Along the Pentland Road, 25 May 2017

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Trapper trapped

My perusal of attestation papers for the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in the First World War revealed some unusual details, some actually quite tragic.

A 31-year old trapper from the Canadian Northwest Territories, George Mckenzie, was apprehended on 14 October 1918 after not reporting for military duty. Since 1917, the military draft had been in force in Canada. The numbers of volunteers had seemingly dropped off dramatically as the heroic battles on the Western Front showed themselves to be pointless bloodbaths in which thousands of Canadian lads had perished. George Mckenzie had been called up 11 months previously, but not reported for duty. His place of residence is quoted as Fort Smith, a settlement on the Salt River on the border between Alberta and Northwest Territories. He was born in 1887 in Fort Resolution, 60 miles to the north on the shores of the Great Slave Lake. If he was a trapper, it stands to reason he would not receive his summons for nearly a year. What caused his hospital admission is not known (at this stage).

George Mckenzie died in hospital in Edmonton, 500 miles south of Fort Smith, without his details being recorded by the military authorities.

Are these the same?

On 28 February 1916, a man named Norman Maciver walked into an army recruitment centre at Saltcoats in Saskatchewan, Canada. Norman was a man of small stature, half an inch short of 5 feet, with a chest circumference of only 30½ inches. He was apparently eager to join the Canadian Expedionary Force fighting in France. His mother, erroneously named Mary Macaulay on his enrolment paper, lived a dozen miles away in Wroxton. Norman was born in the Isle of Lewis in 1899 and not married in 1916. On 12 December 1916, he was signed off medically unfit.

On 20 January 1917, a man named Norman Maciver walked into an army recruitment centre at Melville in Saskatchewan, Canada. Norman was a man of small stature, half an inch short of 5 feet, with a chest circumference of only 31½ inches. but apparently eager to join the Canadian Expedionary Force fighting in France. His mother, Mary lived a dozen miles away in Yorkton, where he himself also lived. Norman was born in the Isle of Lewis in 1898 and not married in 1917. On 14 June 1917, he was signed off medically unfit.

Are these the same? It would appear so, tantalisingly so. I have been unable to find a birth certificate for a Norman Maciver being born in either 1898 or 1899, with a mother named Mary. But the similarities are striking. However, having gone through several hundred attestation papers, a chest circumference of 31 inches is very small (average being nearer 38), as is Norman's height of 4' 11.5" (1.50 metres). Maybe that prompted his dismissal as medically unfit? We shall probably never know.

Thursday 1 July

The day started wet and windy here, but after lunchtime, the cloud broke and the sun is currently shining brightly. The mercury is at 15C, which is a lot more bearable than the 31C that my father is reporting from Holland. West is best, it would seem. Not much doing today, apart from giving some computer help and monitoring hurricane Alex, that I mentioned in my previous post. And watching the second movie (on DVD) of Lord of the Rings.

Hurricane update - 1 July

Hurricane Alex has made landfall about 110 miles south of Brownsville, TX, with winds of 100 mph, gusting to 130 mph. The storm is now well inland and weakening. The main problems will be rainfall, with 8 to 12 inches already falling over northern Mexico, and 4 to 8 inches over southern Texas. If you're in that area, please be extremely wary of flash-floods, which can be life-threatening. Please monitor the output of NWS Brownsville and Corpus Christi for further details.