100 Years Ago: 5091 Men Report and 4601 Ask Exemption, Burial of Soldiers

The Intelligencer October 19, 1917 (page 2)

“The latest official figures show that 5,091 men have reported under the Military Service Act in this district. Out of these 490 reported for service and 4,601 exemption. The returns include those from points in this district, where, if the returns were mailed last night, they should reach the registrar’s office today. The returns also bear out the statement of Post Office officials today, that yesterday was the busiest day since the Proclamation was issued.”

The Intelligencer October 19, 1917 (page 6)

“Rev. John Garbutt, Army Chaplain, recently returned from the front, writes as follows about the burial of Canadian soldiers killed in action: …  Every soldier carries on his person, usually by a string around his neck, two discs, one of leather and the other of metal, bearing the name, number, battalion and religion stamped thereon.

When a soldier is killed, the leather disc and all his personal belongings found on the body are deposited in a small cotton bag and forwarded either to his battalion orderly room, or to the office of the divisional burial unit. The leather disc is kept by the authorities as proof of death, and the rest of the belongings sent through the Estate of Deceased Soldiers’ Department to the next of kin. The metal disc is buried with the body so that if the body is removed the disc will establish its identity. …

In ordinary trench warfare, when the front is simply being held, all bodies are usually brought out and buried in certified cemeteries in the rear. In times of advance, when the casualties are heavier, new cemeteries well to the front are laid out by the corps burial officers, and all bodies are collected and buried there if at all possible. …

If for some reason bodies cannot be taken to these cemeteries and must be buried, the spot is carefully marked, the exact map location is made, and besides the metal disc buried with the body the chaplain gets two bottles, and on two pieces of paper writes the information which is on the disc, and in addition the date of death and any other item which he deems of interest. One piece is placed in each bottle. He then places one bottle one foot under the soil at the head of the grave, and the other, with neck downwards, on the top of the grave. If later the body is exhumed and placed in the cemetery, its identity is known.

Each battalion gives particular attention to the burial of its own dead. …  Each unit erects a wooden cross over the grave, bearing the name, number, battalion and date of death. At the front ‘killed in action’ is usually added.”