Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sergeant Hubert Cyril Petty

Private Petty Joins the CEF

Hubert Cyril Petty attested to the 159th Canadian Infantry Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, on February 17, 1916 at Haileybury, Ontario, Canada. The details of his Attestation are shown in the records held at Library and Archives Canada, which are available on-line. This link will take you to the records of the soldier (or click on the image of the Attestation Paper for that page):

Hubert Cyril Petty #648008

Hubert Petty was a month shy of 24 years of age when he attested to the CEF in 1916. He was born on March 15, 1892 in Ealing, London England. At the time of his attestation in Canada he listed his occupation as a "Missionary". His next of kin was shown as Uncle Birkett Whitaker of Gilling Gate, Kendal, West Moreland, England. At the time of his joining the CEF he was not married and both of his parents were deceased.

The records indicate that Petty had previously served with the 97th Regiment of the Canadian Militia, the "Algonquin Rifles" of Sault St. Marie, Ontario. The Algonquins provided volunteers for the 15th Canadian Infantry Battalion in 1914 and in the following year raised the 159th Canadian Infantry Battalion. The 159th Canadian Infantry Battalion, like many of the CEF units at that time, did not serve as an active unit in the Great War. The 159th Infantry Battalion was absorbed by the
8th Canadian Reserve Battalion in England, to provide reinforcements for other units fighting in France and Flanders.

Hubert Cyril Petty survived the war and was discharged on March 1, 1919, at which time he was shipped back to Canada on board the Grampian, arriving in St. John on February 2, 1919. He then returned to Toronto, Ontario. He regained his status at a militia member of the 97th Algonquin Rifles, which was reorganized in 1922 to perpetuate the 159th Canadian Infantry Battalion, as well as the 228th and 256th Canadian Infantry Battalions. In 1922 the Headquarters of the Algonquin Rifles was moved to Haileybury, Ontario.

Hubert Cyril Petty was married to Ida Lois Petty. Cadet Petty had been sending his pay from overseas to a "Miss L. Lyle", at Grenville Street in Toronto, Ontario. Hubert died on October 31, 1988 in his 96th year. His son Arthur Henry Petty, born April 27, 1925 survives him to this day in his 83rd year, remaining as an active member of Branch 136 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Milton, Ontario CANADA, to whom this blog is dedicated.

Service Record of Hubert Cyril Petty

The service record of Hubert Cyril Petty was retrieved from the archive records of Canadian Great War Soldiers, held at
Library and Archives Canada, in Ottawa Ontario.

Petty sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia on November 1, 1916 with the rest of the 159th Infantry Battalion on board the Empress of Britain which arrived in Liverpool, England on November 11, 1916 (
see Matrix Transport Ships). He was appointed Acting Sergeant at that time in Seaford England, as recorded in the Part II Daily Orders. On January 30, 1917 he was transferred to the 8th Canadian Reserve Battalion at Shoreham, as the 159th Infantry Battalion was broken up to provide for reserves to active units in the field.

On June 16, 1917 A/Sergeant Petty reverted to his permanent grade (Private) in Shorncliffe England and was transferred to the
4th Canadian Mounted Rifles for service overseas. The 4th CMR had been a mounted unit at conception but was demounted to provide for infantry soldiers in France and Flanders. It appears that for a short period in July 1917, Petty left the 4th CMR to join the 3rd Battalion but was back in the 4th CMR in September 1917.

On October 27, 1917 H. C. Petty was diagnosed with "Myalgia", more or less defined as chronic muscle pain from injury or viral infection. He was admitted to the 12th Canadian Field Ambulance at the front and subsequently transferred to the No 13 General Hospital in Bologne, France on November 4, 1917. Hubert rejoined the 4th CMR on November 24, 1917 where he continued to serve, with a promotion to Corporal on March 6, 1918.

On April 30, 1918 he was diagnosed with an axillary abscess (swelling of the lymph nodes in the armpit). The medical records indicate that this abscess was due to an injury to his hand from a "Bully Beef" tin. As this was a common food of the front line soldier, we can only assume he cut his hand and it became infected. He was invalided sick and posted to 1st C.O.R.D. (Central Ontario Regimental Depot) in Whitley, England. Petty spent considerable time in the hospital from this injury, as the medical records show that he was transferred to another hospital on May 15, 1918 where he would spend 65 days prior to discharge on July 19, 1918. He subsequently spent another 29 days in another hospital, not being discharged until August 16, 1918.

Hubert Cyril Petty was transferred back to the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles at Whitley on September 25, 1918. By August 16, 1918 he had been S.O.S. (Struck Off Strength) to the 3rd Reserve Battalion to attend Cadet School. On October 26, 1918 he was taken on strength to the 12th Reserve Battalion for duty with the Area Training School. He was appointed Acting Sergeant on October 25, 1918 at Whitley. The Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918 and Hubert Petty was sent back to Canada, where he was taken on strength with the No. 2 District Depot in Toronto

The 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles

Hubert Cyril Petty's active time with the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles appears to have been between November 24, 1917 and April 30, 1918. In October and November 1917 the Canadian Expeditionary Force was active in th Battle of Passchendaele. The Battle of Cambrai followed late in November 1917.

The 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles was in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 3rd Division, 8th Infantry Brigade, for which they have notable “Battle Honours” at Mount Sorrel and the Somme in 1916, as well as Flers Courcelette and Vimy in 1917. Impressive unit, as they went on to Passchendaele and the Scarpe in 1918, and served with distinction in “Canada’s Last 100 Days” across the Canal du Nord, through Cambrai and on to Valenciennes in the fall of 1918. Heroes of the “Last 100 Days”!

On-Line War Diaries of the 4th CMR shows the following action, as it directly relates to the time that Hubert Cyril Petty was most likely at or near the front lines (click the links to go directly to the reference page in the on-line war diaries):
  • On November 13, 1917 the Battalion received sudden orders to move into a rear position along the Ypres-Poperinghe Road to Camp 30 (Brandhoek area). During the next few days they moved to Castre, Haverskerque and Enquin-Les-Mines. Here they started many days of training during which time the battalion strength was increased with an influx of new officers and men.

  • On December 1, 1917 the 4th CMR are still in Enquin-Les-Mines, spending the 3rd day of the month voting in the 1917 Canadian Elections. Training ended on December 17, 1917 and shortly thereafter the unit moved out to Pouquerruil, south of Bethune. On December 21, 1917 the unit moved back into the front line on the Loos-Hill 70 front, primarily to protect against enemy raids. Machine gun fire was active on both sides but the artillery was quiet.

  • The new year of January 1918 started out with the 4th CMR moving back into the line, as shown in Operational Order 152 of December 31, 1917. Working out of Loos, the 4th CMR played an instrumental role in the raid of January 7, 1918 at Humbug Sap, as recognized by Major General Lipsett (details here). The first attempt at using a Bangalor Torpedo to remove the wire failed. Several raids continued, as on January 19, 1918, with a concentrated effort on rebuilding the trenches. The unit moved off to Houdain on January 19th, for more extensive training.
  • February 1918 was a quiet month for the 4th CMR, as training continued and sporting events took place. It did not appear as if they were in a war zone, until they moved to Neuville-St.-Vast on February 18, 1918. March 1918 found the unit in the Mericourt area, during which time the area was described as "peaceful". Rumours were reported as "wild", in late March 1918, about an expected German offensive on the Somme. As the month drew to an end, the 4th CMR was moved off-line to Cubbitt Camp.
  • The on-line war diary for the 4th CMR is missing for April 1918, however we were able to refer to the war diary for the 8th Infantry Brigade to find out what major action had taken place. Appendix 13 for April 1918 reports on the raid of the 4th CMR on April 22, 1918 at the junction of Humbug Sap and the enemy front line. Earlier, the 4th CMR had been working on the construction of the new trenches for the Paddock Switch and Point Du Jour -Thelus line. The end of the month saw continued attention for the defence of Hill 70, with the 4th CMR moving into the front line on April 17, 1918. Casualties were extremely light for the whole month of April 1918 at the Brigade level, with only 1 officer and 10 infantry paying the ultimate sacrifice.

Hubert Cyril Petty left the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles front line action on April 30, 1918 with the onset of the abscess in his armpit. He was moved out to the 22nd Casualty Clearing Station and then by hospital ship to the Central Ontario Regimental Depot in Witley, England. Although Hubert C. Petty returned to the 4th CMR on September 26, 1918 during Canada's final push "The Last 100 Days", he was almost immediately moved to the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp and then back to Witley "with a view to being granted commission".

Great War Medals of Hubert Cyril Petty:

For his service during the Great War, Sergeant Hubert Cyril Petty was granted the British War Medal and the Victory Medal (medal details from Chris Baker's "The Long, Long Trail"; images of medals from "Veteran's Affairs Canada"):

  • The British War Medal 1914-1916:

    It is impossible to set out all the details of qualification for this medal, but briefly, the requirement was that a member of the fighting forces had to leave his native shore in any part of the British Empire while on service. It did not matter whether he/she entered a theatre of war or not.

    The medal is silver, and circular. A truncated bust of King George V is on the obverse, while there is a depiction of Saint George on the reverse. There is a straight clasp carrying a watered silk ribbon. This has a central band of golden yellow with three stripes of white, black and blue on both sides. The blue stripes come at the edges. An attempt was made to draw up a list of bars, but it was found to be an overwhelming task and was abandoned. Some 4,700,000 of these medals were struck for distribution at home, and another 600,000 in the Dominions and Colonies.
  • The Victory Medal 1914-1918:

    This medal was awarded to all those who entered a theatre of war (and presumably took part in the fighting, logistics or medical services). It follows that every recipient of the Victory Medal also qualified for the British War Medal, but not the other way round. 300,000 fewer Victory Medals were required than British War Medals. All three services were eligible. It is not generally known that Victory Medals continued to be awarded after the Armistice, for the British forces who saw action in North Russia (up to October 12th, 1919) and Trans-Caspia (up to April 17th, 1919) also qualified.

    The medal was struck in bronze. On the obverse is a full-length figure of Victory. On the reverse is the inscription "The Great War for Civilization". There is no clasp, but a ting attachment through which the ribbon is passed. The official description of the colour of the ribbon is "two rainbows with red in the centre". An oak-leaf emblem was sanctioned for those who were mentioned in despatches.