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Mounted Rifleman, Canadian Expeditionary Force

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    Posted 10 years ago

    (310 items)

    That wonderful Canadian Quilt that Grace Trafford Antiques just posted inspired me to share this photograph.

    This is my Great Great Uncle Joe of the 12th Canadian Mounted Rifles (CMR), sometimes called the Calgary Mounted Rifles, Canadian Expeditionary Force, in WWI. Those that read my posts know that I’m retired US Army, but I take a lot of pride in the Canadian side of my family. Joe came from the family homestead a bit north of the small town of Innisfail, Alberta. The farmhouse my Great Great Grandpa built on his homestead there still stands.

    By the time the 12th CMR reached France, there was more need for men in trenches than men on horseback, and Joe and the rest were used as reinforcements. Joe was wounded in an artillery barrage and diagnosed with shell shock. He was sent to recover in England, where he met Emily, the nurse that he would eventually marry and take home with him. My grandmother, who passed away at 99 a few years ago, remembered him as often angry and depressed. Her description sounded a lot like what we would call PTSD now.

    One day I was talking with my grandmother about Emily. I had always assumed she was a nurse at the hospital where Joe was recovering. My Grandmother said, “No dear –Aunt Emily served in an aid station in France that was also hit by artillery. Shrapnel tore her left breast away. She was also recovering in England when she met Uncle Joe. I guess they always had that understanding about eachother.”

    The second photo is a reproduction of the 12th CMR cap badge that I picked up along the way. One day I hope to run across an original at a decent price.

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    1. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 10 years ago
      Thanks for the love Hedgewalker and Walksoftly
    2. avidgenie avidgenie, 10 years ago
      Thank you for sharing this story. I am an avid researcher of WWI War Brides. Would it be possible to learn the names of your great great uncle and his wife so I can find out more about them?
    3. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 10 years ago
      Sure, I think I know Joe's last name was Springay (My grandmother's maiden name), but will verify that when I have time to dig out my files. When my grandmother was 96 I began a series of tape recorded interviews and I still haven't had time to transcribe all the family stories, but I did write this one down somewhere. I don't know if she mentioned Emily's maiden name, but will ask the family - that may be lost to us.
    4. walksoftly walksoftly, 10 years ago
      Chrisnp check out this link:
      I was unable to find a Springay Surname listed, I'm going to look at some other records.
    5. avidgenie avidgenie, 10 years ago
      I may have found him in the Soldiers of the First World War database at .
      If this is him then you are in luck. The pdf is a copy of his full service record.
    6. avidgenie avidgenie, 10 years ago
      No, that can't be him. This person died as of 1918 as per the Canadian Virtual War Memorial
    7. walksoftly walksoftly, 10 years ago
      avidgenie your guy is from Ontario should be Alberta
    8. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 10 years ago
      Sorry, my memory was faulty - I just spoke to my mother, and Joseph's last name was Tillier (My grandmother's mother's maiden name). I should have checked that before posting. Again, sorry. Also, Mom didn't know Emily's maiden name, although that could probably be researched.

      Thank you both in your interest in this story. This is the Joseph in the photo:

      As for Percy Joseph Springgay - He could likely be a relative. The Springay/Springgay family did move to Alberta from Ontario earlier in our families’ history, and there is a monument to the first settlers of the Antler Hill area (near Innisfail) that lists the name Springay as Springgay (two g's) - I'm not sure when the second g was dropped.
    9. avidgenie avidgenie, 10 years ago
      Here is an articles from the Red Deer News about Lewis Joseph Tillier joining the 12th CMR

      He returned home to Canada on the ship Olympic in May 1919. I'd send you a link to his Attestation papers but the Library and Archives Canada website is experiencing difficulties tonight.
    10. avidgenie avidgenie, 10 years ago
      According to his BC death registration his wife's name was Emily Robina Smyth. She came to Canada on the ship Victorian in May 1921 and was headed to Innisfail. It says on the manifest that she was "to be married [to] J. Tillier". If you want copies send me an email at
    11. walksoftly walksoftly, 10 years ago
      Good job avidgenie, I gave up with the connection to Archives Canada, went & watched some Tv .
    12. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 10 years ago
      Ah, so he didn't marry her and then go to Canada, but had her come to Canada to marry him. Well, I can see how things would get turned around in the family oral history. Do you still classify her war bride then?
      After two years separation, she still traveled half way around the world to be with him. I wonder what went through her mind that first time she crossed the prairie.
    13. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 10 years ago
      Thank you so much for this avidgenie, and you will be getting an e-mail from me
    14. walksoftly walksoftly, 10 years ago
      She is definitely classified as a war bride, as she left her home country. Some came to Canada even though their husbands had been killed in action. They wanted to fulfill the dream of coming to Canada. I'm not sure of the numbers from from WWI but 48,000 war brides came to Canada after WWII.
    15. avidgenie avidgenie, 10 years ago
      Yes, she is definitely a war bride. They met during wartime circumstances and as mentioned above travelled to another country to live. There were about 35,000 marriages during WWI but not all came to Canada after the war. There were about 48,000 marriages during WW2 but as war bride historian Melynda Jarratt always says only 43,454 of these war brides travelled to Canada after WW2.
    16. walksoftly walksoftly, 10 years ago
      Some men chose to stay in Europe after the war as well. Some of the discrepancy in the numbers can be attributed to soldiers who married a war bride but never made it home. My Uncle was on of them, he married a woman from the Isle of Wight, UK, in May 1944, he was killed in action June 8, 1944 in Normandy.
      She came to Canada in 1946 to meet the family, & stayed for nearly a year. She returned to the UK, but later returned to Canada in 1950.
    17. avidgenie avidgenie, 10 years ago
      Same things happened during and after WWI except many died during the Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918-1919 as well. I have tracked a number of women that came to Canada just to visit their husband's family. Some stayed, while others returned home after a short visit.
    18. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 10 years ago
      Thanks for the love, packrat and toolate.

      Avidgenie, My grandmother also had a story I recorded about the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 18-19. She would have been only 10 years old at the time but it made an impression on her. Seems her younger brother got the flu and she and her mother were exposed. The house was quarantined and the rest of the family had to stay in the barn. The family would pump water from the well and leave the bucket on the front step. After they were off the steps the water could be brought in. The night that it looked as if her younger brother would die, the mother stayed up all night in her rocker, waiting for the worse. The boy managed to survive, but barely.
    19. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 10 years ago
      Thanks for the love, GraceTraffordAntiques
    20. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 7 years ago
      Update on this post: The part where I say "The farmhouse my Great Great Grandpa built on his homestead there still stands." is no longer true. It was torn down recently to make way for a new housing development. Sometimes progress just doesn't feel all that progressive.
    21. walksoftly walksoftly, 7 years ago
      Sorry to here it's gone, but time marches on & old gives way to new. Not always easy to accept though!
    22. BarrettF BarrettF, 3 years ago
      Mom never talked much about her Dad. I don't remember seeing this photograph of my grandfather before. Thanks for showing it. Louis Joseph Tillier (Joe) would have been in his mid-thirties when it was taken.

      Mom (Robina Maude Tillier) died just over a year ago and one of the things she left us was the bible that belonged to David Louis Tillier, my great grandfather. I believe David would be your "Great Great Grandpa".

      I would like to know more about Alice Springgay, Joe's sister, Emily's friend and apparently your great grandmother.
    23. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 3 years ago
      I was delighted to see your post. Yes, Alice Tillier was my great grandmother. You would also be interested in this post involving a broach that was passed from Alice's mother Eliza (pictured) to Alice, which was then passed to Alice's daughter Winnifred, and then to her daughter Doris,who still possesses it.

      My mother Doris is still alive at 89, and remembers her grandmother Alice well. I'd be happy to tell you more or ask her questions. My e-mail is chrisply {at}

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