Myrtle Melissa Brown, Nursing Sister

Canadian nurses with wounded soldiers
Image: Canadian nurses with wounded soldiers (Provincial Archives of Alberta [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons)

Myrtle Melissa Brown, a graduate nurse, enlisted with Canadian Army Medical Care (CAMC) on 24 March 1917 as a Nursing Sister. She was one of thirty-one nursing sisters from Grey County (1), and among the eighteen who had graduated from the Owen Sound Collegiate Institute. (2)

Myrtle was from a farming family in Derby Township near Owen Sound, the eldest daughter of Melissa Brown and Samuel Horton Brown. Her grandparents were John Fleming and Margaret Robertson of Kilsyth and her great grandparents Alexander Fleming and Jean (Stewart).

Born 22 Jul 1889, Myrtle was described in the Attestation Paper as twenty-eight years old, 5’ 3” in height, 116 pounds in weight, and with grey eyes. She was a Disciple (Church of Christ) by faith.(3)

This excerpt from “The First World War’s nursing sisters,” Canadian Nurse provides some background.(4)

In total, 3,141 nurses served from 1914 into the early 1920s, with more than 2,500 seeing duty overseas. Trained nurses before the war, almost all of them came from hospitals, universities and medical professions from across Canada and the United States. All were women. Most were single and between the ages of 21 and 38; the average age was 24. They were all were volunteers, and there was never a shortage. For example, when a call was made in January 1915 to fill 75 positions, 2,000 nurses applied.

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Harvey Gladstone Fleming (Pte)

One more Fleming went to war. Harvey Gladstone Fleming, 21 years old, living in Kilsyth, Derby Township, responded to the Country’s now more fevered call for volunteer recruits.

He went even though he was a farmer. Farmers were usually discouraged from enlisting because of the importance of food production; and under the Military Service Act of 29 August 1917 they were exempt from conscription.   In

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Recruitment Poster c 1916. Coutesy of Toronto Public Library

fact at Vimy in April 1917, only 6% of the men who fought were farmers; clerical workers made up 19% and manual workers 65%.(1)

Born 17 September 1895, Harvey was the son of John and Emma Fleming (John farmed 50 acres on Concession 9 Lot 11), and grandson of Alexander “Sandy” Fleming.

Like many other Fleming men he was of fair complexion, blue (or hazel) eyes, and light brown hair. He was a bit taller than others  at 5 feet 10 inches, weighing 145 pounds.

He was attested on 24 January 1917 into the 248th Grey Overseas Battalion.  By mid-1917 he was in England in the 8th Reserve Brigade. During training he was hospitalized for a mild case of mumps for two weeks (10-July-1917 to 1 August 1917).

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George Donald (G.D.) Fleming (Maj)

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147th Battalion at Camp Borden, 1916. Courtesy South Grey Museum

Another Fleming to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force for World War 1 was George Donald (G.D.) Fleming, son of C.A. Fleming and Margaret Donald. When he left in 1916 as an officer in the 147th Grey Owen Sound Battalion, he was 27 years old, (born 22 October 1889), had a wife Alice Naomi Beaton, and a daughter “Peg” of 16 months.

He was a “secretary treasurer” by profession according to the attestation record – probably at the Northern Business College his father had founded in Owen Sound.

A man of medium height at 5 feet 9 inches, weighing 165 pounds, he had a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. George had been in the 31st Regiment militia for seven years. Feeling a very powerful loyalty to King and Country  and having seen his militia colleagues leave, he enlisted with the  76th Battalion 13 November 1915 (date of attestation)  for training at its Niagara Camp. He transferred to the  147th Grey Overseas Battalion 1 January 1916. Official papers show that he enlisted for overseas  service with the rank of Captain (3 February 1916).   It was the practice to direct troops from training into reserve battalions  in England and from there move men into a Division as needed. Continue reading

Fleming Descendants in World War One

poppy-pixabay-2754984_960_720As we pause to remember the 1917 on Remembrance Day 2017, this blog posting recognizes seven men in the Fleming Family Tree who were soldiers in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War 1. The digitization by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) personnel service files and the War Diaries in which are recorded the daily events of the battalions give us access to a great deal of information. Four Fleming members fought in France and survived; three were very lucky and never saw action. No lives were lost. Continue reading