Magistrate was signed by the Justice on September 10, 1915. William Daniel Edwards was initially taken-on-strength as a Private (Pte) with the 57th Regiment and was assigned Service Number 195066. When the 93rd Battalion (Peterborough), Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) which was authorized and formed up on December 22, 1915, he was assigned to it.
The 93rd Battalion (Bn), after training through the winter and spring at 5 different area Centres, departed by train from Peterborough on May 29, 1916. The Bn made a short stop at Barriefield Camp located at Kingston, Ontario before moving on to the main Canadian Expeditionary Force Training Centre located at Valcartier, Québec, so as to complete Basic Infantry training, before being transported overseas, to the UK, by ship. The Bn embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 15, 1916 aboard the SS Empress of Britain.
Pte William Edwards disembarked at Liverpool, England on July 25, 1916. On September 7, 1916, he was struck-off-strength from the 93rd Bn on transfer to the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion (CMR Bn) stationed at Otterpool, England.
The 5th CMR Bn was a Québec Regiment raised in the Eastern Townships from volunteers of the 7th and 11th Hussars. On January 1, 1916, it was converted to an Infantry Unit and attached to the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division.
Pte Edwards embarked from England and disembarked in France, where he was taken-on-strength with the 5th CMR Bn in the Field (France) on September 8, 1916. On September 25, 1916, he left for the 3rd Echelon Battalion (Ech Bn) arriving September 28, 1916. He left for and joined his Unit October 2, 1916.
There are no entries in the File from October 2nd, 1916 and April 13, 1917. To trace his movements during this period of time the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion (CMR Bn) War Diary was used.
October 1916 – When Pte Edwards joined the 3rd Ech Bn on the 2nd they were in billets at Albert, France having just participated in a major offensive. The 3rd to the 7th were spent resting, cleaning up, re-equipping, and work parties. On the 8th the 5th CMR Bn moved to Tara Hill. On the 9th they were ordered to relieve the 58th and 60th Cdn Inf Bn that evening. Relief was completed by midnight. The 10th was spent in work parties constructing a new jumping off trench. At night, patrols went out checking over the state of enemy wire. On the 11th both sides were engaged in heavy artillery fire. The evening of the 11th the 5th CMR Bn was relieved by the 45th Cdn Inf Bn and returned to billets at Albert. On the 12th they received orders to move to the Front-Line again. The 5th CMR Bn marched to Poizeres and relieved the 2nd CMR Bn in the right sub sector on the 13th. The enemy shelled the trenches intermittently with shrapnel and high explosives but caused no casualties. Men were employed building a new connecting trench. The 14th the 5th CMR Bn was relieved by the 8th Staffords (British) and returned to billets at Albert. On the 15th the Unit marched to Warloy. On the 16th they marched to Acheux where they entrained for billets at Camp Canada, which were found very comfortable. The weather for the 17th to 19th was reported as cold and rainy. During this time there were muster parades, kit and arms inspections, Squad and Platoon drills, and bathes. On the 20th there was a route march to Ransart, followed on the 21st by a march to Sericourt, and on the 22nd to Tinques. On the 23rd the 5th CMR marched to Savy, France. The 24th was spent resting, kit inspections, and examination of arms. On the 25th the 5th CMR Bn marched to Etan, going into Divisional reserve. The 26th to 29th were spent in Company drills with particular attention on tightening up discipline. There were kit inspections, gas helmet drills, training per the syllabus, and church service. The weather was reported as: dull, breezy, and showery. On the 30th the 5th CMR Bn relieved the 1st CMR Bn in the left sub sector of the Front-Line. The relief was completed during the day without casualties.
November 1916 – The 1st passed relatively quiet. Enemy machine gun and rifle activity practically nil. Patrols out at night scouting enemy outposts and wire. No enemy encountered. Wire very good shape and heavy with both concertina and barbed wire in place. In the evening, the enemy fired approximately 40 trench mortar shells on positions but caused no damage or casualties. The usual patrols were out and came back with nothing to report. The day was spent repairing trenches. At about 3:00 AM, on the 3rd, a party of 30 enemy were seen approaching a forward outpost, a call was put in to have a Stokes Gun crew deal with them. Patrols were out and came back with nothing unusual to report. The 4th was reported as generally quiet. Patrols were out, this time advancing to within 20 yards of the Enemy Front-Line. Came back reporting that enemy were working on their trenches. Casualties were one other rank killed, and two wounded. The morning of the 5th, the 5th CMR Bn was relieved by the 1st CMR Bn, and in turn it relieved the 2nd CMR Bn in Brigade support (Ecurie Defences). All available men were employed from the 6th to 10th repairing trenches which were caving in due to heavy rain. The weather on the 10th improved and was reported as fine. There was also considerable enemy aerial activity. On the 11th the 5th CMR Bn relieved the 1st CMR Bn in the Front-Line. The 12th was quiet. There was slight trench mortar activity on both sides. No damage. Every available man was working on trench cave-ins. Patrols out, but no enemy encountered. It was reported, enemy wire was very heavy and strong. Work continued on the trenches during the 13th. The usual patrols and trench mortar activity reported. A gas alert was issued on the 14th. Bn machine guns firing at intervals through the day. Patrols out as usual. On the 15th patrols were out laying *Ammonal Tubes under enemy wire. The ”sticks” were exploded and it was reported, the wire was cut through in several places.
*Ammonal is an explosive made from Ammonium Nitrate and Aluminum Powder.
Patrols were out as normal on the 16th and reported no enemy encountered. There was considerable aerial and trench mortar activity. On the 17th it was reported that enemy were seen moving gas canisters into position. Stokes guns were brought into play. Patrols out as usual. In the afternoon, the 5th CMR Bn was relieved by the 1st CMR Bn and moved to former billets at Etrun, France. A muster parade was called on the 18th and 22 Officers and 571 other ranks answered. A church parade was held the morning of the 19th. The afternoon was spent by the Bn in instruction in saluting, care of arms, and smartening up generally. The weather on the 20th was dull and overcast. The Bn received instructions in Bombing at the Brigade Bombing School. They also practiced bayonet fighting, as well as Squad and Platoon drills. On the 21st, all ranks paraded to the Divisional Gas School at Ecoivres where they were issued with and received instruction in the use of the new Small Box Respirators. On the 22nd, 126 reinforcements arrived from the 9th Reserve Battalion. The 5th CMR Bn relieved the 1st CMR Bn in the Front-Line on the 23rd. The weather was overcast and later turned to rain on the 24th. Bn patrols were out all night along the entire Front-Line with no enemy encountered. Bn heavy trench mortars fired on enemy communication and support trenches north east of Lille Road. It was still raining on the 25th. The enemy threw over trench mortar and whiz bangs at intervals during the day, to which the Bn responded vigorously with its heavy trench mortars and Stokes. On the 26th the enemy trench mortars were quite active and accurate, but caused no casualties. Bn patrols were out as usual but encountered no enemy. The weather was clear and frosty on the 27th. Enemy trench mortars were more active than normal on Bn Front and support lines, but no casualties were reported. Several enemy work parties were located during the night and artillery, Stokes, and machine gun fire were brought to bear on their positions. Although, it was quiet in front of the 5th CMR Bn, there was heavy action in front of the Bn (60th Cdn Inf Bn) to the left on the 28th. The enemy fired the usual trench mortars mixed up with rifle grenades were fired on Bn lines, but no damage. On the 29th the Bn was relieved by the 1st CMR Bn. It in turn relieved the 2nd CMR Bn in Brigade support at Ecurie. In the morning of the 30th, all available men were employed on upkeep of Ecurie Defences. In the afternoon, Cdn Corps Commander – Lt Gen Sir Julien Byng K.C.B. presented Ribbons to all Officers, NCOs, and men of the 8th Cdn Inf Brigade who had been awarded DSO, Military Cross, DCM and Military Medals. The Band of the 3rd Pioneer Bn provided the music. The Ceremony ended with a Brigade March Past.
December 1916 – The weather was reported as hazy on the 1st. From the 1st to the 4th the men were employed in work parties improving the defences and new dugouts at 500 Crater. On the 5th the Battalion relieved the 1st CMR Bn in the Front-Line. With the wind blowing from the north east, a gas alert was raised. Patrols were sent out but came back with nothing to report. There was the usual enemy trench mortar and machine gun activity. A number of dugouts were bombed, resulting in three Bn casualties. Bn artillery dispersed a party of 50 enemy seen on the road running from Thelus to Farbus. Patrols were out and encountered small parties of the enemy, which resulted in 4 casualties. 6 Officers arrived as reinforcements. The weather on the 8th was dull and drizzling rain. Machine guns on both sides active on the whole Front during the night. The whole Front was patrolled during the night and nothing unusual was reported. The night of the 9th passed quietly. There was the usual amount of rifle and trench mortar activity. Several trench mortar shells hit the roof of a deep dugout causing significant damage, but no casualties. Due to very bright moonlight, patrols were unable to get close to enemy line. There was a considerable increase, on both sides, in trench mortar and artillery activity. An enemy work party was spotted near 500 Crater and were dispersed by Stokes and machine gun fire. Patrols out along the entire Bn Front-Line. No enemy encountered. On the 11th the Bn was relieved by the 1st CMR Bn. The 5th CMR Bn moved back to former billets at Etrun. Five other rank casualties reported due to shrapnel. The weather on the 12th was reported as dull and overcast. The day was spent in a general cleanup, inspections, baths, and Squad drills. The 13th was spent as the previous day. On the 14th the day was spent in Squad and Platoon drills, gas helmet drills, bayonet fighting, and bombing practice. The morning of the 15th was spent as per the previous day, while the afternoon was spent in practicing attack tactics. The morning of the 16th was a repeat, while the afternoon was spent in recreation. On the 17th the Bn relieved the 1st CMR Bn in the Front-Line. There was a big increase in artillery activity in preparation for a planned operation on the 20th. In the afternoon, in retaliation, the enemy fired 170 artillery shells and 200 light and heavy trench mortar shells on the Bn ”saps”, Front and Support Lines causing considerable damage, but no casualties.
”Saps” were short dead end trenches dug into no-mans-land towards the Enemy Lines. They were used as listening posts and a way to move forward and not be under observation and gun fire.
Patrols were out, but encountered no enemy. The night was very dark. Patrols were out to prevent enemy observing preparatory work in saps and craters which was in progress for the forthcoming operation. Artillery was very active. Enemy retaliated with whiz bangs and trench mortars. Two casualties were reported. The night of the 19th passed relatively quietly. Bn machine guns played on enemy wire to prevent the Hun from effecting repairs. At 11:00 AM a heavy artillery bombardment opened up on selected targets in enemy lines and communication trenches. The enemy retaliated. Four casualties were reported. The morning of the 20th enemy and Allied aeroplanes were very active overhead. At 1:30 PM the artillery opened up a heavy bombardment on enemy positions from Lille Road to just north of the Snout. This continued to 2:00 PM. The enemy retaliated. At 3:12 PM parties of the 1st CMR Bn advanced from the tunnel at Crater 14 and line up along the trench and lip of the Crater. At 3:15 PM (Zero hour) the artillery barrage of Lille Road to the Snout was repeated and then lifted. The parties followed the barrage and entered the enemy Front-Line trenches with little opposition and no casualties. In less than 5 minutes small parties of the 1st CMR Bn were returning to the saps with enemy prisoners. Others continued to advance. At 3:30 PM parties from the 5th CMR Bn moved forward and entered the Enemy Front and Support Trenches. At 4:00 PM the Bn sent Lewis guns forward to support the 1st CMR Bn. 1st CMR Bn casualties were 6 killed and 18 wounded. 5th CMR Bn casualties were 2 Officers and 6 other ranks wounded. On the 23rd the Bn was relieved by the 1st CMR Bn and moved back to Brigade reserve. The weather on the 24th was showery. 75 other ranks reinforcements arrived and were absorbed into Companies. It is reported that on the 25th ”the boys made the best of the circumstances and had a good time generally”. The weather on the 26th was reported as clear and cold. The situation was normal. Work parties were employed on Ecurie Defences. 98 other ranks reinforcements arrived and were distributed among the Companies. The weather on the 27th and 28th was rainy. The situation was reported as normal. On the 29th the 5th CMR Bn relieved the 1st CMR Bn. Relief was completed by noon, without incident or casualties. The 4th CMR Bn was on the left and the 60th Cdn Inf Bn (9th Cdn Inf Brig) was on the right. The whole Front was patrolled during the night, but no enemy were encountered. The rain continued on the 30th resulting in rendering the trenches almost inhabitable. Dugouts and trenches were caving in as a result. In places the water and mud was knee deep. Efforts were made to improve the situation, but as the rain continued, little progress was made. Bn Snipers were quite active through the day claiming 11 kills. Enemy Front was patrolled, during the night, but everything was quiet. The men continued to work on the trenches on the 31st. The enemy put over a large number of trench mortar shells, but inflicted no casualties. The old year passed uneventfully.
January 1917 – The situation on the 1st was normal. The weather was dull and rainy. Men spent the day trying to improve the conditions in the trenches. Bn snipers active, claiming 5 kills. The enemy threw several trench mortar shells into Bn line with no casualties. The 2nd was clear and bright. The Bn Commanding Officer requested an artillery shoot on Enemy Front and support lines in the area of the Snout. 400 18 pound shells landed and caused significant damage to the enemy position. Usual night patrols were out on the 3rd, but didn’t encounter any enemy. Artillery gave the area of the Snout another pounding. On the 4th Allied aeroplanes were very active overhead. The Bn was relieved by the 1st CMR Bn during the afternoon. The Bn returned to Ecurie, where it was relieved by the 4th CMR Bn. At 10:30 PM the Bn was settled in billets at Etrun. The 5th was spent resting and cleaning up. Bn baths and training took place on the 6th. With church parades on the 7th. A scheme of attack with the cooperation of aeroplanes was planned for the 8th. As a result
of stormy weather the planes did not arrive, but the scheme was carried out anyways. The weather on the 9th was damp and misty. The Bn spent the day training. On the 10th the Bn paraded at 8:00 AM and proceeded to the Front-Line and relieved the 1st CMR Bn. Relief was complete by noon, with no casualties. The situation on the 11th was quiet. Bn patrols entered enemy Front-Line trenches and found them unoccupied. On the 12th a patrol went out during the daylight and entered enemy Front-Line trench to the right of Crater 19 and followed the trench a fair distance to Lille Road. No enemy were encountered. The usual night patrols were out and reported no enemy activity. The 13th was reported as normal, with patrols out at night. On the 14th a gas attack on the Hun positions was planned. The men were anxious to have a go. The plan was cancelled when the direction of the wind changed. On the 15th the wind continued to blow in the wrong direction for the gas attack. Thought was given to go ahead with the attack, without the gas, but it was felt that the enemy retaliatory bombardment might hit the gas cylinders. 1 casualty was reported. On the 16th the Bn was relieved by the 2nd CMR Bn and proceeded to Brigade support position. The 17th was cold with a heavy fall of snow, which reminded everyone of home. The 18th to 20th were spent cleaning equipment and improving billets. It was noted that very little straw was available. On the 21st the Bn was relieved by the 4th CMR Bn and following relief marched to St Eloy. On the 22nd the Bn paraded at 10:30 AM and route marched to Villers – Brulin. This was a beneficial change for everyone after a long spell in trenches and dugouts. The 23rd to 29th was spent resting, cleaning equipment, Company Parades and training. The weather on the 29th was flurries all day and cold. The Bn paraded at 8:45 AM and marched to billets at Estree Cauchie. The billets were fair, but there was lots of straw for the men. The month ended with the weather cold with snow and the Bn training.
February 1917 – The Bn paraded for inspection on the 1st by Acting Commanding Officer Major Rhoades. After the inspection the Bn carried on with training. Training continued on the 2nd. 100 men employed in a carrying party for the purpose of storing a large quantity of artillery ammunition at Cambligneul. On the 3rd the Bn parade at 10:00 AM and route marched to billets at Mt St Eloy in preparation to going to the Front-Line. A work party of 110, all ranks, spent the 4th burying a communication line. The rest of the Bn carried on independently with route marches. The weather was cold on the 6th. Situation was normal. There were 2 casualties due to accidents. Company defensive patrols were out at night on the 7th and 8th, but reported no enemy activity. Another accidental casualty. On the 9th word was received that the enemy may be planning a raid on Bn position during the night. Every precaution was taken, but the enemy didn’t act. A.C.O. Major Rhoades called in an artillery barrage on Enemy Front and Support Lines in the area of the Snout. 100 to 150 rounds were fired resulting in considerable damage to enemy positions. The situation on the 10th was normal. There were 3 Bn casualties. The situation on the 11th was normal. Word was received that the Bn would be relieved on the 12th by the 31st Cdn Inf (Alberta) Bn. On the 12th the Bn was relieved and marched, by Platoons, to billets at Mt St Eloy. It was reported that during this tour in this sector from October 23rd, 1916 to February 12th, 1917 there had been 5 Officers wounded, and 8 other ranks killed, and 46 wounded.
According the Military File on April 13, 1917 Pte William Edwards was charged with ”drunkenness”. There is no indication of the punishment, if any. On May 2nd, 1917 he reported to the 1st Canadian Field Ambulance (CFA) with an infection in his left foot. He was transferred to the 12th CFA on the 11th and then the 13th CFA on the 17th. Pte Edwards was admitted to the No 14 Stationary General Hospital at Wimereux, Boulogne, in France on May 26th, 1917. He was invalided to England on June 8, 1917 where he was admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley, England. He was transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital at Woodcote Park at Epsom on July 14, 1917. He was discharged on August 17, 1917. On the same day he was placed ”On Command” at the 3rd Canadian Convalescent Depot (CCD) at Shoreham, England. On October 16, 1917 he ceased to be ”On Command” at No 3 CCD on being ”attached” to 2nd CCD at Seaford, England. On October 23rd, 1917 he ceased to be ”attached” to the 2nd CCD on transfer to Camp Bramshott in the area of Aldershot. On November 2nd, 1917 he was ”On Command” at the Canadian Discharge Depot at Buxton, England pending transport to Canada.
Pte William Edwards sailed from Liverpool aboard the SS Olympic on November 6, 1917.
Private Edwards was shown as Convalescent – No 3 Military District Depot at Kingston on November 14, 1917. On November 15, 1917 he was seen by a Physician who assessed his disability as ”Myalgia (Muscle Pain) and Overage”. He was admitted to Queens Military Hospital in Kingston, Ontario on November 21, 1917 and was treated for Rheumatism.
While at Queens Military Hospital Pte Edwards indicated that he first experienced problems with pain in his legs and back in November 1916, but carried on with his work. He said: ”sometimes the pain was very severe and that he could hardly keep on duty”. He also indicated that he had been struck by a small piece of shrapnel March 1917 but carried on until infection set in and the foot swelled up and became very sore, at this time he reported the injury to CFA.
It was recommended by the Medical Board on February 8, 1918 that he be discharged from the Service. Pte William Daniel Edwards was Discharged from the Service as Category ”E” on February 23rd, 1918.
There is no reference, in Private William Daniel 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”.
According to the Military File, Pte Edwards served a total of 2 years, 4 months and 12 days with the Canadian Expeditionary Force: 12 months and 3 days in Canada, 6 months and 8 days in England, and 9 months in France.
An excerpt from an article in Maclean’s 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 nation. What could be more honorable.
WILLIAM DANIEL EDWARDS
William Daniel Edwards was born in Lakefield on April 11, 1873, son of Emily Roche and John Edwards. After attending school, William worked as a Laborour. William Daniel had 7 siblings, 4 brothers and 3 sisters.
William Daniel Edwards, 24 years old, married Florence Foster, 18 years old in Lakefield, Ontario on June 23, 1898. Florence’s parents are Harriet and James Foster. William Daniel died in 1944 and Florence died in 1957. Both are interred in Hillside Cemetery, Lakefield.
William Daniel’s brother, Francis Theodore was a member of the 21st Canadian Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force from March 14, 1916 to February 25, 1919.
WILLIAM DANIEL EDWARDS’ FAMILY OF LAKEFIELD
William Daniel’s paternal grandparents are John and Ann Edwards, his maternal grand-parents are Augustus Roche and Jane Cragg/Craig.
William Daniel’s parents; John Edwards, born June 10, 1845 and Emily Roche, born January 8, 1845 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 May, born April 3, 1881 and died June 5, 1882; Samuel Andrew, born June 3, 1883; Georgina Carolyn, born March 28, 1885 and Francis Theodore, born January 10, 1889. The family was living in Smith Township in 1881 but by 1901, the family was living on Clementi Street in Lakefield. Augusta Jane Rose Edwards died January 3, 1924. John (Sr) Edwards died June 18, 1935 and is interred in Hillside Cemetery, Lakefield.