100 Years Ago: Reception Plans for Three Belleville Heroes, Government Money to Battalions for Recruiting, Battalions Under 700 to Send Drafts, Memorial Service for Harry Watkin

The Intelligencer January 15, 1917 (page 2)

“A public reception to three returned Belleville heroes, namely C. Lewis, J. V. Ross and James Smith will take place this evening, and the prospects are that it will be a memorable event. The 15th Regimental Band will leave the upper bridge, and accompanied by citizens in conveyances and on foot, will proceed to the residence of Sergt. Ross on Albion street, while the 254th Band will proceed to Privates Lewis’ and Smith’s residence in West Belleville. At the upper bridge both bands with the heroes will unite, and a procession will be formed and proceed down Front street. All citizens are asked to unite in making the reception a grand success.”

The Intelligencer January 15, 1917 (page 3)

“Something unusual is happening to the militia authorities at Ottawa. After two and a half years of war, it has been decided finally to assist battalion and other units financially in their efforts to obtain recruits. …  A battalion requiring a certain number of men to complete its establishment is required to formulate and submit a scheme by means of which it believes it may obtain them. …

Although coming somewhat late in the war, it is believed that a good many at least are now relieved of the necessity of begging for money with which to carry on the work of raising men. In this connection a statement made by R. B. Bennett, Director General of National Service, was to the effect that ‘an atmosphere must be created to make men realize their duty.’ Officers commanding battalions have consistently objected to the niggardly way in which the Government hands out money for advertising when this is one of the few means left to make men see their duty.

The Printing Bureau at Ottawa is grinding out thousands of copies of old recruiting posters which have long lost their ‘punch’ because of their age. They should turn in some of this money into channels whereby officers who are responsible for the battalion could be given authority to use it in a more advantageous way by advertising to suit the local conditions.”

The Intelligencer January 15, 1917 (page 3)

“An order has been issued about more battalions going overseas. In future unless battalions reach a strength of 700 they will not be allowed to proceed overseas as a unit, but will send drafts of men to England. When units do reach this strength they will be allowed to go as far as England, provided the officer in command and the senior officers agree before leaving to either revert to a lower rank upon their arrival or return immediately to Canada.

This order has created a great amount of interest in military circles because of its immediate effect on recruiting and the prospects for battalions generally. The officers also feel the order personally. Those of the rank of captain or higher, by this order, are informed that they will never reach the front unless they make up their minds to go with a lower rank. With recruiting conditions as at present the possibility of battalions getting even as far as England is very small. Drafts will be the rule.”

The Intelligencer January 15, 1917 (page 5)

“Last evening a memorial service was held in St. Thomas’ Church for the late Harry Thomas Watkin, who died of wounds received in action. The prayers of the Office for Burial of the Dead were recited, and appropriate hymns were sung, and the Anthem ‘Lead us gently, Heavenly Father,’ was effectively rendered by the choir as well as the Vesper hymn for our sailors and soldiers.

The Rector, the Ven. Archdeacon Beamish’s …  sermon dealt with the theme of ‘Death, and after Death,’ in which he spoke of the life of the ‘Spirits in safe keeping,’ and that higher school for the souls of men in that waiting life between death and the judgment. ‘No one has ever yet gone to Hell or Heaven, and no one has yet been finally judged; and, thank God, no one has yet been doomed.’ “