On Genealogy: Story of Pte. George V. Lee

Welcome to story #2 of my family tree. Today, I’m going to share with you the story of my paternal grandmother’s father’s brother  – my Great Grand Uncle, George Victor Lee who was killed in action (KIA) in The Great War.

For this story you’re going to have to stretch your memory all the way back to History class, WWI and trench warfare.  I was able to access his troop’s War Diaries and his personal military records.  I was able to track his regiment from deployment to the day Pte. Lee was KIA.  I did a lot of research and spent countless hours on trying to understand exactly what was going on during the war as he was progressing through it so I could make the story more 3 demential and personal to me and our family.  Some of the history parts of this story were “borrowed” from other story tellers well versed in history and the Great War. Some, is me being an amateur historian, war buff and genealogist.  I don’t purport this blog to be 100% factually accurate (about the details of the war). I am not a professional, just passionate.

Screen Shot 2017-05-27 at 10.40.15 PMThe deadline was 11:00 p.m. on August 4 1914. If Germany did not remove their troops from Belgium, Great Britain would declare war. As Big Ben struck the hour across the Thames that night, Chancellor David Lloyd George wrote, “The big clock echoes in our ears like the hammer of destiny.” Germany remained silent and Great Britain was at war!

At the time that Britain declared war, George Victor Lee was living at 3 Shady Row, Meltham Mills, Yorkshire, England with his wife Agnes (nee Dickenson).  He was the son of Tom Lee and Hannah (nee Crabtree).

George enlisted on March 24 1912 when he was 17 years old.   His Territorial Force Attestation Papers indicate that he worked as a Millhand (Cottons) with J. Brook Bros Ltd. A bit of research and I found out that Jonas Brook and Brothers was a silk mill complex in Meltham that employed over 1,000 workers during that time.

He was a member the 1/5th Battalion, The Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment).  Regimental Number: 1985.

The Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) (Territorial Force) was mobilized on August 4 1914 at Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England, later that month the troop was deployed to coastal defences near Hull and Grimsby.  On November 5 1914 it moved to Doncaster in billets and the regiment was assigned to the 147th (2nd West Riding) Brigade in the 49th (West Riding) Division in April 1915 for service on the Western Front, they served together until the Armistice in November 1918.

They were gearing up to take their place in history in what is now known as The Battle of Aubers Ridge (May 9-10 1915), which was a disastrous attack that cost 11,000 British casualties for no material gain: it was a supporting operation to a much larger French attack.

The British attack was to be launched by General Sir Douglas Haig’s First Army. It was intended to attack on two fronts, to the North and South of Neuve Chapelle, with the hope that the two attacking forces could meet up behind the German front lines. Haig had requested extra artillery to increase the strength of the 40 minute bombardment planned for the morning of 9 May, but all available artillery reserves had been sucked into the fighting at the second battle of Ypres, still raging just to the north.

From the army records I obtained, we know that on April 14 1915 The Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) embarked for France and Flanders, landing at Boulogne. After which they traveled through Estaires in intense cold.

The War Diaries report that on April 16 1915, 2 days after disembarking, breakfast was late as the cook crew had a tough time recovering from the night prior.  They marched off around 10:00 a.m., the road was very bad.  Orders were given that every man must have a new pair of boots before they go out – they were only issued a few days before they left Doncaster.

At Estaires on April 19 1915 there was some reported shelling & artillery action.

On April 21 1915, some German shells were noted to have hit the trenches and an order was received to move to billets.

On April 28 1915 a shell hit 4Q, there were reported casualties.  The next day, a report was received from another trench that the enemy had been heard under his trench mining.

There was rain in the trenches and some shelling according to the War Diaries.  This coincides with the reports of the battle that heavy rain on May 6 and dense mist on May 7 caused a French postponement of the main attack; it would now go in on May 9 and the subsidiary attacks would happen at the same time, not a day later in accordance with the original strategy.

May 9 was a fine, sunny day.  The Battle of Aubers went ahead.  It was fought over the same ground as the battle of Neuve Chapelle, 10-13 March 1915.

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From this map you can see that 49th Div, 147th Brigade is not on the 1st line, but, they are near La Boutillerie

Except from the troop diaries:

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(transcription)

May 9 1915:  South of Fleurbaix:  

4:45 a.m. – artillery bombardment of enemy lines directed at Fromelles Ridge.  Batt’n in dug out move between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. from derelict houses

11:10 a.m. enemy shelled Fleurbaix, no 2945 Pte Prier slightly wounded

At 4:30 p.m. an HE (high explosive) shell burst among men of D Company @ Croix Marechal killing 4 and wounding 4.  The struggles of the 13th London Rgmt & East Lanes came in and stayed night bringing with them  “depressing and highly coloured accounts of action”.  

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May 10 1915:  4:35 p.m.  Nine shells fired at Fleurbaix.  Batt’n still in dugout.

The British attack on 9 May was a total failure. The Germans had greatly strengthened their lines around Neuve Chapelle after they had been overrun during Neuve Chapelle, and the British artillery bombardment was simply not heavy enough to destroy the new German lines.  The British troops went over the top early on the morning of 9 May and were cut down by German machine gun fire. No significant progress was made, and early on 10 May Haig ended the offensive. The British suffered 11,000 casualties in one day of fighting on a narrow front.

George came through that battle.  The British casualties in the Northern pincer on 9 May 1915 were  as follows:

  • 8th Division: 4,682 of which 192 officers
  • 49th (West Riding) Division: 94 of which 2 were officers
  • 7th Division: 25 of which 1 officer

We are going to fast forward a few months.  In October 1915 – the troop is stationed at Canal Bank, North of Ypres taking over from the 1/8 West Yorks.  There was considerable activity with the enemy (trench mortars and bombs).  There was some 50 casualties of the 4th battalion after a bombardment by the Germans.

November 1915:

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If you find the diaries difficult to read, I’ve transcribed them for you:

Nov 1:  Much rain, transport mules fell into a trench in chateau grounds late during the evening.  Endeavoured for 2 hours to dig them out, one died meanwhile and the other had to be shot.

Nov 2:  Usual working parties at night

Nov 3:  Relieved at chateau by 8th Rifle Brigade.  This battalion relieved the 6th West Riding Regiment in Brigade Reserve in Farms left sector.  Coys were disposed as follows:  A – West Bank of Canada new bridge 6D, B Coy (company) dug outs at Hulls Farm, C Coy dug out at Modder Farm & Saragossa, D Coy Pelissier Farm Batton Headquarters Malakoff Farm.

Nov 4:  In occupation of farms.  Carried rations and stores for 6th W.R.R. in trenches

Nov 5:  In occupation of farms.  B Coy (company) shelled at Hulls Farm 1 casualty, 1 platoon removed to Malakoff.  

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Nov 30 1915: Summary of casualties for the month of November  ….. “Other ranks – killed by shell – 3”  Total casualties for the month 73

That one casualty as a result of B Company being shelled was my great grand uncle,  Pte George Lee. He is buried at Bard Cottage Cemetery, a British military cemetery located in the Belgian village of Boezinge, a town in Ypres . There are 1,643 dead commemorates, of whom 40 could not be identified. Boezinge made up the largest part of the war in the area occupied by the Allies, just opposite the German lines across the Ieper league between Ypres and the Iron . There are 1622 British, 15 Canadians, 2 South Africans and 4 Germans (1 of which are not identified). 

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Imperial War Graves Commission – Pte Lee’s headstone inscription, “HE SLEEPS WITH THE GLORIOUS DEAD THAT WE MIGHT LIVE”

I haven’t been able to locate any photos of him.  I wish their war records came with their military photo.  I am going to try and connect with some of my extended family who still live in England to see if they may have some.

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Bard Cottage Cemetery

I have a photo of his brother (my great grand father), Joseph Lee.

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Joseph Edward Lee (left) & friend (right)

Which oddly, I have his photo but cannot locate ANY war documents for him … at all.   This photo was given to me stating that it was a photo of “Joseph Lee & friend”.  I wonder, is that other gentleman in uniform really a friend?  Maybe it’s his brother George? They are both wearing WWI British military uniforms and were enlisted at around the same time I assume.  Does anyone have any other ideas how I can identify the man on the left in this photo or have any other source to locate Joseph Lee’s military records?  I’ve search Ancestry.ca high and low, I’ve searched Google, Forces War Records, The UK National Archives, and nothing.  I figure if he has a British uniform on, he has to at least have enlisted, even if he didn’t go to war, and every one who enlists at the very least must have a military file.  Any other thoughts would be appreciated!

Thank you kindly in advance, and I hope you enjoyed the read as much as I enjoyed working on the story and writing about it!

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.  At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.”

 

George Victor Lee’s death is noted in the article, Shady Row, Meltham Mills.

“At least three men from Shady Row were killed in action during the First World War:

  • Private Joseph Crabtree of Shady Row was “killed instantly by a shell while stretcher bearing at the Front”

 

  • Private George Lee of 3 Shady Row, serving in the 5th Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, was killed in action by a shell on 4 November 1915

 

  • Private W. Stokes (aged 21), son of F.W. and Rosa Stokes, of 11, Shady Row, was killed on 3 September 1916″

Namaste

T xo

 

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On Genealogy: My Relation to the First Colonists to New France. The First Documented Marriage Between a French Settler& Native American Woman and My relation to Louis Joliet the French Explorer

I can be quite obsessive at times.  My latest past time is genealogy – I’ve been working on my family tree for years – but now I obsessively work on it, almost daily.  My interest is both historical and philosophical:  Where do I come from?  How am I here?  literally and figuratively.

I think people have a basic desire to know where they came from and how they got to where they are today.  The knowledge that my ancestors had great inner strength is a powerful motivator for trying to understand my place in the world.  I mean if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here today typing these words.

I look at genealogy as history on a personal scale. It’s truly a journey of many lifetimes and lifelines from the past to the present and onto the future.  It’s about discovering your heritage, creating a story about your family and leaving the most amazing legacies for future generations.  At this stage of their lives, my children really don’t give a hootenanny about our roots, an in all honesty nor did I at their ages, but, as I’ve aged and gone through life experiences I wondered more and more.

Some lines I have been able to trace them back to the 1500/1600’s -> back to England and France, then who came to settle the New World.  As a result, and through different lines I am part Algonquin in different lines, and therefore Métis.  One of my ancestors was a Filles du roi – Kings Daughters.  I have a relative who was an explorer and helped to  chart the mighty Mississippi River.   Family who founded the eastern parts of the US, while others who lived in Salem Massachusetts during the Salem Witch Trials.  I had a great uncle who was KIA in the Great War.  I have my great grandfather’s and my grandfather’s military records and their units war diaries, I have been able to track them through their battles in both WWI and WWII.  I’ve found my grandmother’s arrival records on the Aquitania from when she arrived in Canada in 1946 as a War Bride.  I’ve found so many interesting things in my family history on both sides, down all 4 lines … It makes it all that more interesting when you know you have a personal connection to these people.

A few weeks ago I submitted my DNA to Ancestry (the genealogy website I am using to work on my family tree).  Genetic genealogy, is a way for people interested in family history to go beyond what they can learn from relatives or from historical documentation. Examination of DNA variations can provide clues about where a person’s ancestors might have come from and about relationships between families. They’ve confirmed it being received – now, all I have to do is wait patiently for another 6-8 weeks (it took them about 4 weeks to acknowledge receiving it) for the results.  Stay tuned!

We inherit from our ancestors gifts so often taken for granted. Each of us contains within this inheritance of soul. We are links between the ages, containing past and present expectations, sacred memories and future promise. – Edward Sellner

I have so many cool things to share with you all, but today I am going to share the story of my relation to one of the founders of our great nation – (Canada, for those of you reading this in another country).  Now, I can only be a certain percentage proud of this, since no European actually “discovered” North America – the natives were here long before any European or otherwise made their claims.

Ok, put on your history caps folks – we are going to take a trip back to the 1600’s.  I bet you don’t remember much about grade school history – but you may recall a bit about some of the explorers like Jacques Cartier, Louis Frontenac or Étienne Brûlé, maybe you remember the name of the famous French explorer, Samuel de Champlain who founded Québec City? Now, the super cool thing is that I do.  Being French Canadian – we learned all about this stuff in elementary school, and I’m sure if I dig hard enough through my boxes of childhood memories I have stuff on learning this – we learned about Les Premiers Colons, Marguerite Bourgeoys, les Amerindians, les seigneuries, les Jésuites.  And yes, I most certainly remember learning about Samuel de Champlain and les premiers colons.

thumb_01_Olivier LeTardif    The first of my ancestors to come to la Nouvelle France/New France was a contemporary of Champlain’s. Olivier Le Tardif (sometimes spelled just Tardif), he was my 12th great-grandfather in the Lamothe line — but I can also trace him back in the Duchesne line via his son Guillaume.

w200.4200 A bit about Le Tardif:  (abt 1603-1665), the son of Jean Le Tardif and Clemence Houart, born at Estables, a seaside village on St. Brieuc Bay, in Brittany, France.   He embarked at Honfleur on May 24, 1618, onboard a ship of the Company of the merchants which was bringing back Samuel de Champlain to the colony. Le Tardif became the interpreter for Champlain in the languages of the Huron, Algonquin and les Montagnais. When Québec capitalizes, it is Le Tardif, elected by Samuel de Champlain, who gives the keys of the city to the brothers Louis and Thomas Kirke.

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First Settlers to New France/ Premier Colons de la Nouvelle France

While Olivier Le Tardif is the general clerk of the Compagnie des Cent-Associés/Hundred-Associates in Québec, and while his 1st wife,  Louise Couillard is still alive, he adopts Marie-Olivier Manitouabe8ich who is first documented Native America to marry a French settler – she marries Martin Prévost, in 1644 — now this is where it gets good —- she is also my ancestor from another line! You’ll have to read on for that relation.

Sticking to this story – it’s from Le Tardif’s second marriage on May 21 1648 to Barbe Émard/Aymard (while he was back in France) from which I descend.  Barbe was the widow of Gilles Michel.  Olivier’s first wife , Louise Couillard,  died seven years earlier.  He brought his new bride to Château Richer to live.  They had three children together.

I actually descend from TWO of their children as these lists show BUT on TWO different sides of my family – my maternal grand-mother and my maternal grand-father’s sides (who ended up marrying one another!)

Olivier LE TARDIF (abt 1604-1665) + Barbe ÉMARD (1625-1659)

Gen 1: Barbe Delphine LE TARDIF (1649-1702) + Jacques CAUCHON DIT LAMOTHE (1635-1685)

Gen 2: Jean Cauchon + Anne Bollard

Gen 3: Francois Cauchon dit Lamothe + Marie Francois Houde

Gen 4: Francois Cauchon dit Lamothe +Marie Laroche Rognon

Gen 5: Pierre Lamothe + Marie Anne Senet

Gen 6: Magloire Lamothe + Seraphine Gauthier

Gen 7: Joseph Lamothe + Marie Louise Charron

Gen 8: Emile LAMOTHE + Marcella Houle

Gen 9: Clifford LAMOTHE + Desneiges Duchesne

Gen 10: Mona Lamothe + Patrick RICHARDS

Gen 11: MOI — Tina RICHARDS

-AND-

Olivier LE TARDIF (abt 1604-1665) + Barbe ÉMARD (1625-1659)

Gen 1: Guillaume LE TARDIF (Jan 30 1656) + Marie Marguerite GAUDIN (Mar 1665-?)

Gen 2: Charles TARDIF + Marie Genevieve Le Roy

Gen 3: Jean Roch TARDIF + Marie Louise Grenier

Gen 4: Jean Baptiste TARDIF + Marie Felicite Rancourt

Gen 5: Brigitte Tardif + Charles BINET

Gen 6: Philomène Genevieve Binet  + Charles BINET

Gen 7: Philomène Adelphine Binet+ Honore TRUDEL

Gen 8: Leda Trudel + Mederic Duchesne

Gen 9: Palma DUCHESNE + Laurette Allard

Gen 10: Desneiges Duchense + Clifford LAMOTHE

Gen 11: Mona Lamothe + Patrick RICHARDS

Gen 12: MOI – Tina RICHARDS

Now to add to this story and where these lines intersect and cross further.

Roch Manitouabeouich was a Native who worked as a scout and interpreter for Olivier Le Tardif, who as we know was an agent for Samuel de Champlain representing la Compagnie des Cent-Associés involved in the fur trade.  There is a heated debate whether he was Huron or Algonquin.  He was also a friend to Le Tardif.  As an Abenaki married to a Huron, it is likely that Manitouabeouich knew several native dialects, making him invaluable to Le Tardif who was himself an interpreter to Champlain and instrumental in expanding the fur trade in New France.  Roch Manitouabewich had been converted to Christianity by the French missionaries. The baptismal ritual included the given Christian name of Roch, in honour of Saint Roch, the patron saint of dogs, falsely accused people, bachelors, and several other things.

Roch and his wife, Oueou Outchibahanouk. had a daughter,  the Jesuits baptized the baby girl with the name Marie and according to the records, Marie was an “Algonquin Manitouabe8ich Abenaquis”. Le Tardif became Godfather to the baby girl, and in accordance with the custom of the times, Le Tardif gave the girl his own name of Olivier. In addition to the name Marie Olivier, the Jesuit missionary performing the baptism gave the girl the name Sylvestre, meaning “one who comes from the forest” or “one who lives in the forest”. (Thwaites, The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, volume 11: 1610-1791)  http://puffin.creighton.edu/jesuit/relations/relations_01.html

When Marie Olivier Sylvestre was ten years old, Olivier Le Tardif adopted the young Indian girl as his very own daughter but she never carried the family name of LeTardif. This enabled her to be educated and reared in the same manner as a well-to-do French girl. First he placed her as a “live-in boarder” and student with the Ursuline Nuns at Quebec, and later he boarded her with a French family (Sieur Guillaume Hubou) where she was privately tutored. Marie Olivier Sylvestre met and married Martin Prévost, friend of the Hubou family and a very personal friend of Olivier LeTardif. This marriage was to be the first marriage of record between a Native girl and a French colonist mentioned in Canadian historical records.  The marriage took place in 1644 in Quebec. Recorded as witnesses to the ceremony were Olivier LeTardif and Quillaume Couillard, Le Tardif’s father in-law.

Olivier Le Tardif died at Château Richer in 1665 after a period of premature senility.  He le-tardiff-plaquehad moments of lucidity to the very end.  He was buried January 28 under the church of Notre Dame de Bonne Nouvelle in Château Richer.

Marie had 9 children with her husband Martin Prévost. Three of their children died in 1661 – Ursule, Marie Madeleine, 6 and her brother Antoine, 4 died on the same day –  March 16, 1661. Marie died at 37 years old after giving birth to her last child Therese. Her Marriage certificate to Martin Prévost indicates that she was born in Huron territory, Sillery. There are no records of the death of her parents.

Martin Prévost was one of the pioneers of Beauport near Quebec; b. 1611, son of Pierre Prévost and Charlotte Vien, of Montreuil-sur-le-Bois-de-Vincennes (now Montreuil-sous-Bois), near Paris; d. 26 Jan. 1691 at Beauport.   Prévost’s presence at Quebec is referred to in the documents of the notary Piraube as early as the year 1639.

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So, this is how I descend from the 1st documented marriage between a Franc settler to the new colony and a Native is as follows — follow along carefully because the lines cross here too!

  1. Roch Abenaki Manitouabeouich + Outchibahabanouk Oueou
  2. Marie-Olivier-Sylvestre Manitouabeouich. + Martin Prévost
  3. Jean-Baptiste Prévost + Marie Anne Giroux
  4. Catherine Prévost + Charles Petitclerc
  5. Charles Petitclerc + Marguerite Meunier
  6. Joseph Trudel + Magdelaine Langlois
  7. Joseph Trudel + Josephine Proteau
  8. Honore Trudel + Philomène Adelphine Binet
  9. Leda Trudel + Mederic Duchesne
  10. Palma Duchesne + Laurette Allard
  11. Desneiges Duchesne + Clifford Lamothe
  12. Mona Lamothe + Patrick Richards
  13. MOI – Tina Richards

Now, if you’re following along, you’re understanding how really cool these connections to history are and how the early lines of my ancestors are crossing … but let’s take it one step further even …

Until his death, we find Martin Prévost settled at Beauport as an “habitant,” or farmer. Prévost had had at least nine children by his first wife, Marie-Olivier-Sylvestre Manitouabeouich and we know she passed away shortly after giving birth to her daughter, Therese. He was married a second time in 1665, to Marie d’Abancourt, the widow of Jean Jolliet and of Gefroy Guillot.

From her marriage to Jean Jolliet, she had a child Louis.  Is the name Louis Joliet sounding at all familiar?  Well it should, this is the explorer I was telling you about!

In 1673, Joliet embarked on an expedition with Jacques Marquette, a missionary and linguist, to be among the first Europeans to explore what was called by Native Americans the “Mesipi” river and ascertain where it led to, with hopes of finding a passage to Asia. After meeting in the Michilimackinac region, the men started their journey by canoe on May 17, 1673, to what would be known as the Mississippi River.

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While Hernando De Soto was the first European to make official note of the Mississippi River by discovering its entrance in 1541, Jolliet and Marquette were the first to locate its upper reaches, and travel most of its length, about 130 years later.

Jolliet’s acclaim as an explorer was diminished somewhat when his records and maps were destroyed at the end of his trip. Anxious to reach Montreal, Jolliet decided to shoot the rapids of Lachine on the St. Lawrence instead of portaging around them. His canoe was toppled over, killing the Chief’s son and was rescued after clinging to a rock –  all records of the mission were lost. Although he later produced another report and map from memory, much of the detail was missing. Thus, Marquette’s journal became the accepted authority on the trip.

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A statue of the famed explorer and Joliet namesake, Louis Joliet guards the entrance to the Joliet Public Library Main Branch

Joliet’s main legacy is most tangible in the Midwestern United States and Quebec, mostly through geographical names, including the cities of Joliet, IllinoisJoliet, Montana; and JolietteQuebec (founded by one of Jolliet’s descendants, Barthélemy Joliet.

So how is that for a little piece of family history?  Who said history or genealogy is boring?  

Do any of you have any cool family connections or of historical significance?  I’d really be interested in hearing some …

Namaste

T  xo


 

‘Black My Story’ taken from the album ‘One Bright Day’ (1989) by Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers.

 

Namaste

T xo