With Remembrance Day just around the corner, I began to compile some information about the names appearing on the Carleton Place War Memorial, which can easily be seen from the Library windows fronting on Memorial Park. It occured to me that there was more to know about these veterans than just their names – important stories to be shared about people in this community who had made the ultimate sacrifice.
Upon comparing the names on the cenotaph with the names in Larry Gray’s two books, “We are the Dead,” about the WWI veterans, and “Fathers, Brothers, and Sons,” about the WWII veterans, all of whom sacrificed their lives in those wars, I made the appalling discovery that some names are missing from the memorial.
While nothing can make up for this oversight, except having their names inscribed thereon, I feel very fortunate that Larry Gray wrote both of his books about the Carleton Place men and women who died during those wars. How else would anyone know about our ‘unknown soldiers,’ or the battles they fought in?
In light of this discovery, I will now tell you about the men, the ‘unknown soldiers’, whose names you do not see on the town cenotaph, but whose names and stories we now know – thanks to Larry Gray. Hopefully the names will be added to the memorial in the future, and hopefully Larry Gray will not mind me using the information from his books to honour these particular people here.
Colin Duncan P. Sinclair
Colin was born June 2, 1897 at Oliver’s Ferry (Rideau Ferry, Ontario). He was the eldest son of Rev. R. C. H. Sinclair. When he enlisted with the 3rd University Company in Montreal in June 1915, he was an 18 year old student, having just graduated from the high school in Carleton Place. He was 5’5” tall and weighed 122 pounds.
After a short training session in Canada, he sailed to England, arriving September 14, 1915. On November 30th he was transferred to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and joined them in the trenches in France on February 12, 1916. Colin observed his 19th birthday in the trenches during the Battle of Mount Sorrel, which occurred in the Ypres Salient in Sanctuary Wood, June 2-13. Four Hundred Patricia’s lost their lives in this battle.
By September 15, 1916, the PPCLI’s were in the Somme at Fabeck Graben. During the battle for Flers Courcelette, Colin would have seen the British-invented tank used in warfare for the first time.
Colin distinguished himself in the assault on Vimy Ridge, and considered himself lucky to have survived this harrowing battle. After fighting with the Patricia’s for a year and four months in France, he applied for his commission as an infantry officer. On April 17, 1917, he was transferred to England to the Eastern Ontario Regiment depot in Seaford, where he completed his officer training and was made a temporary lieutant.
However, Colin had his sights set on flying and on October 30 was sent to the Royal Flying Corps School of Aeronautics at Reading for flight training as a pilot. It was at the advanced training school at Stamford that his career in the air ended. On March 17, 1918, at age 20, Colin Sinclair was accidentally killed at Bickers Fen, Donnington, Lincolnshire, as a result of an aeroplane crash. He is buried in Stamford Cemetery, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom.
Facts from “We Are The Dead”, by Larry Gray. Post by Shirley Jones-Wellman
Ralph Patterson Simpson
While there is an R. Simpson engraved on the Carleton Place cenotaph, there were really two Simpson brothers using that initial. I assume the R. Simpson on the memorial refers to Charles Ross Simpson, who was always referred to as Ross, and who died from his wounds on January 13th, 1921, at the Euclid Hall Hospital in Toronto.
I believe that it is his brother, Ralph Patterson Simpson, whose name does not appear on the cenotaph, as he didn’t die from his wounds until 1932, by which time all of the names had more than likely been engraved thereon.
The following is Ralph’s story:
Ralph was born in Carleton Place on April 10, 1895, the eldest son of William and Minnie Simpson. When he joined the 42nd Regiment on March 6, 1915, he was twenty-one years old, 5’11” tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes and fair hair.
Relatively soon, he was transferred to the 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion in Ottawa. He arrived overseas at Shorncliffe, England on July 4, 1915. On August 25 he was drafted to France and the 2nd Battalion, which was already in the field.
On September 12, 1915, as the 2nd Battalion was marching into position for the attack on Courcelette, Ralph was wounded by a rifle bullet hitting his right thigh. After convalescing in England he rejoined his Battalion in the field on November 17, 1917.
Ralph survived the rest of the war unscathed, and left for Canada on February 8, 1919, and was discharged from the army on March 3, 1919. He lived out the rest of his short life in Carleton Place, dying at the age of thirty-six years, eleven months on March 5, 1932. His death was deemed by military authorities to have been attributable to his war wound.
From “We Are The Dead” by Larry Gray. Post by Shirley Jones-Wellman
Robert Franklyn Preston Abbott
Franklyn was born the only son and child of Mr. & Mrs. Charles H. Abbott in Carleton Place on May 14, 1897.
In June 1916, he went to Toronto to the Curtiss Flying School, obtaining his pilot’s certificate on November 7, 1916. The very same day he was enrolled in the Royal Navy Air Service as a probationary flight officer.
By January 14, 1917, he was overseas and training at Chingford, England. On June 21 he went to France and joined No. 3 Squadron at Dunkirk, where he most likely flew Scouts, and then Sopwith Camels, in support of the ground war.
On August 16, 1917, Franklyn was flying on patrol when he initiated a strafing attack on the German airdrome at Uytkerke. According to The Almonte Gazette of October 5, 1917, “Flight Lieutenant Franklyn Abbott, who was wounded in the upper thigh….received his wound in the air, after dispatching some …. (enemy) planes).” Franklyn spent time in hospitals in England before being sent home to Canada for rehabilitation.
As of April 15, 1918, Franklyn had returned to the war with No. 4 Squadron in Dunkirk, providing ground support and antisubmarine defence patrols. By September, Franklyn was admitted to hospital in England suffering from tuberculosis. He relinquished his commission due to ill health, going back to Canada to recuperate in April of 1919.
Franklyn Abbott died in the Kingston, Ontario, isolation hospital on March 25, 1932, from tuberculous meningitis, the effect of war service.
From “We Are The Dead”, by Larry Gray. Post by Shirley Jones Wellman
William Andrew Fanning
William Andrew Fanning was born in Carleton Place on November 23, 1889, and was the son of Edward and Eliza Ann Fanning.
When he enlisted with the Active Force on December 15, 1915, he already had six months service with the Composite Battalion of the 1st Regiment, Grenadier Guards of Canada, which became officially known as the 87th Canadian Infantry Battalion. At that time he was twenty-six years old and stood 5’10” tall.
On April 23rd he sailed upon the Empress of Britain from Halifax to Liverpool, England, where he was transferred to the 11th Brigade, landing at Le Havre in France on August 12, 1916.
On June 26, 1917, William Fanning was confirmed in the permanent rank of lance corporal, and that same day was wounded by artillery shrapnel. On June 29 he arrived at No. 35 General Hospital in Calaise where he was admitted “with a gunshot would (shrapnel) to the right thigh causing a compound fracture of the lower third of the femur (just above the knee).”
Arriving by ship at the Queen’s Military Hospital in Kingston on March 26, he was treated and declared “medically unfit for further service arising from wounds.”
He died on May 12, 1931, at the age of forty-one years. His death was deemed, by the government, as “attributable to military service.”
Thomas James Gorrod
Thomas Gorrod was overage when he enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force on October 19, 1915, at Kingston, Ontario. He was born, educated, and married in London, England, emigrating to Canada around 1902. It is thought that his real birth date was sometime around 1865, making him actually fifty years old in 1915. He was sent to the 80th Battalion, and was described as 5’4” tall, with a fair complexion, grey eyes and brown hair.
Thomas was part of the 80th Battalion, which embarked aboard the S.S. Baltic for England and arrived in Liverpool on May 29, 1916.
On May 23, 1917, Thomas was transferred to the Canadian Railway Troops at Purfleet in Essex, and finally, on June 19, 1917, he landed in France with the 10th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops. They labored under the dreadful conditions of the Ypres Salient before Passchendaele, and carried out their work with remarkable speed.
On August 17, 1917, Thomas Gorrod was promoted to the rank of corporal, but began to have trouble with his eyes. During hospitalization for a corneal ulcer, his true age was discovered, and he was discharged from the Canadian Expeditionary Force as overage and medically unfit on November 8, 1918.
Thomas lived out the rest of his life in Carleton Place, and died on December 16, 1933. In the edition of December 20, the Herald reported that: “Thomas Gorrod, for many years an employee of the Findlay Stove foundry died in the hospital in Ottawa on Saturday, following a lengthy illness.”