We Made Hartney

We Made Hartney

War Heroes

First Enlisted Man, Chas Fee



Hartney Platoon of the 222nd Batallion marching to the CPR station in 1916, en route for training at Camp Hughes.

IN MANITOBA IN AUGUST 1914 the crops were ripe and the harvest well begun. Interest was divided between garnering the grain and the news in our daily newspapers. War was so far from our experience that we had no conception of what its coming might mean. Day by day the newspapers reported the alarming story of the German advance through Belgium. The Hartney Star for August 13 stated there had been no decisive battles yet. “There is a need for men, money and supplies to aid the Motherland”. The August 29 issue of The Star reported “Terrible Battle in Belgium; Britain loses 2,000 men; Namur occupied by Germans.”

In The Mere Living, Alice McDonald Parkinson provides additional compelling observations of these terrible times, and provides us local details that describe the terrible cost and the heavy burden borne by its young men, and the community that waited and prayed for them.

“Early in September word reached Hartney that Chas Fee who had been working in Winnipeg had joined the 79 Cameron Highlanders for overseas duty. Thus the first Hartney boy to enlist was the son of one of Hartney’s first settlers.

In October five men from the Hartney district enlisted: Russell Butchart, George Lumsden, Herbert C. Batty, C. G. Webb (Manager of the Union Bank at Hartney) and C.A. Anderson. Butchart, Anderson and Lumsden served through the entire war. In December 1914 A.P.F. Singer and Henry Strickland enlisted in the 45th Battalion, all three were killed at the front before 1916 ended. 

Interest in enlistment was strengthened by letters received from Hartney boys already serving in France. The first such letter was from Private Wilmer McArter to his mother and was printed in The Star. In it he described the grain fields of France and told that he was in the trenches and was determined to trust in the Almighty and keep his head down.

A letter from Private Herbert Batty to Reverend C.A. Blay stated “I am in the trenches up to my knees in mud. You would laugh if you could see me now. I have a pair of leggings made of sandbags to keep the mud from my legs. I look a tough bird, but I am happy as a lark, or a pig in a mud puddle. The country is badly wrecked but although there are graves in the field the farmers work their farms just behind the trenches as if nothing was going on.”

A letter that appeared in The Star in September 1915 was from a soldier who knew Robert Joslyn, the son of Reverend Joslyn. “Joslyn won the D.C.M. at Ypres where as a runner he was carrying messages from command headquarters to a forward trench after the telephone wires were down. I saw him after he’d made the run two or three times. His face was white for he knew he was facing death, but he was determined to do his duty. I saw Joslyn last at an old house on April 25. I was sitting beside the house trying to bind up my wound. He saw me and told me to wait while he delivered a message and he helped me to the dressing station, but we missed one another in the rush as there was heavy firing and the enemy was advancing about two hundred yards en masse, and our boys were holding strong to the trenches and any shelter to take up the frontage. When I arrived back to the battalion from hospital ten days ago Joslyn was missing. The boys said the last they saw of him was when 

he jumped over the trench to make the charge on May 24. The boy next him saw him fall and put up his hand and say ‘O Canada.’

Word reached Hartney that Private Singer was killed and Ypres in June and that Private James McCann, Seargent William Cross, Private James Watt and Private Henry Strickland had all died in the Somme fighting in September.

Group portrait of the 222nd Batallion.

Robert Scharff had only reached enlistment age when he joined the Royal Flying Corps in October 1917, the first Hartney boy to enter that service. Scharff saw service on the Somme and at Arras before being shot down and wounded over Douai. He was taken prisoner there by the Germans. In a letter to his parents in December 1918 he told his story. “You will remember I was shot down September 1st. I got 3 machine gun bullets in my thigh and when I landed I ran into a sunken road. My [Sopwith] Camel and I landed upside down so hard my right hip bone was cracked. The Huns got hold of me and laid me in a pig pen. They took me to a hospital in Douai where they pinched all my flying kit and left me only a pair of breaches and my tunic. While there, the Hun doctors cut a bullet out of my leg which had lodged just above the right knee. They did it without an anaesthetic and to say the least it was painful. [As a prisoner at Malheim-Ruhr in Germany] where I stayed until December 1919 I was fairly well treated. The food was poor, just one long nightmare of horrible soup and black bread.

In April 1917 Private Howard Fry died of pneumonia in a hospital in France and after the severe fighting at Vimy Ridge Seargent Harry Brassine, Lance Corporal Kenneth Ross, Corporal Charles Walker and Privates F.A. Peturson, Daniel McCuaig, and Robert Gallanger were reported killed in action. Private Pettypiece and Private John Hardy died at Passchendaele before 1917 closed.

The World at War, 1914-1918

The horrible numbers that attended the destruction of World War I help place the losses from Hartney into one of the great and terrible stories of human history.

The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was over 35 million. There were over 15 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.


Soldiers in the muck on a battlefield.

The total number of deaths includes about 10 million military personnel and about 7 million civilians. The Entente Powers (also known as the Allies) lost about 6.0 million soldiers while the Central Powers lost about 4.0 million.

Canadian total military deaths includes 53,000 killed or missing in action and died of wounds. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission gives a total of 64,976 military dead. The Canadian Virtual War Memorial contains a registry of information about the graves and memorials of Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served valiantly and gave their lives for their country. The losses for Newfoundland are listed separately on this table because it was not part of Canada at that time, but are included in the CVWM registry. The 1922 War Office report listed 56,639 Army war dead. Civilian deaths were due to the Halifax Explosion.

About two-thirds of military deaths in World War I were in battle, unlike the conflicts that took place in the 19th century when the majority of deaths were due to disease. Improvements in medicine as well as the increased lethality of military weaponry were both factors in this development. Nevertheless disease, including the Spanish flu, still caused about one third of total military deaths for all belligerents.

The war memorial at Hartney, set in a pretty park with classical gate columns.

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