Tag: emery

WWI War Stories: Turmaine and Emery.

WWI War Stories: Turmaine and Emery.

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In honor of today’s ceremonies in honor of the 100th anniversary of the battle at Vimy Ridge, I am reposting several articles about my own ancestors who died in WWI. 

 

In my father’s French Canadian, ‘Turmaine’ branch of the family, we have two known soldiers who died in the first world war. The first was my grand uncle, Pte. Joseph Philias Albert Emery, and the second was another grand uncle, Pte. Joseph Turmaine – and here are their WWI war stories.

 

Pte. Joseph Philias Albert Emery
Pte Joseph Philias Albert Emery – just one of many WWI war stories.

PTE. JOSEPH PHILIAS ALBERT EMERY, the son of Albert Emery and Émilie Labelle was born in Saint-André Avellin, Ripon Township, Papineau County, Québec, Canada. At 5’6″, he had a fair complexion, brown hair and grey eyes and he was a papermaker at the time of his enlistment in the 77th Canadian Battalion, Governor General’s Foot Guards.

Having later been reassigned to the 73rd Battalion Canadian Infantry, Black Watch of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he was engaged in the preparations for the advance on Vimy Ridge. He was reported missing on March 1, 1917, about a month prior to the capture of the ridge. His remains were never found and he was memorialized at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez in Pas de Calais, France.

Gas Attacks in March 1917 at Vimy Ridge - war stories
Of many WWI war stories, this one included deadly gas attacks in March 1917 at Vimy Ridge. Image of a gas cloud being released fromm canisters on the Western Front circ 1916.

During gas and artillery attacks planned for that day, the troops came under fire from the Germans.

An excerpt from the war diary of the 73rd Battalion dated March 1, 1917 reads, “Officers and men without exception fought magnificently. Casualties during the attack were as follows: 26 OR killed, 99 OR wounded, 27 OR missing.”

 

 

Preserved WWI tunnel at Vimy Ridge
Preserved WWI fighting tunnel at Vimy Ridge.

Pte. Emery was among those missing and was never recovered.

A very detailed and well-researched account entitled, “A Proper Slaughter: The March 1917 Gas Raid on Vimy Ridge”, written by Tim Cook contains some great photos and makes great reading.

Another account of the incident taken from the ‘ Canadian Battlefields ‘ website is as follows:

   “Thirty-nine days before the Canadians infamous and victorious attack on Vimy Ridge from April 9-12, 1917 there was a disastrous reconnaissance raid.   On March 1, 1917 at 3:00 am the gas sergeants took their positions to release the phosgene gas from the hundreds of gas canisters, referred to as “rats”, they had placed prior to the scheduled raid date. Every night they had lugged the heavy, poisonous gas canisters four miles to the front lines. They dug holes in the ground, nicknamed “rat traps” where the canisters were carefully placed and held in position with dirt and sandbags. A rubber hose connected to the canister would be maneuvered away from the trench, into No Man’s Land towards the enemy. The Canadians knew all too well what poisonous gas did to the human body from their experience at the Ypres Salient in 1915 when they were hit with gas for the first time.

    At 5:00 am the gas sergeants were to release the chlorine gas and 45-minutes later the 1,700 troops assigned to the raid were to go “over the top”. Of course things didn’t work out. For a gas attack, the velocity and direction of the wind is crucial. Secondly, gas is heavier then air. This meant that even if the gas sergeants managed to release the gas from the canisters and through the hose into No Man’s Land, the gas then had to travel up the hill to kill the Germans. (I shake my head at this, as I’m sure you are too). Gas is heavier than air, therefore it is logically impossible for it to flow up hill. Rather, they would find that the gas would settle in the pot-marked landscape and trenches, the very places our soldiers would seek protection from German fire. The idea was that the first gas release would kill most of the Germans. The second release, of chlorine gas, would surely finish off the Germans. 45-minutes after the chlorine gas release, a proposed sufficient amount of time for the gas to dissipate, our soldiers would walk in, finish off the few struggling Germans, collect the information they were sent for and then return. If I, a civilian, can see flaws in this plan, I cannot help but question, almost scream, “How did anyone ever let this plan go further than its first mentioning?!”

   The Germans realized a gas attack has been launched. They sounded the alarms, and released hell on No Man’s Land. A German artillery barrage and a steady pumping of rifle and machine gun fire rained down on the Canadians. The shells smashed into buried gas cylinders, causing our own trench to instantly fill with poison gas. With a tremendous rupture a wave of yellow gas plummeted from our trenches. The chlorine gas cylinders had been hit. “Making matters worse, the wind had changed direction. The release of the second wave of gas to supposedly finish off the German defenders began blowing back in the faces of the Canadian brigades.” (Barris, 2008: 13).
   In about 5 minutes we lost 190 men and two company commanders. It total, there were 687 casualties. Only 5 men actually reached the German trenches. Those that somehow managed to stay alive in No Man’s Land, were captured and spent around 21-months in a German prison camp
   On March 3 an extraordinary event took place. No Man’s Land had been eerily silent after the attack, but out of the mist a German officer carrying a Red Cross flag walked out into No Man’s Land in front of Hill 145. He called for and was met by a Canadian officer to discuss a two-hour truce ‘from 10:00 am until 12:00 noon’ during which time Canadian stretcher bearers and medical staff could carry back casualties and remains. What seemed even more remarkable [was] “the Germans said they would assist by bringing Canadian casualties halfway.”

 

PTE. JOSEPH TURMAINE, son of Herménégilde Turmaine and Virginia Perrault, was born in 1891 at Lac Mégantic, Québec, Canada. He was 5’7 1/2″ tall, had a dark complexion, blue eyes and very dark hair. He was a Private in the 27th Battalion Infantry, Winnipeg Regiment and took part in action against the Germans in Courcelette. He was reported ‘missing in action’ and was never recovered.

I have summarized the account of his Battalion’s war diary for the date he went missing below:

The 27th Battalion, Winnipeg Regiment left at 2 pm, September 14, 1916 for brigade headquarters, arriving at 5 pm. They then left brigade headquarters at 9 pm and proceeded to the front line to take up position in assembly trenches, which was delayed due to congestion of the trenches and was completed just after 4 am.

At 6:20 am, the artillery barrage opened 50 yards ahead of the German trench and the first wave started crawling over. As the barrage lifted, the Battalion advanced to the first German line and were met with heavy rifle and machine gun fire. As soon as the Canadian troops reached the trench, the Germans threw up their hands and surrendered. The Battalion followed up the barrage closely and met very little resistance at Sunken Road, the Germans surrendering in large numbers. By this time, the first wave was nearly wiped out and the second wave took their place. Owing to casualties, reinforcements were sent to hold the line at Sunken Road. The Germans attempted to advance but were driven back by Canadian fire. A large number also advanced and started sniping the Canadian front only to also be driven back by Canadian fire.

Two Canadian patrols pushed on toward Courcelette, but were forced to return to the line due to barrage fire. The German artillery fire was very intense for 48 hours on the front line.

A few troops dashed forward under cover of Canadian machine guns and captured a German Maxim. Approximately 22 Germans surrendered.

The Germans had thrown away the feed block of the captured gun but after considerable searching it was located and the gun was turned on German snipers, causing considerable damage. After the Battalion returned to the Brigade Reserve it was reported that there were 72 killed, 250 wounded and 72 missing (including Joseph Turmaine).

photo credit: Wikipedia.org

Sources for WWI War Stories: Turmaine and Emery:

  1. Cook, Tim (1999) ““A Proper Slaughter”: The March 1917 Gas Raid at Vimy Ridge,” Canadian Military History: Vol. 8: Iss. 2, Article 1. Available at: (http://scholars.wlu.ca/cmh/vol8/iss2/1).
  2. Books of Remembrance, Veterans Affairs Canada, (http://www.veterans.gc.ca/images/collections/books/bww1/ww1234.jpg).
  3. Pas de Calais, France, “XIV. F. 25.,” database, Commonwealth War Graves Commission (http://www.cwgc.org/search/cemetery_details.aspx?cemetery=64600&mode=1) . Attestation Papers – Archives of Canada, digital images.
  4. Certificate of Memorial; Private Joseph Phillias Albert Emery (SN: 144880), 73rd Battalion, Canadian Infantry; Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France.
  5. Casualty Form – Active Service; Private Joseph Philias Albert Emery.
  6. Form of Will; Private Joseph Philias Albert Emery.
  7. Medals, Decorations, Promotions and Transfers Record; Private Joseph Philias Albert Emery.
  8. War Service Gratuity Form; Private Joseph Philias Albert Emery.
  9. Provencher, Gérard and Blue Jeans, George, Pontbriand, B.; ” Marriages of Outaouais (Theft. I-II) 1815-1970 “, *86-87, Québec, 1971, S.G.C.F. * S.G.L. (Directory); French Title: Mariages de l’Outaouais (Vol. I-II) 1815-1970.
  10. Canadian Battlefields; Vimy Ridge: Before the Gas at Hill 145 (website: http://www.canadianbattlefields.ca/?cat=32)
  11. Les Labelles, Daniel Labelle online (www.leslabelle.org), accessed.1901 Canadian Census – St. André Avelin, Labelle District, Québec; Émerie Family: Charles, Émelie, Alice, Albert, Clarinda, Émeralda, Rose A. (Amande).
  12. Wikipedia.org
  13. Personal knowledge and interviews with family.



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Transcription: Attestation papers of Pte. J. P. Albert Emery, C.E.F.

Transcription: Attestation papers of Pte. J. P. Albert Emery, C.E.F.

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 Following is my transcription of the form or the Attestation Papers of Pte. J. P. Albert Emery, Canadian Expeditionary Forces, WWI.

 

Attestation Papers - Pt. J. P. Albert Emery.
Attestation Papers for Pte. J. P. Albert Emery.

ATTESTATION PAPERS OF J.P. ALBERT EMERY

FRONT

Stamp in upper left corner:  Triplicate
Stamp in upper right corner:  Triplicate

G.G.E.G.
militia unit (handwritten under heading)
No. 144880
Folio. 26

CANADIAN OVER-SEAS EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
77TH, OVERSEAS BATTALION, C.E.F.

—————–

QUESTIONS TO BE PUT BEFORE ATTESTATION.
(ANSWERS)

  1. What is your name?                J.P.Albert Emery
  2. In what Town, Townhip or Parish, and in what Country were you born?            St.Andre Avelin, P.Q.
  3. What is the name of your next-of-kin?        Emelie Emery (mother)
  4. What is the address of your next-of-kin?    9 Caron Ave., Wrightsville, Hull, Queb
  5. What is the date of your birth?            23 January, 1895.
  6. What is your Trade or Calling?            Paper-maker
  7. Are you married?                No
  8. Are you willing to be vaccinated or re-vaccinated?                    Yes
  9. Do you now belong to the Active Militia?    Yes
  10. Have you ever served in any Militia Force?    G.G.F.G.
    • If so, state particulars of former Service.
  11. Do you understand the nature and terms of your engagement?    Yes
  12. Are you willing to be attested to serve in the CANADIAN OVER-SEAS EXPEDITIONARY FORCE?    Yes

Albert Emery (Signature of Man).
A.H. Thoburn, Capt (Signature of Witness)

——————–

DECLARATION TO BE MADE BY MAN ON ATTESTATION.

I, Albert Emery, do solemnly declare that the above answers made by me to the above questions are true, and that I am willing to fulfil the engagements by me now made, and I hereby engage and agree to serve in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force, and to be attached to any arm of the service therein, for the term of one year, or during the war now existing between Great Britain and Germany should that war last longer than one year, and for six months after the termination of that war provided His Majesty should so long require my services, or until legally discharged.

Albert Emery (Signature of Recruit)
Date:  Ottawa, Aug. 20th., 1915;       A.H. Thoburn, Capt (Signature of Witness)

———————-

OATH TO BE TAKEN BY MAN ON ATTESTATION.

I, Albert Emery, do make Oath, that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to His Majesty King George the Fifth, His Heirs and Successors, and that I will as in duty bound honestly and faithfully defend His Majesty, is Heirs and Successors, in Person, Crown and Dignity, against all enemies, and will observe and obey all orders of His Majesty, His Heirs and Successors, and of all the Generals and Officers set over me. So help me God.

Albert Emery (Signature of Recruit)
Date:  Ottawa, Aug. 20th., 1915;       A.H. Thoburn, Capt (Signature of Witness)

———————-

CERTIFICATE OF MAGISTRATE.

The Recruit above-named was cautioned by me that if he made any false answer to any of the above questions he would be liable to be punished as provided in the Army Act.
The above questions were then read to the Recruit in my presence.

I have taken care that he understands each question, and that his answer to each question has been duly entered as replied to, and the said Recruit has made and signed the declaration and taken the oath before me, at Ottawa Ontario this 20th. day of August 1915.

Hickland (Signature of Justice)
Date:  Ottawa, Aug. 20th., 1915;       A.H. Thoburn, Capt (Signature of Witness)

———————-
I certify that the above is a true copy of the Attestation of the above-named Recruit.

D.R. Street (Approving Officer)
Lieut. Col.
O. C. 77th Overseas Battalion, C. E. F.
Date:  Ottawa, Aug. 20th., 1915;       A.H. Thoburn, Capt (Signature of Witness)

———————-

Fine print in lower left corner of form:
M. F. W. 23.
200 M.–5-15.

BACK

Descripton of ALBERT EMERY. on Enlistment.

Left column:

Apparent Age            20 years    10 months.
(To be determined according to the instructions given in the Regulations for Army Medical Services.)
Height                           5’6″
Chest Measurement:
Girth when fully expanded    34 1/2 ins.
Range of expansion                   3 1/2 ins.
Complexion                Fair
Eyes                               Grey
Hair                                L.Brown
Religious Denominations:
Church of England
Presbyterian
Wesleyan
Baptist or Congregationalist
Other Protestants (Denomination to be stated.)
Roman Catholic                           X
Jewish

Right Column:

Distinctive marks, and marks indicating congenital peculiarities or previous disease.
Should the Medical Officer be of opinion that the recruit has served before, he will, unless the man acknowledgs to any previous services, attach a slip to that effect, for the information of the Approving Officer.)
None

———————-

CERTIFICATE OF MEDICAL EXAMINATION

I have examined the above-named Recruit and find that he does not present any of the causes of rejection specified in the Regulations for Army Medical Services.
He can see at the required distance with either eye ; his heart and lungs are healthy ; he has the free use of his joints and limbs, and he declares that he is not subject to fits of any description.

I consider him* Fit for the Canadian Over-Sears Expeditionary Force.

Date    August 20th., 195 .    [?]askey
Place    Ottawa, Ont.        Maj. [Awg], Medical Officer
*Insert here “fit” or “unfit.”

Norm – Should the Medical Officer consider the Recruit unfit, he will fill in the foregoing Certificate only in the case of those who have been attested, and will briefly state below the cause of unfitness:–
[Blank lines]

CERTIFICATE OF OFFICE COMMANDING UNIT.

A. Emery, having been finally approved and inspected by me this day, and his Name, Age, Date of Attestation, and every prescribed particular having been recorded, I certify that I am satisfied with the correctness of this Attestation.

D.R. Street (Signature of Officer)
O. C. 77th Overseas Battalion, C. E. F.
Date    March 28    1916

_____________________

The image above links directly to the original document. You can access sources, data, images and documents for these and other individuals, by clicking on the name link, or searching the Blythe Genealogy database site using the surname search link and the ‘All Media‘ search link in the left sidebar.

It is recommended to search using both methods as the results can differ greatly due to a glitch in the software that doesn’t connect all images from the bio.

All data for this and numerous others on this site is available for free access and download.

 


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Researching paternal or maternal lines: Is one better than the other?

Researching paternal or maternal lines: Is one better than the other?

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When researching paternal or maternal lines, the tendency seems to be to place more value – and therefore time and effort – into the paternal lines. Is it true that following paternal lines is better than following maternal lines?

 

In my mind, no.

Turmaine and Emery maternal ancestors.
Turmaine and Emery maternal ancestors.

The other side of this question is: “Should genealogy research concentrate more on one to the exclusion of the other?

Again, I say “no”.

When I first started researching my family’s genealogy almost fifteen years ago, it was easier to concentrate on the paternal lines, and I did so based on my limited knowledge of genealogy, in which the paternal lines seemed to be valued more.

This may be a carryover from history where women were rarely recorded as anything other than their husband’s wives and/or father’s daughters. Unless they were particularly noteworthy, details of their own personal lives were unimportant.

This may also be a result of the difficulties that can arise when researching maternal lines. Because most research works back in time, we usually first encounter a female ancestor as a wife who has taken on her husband’s name. Since a great deal of the records don’t go into any detail about the women, it’s difficult to find even clues with which to research further to find out a woman’s maiden name and parentage.

It does change for the better in more modern records such as censuses, marriage records, etc., where more detailed information about a woman’s place of origin, and her parents and their places of origin can be found.

What a shame since one’s knowledge of one’s own ancestry increases exponentially when venturing into maternal lines.

Several of the individuals I have posted about on this blog were discovered by following maternal lines of both my husband and myself.

As a matter of fact, when going through posts to identify maternal lines for this article, it was apparent that those involving the paternal lines were a definite minority. This matters because I have consistently chosen those I find most interesting to write about.

The fact that there seems to be more from the maternal lines is perfectly understandable when the odds are considered. When restricting one’s research to only paternal lines, there is no branching off through the female spouses, therefore restricting the course back in family history through one straight line from father to father to father (and so on). Although some prefer to research in this way, I’m positive they are missing out as a result.

For the purposes of this post, I am using my parents: Gerard Ronald Joseph Turmaine and Patricia Gail Melanson; and Mark’s parents: Marshall Matthews Blythe and Beverley Gummeson as the root persons.

In all of the cases below, we would never have known our connection to these ancestors had I not explored the maternal lines.Bourg Ancestral Line

Antoine Bourg

The ancestral line to this 7th great grandfather of my mother follows her paternal line through six generations to Pierre Melanson and his wife Marie Josèphe Granger, then follows Marie Josèphe’s line the rest of the way back.

Antoine Bourg is one of the original Acadian pioneers to come over from France in the 17th century. Although Antoine Bourg is not the Acadian ancestor from our paternal line that we most associate with, we are related to him through three branching maternal lines leading to three of his sons.

Bevan Ancestral Line

John ap Evan (John Bevan) of Wales

John ap Evan (John Bevan) was 10th great grandfather to my husband’s father, Marshall Matthews Blythe. An early Welsh immigrant and pioneer of Pennsylvania, he was a Minister with the Friends’ Meeting, land trustee for several settlers, and later became a Justice and member of the Colonial Assembly.

Emily S. Shelby is a common maternal link in this ancestry, plus those of Robert William, the Stehle family, and of course the illustrious Shelbys (see below for all).

Shelby Ancestral LineEvan (Dhu) Isaac Shelby of Tregaron, Wales

Evan (Dhu) Shelby, 6th great grandfather to my father-in-law, Marshall Matthews Blythe, was the pioneer immigrant of the Shelby family to Pennsylvania from Wales. He, along with those already mentioned were persecuted for their Quaker religion and suffered terribly at the hands of their persecutors.

The Shelby family were among the few with six family members who participated in the Revolutionary War. Of these were Brigadier General Evan Shelby, John Shelby and Moses Shelby (sons to our Evan); Governor Isaac Shelby of Kentucky and Evan Shelby III, sons to Brigadier General Shelby; and another David Shelby, son of John Shelby above.

Stehle Ancestral LineUlrich Stehle (Steely)

This Ulrich Stehle was 5th great grandfather to my father-in-law and was the son of another Ulrich, an immigrant to Pennsylvania from Europe (possibly Germany) in 1732.

Ulrich Jr. is documented as the immigrant ancestor of President Barack Obama through his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham.

Emery Ancestral LinePte. Joseph Philias Albert Emery

Joseph Philias Albert Emery was my father’s uncle (brother to my grandmother).

Compared to some of the other ancestors above, he is fairly recent, but his life was remarkable in that he died so young in horribly tragic circumstances.

He was one of many soldiers involved in the preparations for the battle at Vimy Ridge. On March 1, 1917, the troops were misguidedly given the order to let off gas charges. This was a tragic decision because the winds were blowing the wrong way, causing the lethal gases to be blown back onto our Canadian troops.

As a result of the chaos, Pte. Emery was never found, was reported as missing in action and was later declared to have died in action.

There are a few more who occur further back in history, but I wanted to concentrate on those for whom I had the best documentary support.


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