WW1 Field Message Book makes its way to Kneehill Historical Museum

Vimy Record Book

Today, Wednesday, April 12, marks the 100th Anniversary of the final day of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Four Canadian Divisions and one British Division saw 3,598 die and 7,004 wounded from its April 9th beginning to April 12th, 1917.

The Kneehill Historical Museum has received a Field Message Book, and other related items, that take us back to that important time in Canadian History. The following article describes what has been obtained.

Records, appearing to belong to SGT. MCDOUGALL, Robert (434140) have come to the Kneehill Historical Museum. Sgt. McDougall enlisted 31/12/1914 at Calgary in the 50th Battalion in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Forces. Somehow, his records came to Johnston Hart. Elroy Koch purchased the records in a trunk from Johnston Hart’s estate sale. Reminded of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Elroy thought it an opportune time to bring the records to the Museum where the records will become part of the WW1 exhibit.

These records can help the viewer understand the responsibilities of the Signal Corps. in WWI. Sgt McDougall’s handwriting fills much of Army Book 153, a Field Message Book of onionskin graph paper where he records the names of those in A, B, C and D Companies, as well as Sigs. He has included information about ‘parade and rations state, ’ and on carefully folded slips of paper, information such as Detailed Battalion Code, Radio diagrams and list of equipment.

His notes contain the names of soldiers and their next of kin as well as the dates they died, a sober reminder of those who served in WWI. Especially poignant is a hand-written tribute (see below) to one of his Company, Cpl. Laurence William Kirkland (434002), 21 years old, killed in action April 12, 1917.


Kirky, of the Smiling Face

That shows the glory in his sourl;

Shining Love, and Winsome Grace

Kirky of the Smiling Face.

Kirky of the Comic Smile,

(When the dark clouds hand o’erhead)

Making Life to all worth while,

Kirky of the Comic Smile

Kirky of the Happy way,

Running smooth through shot & shell,

Cheering through the hard fought day

Kirky of the Happy Way.

Kirky of the Golden Heart,

Young and tender, pure and true,

All thy Gems to us impart

Kirky of the Golden Heart.

- F W D