The Blinded

Lieutenant Colonel Tom Perrett
68th (Regina) BattalionPerrett

Lt. Col. Perrett was severely wounded by splinter from bomb which entered head. He was adm. YPRES Dressing Station.

(5th RW Bn., War Diary, 29 Sept 1917, 13)

He has risen above his misfortune, however and has determined to “carry on” at home…

(Morning Leader, 10 Aug 1918, 17)

Thomas Edwin Perrett was a school inspector, teacher and principal. He was born on 13 February 1871 in Pembroke, Ontario and moved west in the 1890s to teach in Manitoba. He later became superintendent of schools in the North West Territories and principal of the Regina Normal School. In spring 1915, Perrett enlisted as a major with Lieutenant Colonel Edgar’s 68th Battalion, raised from Regina and Moose Jaw.

After Edgar resigned to take over No. 12 Military District, Major Perrett proceeded to England with the battalion in April 1916. When the 68th was absorbed into the 32nd Battalion, Perrett was promoted to lieutenant colonel and joined the 5th Railway Battalion in France. Less than three weeks after arriving, on 29 September 1917, Perrett was struck in the head by shrapnel from an enemy aerial bomb. He was left permanently blind in both eyes.

After returning to Canada in 1918, Perrett resumed his position as principal of the Saskatchewan Normal School despite his disability. He embraced a role of social activist, welcoming women’s suffrage as an advantage for teachers’ interests and advocating for a strong union. He declared in a 1919 speech at a western teaching conference:

We are organizing for a certain purpose. The teachers in other Provinces are also organizing for a certain purpose. That purpose seems to me to be best expressed in the word ‘Freedom.’ Without freedom in his work the teacher is not going to do well.

Perrett also promoted the retraining of disabled veterans and was a founding member of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. He died in Toronto on 12 February 1945, one day before his seventy-fourth birthday.

RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 7741 – 70

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