4 – A Gentleman Officer

10250277_10204263418042100_4008054283693128690_n (2)
2nd Lieutenant, W.J. Grummett, 10th Norfolk Regiment, 1916, shortly after receiving his commission, pose 1, hat on.

In the late winter of 1916, as the Eaton Motor Machine Gun Brigade headed for France without him,  Will Grummett began Officer’s Training. I wonder if he tried to reverse the whole process? Knowing what he did about the military, I am sure that, while he may have thought about it, he thought better of it, and simply got on with the business of trying to become an officer in the British Army.

By February of  1916, officer candidates in the British Army were being assigned to Training Battalions as part of a new program. The duration of the training was four and one half months. Details regarding the curriculum could not be found nor could the exact training location. It would seem Will entered the program as one of the first of the Officer Training Battalion classes just as they began in February of 1916 (The Long, Long Trail: The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918 website). Upon graduation, four and one half months later, Will was given a probationary commission as a 2nd Lieutenant.  This last fact was duly recorded in the London Gazette on July 7, 1916. Continue reading “4 – A Gentleman Officer”

3 – Training and deployment to England with the Eaton Motor Machine Gun Brigade

c and e toronto
Canadian soldiers in training at the Canadian National Exhibition Grounds in Toronto during the First World War.

By February of 1915, the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force (COEF) had become a fact. The 1st Canadian Division had arrived in France in February and would soon be thrust into the fight on the Western Front (Iarocci, p 56).  In 1914, when the first waves of recruits clamoured to sign up the, COEF was still more of an “idea” than a fact. Up to that point, Canada didn’t have what might be thought of as a standing army – certainly not in the way we think of it today. There was a small permanent force of some 3000 professional soldiers under British command (Nicholson, 2015). In addition to this professional force were the non permanent active militia’s – part time civilian forces – across the country numbering about 74,000 soldiers (Iarocci, 1976). The Canadian forces, their make up, their capabilities and their place in the Imperial hierarchy had to be invented, and the effort to build Canadian competence as a separate force was going to take some time and considerable effort. Continue reading “3 – Training and deployment to England with the Eaton Motor Machine Gun Brigade”

2 – The Why and the When of war.

front page 1914.jpg

When war was declared in August of 1914, Will Grummett, had just recently graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts degree. That summer, he was probably at home on the family farm near Osprey in Grey County, Ontario. He had applied for and had been accepted to attend the program of law at Osgoode Hall, commencing in the fall term, 1914.

Of course, events touched off by the assassination in June of that summer of the Austrian Archduke, Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, led to a war that mobilized much of the world behind Europe’s rival alliances.  It was a war like nothing that preceded it. Driven by the relatively recent developments of trinitrotoluene (TNT), the internal combustion engine, the mass production of steel, and a new and powerful spirit of nationalism, its sheer power to take lives was nearly unfathomable and largely unappreciated by the public and world leaders as they drifted toward war. Continue reading “2 – The Why and the When of war.”

1 – William John Grummett

10671416_10204259909914399_8252477446993000926_n (2)
William “Bill” Grummett, circa 1955

William John Grummett (1891-1967) MPP, QC, known to his colleagues and friends in later life as “Bill” Grummett was a civic leader and  politician. He was elected to the Ontario Legislature in 1943 as a member of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) Party, the forerunner of today’s New Democratic Party.  Among other duties, he served as House Leader for the CCF following the disastrous provincial election of 1951 in which the party leader Ted Jolliffe and 32 other CCF MPP’s lost their seats. 

Before taking up politics,  Bill Grummett had, in the early 1920’s, made a bold move from Toronto to the remote northern Ontario town of Ansonville. He had only recently passed the Ontario Bar examinations, having graduated from Osgoode Hall, School of Law in 1920.  The move to  a cooler climate and a slower pace of life was the recommendation of his Doctor as a means of finding relief from recurring bouts of malarial fever.  Continue reading “1 – William John Grummett”