Lieutenant Colonel Fred Lister, M.C.
102nd (Central Ontario) Battalion
We started out a British Columbia unit; we return an Ontario Battalion; but I defy anyone to note the point of cleavage. Welded together by many months of common danger, East and West have fused as one…
(Lister, “Final Order,” 25 May 1919)
Born on 10 February 1879 in Wigtoft, Lincolnshire, England, Frederick Lister was a sawmill superintendent in British Columbia. He had been a policeman with the Bechuanaland Protectorate since 1896 and fought in the Matabele Rebellion and the Boer War. He immigrated to Canada in 1903. In December 1915, he enlisted with the 102nd Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel J .W. Warden.
Lieutenant Colonel J. W. Warden, D.S.O.
102nd (Warden’s Warriors) Battalion
Left my batt. & France for England. 8 am, this is the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. I have the best Batt. in France, there never were men tougher, braver more loyal, more capable, more loved by CO, the finest fighters. It just about broke my heart, I could not say goodbye to a single one. God, how I loved them.
(Warden Diary, 8 Jan 1918)
Born on 8 November 1871 in Baywater, New Brunswick, John Weightman Warden was a British Columbia broker and veteran of the Boer War. He was among the first to enlist after the declaration of war in August 1914. Describing his experiences fighting with the 7th Battalion in the trenches, he explained, “The Boer War was nothing compared with this war. I had been in South Africa, but I found that I knew nothing about war at all.”
To mark the one year anniversary of this website, today’s post features an ordinary private soldier, my great-great uncle, G. W. Barrett.
Private “Bill” Barrett
208th and 102nd Battalions
Over 80 per cent of the men in my battalion, and at least 80 per cent of the men in any battalion, are workingmen, who should really be the last class to be called upon. The average workingman slaves night and day to get a bare living for his wife and family, but it is the workingman who is giving lustre and glory to the name of Canada.
(T. H. Lennox, Toronto Globe, 6 Nov 1916, 4)
George William Barrett was born in Peterborough, England on 5 November 1897. He immigrated to Canada with his family in 1907 and worked as a labourer in Toronto. Standing only five-foot-three, George volunteered with the 208th Irish Fusiliers, commanded by York North MPP Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Lennox on 5 April 1916. Several weeks later, his underage brother Harry Barrett enlisted with the 204th Beavers commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William Herbert Price, another Toronto MPP.