Posts Tagged ‘canadian’

A First World War romance

January 5, 2016

At the end of 1914 and into 1915 Canadian soldiers were training on Salisbury Plain. It was to be expected that romances would spring up between the Canadian men and local girls. One local girl who fell for a Canadian was Dorothy Merritt of Church Street in Market Lavington. Dorothy was born in 1896 and was the daughter of John who led the Market Lavington band for 60 years. Dorothy would have been 18 in 1914, no doubt just the age to fall for the charms of a young Canadian soldier.

We have a copy of this card sent to Dorothy.

Card sent to Dorothy Merritt of Market Lavington by a Canadian soldier

Card sent to Dorothy Merritt of Market Lavington by a Canadian soldier

Clearly this was posted in the UK for it has a British stamp but the postmark is partly unreadable. Interesting that the address is just name, village, county.

"I can't get away this week'

“I can’t get away this week’

It sounds as though romance will need to be deferred for a while. Actually, the tone is hardly romantic and nor was the card which showed a personage at the embarkation camp of Valcartier in Canada.

The card front

The card front

We think this romance was to end very sadly. The same collection of Merritt memorabilia had this photo.


The back has a caption on it.


Tim my Canadian
Died of wounds Netley Hospital

It is all so poignant.

What happened to Dorothy? We’d love to know.


Alec Paterson

May 5, 2015

A Canadian soldier of The Great War

A recent web search by our curator found him something long wanted. It was documentary evidence that Lavington Manor house had been used as a military hospital by the Canadians. Oral history had said this was the case, but now one soldier’s medical record confirms it was used.

Hospital record for Alec Paterson Click it to see a much larger version of the image.

Hospital record for Alec Paterson
Click it to see a much larger version of the image.

The top entry tells us that Alec spent three days in Lavington Manor, from the ninth to the twelfth of January 1915 suffering from influenza – described as a mild attack due to wet and exposure. He made a good recovery.

Alec was an officer – a lieutenant in the 2nd battery of the Canadian Field Artillery – and had been leading his men in training across the windswept downland of Salisbury Plain through one of the wettest winters on record. Of course, we know that flu is a viral infection and is not actually due to weather conditions although it may flourish in certain environments.

Anyway, Lieutenant Paterson was able to leave Wiltshire for France on 10th February 1915. This is an extract from the Canadian war diary.

War diary for 10th February. The Canadians are off to the war. Click to enlarge.

War diary for 10th February. The Canadians are off to the war.
Click to enlarge.

By this time the HQ had moved to Market Lavington which is why the entry was made there. But we believe the trains left from Patney and Chirton station which would have offered a more direct route to Avonmouth for the strangely circuitous sea voyage to the continent.

Despite the dislocated shoulder and the effects of a gas attack mentioned in the hospital report, Alec survived the war by which time he had risen to the rank of Major. And it is in that uniform that we see him here.

Alec Paterson after his promotion to Major

Alec Paterson after his promotion to Major

Now to redirect readers to the blog produced by Alec’s grandson, Robert.

You can click here to find the post our curator discovered and from that you can navigate to all sorts of fascinating pages about the Canadians whilst still in Canada, in Wiltshire and then on to the hell of Vimy Ridge.

Many thanks to Robert for allowing us to share and use his family information.

Canadian Soldiers at the Green Dragon

March 12, 2015

The powers that were may have suggested that the conflict we now call the First World War would be over by Christmas, but of course it wasn’t. That means we are still marking 100 years of the First World War now and will mark different events right through until the boys came home.

Or perhaps that should read, ‘until the boys went home’ for many of the fighting men were not UK citizens. Today we look at a photo, sadly with a bit of damage, which reminds us just how many men from Canada were involved. This is a group shot of members of the 8th Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery and it was taken at the back of The Green Dragon as the caption shows.

8th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery

8th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery

The photograph itself is fairly intact.

The men are in the yard at the back of the Green Dragon in Market Lavington

The men are in the yard at the back of the Green Dragon in Market Lavington

You can click on this picture and that of the names, below to see a much larger image.

The photographers are clearly named.


They were Burgess Bros of Lavington.

It is the area with the names of the men that has suffered most, but even so, most are clear to read.


The information below comes from a Libraries and Archives of Canada website at .

8th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery

Background Information Organized in November 1914 in England under the command of Major S.B. Anderson, most of the personnel formerly belonged to the 19th Field Battery (Moncton), Non-Permanent Active Militia.

Arrived in France in February 1915. 2nd Brigade, 1st Canadian Divisional Artillery. Transferred to 12th Brigade in June 1916. One section absorbed by 5th Battery and one by 7th Battery on 21 March 1917. Battery ceased to exist 24 March 1917. Disbanded by Privy Council Order 3417 of 7 January 1918. Perpetuated by 8th (Moncton) Field Battery.

 Mascot: bear (“Winnie”) presented to London Zoo, Jan. 1915 (GAQ 11-22).

Now that last sentence fascinates, for the mascot bear was the one that a certain Christopher Robin Milne fell in love with at London Zoo and, as a result, named his Teddy Bear  ‘Winnie the Pooh’.

A Canadian Dragoon Cap Badge

December 2, 2013

We are less than a month away from 2014 – the year when we mark the centenary of the start of the First World War – the war to end all wars which would be all over by Christmas. Perhaps our political masters of the day never said which Christmas because it was over by Christmas 1918 – just four years late – and many men continued to die from injuries and illness after that date.

And, of course, the men who took part on our side were not just British. Soldiers from the old Empire fought as well and for many of them, an early taste of Europe was Market Lavington and the wild, wet lands of Salisbury Plain.

It is no surprise that we have odd bits of memorabilia, at Market Lavington Museum that belonged to soldiers from overseas. Today we look at a Canadian Dragoon cap badge.

Broken Royal Canadia Dragoons cap badge found in Market Lavington

Broken Royal Canadian Dragoons cap badge found in Market Lavington

This is clearly incomplete – the animal has lost its head. The other day our curator (who is not a military expert) discussed with a museum colleague just what animal it was. Was it a bull, or was it a horse, they mused. And they were both wrong. Military badge traders at have a badge for sale and they gave permission for us to use their picture of a complete badge on this blog.

A complete Royal Canadian Dragoons cap badge

A complete Royal Canadian Dragoons cap badge

This is actually a springbok – the animal we associate with South Africa. The Canadians wear this because of service in South Africa during the Boer War.

Our badge was dug up in the garden of Primrose House on White Street in Market Lavington – home of the Gye family. Perhaps the badge belonged to Edward Bliss Taylor, a Canadian serviceman who married Mrs Gye’s sister in 1919.

Alternatively, a Canadian called Harry Ryder stayed with the Gyes at Christmas 1916. And, of course, there were many other Canadians in the area.

Any further information about Canadian or other overseas servicemen who visited Market Lavington would be very much appreciated.

Canadian Servicemen Remember.

September 22, 2011

Today we are looking at a photo taken in Canada in about 1950. The photo shows Canadian servicemen who spent time in Market Lavington during World War 1. They are standing by a war memorial, presumably remembering former comrades.

Canadian servicemen, most with World War 1memories of Market Lavington, at a Canadian war memorial in about 1950

The man on the left had, perhaps, the biggest connection with Market Lavington, for he married a local girl. His name was Bliss Taylor and he married Mary Redstone. Mary was the sister of Ethel Gye and her mother had been the head of Easterton School.

Then, reading from left to right we have William Lerette, Edward Lutes and Albert Humphrey. The next man, believed to be William Snow, was never at Market Lavington. Next is Stanley Steeves and then John Horseman. Frank Ryder – next to the right end is remembered by the Gye family for staying with them the Christmas that Bessie was born which was 1916. Finally, we have James LaFrance, another of the men who was not at Market Lavington.

Old comrades who missed this photo call include Neil Mackinnon and Arne Neilson.

Well done Ethel Gye - a lovely caption on the back of the photo.

We wonder if any descendants of these servicemen might have heard any tales of Market Lavington. We’d love to hear from them.

The Potter family at home

April 7, 2011

The Potter family (and two soldiers) at their Parsonage Lane home in 1915 - a photo at Market Lavington Museum

A close up on the people

Edwin Potter was born in about 1876. He was the son of Edwin who ran the horse bus service between Market Lavington and Devizes. Our Edwin, the younger, was brought up in premises next to The Green Dragon which had formerly been The Bell Inn (now Old Bell House). In 1901 he worked for his father, who also farmed, as well as running the buses.

Edwin Potter

Edwin married Mary Ann Pike in the spring of 1903. She had been living in West Lavington in 1901.

Mary Ann Potter (formerly Pike)

The couple were blessed with children. Helena May was born in 1904, Amy Kathleen in 1906 and Edwin John in 1908. This family occupied a house on Parsonage Lane in 1911 and they were there when our photo was taken in 1915. Also present were two soldiers, believed to be Canadian, who were billetted on the family.

Edwin and Mary Ann remained at Parsonage Lane, for the rest of their lives. Mary Ann died in 1951. Edwin survived until 1959.

Of the three children on this photo, we have met Helena May frequently. She became Mrs Elisha, and taught at Market Lavington School.

Amy Kathleen married Frank George in 1931.

Edwin John married Dora Ellis in 1944.