Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Memorial of the Great War, 1914-1918 : a record of service

During the First World War 1409 employees of the Bank of Montreal "deliberately closed their ledgers, laid aside pen and pencil, left the calm routine of a great institution, the security of a well-ordered business life, and went forth ... to fight for King and Empire."

At the end of the war 230 were missing from the Roll Call. Others were war-worn, some broken and recovered and recovering from grievous wounds.

In 1921 the bank published a memorial volume with portraits and biographies of those who died, and shorter summaries of the war experiences of those who returned. The volume has now been digitized by the University of Toronto and just been made available through the Internet Archive.

Here are two examples of the entries:

Sydney Harris
Sergeant, 8th Battalion, C.E.F.

Was born at Ely, Cambridgeshire, England, in 1888. He was educated at Framingham College, Suffolk, where he was one of the prefects of the college. After four years of service with the Capital and Counties Bank, Limited, in Great Yarmouth, he came to Canada and joined the staff of the Bank of Montreal, first in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and later in Winnipeg. He enlisted in August, 1914, as a Private in the Canadian Infantry, and arrived in France with the First Canadian Contingent early in 1915. He took part in all the operations in which his battalion was engaged in 1915 and 1916. During the severe fighting on the Somme he was wounded at Courcelette on September 26th, 1916, while advancing to the enemy trenches, and a few hours later he was instantly killed by shell-fire while waiting to be taken back to the dressing station.

James Francis Peachey
Corporal, 23rd Reserve Battalion, C.E.F.

Enlisted in April, 191 5, as a Corporal in the 5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles, and arrived in France with his unit in October, 1915. He was severely wounded by enemy fire at the taking of Regina Trench on the Somme in October, 1916. He subsequently served in England with the 22nd and 23rd Reserve Battalions.

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