The Cadet Instructor

Lieutenant Colonel R. K. Barker
95th (Toronto) Battalion Barker

Man looks unwell.

Complains of weakness, loss of weight, loss of sleep, loss of nervous control. Accounts for this by loss of food and sleep.

(“Medical History of an Invalid,” 7 November 1923)

Rybert Kent Barker was a military instructor in Toronto and veteran of the Boer War. Born on 21 September 1869 in Kingston, Ontario, he had served with the Queen’s Own Rifles from 1880 to 1910 and commanded “C” company in South Africa. Prior to being appointed commander of the 95th Battalion, he was a cadet drill instructor with the 2nd Military Division.

In recognition of his thirty years’ experience in the military, the Toronto Globe described Barker, “As a commander he preserves discipline with ease and dignity, retaining the confidence and respect of the rank and file.”

95thDescribing the composition of his battalion, the newspaper noted: “Lawyers, sawyers, stevedores, chauffeurs, bookbinders, glassblowers, candymakers, farmers, students, butchers– this heterogeneous list of trades is taken from one page of the roll of the 95th…”

One of Barker’s early volunteers, eighteen-year old Jay Batiste Moyer signed up in late October 1915. In letters home, he described the formation of the unit during the winter of 1916. Following a parade in February in Toronto, Moyer noted “the whole batt. is going up to hunt for recruits.” While awaiting deployment, he also described various battalion recreation activities such as concerts, sports and tug-of-war contests.

After disembarking in June 1916, Moyer stated, “Colonel Barker hopes to take the 95th to France as a unit and not be drafted like the other Batt.” Despite the efforts of the commanding officer, the 95th volunteers were drafted for reinforcements before being absorbed into the 5th Reserve Battalion. Private Moyer was killed at Vimy Ridge on 9 April 1917 while serving with the 1st Canadian Entrenching Battalion. Barker was briefly assigned to France during the same period. Barker later commanded the 2nd Depot Battalion, 1st Central Ontario Regiment.

During his time overseas, Barker suffered from persistent ill health. Suffering chronic stomach pains and nausea, he was diagnosed with gastritis in December 1916. Through the 1920s, he continued to complain about general weakness, insomnia, lack of appetite and nervousness.

Barker retired on a pension in 1923 and died in Toronto on 15 August 1942.

Digitized Service File (LAC):

2 thoughts on “The Cadet Instructor

  1. I just finished reading your post on Lieutenant Colonel R. K. Barker…his brother WDP Barker is my direct ancestor…need to know if you can help fill in some missing information on their family.

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