Category Archives: Volunteering

He Couldn’t Serve

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If you weren’t in uniform you weren’t doing your part.” This was a quote from a veteran on Remembrance Day 2017.

My father, Donald Sutherland volunteered for service at the beginning of WWII but was twice rejected for medical reasons. He had to sit out the war working as an accountant and serving in the Blackwatch reserve.

“ Dear Mother, I had my medical test today. It went fairly satisfactorily except that as usual, my heart was a little fast and I have to go in again Thursday am to have a recheck. They do everything under the sun to you and it takes about an hour and a half. Everything else went well and I suppose I’ll be accepted if my heart steadies down next time. I am supposed to go to bed very early on Wednesday night to soothe my nerves. I just expected to have the interview today but they buzzed me right through the whole works, Love Don”

Donald graduated from McGill University in the spring of 1939. He had just turned 22 and he and all his classmates expected to find jobs and begin their adult lives but war was on the horizon. Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, three days later Britain declared war on Germany, followed by Canada a week later. Personal lives were put on hold as young men volunteered for military service.

With his new commerce degree, my father had begun working for Ritchie Brown and Company as an auditor  Once war was declared, he signed up for the McGill Canadian Officers Training Corp (C.O.T.C.). The McGill C.O.T.C. was quickly expanded from 125 to more than 1,400 cadets and 50 instructors. The need for a drill hall spurred the construction of the Arthur Currie Gymnasium. New recruits were trained in map reading, military law, organization, administration and upon completion sent to a branch of service in which they could best contribute their talents and skills.  

In August of 1940, he registered with the Dominion of Canada National Registration Regulations expecting he would soon be in military service. He went in for his medical examination without a thought and was rejected. He later tried again.

Twice he received a certificate of rejection from the Canadian Army. The doctors said he was not able to do strenuous work because of his high blood pressure and mitral valve insufficiency. He also received a rejection notice from the Airforce because that application wasn’t completed.

With his second rejection letter from the army came an Applicant for Enlistment badge and card to identify him as an applicant who had failed to meet the minimum medical standards. The lapel badge was to be worn to show the public he had volunteered.

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Applicant for Enlistment Lapel Pin

 

He served in the Black Watch Reserve to the end of the war. As a reservist, he was a part-time soldier while he continued at his day job. He trained raw recruits at camps in Mount Bruno and Farnham, Quebec and garnered high praise from his commanding officer. The battalion’s modified trooping of the colours was written up in the Montreal Gazette, pointing out Lt. D.N. Gatehouse and Lt. D. Sutherland, bearing the flags.

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Commanding Officier & Donald Sutherland Black Watch Camp, Mount Bruno, Quebec  1941

 

I can only imagine how my father felt, staying home, receiving letters from all his friends serving overseas, while he travelled in Canada auditing company books and marched in Montreal.

Notes:

2017 was the 100th Anniversary of my father’s birth and in his memory, I wrote this story. This is a companion piece to my mother Dorothy Raguin’s war service https://wordpress.com/post/genealogyensemble.com/4470

Letter from Donald Sutherland to his mother Minnie Eagle Sutherland July 28, 1942.

Letter from Major D.L.Carstairs to Lt Gatehouse and Lt. Sutherland July 19, 1942.

Black Watch Stages Colourful Ceremony – The Gazette, Montreal July 20, 1942. The full trooping of the colours was not done in wartime. According to other newspaper clippings my grandmother saved, he marched in a number of parades and ceremonies.

Served under Lieut Col. H.A. Johnston 4th (Reserve) Battalion of the Black Watch.

Indexing Records for LDS

Have you ever wondered who does some of the indexing for the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is actively involved in a very unique program in conjunction with the Utah State Prison. “Inmates who volunteered at the Utah State Prison Center last year indexed more than 2 million records…..They put approximately 50,000 hours of personal family research in the project.” This recent article in The Huffington Post  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/03/utah-prisoners-mormon-genealogy_n_5079776.html was like a breath of fresh air to learn that these prisoners are contributing in a very positive way to help genealogists. Perhaps the next time you access familysearch. org  you might think about many of those prisoners who  are involved in preparing the records we as genealogist  so often seek .

Free public archives

No, it’s not just to get your attention, Archives publiques libres  is a group of people who believe archives should be free to search to all, and that, by the same token, if you put your information online to share with others, it is not so a company grabs your info to sell to others.

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On their webpage, they explain their position, list actions they take or that we can take to maintain a genalogical world accessible to all…

I really appreciate their inventory of free genealogical resources: simply click on maps and access lists fromFrance and around the world.  You can also find press releases, tips for using internet etc.

The National Archives asks for your help

Any opportunity to help other genealogists and researchers is a good one, and The National Archives in Great Britain announced an interesting project this week.

The National Archives (TNA) has spent the past three years digitising WWI unit war diaries and now they are looking for volunteers. These diaries are among the most popular records at TNA.

With this project, TNA hopes to create new Citizen Historians, working together to make previously inaccessible information available to academics, researchers and family historians worldwide, leaving a lasting legacy for the centenary of the First World War. They need volunteers who can spend an hour of their time — or more — to read and tag a few diary pages.

Earlier this week, TNA published the first batch of diaries online as part of First World War 100. You can search and download more than 300,000 diary pages of the first three cavalry divisions and the first seven infantry divisions to arrive on the Western Front. By the end of this year, TNA will have published the rest of the diaries that they have digitised, around 1.5 million pages in total, opening up an already popular record series to historians worldwide.

To learn more about the project and how you can get involved, visit The National Archives Blog. Thanks to Dick Eastman who brought this story to our attention in his eNewsletter article, Operation War Diary: A Crowd Crowdsourcing Project.

Kitchener library seeks virtual volunteers for WWI project

The Kitchener Public Library in Ontario is looking for your help. In honour of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, the library’s staff has created soldier information cards about the many courageous men and women of the province’s Waterloo County who served Canada in the First and Second World Wars. These cards were created during and shortly after each war and were compiled using newspaper and magazine clippings, photographs, and information contributed by soldiers and their families.

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The library needs virtual volunteers to transcribe the content of the soldier card sets, making them searchable on the library’s online photograph site. The transcription process will involve copying the information on the soldier card into a text (.txt) file and sending the finished transcription back to staff for upload. If you are interested in volunteering for this project, contact the library at volunteer@kpl.org or telephone 519-743-0271, ext. 275. Read more about the project on the library’s website.

Perhaps genealogy societies should approach their local library to find out if they hold treasures that need to be digitized and posted online. This would be an excellent opportunity to support a library, create a new collaboration, and uncover genealogy gems.

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