Harold Monks kept all of his WWI memorabilia and photographs. Harold enlisted in Victoria BC in April 1917 with an artillery draft of Vancouver Island men. From May 1917 – October 1917, Harold was in summer artillery training at Camp Petawawa in Ontario. He sailed overseas on October 22 1917 (a day before his 25th birthday) and trained as a signaller at Camp Witley in Surrey, England from November 1917 to the end of March 1918. Harold arrived in France for “Active Service” at the beginning of April 1918.
These snapshots show Harold’s experiences in training camps — and a lot of camraderie he had with his fellow Vancouver Island enlistees, many who he served with on the “Front”. Three of them – Ray Brewster, Ross McCannel and Harold Pearce – would never return to the Island.
Click on the photo for more complete captions and background information. See below the gallery for links to more photos and information.
A group shot from summer artillery camp at Petawawa, summer 1917. Harold Monks is in front row middle. Next to him (second from right) is Joe Stinson. Note the mascot dog. Harold Monks collection.
Postcard probably sent by Harold to his family in England. Harold Monks collection.
Harold’s great coat is flung upon the bell tent. Photo by Ray Brewster. Harold Monks collection.
Artillery wagon, Petawawa, summer 1917. Harold Monks collection.
Photo by Ray Brewster. L-R: Ross McCannel, Harold Monks, Harold Pearce, Joe Stinson, Kenny Grieg. Harold Monks collection.
Ray Brewster dentist from Victoria, son of Harlan Carey Brewster, then Premier of British Columbia. Harold knew Ray before enlisting, because his dad was the owner of the cannery where Harold fished. Ray and family spent summers at the cannery manager’s house. In summer 1916 Harold had many picnics with the Brewsters, photos which appear in Harold’s album. Harold Monks collection.
The back of this photo says: “Taken July 1917. Snapped just after lunch. I am kneeling down, just behind 4th from end front line.” (Harold is in a funny pose, someone’s arm around him) The funny poses show that Harold was a good sport, had a sense of fun. Harold Monks collection.
Harold Monks collection.
Ross McCannel and Harold Monks. The back of this photo says “No girls here so we much make the best of it”. A staged comic photo by Ray Brewster. Harold Monks collection.
Harold Monks collection.
The back of this photo says “A second attempt. We succeeded in getting it snapped without any mishap.” Harold Monks collection.
Harold Monks collection.
“Seven Gents from Victoria taken on No. 4 Gun”: Back: Harold Monks, Ross McCannel, Joe Stinson. Front: Harold Marshall Pearce, possibly Ray Brewster, unknown, possibly Kenny Greig. Harold Monks collection.
Back of a photograph of Harold and his fellow members of the No. 4 gun. Harold Monks collection.
An artistic shot by Ray Brewster that shows his talent as a photographer (good eye for composition and a sense of humor). Harold Monks collection.
A page from Harold’s album showing snapshots from Witley Camp in early 1919. Note Harold’s careful white printing. Harold Monks collection.
Kenny Grieg, Ross McCannel, Harold Monks, Harold Pearce. Harold Monks collection.
This is probably Harold in the gas mask as the way he stands looks familiar. If there was a poison gas attack, Harold would breathe in the poisoned air through a metal canister. Charcoal and chemical agents absorbed the gas. Purified air would go through the rubber hose and into Harold’s mouth. On the front, there were regular gas drills and testing of respirators. Harold Monks collection.
Joe Stinson, Witley Camp, January 13 1918. Stinson was from Vancouver Island – at the time he enlisted, he gave his profession as “journalist”. He later operated grocery stores in Vancouver in the 1920s/30s. Harold Monks collection.
Signaller Neil Ross McCannel was from Victoria. He enlisted in the same draft as Harold and trained with him at Petawawa. They served together in the 9th and 10th batteries. McCannel was K.I.A. November 6 1918. Harold stayed in contact with his family after the war, and Ross’ sister Madge came to visit Tofino in the 1920s. Harold Monks collection.
Joe Stinson, Harold Monks, Kenny Grieg. The guys had enlisted in the same artillery draft in Victoria in spring 1917. Harold Monks collection.
This photo looks as if it were taken at Christmas 1917 – notice the holly pinned to their jackets. L – R: Joe Stinson, Harold Monks, Ross McCannel. They are also wear their regulation “spurs”, included with every uniform. These guys were artillery signallers, so would not be riding horses! Harold Monks collection.
The caption for this photo in Harold’s album is “The Seven Pals” Witley Camp England Front to Back: Joe Stinson, Ross McCannel, Harold Monks. Harold Monks collection.
This portrait shot was taken a month before Harold went overseas. L-R: Alice and Willie Monks, Florrie Makin (cousin), William and Polly Monks. The photo was possibly taken at a studio in Willesden where Willie lived (and Mr and Mrs Monks and Florrie travelled down from Earlestown). Harold Monks collection.
The caption on the back reads: Officers and Men of the 9th Battery CFA BEF, France. Harold Monks collection.
June 23 1918 in France, officers and men of the 9th battery Canadian Field Artillery and British Expeditionary Force. Harold Monks collection.
Harold Monks is at the back centre of the picture, next to the tree. Harold Monks collection.
In 2015, Harold’s photographs and war memorabilia (notebooks, ration books etc) were shared with the Canadian Letters and Images Project at Vancouver Island University. The materials were scanned and uploaded to be shared with future researchers. You can see Harold’s full collection here.
Many Petawawa photos were taken by Ray Brewster, who Harold previously knew from the Clayoquot Sound Canning Company in Kenn Falls, Tofino Inlet (Ray’s dad owned the cannery). Ray’s letters and a few photos (one of Harold writing a letter) are also in the Canadian Letters and Images collection, and were shared by author Margaret Horsfield, who has written about Clayoquot Sound and World War One in her book “Writing the Sound.” You can see Ray’s collection here.
Most of the young men in these photographs had attended Victoria High School. I learned more about some of them and their war-time amateur dramatic performances in this story I wrote for the Victoria High School Archives website: The Play’s the Thing – Victoria High School performs Shakespeare during WWI