Captain Thomas William Birchall Marling MC — ACTIVE SERVICE (World War I)
Thomas William Birchall was 38 years, 2 months old when, as a married man, he enlisted in Peterborough, Ontario on November 6, 1915 and was taken on strength with the 93rd Over-Seas Battalion (Bn) Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) for the duration of the War on November 9, 1915. Thomas William Birchall stated that he was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia on August 29, 1877; that he is 6′ tall, has brown hair, blue eyes and weighs 165 pounds. He indicated that he had previous military experience: the 46th Durham Regiment; 3 years with the 2nd Queen’s Own Regiment of Toronto and 13 months with “C” Battery Royal Canadian Field Artillery (RCFA) in South Africa 1900 – 1901*. His previous employment was listed as a teacher and he had a Captain’s Certificate. Thomas William Birchall lived in Lakefield Ontario and his next-of-kin was listed as his wife, Helen Mary Strickland Marling, also of Lakefield Ontario. He had no children and both of his parents were deceased. Captain Thomas William Birchall Marling’s entry medical was done in Peterborough Ontario, December 9, 1915. He was promoted to the rank of Captain on February 3, 1916.
Captain Marling’s records don’t show details for the period from enlisting (November 6, 1915) to July 15, 1916. These eight months would have been used for Officer Training. Captain Marling embarked at Halifax Nova Scotia, July 15, 1916 aboard the SS Empress of Britain and disembarked at Liverpool July 25, 1916. As of September 19, 1916 he was posted as permanent cadre to the 93rd Bn. Then on October 6, 1916 he was transferred to the 39th Battalion (Bn) in W. Sandling, UK and immediately was transferred to the General List and attached to the 39th Bn from the General List. On January 4, 1917 he ceased secondment to the 39th Bn and was seconded to the 6th Canadian Reserve (Res) Bn and January 4, 1917 he was attached to the 6th Can Res Bn from the General List.
On January 31, 1917 Captain Marling was transferred to the 6th Canadian Reserve Battalion (6th Can Res Bn) then March 20, 1917 he was reverted to the rank of Lieutenant (Lt) on proceeding overseas from England to the 2nd Bn (Eastern Ontario Regiment [EOR]) at the Canadian Base, France. March 22, 1917 Lt Marling was taken on strength with the 2nd Bn with effect from (wef) March 28, 1917. On March 27, 1917 he left for the 2nd Bn and joined them on transfer on March 28, 1917. September 3, 1917 saw Lt Marling attached to the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade Training Bn in the Field. September 20, 1917 he was granted 10 days leave in England. Then, on October 1, 1917 he returned to 2nd Bn from leave and from the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade Training.
Then on November 21, 1917 as directed by the Appointments, Commissions & Rewards (AC & R) group, he was to be Acting Captain (A/Capt) and had been wounded. On January 10, 1918, he was granted 14 days leave to the UK which he returned from on January 25, 1918. March 3, 1918 saw A/Capt Marling proceed for a week of leave at Le Touquet (a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France); he rejoined his Unit on March 12, 1918. March 7, 1918 he was to be a Temporary Captain (T/Capt) as authorized by the War Office. On June 29, 1918 T/Capt Marling proceeded on a course with the 1st Army Infantry School in the Field and returned to the 2nd Bn August 8, 1918.
On August 9, 1918 the 4th Army reported that Captain Marling had suffered a wound to his right-forearm during the Battle of Amiens. The 1 Canadian Field Ambulance provided immediate attention to the wound and he was taken to the 48th Casualty Clearance Station (CCS) where the arm was dressed and splinted. As soon as possible he was admitted, August 10, 1918, to No 2 British Red Cross Hospital, Rouen France (located in Upper Normandy on the River Seine) with a Gun Shot Wound (GSW). Although the wound was classified as a GSW it could have been caused by a bullet or shell fragment. Captain Marling was with the 48th CCS for 2 days.
At the British Red Cross Hospital Captain Marling’s right arm was X-rayed which confirmed that the ulna (bone) was fractured and tendons injured. It is uncertain if surgery was done here as it was stated that he had the splint for 6 weeks. Dressings were continued as required and Captain Marling was then transferred to the Royal Free Hospital on August 15, 1918; he was with the No 2 British Red Cross Hospital for 6 days.
August 15, 1918 Captain Marling, as a wounded invalid, was detached to the Western Ontario Regiment Depot (WORD) and then transferred to the Eastern Ontario Regiment Depot (EORD) from 2nd Bn Overseas. Finally, Captain Marling was admitted to the Royal Free Hospital, Gray’s Inn Rd., London England through the British Army Medical Staff (BAMS). At the Royal Free Hospital Captain Marling’s treatment continued with nursing for drainage, tendons, cleaning the wound and some flexing of his arm, hand and fingers. As the weeks passed his condition slowly improved with the healing and movement of his fingers but the flexing of the fingers was poor. Captain Marling was transferred to the Granville Convalescent Special Hospital on December 12, 1918; he was with the Royal Free Hospital for 4 months.
December 2, 1918 the War Office announced that Captain Marling was awarded the Military Cross** for his bravery in the Battle of Amiens, August 9, 1918. His citation, dated October 2, 1918 stated: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. This officer led his company skillfully through intense machine-gun fire, and assaulted a wood with great determination. Though severely wounded he carried on until he had handed over to the next Officer.” December 9, 1918 he was struck off strength and Establishment due to 4 months absent then December 12, 1918 he was admitted to the Granville Convalescent Special Hospital at Buxton, Derbyshire, England. ** See Citation and War Diary excerpts at end of Military History.
At the Granville Convalescent Special Hospital Captain Marling’s treatment continued with massages of the forearm and hand and some flexing of his arm, hand and fingers. Movement of his fingers was improving and he could nearly close his right hand into a fist. He was prescribed arts & crafts plus the gymnasium as therapy, all movements were better except flexing of the finger joints. Captain Marling was transferred to the Canadian Officers Convalescent Hospital on January 24, 1919; he was with the Granville Convalescent Special Hospital for 44 days.
On January 24, 1919 Captain Marling was admitted to the Canadian Officers Convalescent Hospital at Matlock Bath, Derbyshire through the Army Medical Staff. At the Canadian Officers Convalescent Hospital Captain Marling’s treatment continued with additional conditioning of the arm, hand and fingers. Some improvement was made so that he had full movement of his arm, his grip was strong and he had good use of his hand. He was prescribed two weeks of massage and recreational gymnasium time. Captain Marling was with the Canadian Officers Convalescent Hospital for 17 days.
Captain Marling’s recovery period, prior to his release, exceeded 6 months; his Medical History states that he experiences weakness and partial loss of function in his right forearm and hand. Movements at the right wrist are restricted, he cannot fully close his right hand and the grip with the right hand is considerably weaker than that with the left hand. All else is normal except he cannot lift any heavy weight. February 8, 1919, through the Eastern Ontario Regiment Depot (EORD) Captain Marling’s hospital time is ceased and he is transferred to the 6th Can Res Bn at Seaford (located in East Sussex, south coast of England). Also, this date he was discharged from the Hospital and following this he is taken on strength with the 6th Can Res Bn at Seaford.
On March 4, 1919 the results of a Medical Board held at Seaford, on this date, together with a Medical Board held on February 2, 1919 at Matlock Bath, Derbyshier were announced. The submission of the Board was that Captain Marling was fit for General and Home Service but unfit for Garrison duty. He was given 3 months of General Service only.
On April 9, 1919 Captain Marling is posted to the Casualty Clearing Centre (CCC), 2nd Bn at Camp Bramshott, Common, Hampshier, England. April 14, 1919 he sailed for Canada aboard the RMS Olympic out of Southampton, England. April 16, 1919 Captain Marling is taken on strength with CEF in Canada and April 26, 1919 his records to Military Headquarters (MHQ) in Ottawa.
Thomas William Birchall served in Canada, England and France. He served with the following Canadian Infantry Corps Units: 93rd Bn, 39th Bn, 2nd Bn and the 6th Can Res Bn. His records specify that his Theatre of War was France. Unfortunately, like most records for individuals, here is no recorded information about the “action” the person was involved in during combat. Thomas William Birchall Marling’s alma mater, the University of Toronto, indicates that he was at Vimy, Hill 70 and Amiens, France. These assertions have not been researched and verified. Captain Thomas William Birchall Marling MC earned the Military Cross, British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He would have qualified for the War Service Badge ‑ Army Class A.
On April 25, 1919 Captain Thomas William Birchall Marling MC of the 6th Canadian Reserve Battalion was discharged, on general demobilization, from the Canadian Expeditionary Force of Canada.
Captain Marling MC died in Lakefield July 4, 1935, he is interred in Hillside Cemetery, Lakefield Ontario.
An excerpt from an article in McLean’s magazine by Barbara Amiel, 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?
*Thomas William Birchall Marling fought in the South African (Boer) War; following is a portion of a document that he submitted for Volunteer Bounty, 1908.
CANADIAN SOUTH AFRICAN SERVICE
APPLICATION FOR VOLUNTEER BOUNTY, 1908.
Applications must be sent to THE SECRETARY, MILITIA DEPARTMENT, OTTAWA
I Thomas Willian Birchall Marling of Lakefield in the Province of Ontario Teacher, do hereby apply for a grant of land under the provisions of The Volunteer Bounty Act, 1908.
I was enlisted in the “C” (Special Service) Battery R.C.A. and served with it and the British Forces in South Africa from 4th Jan 1900 to 10th Jan 1901. My discharge from said corps is enclosed herewith.
At the time of my said enlistment and during my said service I was domiciled at Lakefield in the Dominion of Canada.
MILITIA & DEFENCE
DEC 24 1908
Notes: No Discharge papers were available.
It is unknown as to whether or not TWB Marling ever received requested grant of land.
2ND CANADIAN INFANTRY BATTALION WAR DIARY
REPORT ON OPERATIONS FOR 9TH AUGUST 1918, PAGE 3
– 3 –
A few of the enemy made a feeble attempt to counter-attack
on the right but were driven off with loss.
The disposition at the end of the attack were: – Nos. 2 & 3
Companies plus 2 platoons of No. 4 Company in the
Outpost Line E. of the village of ROUVROT, 1 platoon of No. 2
Company forming a defensive flank facing S.E.
No. 4 Company, less 2 platoons, in Support in L.l.c., and
No. 1 Company in Reserve in the Trench Line running South through K. 12.
8.30 P.M. Instructions were received that a relief by the 3rd Canadian Battalion
would be carried out forthwith.
The dispositions East of the village of ROUVROY-en-Santerre
were turned over to the 3rd Battalion., and on completion of relief the
Battalion moved back to positions in and immediately East of BEAUFORT.
In these operations I regret to say that the following
casualties were incurred: —
Killed. Officers — Nil.
Other Ranks — 12.
Wounded. Officers: Capt. P.N. Alexander, M. C.
Lieut. W. W. Armstrong.
Lieut. R.E. Rapple.
Other Ranks: 69.
TOTAL: 5 Officers 81 O.Rs.
Prisoners taken. The amount is estimated at 40.
Machine Guns. 17.
Guns & Howitzers. 2.
THOMAS WILLIAM BIRCHALL MARLING
Thomas William Birchall Marling was born August 29, 1877 in the Halifax, Nova Scotia of parents John William Marling and Sophia Birchall. He went by the name Birchall. The University of Toronto roll of service 1914 – 1918 shows Thomas William Birchall Marling with a BA at Trinity in 1901 and a MA in 1902. He was a school teacher in Toronto Ontario. The 1901 Census for Peterborough East – Lakefield District shows Thomas William Birchall Marling living in residence at The Grove School as a teacher. Before he enlisted Birchall has an insurance policy with Imperial Life of Canada. He assured the Military that he had payments arranged for the period he was in the Service.
Thomas William Birchall married Helen Mary Strickland LeFevre, daughter of Henry John LeFevre and Agnes Strickland Tully, on July 26, 1907 in the St. John’s Anglican Church, Lakefield Ontario. Birchall and Helen did not have any children. When Birchall left to go overseas Helen’s address (next-of-kin) was: Mrs. Helen M. S. Marling, RMD #2, Lakefield Ontario; this changed to 199 Hunter St., Peterborough Ontario and then RR #2, Lakefield Ontario. The address “Regent St., Lakefield Ontario” is in Birchall’s records and it is known that Helen was residing in Lindsay Ontario for some unknown time. In addition to the next-of-kin Birchall had an “also notify” – Mrs. Tyndale, 626 Chaswick High Road, Gunnersbury, W4 added to his records.
During his time overseas Birchall earned $147.25 monthly. As of July 1916 an Assignment of $40.00 monthly and a Separation Allowance of $40.00 monthly [a grand total of $80.00 monthly] was sent to Mrs. T.W.B. Marling, RMD #2, Lakefield, Ontario. This continued until he returned to Canada.
Thomas William Birchall and Helen lived on Regent Street in Lakefield, Ontario after his discharge. He was a Master at the local Grove School, second-in-charge to the Head-Master, Alexander Webster
MacKenzie. Thomas William Birchall Marling died July 4, 1935 in Lakefield and is interred in
Hillside Cemetery, Lakefield with his wife Helen Mary who died May 6, 1945 and his brother
William J. who died March 16, 1925. Birchall’s headstone does not reflect his military career.
THE THOMAS WILLIAM BIRCHALL MARLING FAMILY OF WARSAW
Thomas William Birchall’s parents were married about 1844; an older brother, William J. was born 1845 and died March 16, 1925.