Tuesday, June 1, 1915

Rest billets, Oblenghem

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day:  “Resting and refitting.”[1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: Oblenghem is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.

The 14th Battalion’s War Diary for May 29th, 1915 has noted that commissions were granted to Sergeant John Howe, and to Private Philippe Chevalier.  [2]

JOHN HOWE, NO. 26030: John Howe a native of St. John, New Brunswick, was born there March 26, 1890. The son of Arthur W. Howe of that city, he was a great-nephew of the Hon Joseph Howe the noted journalist, politician, public servant and Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Nova Scotia. John must have arrived in Montreal about the age of 16, because when he enlisted as a corporal with the 14th Bn. in September of 1914 he had already served eight years in the Victoria Rifles of Canada. At the time of his enlistment he was working as an accountant and living in St. Lambert, Quebec. Accompanying the 14th Battalion overseas he was soon promoted to Sergeant. As noted above, he was granted a commission in the field on May 29th, 1915. This was officially gazetted August 12, 1915. (LG29261, Supp. 8004). Eleven months after being commissioned he was killed instantly on April 25th, 1916, when struck in the head by an enemy bullet in the vicinity of Ypres. He was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

PHILIPPE CHEVALIER, No. 25937, AND HIS BROTHER PIERRE CHEVALIER, No, 25936: Philippe Chevalier b. Jan 22nd 1883, and his brother Pierre Chevalier, b. March 17th 1886, were sons of a prominent Montreal family whose home was on Peel Street. Their father, Martial Chevalier, was General Manager of Credit Foncier Franco-Canadien, and a Director of the Provincial Bank of Canada. Philippe was a civil engineer and Pierre, a draftsman. When war was declared in August 1914 both joined the Victoria Rifles of Canada as private soldiers and were part of that Regiment’s contribution to the establishment of the 14th Battalion. They were posted to the original “D” Company and went overseas with the First Canadian Contingent. Philippe was commissioned as a Lieutenant on May 29th 1915, and Pierre’s records indicate that he had been commissioned a week earlier.

While serving with the 14th Bn. Philippe was wounded on November 23rd, 1915 in his right arm and leg and was returned to Montreal to recover. In March of 1916 he was posted to the 163rd (Canadien-Francais) Battalion. The unit had begun recruiting in late 1915 throughout the province of Quebec. In May 1916, the battalion sailed for Bermuda, where it remained on garrison duty until late November of the same year. It then sailed for England and after arriving in England, the battalion was absorbed into the 10th Reserve Battalion on January 8, 1917. The 163rd (Canadien-Francais) Battalion, CEF had one Officer Commanding: Lieut-Col. H. DesRosiers who had previously served overseas as an original officer with the 14th Battalion. Just weeks before hostilities ended Lieut. Philippe Chevalier was posted to the 22nd Battalion, and received his discharge on demobilization on July 4, 1919.

Meanwhile Pierre had been seriously wounded in the thigh by a shell fragment on May 5th 1915 while with the 14th Bn. After passing through a number of medical facilities he was returned to Canada and did several tours of Canada and the United States in 1917 and 1918 as a member of the British Canadian Recruiting Mission. Following this he was posted to the Military Hospital (Invalid Soldier’s) Commission, for Military District No. 4 (Montreal). In December of 1917 he married a wealthy American heiress whom he met while on one of the recruiting missions in the United States. He received his discharge on medical grounds in September 1918.

[1]  War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, June 1, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa
[2]  R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette Printing Co., Ltd., 1927, pg. 60.

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