Malcolm & Dan Joe (WW1)

Notes 02, In Support of
"Dan-Joe & Malcolm (WW1)"

  • Auto Transport
  • Aircraft
  • Communications
  • Weapons
  • Battle Conditions
  • Medicine (1915-20)
  • Medical Hist., Dan-Joe
  • Conscription
  • Medals
  • Regina Trench Cemetery

    During the war, as might be seen from pictures of it, there were trucks with motors; but more than those, were wagons and gun carriages being pulled by horses.

    Automobiles had an earlier start than aircraft. They came along in the last decades of the 1800s. They were soon thought to be a problem for men and animals which mostly occupied the roads back then. It was in 1896 that the British parliament repealed the Red Flag Act, an act which had required that if the operator of a mechanized contraption wished to use a public road then the motor vehicle is to be proceeded with a man carrying a red flag to warn unsuspecting pedestrians. Less than six years before the beginning of the war, in September of 1908, Henry Ford produced his first Model T automobile. In 1910, the Four-wheel braking system was patented. By that year Ford had sold 10,000 automobiles. In 1911, the first electric starter was introduced, an alternative to the hand-crank that had been used to start engines. In 1913, Ford introduced the first moving assembly line. During 1915, the 1 millionth Ford car rolled off the assembly line at Detroit.


    Aircraft, Sopwith Camel

    There are a number of references, in the Diary of the 26th to the air-war over France during WW1. Such as we see in the entries of March, 1917: The 4th, a "Zepp" had passed and on the 6th "Both hostile and our own planes active all day." Dan-Joe and his fellows of the 26th witnessed a number on both sides go down in spectacular flames.

    The years of the First World War, 1914-1918, were early years for manned flight. It was just eleven years before WW1 started, in 1903, that Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first flight in a heavier-than-air machine at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In August of 1909, Aviator Glenn H. Curtiss at an an event at Rheims, won the world's first airplane race. While other pilots slowed down to make turns on a two lap course, Curtiss showed that sharp turns could be banked. It was Curtis, too, who, at a later date, received U.S. Patent No. 1,011,106 for the aileron (which controls the rolling and turning of an aircraft).

    In 1911, the development of aircraft continued, apace. This because of the numerous flights taken by enthusiastic and adventurist civilians. As far as military advancements: in September of that year, the French Army demonstrated the value of reconnaissance by airplane. The French pilots flew from Verdun to Etraye then to Romagne, and, on their return provided in-depth information of their observations. In 1912, there came into being Camp Trouble. It was the first training site for U.S. Navy aviators, and, at first, consisted of a set of tents and three airplanes. Within months, all three of the planes had been wrecked.

    At the first of the war, aeroplanes were used as in-the-air observation posts. Though bullets were soon flying; such that, at the opening of the European war, in October of 1914, the first German aircraft was shot down by an Allied plane. By December of 1916, the British Sopwith Camel aircraft (pictured above) made its maiden flight. It was designed to counter the German's Fokker aircraft (of which, there were many versions). On April 21st, 1918, Manfred Von Richthofen, "The Red Baron," WWI's most successful fighter pilot, died in combat at Morlancourt Ridge near the Somme River.


    In October of 1906, Guglielmo Marconi initiated commercial transatlantic radio communications between his high power long-wave wireless telegraphy stations in Clifden Ireland and Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. In 1908, a long-distance radio message was sent from the Eiffel Tower for the first time. In 1910, Western Union created a forerunner of long distance telephone calling, with the inauguration of its new "telegraph-telephone" service. So too, in this year, in the United States the "Wireless Act" was passed into law. All ships carrying at least 50 persons were required to install radio by July 1, 1911. In the next year, 1912, the first radio communication between a U.S. Navy airplane and a Navy ship occurred; the two were three miles apart. That September, Edwin Howard Armstrong, a 21 year old electrical engineering student at Columbia University, made the first successful test of his invention, the regenerative circuit, which amplified faint radio signals to normal levels. In 1913, the first film footage of war scenes in color was shown, having been taken during the First Balkan War under the direction of British war correspondent Frederic Villiers, who accompanied a division of the Greek Army. In March, a wireless communication between the United States and France began when the U.S. station at Arlington, Maryland, sent a message received at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. And, in January of 1915, with the war being just months old, the first U.S. coast-to-coast long-distance telephone call, facilitated by a newly invented vacuum tube amplifier, ceremoniously inaugurated by Alexander Graham Bell in New York City and with his former assistant Thomas Augustus Watson receiving it in San Francisco, California.


    "World War I raised artillery to a new level of importance on the battlefield. The years of the First World War had provided several developments in artillery warfare. Artillery could now shoot farther and more explosively than ever before." (

    Trench warfare, I suspect, did not do much for the long range cannon which could hurl explosive shells miles down range. We see that in March of 1918, the giant German cannon, the so-called Paris Gun, was used to shell Paris from 71 miles away.

    There were, as there has been for many years, mortar guns. "A mortar is a weapon that fires explosive projectiles known as (mortar) bombs at low velocities, short ranges, and high-arcing ballistic trajectories. It is typically muzzle-loading with a short barrel, generally less than 15 times its caliber." The image that most people have of the mortar in the 20th Century, for either the First or the Second War, would be the same: A strengthened pipe set in the ground with suitable base and a tripod for support. There, two, maybe three, men attend to the business of hurling a self detonating bomb into the trench of the enemy. One of the loading-men drops a two-fused bomb (I imagine) into the mouth of the pipe; all, quickly turn away holding their ears as the first explosion sends the armed and timed projectile on her way. In World War One, the Allies used the Stoke Trench Mortar.

    Machine Guns
    The Vickers machine gun was the standard issue machine gun for the British Army in World War One. It was the machine gun used by the British Army in 1912, and, of course throughout WW1. "The Vickers was a water-cooled weapon. A jacket around the main barrel ... held about one gallon of water and to keep water loss to a minimum, a rubber hose was attached to a container that condensed steam. The machine gun used the same ammunition as the Lee Enfield rifle (0.303 inch bullets) and could fire at a rate of 450 bullets a minute." (

    The Vickers was, however, hard to transport, but once setup was a hard-hitting and reliable weapon. "In an attack it was awkward to move and set-up - but in defence it was a very dangerous weapon for anyone attacking a position defended by Vickers machine guns." As for a light weight, mobile machine that could be used in an offensive action there was the Lewis Gun. It was a much lighter weapon that could be easily set-up, even in the deadly turmoil of an army on the attack. The Lewis Gun was of American design that was perfected and widely used by the Allies in their fight with Germany.

    Lee-Enfield Rifle

    As mentioned earlier in this work, Canada joined in with the rest of the British empire and declared war on Germany on August 4th, 1914. The Canadian authorities then immediately went about raising an army; it had nothing that much resembled a modern day army, to begin with. That the Canadians put one together within 10 weeks, is a credit to Canada. The First Expeditionary Force, the first of a number sent before the war was over, arrived in England on October 16th, 1914. It consisted of 32,000 men (mostly volunteers). As one might expect an army to be, this first Canadian force was equipped with its own transport vehicles which consisted of wagons, both motorised and drawn by horses (7,000 horses accompanied the landing army). Getting this army together is a story in itself. I will deal with but one aspect of the business of putting a Canadian army together for overseas service. To arm 30,000 plus men with a rifle. It was to be the Ross Rifle.

    The Ross rifle was a bolt action .303 inch-calibre rifle produced in Canada. It had been around since 1903. Through the years 1914 to 1916, it was used by the Canadian troops. It was a very accurate rifle, but as for the requirements of a rough and ready rifle, as is needed in warfare - it had serious drawbacks. It "was highly successful in target shooting before WWI, but the close chamber tolerances, lack of primary extraction and overall length made [it] unsuitable for the conditions of trench warfare."

    Though there was serious arguments over the matter - it seems there was more than one person "on the take" in respect to the adoption of the Ross rifle for use during WW1. After the wringing of many hands, the Ross rifle was recalled; it was replaced with the British Lee-Enfield rifle (Depicted in the accompanied image, with thanks to wikipedia). "The British Lee-Enfield rifle, with its ten round magazine, was a superior weapon to the German Mauser, and the British soldier a superior shot." Not only superior in aim, but superior in the rapidity of the shots: "Fifteen rounds a minute." (Keegan's The First World War, p. 98.) Incidentally, the subjects of our larger work, Dan-Joe and Malcolm, our boys, were relieved of their Ross Rifles in August of 1916. (See Diary) Into their hand's was placed a Lee Enfield rifle. Training in the new rifles started right away: "Rapid Loading, Adjustment of Sights, etc." with practice being carried put "on Range near Houlle."


    The trenches at the front were not just running in one line, but a number of interconnecting ones.
    Diagram of Trenches

    "To the rear of the front line, the British made a practice of digging a 'support line' line, separated from the first by two hundred yards and usually a sketchier 'reserve' line four hundred yards further back. Connecting these lines, and kinked also by traverses, ran 'communication' trenches which allowed reliefs and ration parties to reach the front under cover, all the way from the rear." (John Keegan's The First World War, p. 176.)
    These trenches were to be a maze for the newcomer; guides were usually sent along as the new recruits came up to the front. Directional signs were posted and other signs too, identifying a ramshackle habitation of some group or other built in a corner or at the dead end of a trench. There, over the rough wooden doors would be found: Beggar's Rest, Apple Villa, Doll's House, and other names just as arresting.

    Keegan also described the "No-Man's Land" between the lines, which, while varying, were "usually two to three hundred yards wide." There was lots of barbed wire spread about no-man's land by both sides, maintained and fixed up by the respective side. The allies and the Germans had different trench digging philosophies. The Germans were in for good. At first the Germans instructed their men not to build fall back trenches but rather to put all there efforts in the single line and to hold it. The Germans did indeed build their trenches in a superior manner. First off, it was the Germans who first built defensive lines and picked the best spots, usually elevated. In certain areas the ground was natural chalk which they hollowed out in a very impressive manner. "Concrete machine-gun posts were appearing behind the trenches, which were heavily walled with timber and iron. Parapets were thick and high, trench interiors floored with wooden walkways." Keegan continued:

    "The simple truth of the 1914-18 trench warfare is that the massing of large numbers of soldiers unprotected by anything but cloth uniforms, however they were trained, however equipped, against large masses of other soldiers, protected by earthworks and barbed wire and provided with rapid-fire weapons, was bound to result in very heavy causalities among the attackers." (Keegan, p. 293.]

    "The men in muddy hell need daily supplies. The conditions are so vile that no man can endure more than forty-eight hours at a stretch in the forward puddles and squelch pits. Do those at home in comfort, warmth, and cultured environment realise what they owe to the stout hearts on the western front? No wheeled traffic can approach within three miles of the forward pits; for roads which were useful to the pre-war farmers have now disappeared. Everything must be carried up by men or mules. The latter, stripped of harness, or fully dressed, die nightly in the holes and craters, as they bring their loads to the men they serve so faithfully and well, urged on by whips and kindness. But one false step means death by suffocation. Sheer exhaustion claims its quota, for the transport lines themselves are devoid of cover from wind and rain. Such is the animals' war, and could animal lovers see the distress of their dumb friends they would never permit another conflict." (

    When the realities of dirt, disease and death creeped in, the illusions of military glory for the young men soon dissolved. But they continued to go into the trenches, though certain of the French soldiers were not so keen at times; we read, for example, on May 27th, 1917, over 30,000 French troops refused to go to the trenches in Missy-aux-Bois.

    Germany's first large-scale use of poison gas began for them on January 31st, 1915. On that date 18,000 artillery shells containing liquid xylyl bromide tear gas were fired on the Imperial Russian Army on the Rawka River west of Warsaw during the Battle of Bolimov; however, freezing temperatures prevented this poison attack to be effective. On April 22nd they tries it out on the western line. It was the start of the Second Battle of Ypres.

    At first, the gas used by the Germans was xylyl bromide which was not lethal but caused one to produce an abundance of tears. However, a few months later the Germans laid in a supply of killing gas, chlorine. Chlorine is a yellowish-green heavy gas condensable by pressure. It blisters the lungs and a great amount of fluid then gathers which leads to the victim being drown in his own fluids. When a bit of wind was up and running from them to the enemies trenches, then all that was necessary was to turn the cocks on the pressurized tanks. Within days the allies knew what they were dealing with and made the connection that chlorine was water soluble; so, the men were encouraged to hold wet cloths to their face and breath through it. Gas masks were soon hanging off of most of the men. "Gas in a variety of forms, the more deadly asphyxiant phosgene, and the blistering 'mustard,' would continue in use throughout the war ... Its intrinsic limitations as a weapon, dependent as it was on wind direction, and the rapid development of effective respirators, ensured, however, that it would never prove decisive ..." (Keegan, p. 199.)

    Phosgene caused: "Choking, coughing … inability to expand chest … vomiting … pain behind sternum … cyanosis … The development of these dangerous symptoms may occur after many hours' delay, and sometimes with an unexpected rapidity … Death, which may be proceeded by mild delirium or unconsciousness."

    As for Mustard Gas: "Death is never the direct result of the action of the poisonous vapour … from the second day onward through the first and second week severely affected men may die, but only as a result of secondary bacterial infection … Death is relatively uncommon … 65 per cent were fit for discharge before the end of the fifth week." ( Incidentally, it was not just the Germans that used gas, the Allies did too, like the British on September 25th, 1915, in their offensive at Loos.

    MEDICINE (1915-20) (TOC)

    It was a Professor of Surgery at Glasgow University, Joseph Lister (1827-1912) who made the connection between cleanliness and germs. The conditions of the trenches were such that soldiers came down with sickness. If it was an infection, the body was either able to deal with, or persons would die. At the time of the First World War One, penicillin was not heard of; only in 1928 was it used. Novocaine came along in 1905, but doing medicine close to the battle lines rarely allowed the use of it. Venereal disease was common. The boys did get some short time off and managed to meet a French girl who was trying to feed her family. These days one injection of penicillin will knockoff primary syphilis and gonorrhea. This kind of a treatment was not available during WW1; however, in 1909, the first successful treatment for syphilis was struck upon, arsphenamine. It became known as the "magic bullet," it often was known by its slang name, for what ever reason, as "606."

    In 1910, an Austrian doctor, Karl Landsteiner (1868-1943) was carrying out his research on human blood and determined that there were four different types; he also discovered the Rh factor. It was now determined that blood was transferable from one person to an another; this was to be a useful discovery which had some impact on World War One. In 1916, "The Royal Army Medical Corps first successful blood transfusion using blood that had been stored and cooled."

    Surgery was also making advances, though by WW1 it had only taken a baby-step given the advances that were to occur to bring surgery to what it is today.

    Shell-Shock and Tuberculosis, as we will see, play a part in our larger story of Dan-Joe.

    "During the First World War, shell-shock became the catch-all term for a wide variety of nervous conditions which, at various times were identified as ranging from 'cowardice' to 'maniacal insanity.' While modern medicine is no more certain of effective diagnoses and treatment, the medical system of the Great War was not prepared for the range of possible symptoms or the reactions of patients or commanders to shell-shock. The medical system also found itself in the unenviable position of certifying men who appeared well enough at the time of examination to be fit to stand trials for cowardice, which in some cases led to their executions." (

    As for Tuberculosis: it has claimed its victims throughout much of known human history. By the time of the WW1, tuberculosis was not as common as it use to be. Its pathogenesis is a study which has been going on for years, and continues. What we might conclude is that it is a parasitic bacterium (Mycobacterium) which can be transferred from human to human, especially for rundown humans existing in unsanitary and crowded conditions. "BCG vaccination was widely employed following World War I. The modern era of tuberculosis treatment and control was heralded by the discovery of streptomycin in 1944 and isoniazid in 1952." (


    Dan-Joe's Obituary

    (The information in the obituary is not correct. Dan-Joe was wounded by a gunshot wound to his neck and back, not by a piece of shrapnel in his side.)

    Through Dan-Joe's time in the war, he suffered from, at various times: Influenza (Feb 1916), Shell Shock (Sep 29-Oct 04, 1916), abscessed jaw (May 2017, lasting a month), Scabies (which put him in the hospital for weeks, Feb/Mar 2018), gunshot wounds (one in June, 1916; and another in August, 1918) and Tuberculosis (which brought him home in November of 1918).

    Having returned from France, at Pine Hill Hospital, on Nov 5, 1918. His history shows he is 5'8", 112 lbs (139 lbs on enlistment 3 years plus earlier), pale, with an "Identification mark" G.S.W. over left scapula; it is described as "Superficial." It caused no disability, at the time he was assessed at Lenham Hospital (Kent, England) on October 3rd, 1918. His lung disease was ultimately what forced Dan-Joe's evacuation to England in June of 1918. Dan-Joe's condition was very serious and attributed to, "Exposure to Poison Gas." The medical conclusion at that point was that Dan-Joe had "T.B. Lungs." The narrative of his condition, once in Halifax, (November, 1918), was: "He is bed ridden and is much emaciated. The chest is much wasted and there is marked hollowing above and below the upper lobes of both lungs, and over the base of the right lung over the upper lobes the breathing is of, the tubals vesicular type with occasional rales. The vocal resonance is increased over these areas. The evening Temp may rise as high as 102.2. The sputum is positive for T.B."

    From the medical records of Dan-Joe we see that he was evacuated from France to England during June of 1918; spent five months in various hospitals in England; then put on a ship for Halifax. A note at Pine Hill, at Halifax, in November of 1918, shows that "he has been admitted as a cot case from the Hospital Ship ... much emaciated." Dan-Joe was admitted to St Leonards Hospital (London) on June 28th, 1918 and spent four weeks there; then one week at Eastbourne Hospital (on the channel just east of Brighton, admitted September 20); then 2 weeks at Lenham Hospital (East of London in Kent, admitted September 24th, the place being described as "Can. Spec. Lenham," ward 1A until October when, as we said, he was put on a hospital ship bound for Halifax.

    Upon his release from Pine Hill, it was recommended that Dan-Joe be placed in a Sanatorium. The treatment: "Egg Noggs, Tonics" and other treatments to deal with his symptoms. The classic symptoms of active TB infection are a chronic cough with blood-tinged sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss, all of which show up in Dan-Joe's medical records.

    Let us give a larger description of TB, and likely how Dan-Joe was treated, we turn to the 'net:

    "Persons with primary tuberculosis, usually the young, were much less likely to infect others than persons with progressive secondary tuberculosis, who had many tuberculosis bacilli in their expectorated sputum. The finding of the red-stained bacillus in sputum was clear evidence of active tuberculosis and the person was then institutionalized to prevent him or her from infecting family, friends, and even casual contacts. With no specific treatment that would kill the bacilli, patients were usually placed at bed rest, [and] ... In retrospect the Army was ill prepared to deal with a large number of infective secondary tuberculosis cases in 1918. ... It has often been observed that complex battle plans are usually altered after the first skirmish [great line]. This was true of the army’s approach to dealing with soldiers with active ... tuberculosis. The problem of what to do with soldiers in France with active tuberculosis was not easily solved. [This approach, from the American perspective, which I am sure the allies adopted, was:] First, they had to be hospitalized in special quarantine wards and kept away from the base hospitals’ other patients. Second, with no hope of cure in the immediate future and unable to fight, they had to be transferred to embarkation hospitals, once again in special TB wards. Third, enough tuberculosis patients to reach a critical mass had to be accumulated to merit special accommodations on ships returning ... Fourth, once in the United States they had to be placed in military hospitals which initially were prepared for only small numbers of infectious tuberculosis patients. Fifth, and finally, they had to be separated from the military service as disabled veterans and placed in special government hospitals or sanatoria until they were either pronounced cured or their disease arrested with marked reduction of sputum bacilli or they died." (
    Dan-Joe died from his tuberculosis on June 17th, 1920, at the age of 24.


    Feb 2nd - Britain introduces conscription. For the very first time in her history, Britain compelled civilians to join the army. (Keegan, p. 322.) The French did it early. In March of 1913, demonstrators turned out to protest the decision by the officials requiring young Frenchmen to sign up for three years of military service. The war was underway before the British turned to it. "Introduced by the British in 1916, conscription or compulsory military service, bound over men between the ages of 18 and 41." (Howard, The First World War (Oxford university Press, 2002) at p. 32.)

    As for Canada: In the background, is the Premiership of Robert Borden (1854-1937; b. Grand Pre, Nova Scotia). Borden was the Prime Minister between October 10th, 1911 to July 10th, 1920; thus he was the last word on Canada's involvement in WW1. At the first of it, the Expeditionary Forces sent to France were composed of volunteers. So to, at the first of it, Canada had no lack of young men signing-up (including Dan-Joe and Malcolm), and doing so without any government compulsion. However, in time, the pool of those who would willingly go off to war became smaller. At the same time, the casualties mounted-up. It was necessary to get more troops over. So, in July of 1917, Canada passed the Military Service Act. Most of Canada supported conscription; the French in Quebec were against fighting a British war (never mind that the French nation in Europe was in peril). Riots broke out in Quebec. Conscription, however, remained in force for the balance of the war. Just to touch on the position in the United States: On April 2nd, 1917, President Wilson addressed Congress and a declaration of war was subsequently made. On May 18th, selective military conscription was brought in.

    Malcolm's Obituary Memorial Cross


    Though there were numerous medals handed out (cheap stuff for government) for those who served in the WW1, my two uncles, privates from the colonies, cannon fodder, did receive two medals. The Victory Medal (2), which I suppose most everyone got who had even the most remotest connection to the fighting of it; and the British War Medal if one fought with the British. There is a third medal which showed up in the remains of my mother's estate (the medals are in the possession of my brother, Joseph): The Memorial Cross (to the right) was awarded to the mother and widow of any member of the Armed Forces of Canada who lost his life on active service; this was most certainly given to my grandmother on account of Malcolm's death which occurred at Battle of the Somme (Courcelette) on September 28th, 1916.


    Regina Trench Cemetery

    The Regina Trench Cemetery is the place where one will find the grave of Malcolm Morrison, "Killed In Action" on September 28th, 1916. His death took place not distant from this cemetery. It is, of course, located in France, in the Somme area, near Grandcourt. We read that while the Regina Trench Cemetery is in Regina Trench Cemetery, Diagram
    "the commune of Grandcourt, it is not possible to gain access to the cemetery from Grandcourt. Visitors should approach the cemetery from the direction of Courcelette, which is a village about 8 kilometres north-east of Albert (next to the main road D929 Albert-Bapaume). The cemetery lies about 1.5 kilometres north-west of the village of Courcelette (signposted in the centre of Courcelette) and will be found 1.5 kilometres down a single track lane (not suitable for cars).
    On 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, Grandcourt village was reached by part of the 36th (Ulster) Division, but it was not until the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line, early in February 1917, that it was occupied by patrols of the Howe Battalion, Royal Naval Division. To the south-east of it is Courcelette, taken by the 2nd Canadian Division on 15 September 1916. Regina Trench was a German earthwork, captured for a time by the 5th Canadian Brigade on 1 October 1916, attacked again by the 1st and 3rd Canadian Divisions on 8 October, taken in part by the 18th and 4th Canadian Divisions on 21 October, and finally cleared by the 4th Canadian Division on 11 November 1916. The original part of the cemetery (now Plot II, Rows A to D) was made in the winter of 1916-1917. The cemetery was completed after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields of Courcelette, Grandcourt and Miraumont; most date from October 1916 to February 1917. Regina Trench Cemetery now contains 2,279 burials and commemorations of the First World War." (

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    Peter Landry
    2015 (2017)