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Canadian Contingent - former Rushdenites

H. Elstow, W. Spavins, J. Walker, J. Clarke, E. Jackson, J. York, T. Church,
C. Clarke, The late J. T. Jackson.
Note: Photograph first printed in the Rushden Echo on November 6th 1914

Pte. Ernest Hodson D.C.M. & his brothers

Rushden Argus, 18th September, 1914, transcribed by John Collins

Interesting Letter from Rushden Man

We have received from Mr A Chettle the following interesting letter sent him by his son, who is serving his country in the Canadian Army.

Sergt W H Chettle has been in Canada nine years now, and is getting on well as a carpenter on his own account. When in Rushden he served in the Yeomanry and he has also served in the Canadian “Terriers”. The letter reads:

“You will see by the address that I have been called up with the rest of the boys. When we mobilised we had no idea where they would send us, but here we are on the Pacific Coast. There are quite a number of mines here, and there are more than one thousand Germans and Austrians, so that they have to be watched over closely. There are quite a number of troops scattered along the coast and several detachments inland guarding the bridges, etc. A bridge near here had mines laid under it before war was declared, but it was discovered in time. It was a good thing they discovered it as there were several train loads of rifles and ammunition going through.

“Every man in Canada is ready to go to the front if it is needed. It doesn’t matter what nationality they are (excepting Germans and Austrians, of course). The other day some Indians wanted to join for the front, and there are about a thousand Italians in Vancouver who want to go. All is excitement here, everybody, even young boys, want to go. If all our Colonies feel the same towards England as Canada does, I think it will go hard with the Germans. When we heard that we were likely to be called up our Mayor came up to my shop and he asked me what I should do with the shop, and I told him I did not know, but if they wanted me I would close it. But there was one of my chums, a married man, said he would look after it for me. He is a first-class mechanic, so it will be all right”.

Rushden Echo, 6th November 1914, transcribed by Kay Collins

Our Canadian Force - Former Rushden Man - With The "Black Devils"

Private W. Spavins, of K Company, 90th Rifles, 8th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Spavins, of Rushden, recently returned from Canada with the 32,000 Canadian soldiers and has been spending a few days with his parents, before proceeding on active service. His regiment is called the "Black Devils."

He has brought with him many interesting curios, including a couple of flags bearing the entwined National emblems of the Allies and the motto "United we stand, divided we fall." He enlisted at Brandon, Manitobia, at the commencement of the war, and in company with the others of his regiment is anxious to get into the fighting line. He said that it took five cruisers to escort them over to England. When they got out into the open sea there were three lines of vessels stretching for 18 miles On the second day out a man fell overboard from the "Royal Edward." A life-belt was thrown to him, and the man was saved, but the belt went adrift and two days afterwards New York papers said that two of the troopships had gone down as life belts had been picked up. The Canadian soldiers were taken to Portsmouth, and as they marched through the streets everybody crowded round to shake hands or "pinch" a souvenir in the shape of a badge or button. The pay of the Canadian soldiers is 4/7 a day. There are a good number of Americans amongst the troops. Private Spavins says that the spirit of the people of Canada is one of unswerving loyalty to the old country and that of the Americans is favourable towards England. He mentions Mr. Harry Elstow, a "Rushden Canadian," who is at the front. Mr. Spavins and Mr. Elstow appear in group in this issue.

Rushden Echo, 11th June 1915, transcribed by Kay Collins

In the Canadian Contingent - A Rapid Promotion

Wilfred GroomMr. Wilfred Groom, formerly of Rushden, half-brother of Mr. W. Robinson, of Manton-road, Rushden, is training with the Canadian Contingent, and is at the present time stationed at West Sandling Camp, Kent. Mr. Groom, who had served one term with the Army Service Corps in England, went to Canada two years ago last Christmas, and when war broke out he at once joined the Canadian Contingent. He came over to England with others of the regiment, and spent five days at Rushden with Mr. Robinson. As a youth Mr. Groom worked in the shoe trade, at one time being employed in the factory of Messrs. Bull and Clayton. After his term with the A.S.C. and the R.A.M.C. he returned to Rushden, and for three years worked for Mr. C. Ette, baker.

When war was declared he felt he must volunteer for the front straightaway, and he was made a full Sergeant before leaving Canada. He has left a wife and three children in Canada. He says there were quite a lot of English-born men who joined the Canadian Contingent.

Sergt. Groom has a brother, Private Wallace Groom, in the Army. Private Groom some years ago worked in the shoe trade at Rushden, and then joined the R.A.M.C. He served four or five years in Africa, and on returning he worked for Mr. James Hyde. He rejoined the Army, and is now stationed at Weymouth.

The Rushden Echo, 25th June, 1915, transcribed by Gill Hollis

A RUSHDEN CANADIAN

Pte. Ralph Linnitt, third son of Mr. and Mrs. John Linnitt, of 46, Portland-road, Rushden, has come over from Canada with a contingent from Vancouver, B.C. Pte. Linnitt landed at Devonport quite safely, and we are pleased to learn is quite well and in good health. He is hoping when they get settled a little in Kent, where they are now in camp in England, to be able to come to Rushden and pay his mother and father and his sister a visit for a few days. Not only will the relatives of Pte. Linnitt be pleased to welcome him home to Rushden, but his friends and all who know him will be glad to see him once more.

Pte. Linnitt belongs to the Westminster Fusiliers, who have been stationed at Hastings Park, Vancouver, and are now in camp in Kent. Writing to his parents he tells them it is a very nice place; they are getting settled, and will finish training in England.

The Rushden Echo 30th July 1915, transcribed by Kay Collins

Rushden Boy Scout Now with the Canadians

Gunner James Walker, formerly of Rushden, who is with the Canadian Contingent in England, has been visiting his Rushden friends this week. He is looking hale and hearty, and, when he goes to the front, as he shortly expects to do, he will, we are sure, give a good account of himself. As a youth he was apprenticed to Mr. Robert Marriott, builder, of Rushden, and was engaged in paperhanging, etc. About four years ago he left England for Canada, proceeding to Manitoba. Then he went into the United States, and settled in Chicago. Last December-five days before Christmas-he went to Winnipeg to spend his holidays with his brother, who is in Canada, and there he felt it his duty to join the Canadian Contingent, which he did. He is attached to the Ammunition Park, Artillery Details. He says that 95 per cent. Of the men in the Canadian Contingent are British-born. Those who are Canadian-born have, as a rule, left good homes to serve the empire, and they are well-educated and fairly well-off.

Gunner Walker was formerly Assistant Scout Master of the Rushden Troop, and he was for some time a bugler in the Rushden C.L.B.

Rushden Echo, 3rd December 1915, transcribed by Kay Collins

Recruits

Mr. Albert Noble and Mr. Frank Noble, sons of Mr. J Noble of London, Canada, late of Rushden, have both enlisted in the 70th Battalion Overseas Infantry, Canadian Regiment.

Rushden Echo, 7th January 1916, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Change of Wind - Carries Gas Back to the Germans

Gunner J. Walker (Rushden), with the Canadian Contingent, writes from France:

“Just a few lines to let you know I am getting on pretty well out here in this awful country – practically nothing but rain every other day. I must thank you very much for your welcome “Rushden Echo,” every week, which I receive very regularly. It is great to be in touch with dear old Rushden and district. I let my chums read the “Echo,” and they think Rushden is a great place because of so many joining the colours every week. One said ‘If they keep on, there won’t be anyone to work in the shoe factories to keep them running, but by gee, Rushden is doing her best for the Government.’ I bet there isn’t another town that size that has so many men in the army. The people have something to be proud of in Rushden. I have never come across any of the Rushden boys yet, but they are on the right of us, according to what I can make out. We have lots of British troops with us, but none from Northampton district. We are pretty busy up here. We never were so busy before the Battle of Loos. The snipers used gas at us again yesterday, but to no advantage; the wind changed and it went back on them. I have a good gas helmet now, and I don’t know a case where it failed yet, but the British troops are very plucky all the time, and the Canadians, too.”

Rushden Echo, 21st January 1916, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Rushden Man’s Long Journey
Seven Thousand Miles in order to Join The Colours

Mr. Eric Smith, elder son of Mr. Charles Smith, Chemist, of High-street, Rushden, has joined the Electrical Signalling Department, Cable Company, Canadian Contingent. He has travelled 6,000 or 7,000 miles in order to join the Colours. He was electrical engineer on the Santa Fe Railway, and was at New Mexico, U.S.A., and the Journey, which was via Toronto, occupied nearly three weeks. Reaching Rushden on Saturday night he had to leave again on Sunday night to join his Company.

The Rushden Echo, 7th April 1916, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Rushden Man with The Canadians

Practically all the Rushden boys who were in Winnipeg have now joined the Forces. This gratifying news was conveyed to a representative of the “Rushden Echo” by Driver George Walker, 312003, of the 3rd Division Ammunition Column, 3rd Section, Canadian Expeditionary Force. Driver Walker, who reached England last week from Canada, has been spending a few days in Rushden. He is the son of Mrs. E. H. Cox, of Wellingborough-road, and went to Winnipeg about three years ago. Previous to emigrating to Canada he worked in the boot factory of Messrs. William Claridge and Sons, Rushden.

Driver Walker told our representative that the spirit of patriotism runs extremely high in Canada, and particularly among the young men there.

Rushden Echo, 14 April 1916, transcribed by Kay Collins

Sausages for One – An Amusing Incident

A soldier in the Canadian Contingent has been spending a week-end at Rushden with his aunt, Mrs Fisher, wife of Dr C R Fisher, of Wellingborough-road, Rushden. In relating his experiences he told of an amusing incident.

After leaving the trenches he was in a French village, and saw over a small shop a notice “Fresh Sausages and New Laid Eggs For Sale.” He went in and ordered four sausages to be prepared and three eggs to be boiled.

“Four monsieur?” inquired the lady in surprise.

“Oui” (“Yes”) he replied.

“No, no, not four sausages for monsieur.”

“Yes, yes,” he said, “I’m hungry.”

Still uttering her protestations the lady went to prepare the meal. In due course she returned with two sausages, nicely prepared—each nearly two feet long and thicker than the soldier’s arm!

Rushden Echo, 19th May 1916, transcribed by Kay Collins

Soldier in Belgium – The Canadian Contingent – Heavy Casualties

Gunner J. Walker (Rushden), with the Canadians, writing from Belgium to his father at Rushden says:-

“We get a bit of sunshine once in a while, but we still get the rain too—like today. It is raining like the —, then maybe tomorrow the sun will shine again. I am very sorry to know that dear old John Spencer got killed in action. This is an awful war, the — Canadian and — Canadian Contingents have lost in five weeks 7,000 men in action. The — Brigade, which I used to belong to, got cut up awfully, but the — Battery were mentioned in despatches last week. I am going in the gun pits tomorrow to see the boys again, but few there are left, and, believe me, there are not many who joined in Winnipeg when I did. Some of the — Canadians are over here.”

The Rushden Echo, 19th May, 1916, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Rushden Soldier in Belgium - The Canadian Contingent - Heavy Casualties
Gunner J. Walker (Rushden), with the Canadians, writes from Belgium to his father at Rushden says:

“We get a bit of sunshine once in a while, but we still get the rain, too – like to-day. It is raining like the ------, then maybe to-morrow the sun will shine again. I am very sorry to know that dear old John Spencer got killed in action. This is an awful war, the --- Canadian and --- Canadian Contingents have lost in five weeks 7,000 men in action. The --- Brigade, which I used to belong to, got cut up awfully, but the --- Battery were mentioned in despatches last week. I am going to the gun pits to-morrow to see the boys again, but few there are left, and, believe me, there are not many who joined in Winnipeg when I did. Some of the --- Canadians are over here.”

The Rushden Echo, 16th June 1916, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Soldier Wounded - Lce-Cpl C. W. Harbour - Meets With a Second Injury
Mrs. Harbour, of West-street, Rushden, received official news last Sunday that her son, Lance-Corpl. C. W. Harbour, of the Canadian Contingent, is in hospital with a shrapnel wound in his left arm.

On Wednesday morning she received a letter from her son in which he wrote:- “I am getting along fine and wounds are doing well. Of course, it will take a little time for them to heal up, as they are very bad. I have three wounds in the arm, one very bad, and my face has been cut about with shrapnel, but I hope I shall soon be all right again.”

This is the second time Lance-Corpl. Harbour has been wounded, the last occasion being in May last year, when he was sent into hospital with a strained knee, and about 13 shrapnel wounds in various parts of the body.

As reported in the “Rushden Echo” at the time, one of Lance-Corpl. Harbour’s brothers was killed in action last year. Another brother is a sergeant in the Canadian Contingent, at present in England. A brother-in-law, Sergt. Hussey, is now at home on leave. One of Lance-Corpl. Harbour’s younger brothers is in the training corps of the Rushden C.L.B., and a younger sister is in the Rushden Girl Guides. This is a fine family record.

The Rushden Echo, 7th July 1916, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Rushden Soldier Missing - Private A Hind - of The Canadian Contingent
Official news has been received by Mrs. W. Hind, 17 East Grove, Rushden, that her son, 73910 Pte A. Hind, of the 2nd Canadian Contingent, 28th Battalion, has been missing since June 6th. The missing soldier, who is 21 years of age, before he left Rushden worked for Messrs. B. Denton and Sons. He was in Canada at the time of his enlistment, which was at the outbreak of war.

Although he has been on the western front for ten months, he has, so far as is known, sustained no wounds.

Mrs. Hind will be grateful to any of his comrades who can send her any definite news concerning her missing son.

Rushden Echo, 4th August 1916, transcribed by Kay Collins

News has been received that Pte. A. Noble, No. 124269, —Battalion, Canadian Regt., has been wounded by shrapnel in the right knee and is at the Canadian base in France. He says that it is only slight and that he is progressing favourably. Pte. Noble is an old Rushdenite, the son of Mr. J. Noble, of London, Ontario, Canada.

Rushden Echo, 19th January 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins

Young Canadian Soldier - Rushden’s Remarkable Recruit
Over Six Feet in Height, and Not Fifteen Years Old
The distinction of being the youngest member of the Canadian Forces is claimed by Pte. Harry Swindall, a native of Rushden, where his family is well known. He is only 14 years and nine months old, having been born at Rushden on March 28th 1902, and has more than his youth to distinguish him, for he stands 6ft. 3ins. high, and weighs 12st. 4lbs. He has been on leave in Northampton, staying with his uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. F. Barnes, of 4 Spring Lane-terrace.

This remarkable boy’s father is Quartermaster-Sergeant E. J. Swindall, of the 1st Canadian Army Medical Corps, who is at present in Canada, where he is occupied in training men for the C.A.M.C. in the province of Ontario. Before he went to London, Ontario, ten years ago, he was employed by Mr. C. G. Ward, grocer, of High-street, Rushden. His wife and three children, one of whom is Pte. Swindall, joined him there three years later, and the younger boys are now energetic Boy Scouts.

Q.M.S. Swindall was an enthusiastic ambulance worker. He is a nephew of Councillor T. Swindall, of Rushden. Mrs. Swindall is also a keen ambulance worker, and is the Lady-Superintendent of the St. John Ambulance Association, at London, Ontario.

Pte. Swindall arrived in England with an overseas contingent last October. He has two uncles serving with the forces, and Mr. Barnes, with whom he is staying, is a former member of the Canadian Forces, who was discharged on account of losing his right eye.

The Argus, 19th January 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins

Rushden Youth’s Record as Canadian Soldier

Pte. Harry Swindall
Pte. Harry Swindall
The distinction of being the youngest member of the Canadian Forces is claimed by Pte. Harry Swindall, a native of Rushden, where his family is well known. He is only 14 years and nine months old, having been born at Rushden on March 28th 1902, and has more than his youth to distinguish him, for he stands 6ft. 3in. High and weighs 12st. 4lbs. He has been on leave in Northampton, staying with his uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. F. Barnes, of 4 Spring-lane-terrace.

This remarkable boy’s father is Quartermaster-Sergt. E. J. Swindall, of the Canadian Army Medical Corps, who is at present in Canada, where he is occupied in training men for the C.A.M.C. in the province of Ontario. Before he went to London, Ontario, ten years ago, he was employed by Messrs. Ward, the grocers, of High-street, Rushden. His wife and three children, one of whom is Pte. Swindall, joined him there three years later, and the younger boys are now energetic Boy Scouts. Q.M.S. Swindall was an enthusiastic ambulance worker in Rushden, and he has done much good work for the association in Ontario. Mrs. Swindall is also a keen ambulance worker, and is the Lady Superintendent of the St. John Ambulance Association at London, Ontario. Pte. Swindall arrived in England with an overseas contingent last October. He has two uncles serving with the forces, and Mr. Barnes, with whom he is staying, is a former member of the Canadian Forces, who was discharged on account of losing his right eye. He is also a nephew of Mr. T. Swindall, of Rushden, superintendent of the St. John Ambulance Brigade, and a member of the Urban Council.

Rushden Echo, 4th May 1917

Lance-Corpl. Ralph White – About to be promoted

An official communication was received by Mr. and Mrs. W. Wright, of 25 Montague-street, Rushden, on Saturday, to the effect that their son, Lance-Corpl. Ralph Wright, 12389 – Northants Regt., was severely wounded in the left arm, and admitted to the Canadian General Hospital at Etaples on April 22nd. A letter from an officer received on the same day is as follows:

“Dear Sir, It is with my most sincere sympathy, that I write to tell you that your son was wounded when working yesterday. A large piece of shell hit him, seriously injuring his left arm. He was attended at once, and will probably be brought to England soon. I feel sure I am including the sentiments of his sergeant and his platoon in saying that we shall miss him very much, and that is has been a pleasure to have him to work with, as he was thoroughly reliable and very steady under fire. He was worthy of the second stripe, which would have been given him shortly. Yours truly, Arnold Layman, Lieut. April 21st 1917.”

Lance-Corpl. Wright has written himself as follows: “Dear Father and Mother, I write these few lines, hoping to find you well, as it leaves me improving, .... I got hit in the elbow. It has given it a pretty severe shock. I got it last Friday morning. Please don’t woryy. I shall be all right shortly. Ralph.”

Lace-Corpl. Wright left Rushden for Canada over eight years ago, and being in England for a holiday at the outbreak of war, he immediately enlisted, being one of the first to answer the call. He went to France at the end of June 1915. He is 27 years old, and previous to going to Canada he worked at Mr. Clayton’s shoe factory, Rushden. [Bull and Clayton's]

Rushden Argus, 25th May 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins

One lad, a Rushden Canadian, writes his thanks, and says: “I’m just off to play football with a ball just purchased from a nearby town. The money you sent went towards the purchase price.”

Rushden Echo, 20th July 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins

Rushden Soldier’s Comparison - ‘A little bit of Heaven’ – In Hospital at the Front
Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Sanders, of Moorland House, Hayway, Rushden, have received a letter from their third son, Pte. Ewart Sanders, of the Canadian Contingent, to say that he has been wounded and is in hospital. His injuries consist of a bullet wound in the right hip.

In a letter received on Sunday morning he says: “Bullets or no bullets, this is a little bit of heaven in comparison with what I have been through recently”. He writes that he has been under the X-rays.

Pte. Sanders, who was in Canada at the outbreak of war, enlisted in February 1915, and came to England with his contingent for about twelve months, prior to proceeding to France about two months ago.

On Wednesday information was received that Pte. Sanders has arrived in England and is in hospital at Manchester.

The Rushden Echo Friday 3rd August 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins

Pte. Ernest Jackson, of the Canadian Contingent, who appears in the above group of former Rushdenites, has been visiting Rushden during the last few days. He is the son of the late Mr. J. T. Jackson, who forms one of the group, and who formerly lived in the Hayway, Rushden. The late Mr. J. T. Jackson was for some years a loyal member of the Rushden Men’s Adult School and the Adult School Male Choir, being a vice-president of the choir. About six years ago he emigrated to Canada, and a couple of years ago he decided to return to Rushden, where he intended to settle down again, but unfortunately died on the voyage across the Atlantic.

It was ten years ago that Mr. Ernest Jackson emigrated to Canada, and he and his brother William, who was also in Canada, enlisted in the Canadian Contingent. Both boys before their emigration were members of the Rushden Adult School Male Choir from its commencement. Pte. William Jackson has been in France for the last seven or eight weeks, but Ernest had to undergo an operation, after which he had been spending a brief leave with his sister, Mrs. W. Dickens, of Orchard-place, Rushden. Pte. Ernest Jackson, who married a daughter of Mr. Alfred Cox, of Westbourne-grove, Rushden, has done very well in Brandon, Manitoba, where a number of Rushdenites have made their abode.

Mr. Harry Elstow, who appears in the group, was a reservist, and was called up at the beginning of the war. Mr. Spavins and Mr. Walker enlisted in the Canadian Contingent. Mr. J. Clarke, Mr. J. York, and Mr. T. Church are now in Brandon. Mr. C. Clarke (Saskatchewan) enlisted in the English Forces and, as stated, Mr. J. T. Jackson died at sea.

Extract from an "Eventful Voyage" in June 1917:
They left Rushden for Canada about ten years ago. Mr. Brandon joined the Colours and served with the Canadian Forces in France. Being wounded, he was sent to England, and last October Mrs. Brandon returned from Canada to see him.
Rushden Argus, 24th August 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins

Rushden Canadian Seriously Wounded
News has been received by Mr. H. Wykes Ashdown, of Wellingborough, that his brother, Pte. C. W. Ashdown, of the Canadian Regiment, has been seriously wounded by gunshot in the back and left arm during a recent engagement at lens. He is now in hospital at la Treport. Pte. Ashdown is the third son of the late Mr. A. Ashdown, of Rushden, and Mrs. Ashdown, of Great Houghton. He joined up in Canada in April 1916, came over to England in October, and went out to France last March.

Rushden Echo, Friday 26th October 1917, transcribed by Kay Collins

KilledPte. Mason, who left Rushden some time ago for Canada, and joined the Canadian Contingent, was killed in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. His comrade, Pte. J. Flowers, of the same regiment, who is a brother-in-law of Mr J T Bettles, of Newton-road, Rushden, found among the deceased soldiers’ papers the photograph of a Rushden girl, which he forwarded to Mr Bettles, who, however, does not know the name of the subject.

Rushden Echo, 31st May 1918, transcribed by Kay Collins

Arrived from CanadaPte. Arthur Linnitt, of the Machine Gun Depot, stationed at Seaford, Sussex, has arrived in England from Toronto, Canada, and has paid a visit to his native town of Rushden, after being in Canada for nearly eight years. Pte. Linnitt joined the Colours a few months ago, and has come over to England with a contingent from Canada. He has had six days’ leave from camp, and has spent an enjoyable holiday at home with his parents and sister, who live at 46 Portland-road, Rushden. He was fortunate to get his leave during the Whitsuntide holidays. Pte. Linnitt is the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Linnitt. Corpl. W. Linnitt was also home on leave during the holidays with his brother, Pte. Arthur Linnitt. Corpl. Linnitt, it will be remembered, was wounded on July 17th 1917, and has been in several hospitals in Newcastle-on-Tyne, Northumberland, etc. He has now so far improved that he has left the hospital and is convalescent at Shoreham-by-Sea, near Brighton, although far from being strong and well again. Corpl. Linnitt spent a good few years out in Canada before joining the Colours 3½ years ago. He then joined Kitchener’s first army, and has been good service in France before being wounded. Mr. and Mrs. Linnitt have one other son in the Canadian Army, Pte. Ralph Linnitt, who is stationed at Seaford South Camp. He joined the Colours nearly four years ago, and has been wounded in the left arm and shoulder. Pte. Ralph Linnitt has spent a great many years in Canada, America, etc. Pte. Harry Linnitt is another son of Mr. and Mrs. Linnitt, and he is in the Suffolk Regiment. He was also home on leave during the holidays for four days, which he spent with his wife and little son, who reside in Crabb-street.


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