Gilliandr's Blog

Random Historical, Social and Cultural Moments


First World War

Save Food and Serve the Empire! 1917

Montreal Gazette, 4 Jul 1917, page 10


Save the Food and Serve the Empire!

The Average Canadian Family Wastes Enough to Feed a Soldier

“The kitchen must help as well as the workshop and the trenches” Lloyd George

Intelligent economy in the kitchen can do much to prevent the threatened world famine – can counteract the effect of high prices – and can replace growing debt with systematic saving.

Careful investigations show that before the war the average British family wasted 25% of their food – and we Canadians were even more extravagant.

This waste is not in a few things, but in many little ones, each, we used to think, too small to bother about – such as careless peeling of vegetables and fruit – failure to make good use of dripping and “left-overs” – and such others as will occur to every thrifty housekeeper.

For the Empire’s sake as well as your own, hunt up and cut these leaks! You’ll be helping relieve the food shortage –saving your own money – and putting yourself in a position to by Canadian War Savings Certificates and help win the war.

War Savings Certificates are issued in denominations of $25, $50 and $100 to be repaid in three years at full face value.  They cost $21.50, $43 and $86 respectively, at all Money Order Post-offices and banks, thus yielding over 5% interest.  Should you need it, you can get your money back at any time.

The National Service Board of Canada

RB Bennett Director General                    CW Peterson, Secretary


To Avenge Father – Widow Allows 17-year-old Son to Enlist – 1917

Montreal Gazette, 10 July 1917, page 3

To Avenge Father

Widow allows 17-year-old son to enlist

Special to the Gazette

Cornwall, July 9 – During the past few days, Sergeant Major EL MacDougal of the 253rd Highland Reinforcing Draft with head offices in Cornwall, has enlisted the following young men for overseas service: M J Murphy, Chesterville; James J Walsh, Bainsville; David Ingram, Montreal; Charles Edward Rogers, Belelville, Texas; Wm Lord, Hamilton.  Young Ingram, who is only 17 years of age, has the written consent of his mother, Mrs. Sarah C Ingram, to enlist.  Her husband went overseas with the 21st battalion and was killed in action, and the lad was so anxious to avenge his father’s death that his mother has given her consent to the militia authorities to accept her son.  Rogers wanted to go overseas with a Highland Battalion, and left his Texas home for Toronto.  On hearing of the 253rd recruiting in Cornwall, he came on here and signed up.

FE LePage, HS Mills and HJ Claxton of the 253rd are going to the School of Infantry, Kingston, and Chas E Rogers and Mitchell J Murphy will attend the signalling school, Kingston.

Two Canadian Soldiers Escaped from German Camp – 1917

Montreal Gazette, 4 July 1917, page 2

Two Canadian Soldiers Escaped from German Camp

Were in right spirit to appreciate Dominion Day when they reached London

Were taken in June last

Wretched treatment, bad food and unhealthy surroundings caused determination to escape

Special cable from the Gazette’s Resident Staff Correspondent

London – July 3 – Two Canadian soldiers who were in the right spirit to appreciate Dominion Day were Privates FC Macdonald 106416 of Fox Warren, Man, and J O’Brien 73194 of Moose Jaw, Sask who had just arrived in London in time for the Dominion Day festivities after escaping from a German prison camp where they had spent the past year.

Private Macdonald, who enlisted in the 1st Mounted Rifles of Winnipeg, was captured in June of last year, after having been wounded in the knee and in the eyes with shrapnel, but he is now recovered from both injuries.  Private O’Brien who belonged to the 28th Battalion was buried for two hours in a crater, but was taken out unhurt by the Germans.

Both men were sent in the internment camp at Dulmen.  The wretched treatment they received from the officers, the bad food they were given and the unhealthy surroundings made them determine at the outset of their imprisonment to get away if possible.  Macdonald made four attempts at escape, and O’Brien made two attempts, all of which were unsuccessful.  Each failure was punished by period of bread and water diet and confinement to underground cells, where their beds consisted of bare boards. Finally, they managed to slip away while engaged in working with a party.  Just how they escaped cannot now be explained.  They still retained their identity discs attached to the wrists, which proved their story to the Dutch authorities, and they were shown every kindness.

General Turner has assured both men that they would not be sent to the front again, as theoretically they are still prisoners of war.  Both Macdonald and O’Brien are Canadian born.

Beer necessary for Munition Workers, 1917

Montreal Gazette 2 July 1917, page 6


Thinks Beer Is Necessary for Munition Workers

British Director of Food Economy, Mr. Kennedy Jones, Makes Statement

Doubts greater efficiency would come from using Malt for bread

By Associated Press

(Extracts from the interview given by Mr. Kennedy Jones, director of food economy)

“A strong body of scientific opinion holds that beer has its food value.  Apart from that, it is a fact that only a small percentage of malt – not more than 5 per cent – can be mixed with flour in breadmaking, as it produces a sticky and unpalatable loaf.

“Bee has been for centuries a part of the daily diet of our working classes. The first duty and the first effort of those responsible for the ordering of public affairs, is to secure a maximum output of work for the prosecution of the war from all workers – as for example, men working at blast furnaces – must drink considerable malty liquid.

“This is not only a practical fact, it is a scientific fact.  The bulk of these men are in the habit of taking that liquid in the form of beer.  The question is not whether cold tea would be better for them, but what would the effect on the output of work by suddenly cutting off their supply of beer.

“Also, it is well to bear in mind that if the worker is not deriving part of his energy as has been his habit from beer, he may require more bread so that practically no saving of bread could be effected.

“BEER IMPORTANT FACTOR.  Moreover, we may well take a leaf out of Germany’s book in this matter.  That country is in the matter of food, now scientifically organized with a view to supplying its workers with a maximum of energy for the prosecution of the war.

“South Germany is still brewing 35 per cent of its pre-war quantity of beer, against outr 27 ½ %, yet no one would suggest that the food situation in Germany has not been serious for the last twelve months.

Since the above statements were made by Mr. Jones, the output of beer has been increased in England 33 per cent.

St Thomas, ON to tax unmarried, 1916

Brandon Sun, 24 January 1916 page 2

St Thomas to tax unmarried

St Thomas, Ont Jan 24 – At a special meeting of the finance committee it was decided that the city of St Thomas would supply an appropriation of $20,000 to the Patriotic Fund, this amount to be raised by taxation.  It was also decided that in order to place a tax of $5 on all unmarried men over 21 years of age, a petition would be sent to the Ontario Legislature asking permission to make this levy. RM Anderson, president of the Elgin Patriotic Association, was present and stated that $100,000 had been asked from Elgin County for the fund.  Last year St Thomas and Elgin County, which are affiliated with the Dominion Patriotic Fund, gave $50,000 which was raised by voluntary donations.

Farmers Get Busy! Montreal, 1914

Montreal Daily Star, 26 Sept 1914, page 14

Extend the wheat acreage – every spare grain will be needed abroad next year. Farmers get busy!


Untying the narrative (or lack thereof) of Granddad’s Service in World War I, 2018

I was watching the British version of Who Do You Think You Are? on Youtube the other day, and saw the one for comedian Lee Mack.  His great-grandfather served in the King’s Own Liverpool Regiment during the First World War.    As with most episodes that trace an ancestor with a military story, they visit with military historians and describe the service they did, and the battles they fought.  Lee Mack’s great-grandfather served during some pretty horrendous battles including the Somme.  This time though because they were talking about the same regiment that my grandfather Norman Frederick Paulin served in, and well I started to think.

I always knew Granddad had served in the war, that he had seen battle, been in the trenches.  But honestly that is about all I knew.  I guess the fact that they could link the regiment to specific battles, ones I was familiar enough with, and I really started to connect to the idea that my grandfather fought in the First World War.  There is knowing, and really understanding this, and all the messy uncomfortable things that that entails.

Sidworth 1917 2
Images from NF Paulin’s collection “Sidworth, 1917”
Sidworth 1917
Images from NF Paulin’s collection “Sidworth, 1917” (In formal pose he is centre row, 3rd from the left)

So where to start?  I decided first to go through what I thought I knew about his service, gleaned from conversations with him and with my mother over the years.  This did not take long.  Granddad did not talk much about his service.  I then went to my brother and asked him to remember what he had been told.  So this is what we have:

I had heard that Granddad had served in Ireland as security during the war (for Ireland British troops were there from 1916 and the Easter Rising, to the Irish War of Independence).  I have no idea when exactly he was there, but that he was in Dublin and that there was really good beer.  He also mentioned something about a cracker factory.

Hugh and I had both heard the story that Granddad had cut his hand in the trenches and that he had been saved by a Canadian doctor.  Hugh also heard that this injury had kept him out of a big battle.

Hugh also heard that Granddad had missed a ship to France visiting with Nanny (who he would marry in 1924).

My cousin Andrea who grew up near Grandad said that he never spoke to her of the war.  No stories there.

In 1981 Granddad was a bit of a military darling, when he was “a soldier for a day” when some school children he talked to arranged for him to have a visit at St George’s Barracks in Birmingham.  I am not sure he shared all that much, save that he served as a drill instructor, and which regiments, but he may have talked to them more than he spoke to us about his service.  Who knows?

grandad army article

So documentary evidence…..  I have Granddad’s demobilisation papers, which states that the regiments he served in were the King’s Own Liverpool (faint on the form) and the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.  The paper says he signed up for service in 9 December 1915, and was mobilised 19 December 1916.  Granddad carried this paper in his wallet until he died.  It does not state when he changed regiments, and does not provide the Battalion numbers for either regiment.  Helpful, but only a bit.

demob papers front

His medal roll information which is dated 1919, says he was a part of the 1st King’s Own Liverpool.  [Medal card of Paulin, Norman F Corps: Liverpool Regiment Regiment No: 94116, TNA, WO 372/15/155588]


As his service records were a part of the great destruction of service records during the Second World War (the storage facility was bombed), there were only a few avenues available. The first step was to see where the Regimental records are stored.  The Museum of Liverpool houses the regimental material including an Archives.  I entered his name and they have a file for him there.  Unfortunately they are not answering requests for information, and recommend a visit to the Museum.  They did have a list of the theatres of war by Battalion, but the first battalion’s record did not seem to match his service – what I know of it.  So not being sure of the battalion number is a problem.  The museum also has war diaries which would help a lot, but knowing which part of the regiment is key to the search.  A visit to Liverpool is definitely in my future.

But in the meantime, I am still trying to suss out his service.  Tonight I went onto the website Findmypast, and did a search for Norman Paulin in their military records. And they had more than the last time I checked him out.  And here was a great clue. NF Paulin was a patient at Casualty Clearing Station number 3 the 5 April 1918.  They list him as being a part of the Kings Own Liverpool, and that he had an injury to his thumb.  [TNA, War Office: First World War Representative Medical Records of Servicemen, MH 106/367, No 3 Casualty Clearing Station]

S2_GBM_MH106_MH106-367_0017 NF Paulin

I then went online to see if I could find out where the hospital was when he was treated.  There is this great website: which lists “Location of Hospitals and Casualty Clearing Stations in the Great War –  British Expeditionary Force”.  Going through the list I found that it was located at Gezaincourt, France from 28 March to the 14th of April, 1918.  The next step is to figure out what is going on at Gezaincourt in April 1918.  I first had to figure out where this place is, and the answer was the Somme.  Then I went and found that at the time the Germans had launched the Spring Offensive (Kaiserschladt) where they were trying to recapture the Somme and were trying to reach the coast. The King’s Own Liverpool were there, but it was the 11th Battalion, not the 1st.  Maybe he was transferred later?

Did they send him home after his injury?  Did he convalesce and then go back to his regiment?  They later were in the Second battle of the Somme in September, was he there? More questions, more research – definitely a trip to Liverpool.

I think now that I have opened this door to Granddad’s life I have to follow it to its conclusion.  I understand that he did not talk about the War because it was not a good time, it was grim, dangerous, and he likely wanted to forget it, or certainly not to share his pain with his family.  Most soldiers from the First World War did not share their stories.  I think that this unintentionally left some kind of mystique about war, which glorified it.  But the War shaped his life, he went in at the age of 18, and was demobilized when he was 22.  Critical years.  I need to know more about this.

NF Paulin 1917
Norman Frederick Paulin, 1917



Capt Percival Molson, killed in Action, 1917

Montreal Gazette, 10 Jul 1917, page 4

Capt P Molson, MC Killed in action

Private cable announced the death of former Manager of National Trust Co

Wounded last summer

Shot through cheeks in action and awarded Military Cross for Bravery – Crack football player.

Capt Percival Molson, MC, who was killed in action on July 4th, according to a cable received yesterday by his family, was a governor of McGill University and well-known in financial and athletic circles in Montreal .  he had been in the firing line for a year and a half, was once wounded and was awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry in action.

In June 1916, Capt Molson was wounded in the face, one bullet passing through both cheeks and injuring his tongue.  Several weeks later he was invalided home and spent the most of last summer with his friends in Montreal.

On his arrival in Montreal he was interviewed by a representative of the Gazette.  Capt Molson with characteristic modesty, recounted the experiences of his battalion, the Princess Pats, paying tribute to his superior officers, and the bravery of the men in the ranks, but never once telling of his own personal experiences.

Finally Captain Molson was induced to tell how he was wounded and a few of his own experiences.  He in every instance gave the credit to some one else, and getting away form the tragic side of the war, told of many humorous happenings in the firing line.  He told of one of the non-commissioned officers who took particular pride in his personal appearance and as a result was made the butt of many a joke by his comrades.  One day the non-commissioned officer was particularly clean and “spruced up” and this brought fort sallies of wit from the other boys.  Finally Capt Molson took compassion on him and asked him to come down the line as he wished to talk with him.  They had only gone a few yards when a “Jack Johnson came across and landed in a puddle of mud, covering both Capt Molson and the non-com from head to foot with mud and dirty water.

Praise for Services

Capt Molson further told of the work of the ambulance corps and how the men were got back to the clearing stations during the heavy fighting.  He himself was able to walk back and was thus given an opportunity of seeing how it worked.  He was loud in praise of the medical corps, the nurses and the different branches of the service, and of the morale of the British and Canadian forces, with which he had been in contact.

After an interesting conversation the Gazette representative, fearing the worst, tried to beat an orderly retreat.  The worst did happen for, as he was about to make his exit, Capt Molson said, “Of course, you must not publish anything that I have told you.”

Capt Molson was born at Cacouna, Quebec, and was the son of John Thomas Molson, of Montreal and the great-grandson of the Hon John Molson, who sailed the first steamboat down the St Lawrence from Montreal.  He was the grandson of Thomas Molson, and the great-nephew of William Molson, the founder of the Molsons Bank.  He was educated at the Montreal High School, and at McGill University, graduating with the degree of BA in 1901.  Deciding to enter business life he entered the offices of the National Trust Company in Montreal as a junior clerk on his graduation, and worked his way up through the ranks until he became manager.  He was also interested financially in several other Canadian corporations and in several real estate holdings.

Shortly after the outbreak of the war he joined the 2nd Universities Company as a lieutenant, under Capt George McDonald, who has also been wounded and decorated with the Military Cross.  He served at the front for more than six months before being wounded, and after spending the summer in convalescence in Montreal, returned to the firing line last fall.

Known as an Athlete

Capt Molson was perhaps best known as an athlete.  During his course at McGill he was recognized as probably the best all-round athlete in the Canadian universities.  Later he was for many years associated with the MAAA and won fame as a member of its championship rugby team eight years ago. He also brought laurels to the MAAA on the track, especially at the United States Championships when he won the 440.  Of late years he had been devoted to golf and was one of the officers of the Royal Montreal Golf Club.

His brother Capt Herbert Molson, president of Molson’s Brewery, went to the front with the first contingent and has since been wounded and awarded the Military Cross.  A cousin, Lieut Hobart Molson is in command of the 2nd Reinforcing Company of the 5th Royal Highlanders of Canada, at present recruiting in Montreal.  Capt Walter Molson is with the battalion taken overseas by Lt-Coil CC Ballantyne.

Royal Family becomes House of Windsor, 1917

Montreal Gazette, 18 July 1917, page 16

Royal Family of Britain Becomes House of Windsor

King George by Proclamation renounces name of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

German titles dropped

Announcement was made at largest and most important meeting of Privy Council since coronation

London – July 17th – King George today at a meeting of the Privy Council announced the new name of the Royal House and Family to be “the House of Windsor”.

The Privy council at which the King announced the change was held at St James Palace.  It was the most important and largest attended since the coronation.  The attendance included Premier Lloyd George, Foreign Secretary Balfour, and other members of the Cabinet, the Archbishop of Canterbury, former Premier Asquith, and all members of the colonial governments who are now in London.  The Privy Council unanimously endorsed King George’s announcement, and the proclamation putting it into effect was published this afternoon.

King George’s proclamation changing the name of his house to that of Windsor, says:

“We, out of our Royal will and authority, do hereby declare and announce that as from the date of our Royal Proclamation our House and Family shall be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor, and that all descendants in the male line of our grandmother, Queen Victoria, who are subjects of these realms, other than the female descendants who may marry or have married, shall bear the said name of Windsor.

“And we do hereby declare and announce that we for ourselves and for and on behalf of our descendants of our grandmother Queen Victoria, who are subjects of these realms, relinquish and enjoin the discontinuance of the use of degrees, styles, dignities, titles and honours of the Dukes and Duchesses of Saxony and the Princes and Princesses of Saxe-Cobourg and Gotha, and all other German degrees styles, dignities, titles and honours and the appellation to us or to them heretofore belonging or appertaining.

King George is of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.  It was recently decided to drop titles or names of German origin.

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