Military Records

Researching a Canadian Soldier of World War I

If you’re researching an ancestor who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during the First World War, two posts by Ken McKinlay (Family Tree Knots) are well worth consulting: “Resources for ‘A Soldier of the Great War: A Research Case Study'”  and “They Served Canada But I Want to Know More.”

Via Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections.

William Killeen and Lucy Armstrong

William Henry Killeen (1857-1904) was a son of Denis Benjamin Killeen and Ellen O’Brien, and a grandson of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn. In November 1885, he married Lucy Armstrong (1863-1956), a daughter of James Armstrong and Bridget Kelly, and a granddaughter of Joseph Armstrong and Catherine Smith.

Lucy Armstrong was the first cousin of my 2x-great-grandfather John Lahey (1837-1899). And Lucy Armstrong’s first husband William Henry Killeen was the nephew of John Lahey’s wife, my 2x-great-grandmother Margaret Jane Killeen (1835-1913). From the “Relationship Calculator” function at the family history database (Ottawa Valley Irish: A Genealogy Database), the relationships can be depicted like so:

 

Relationship between Lucy Armstrong and John Lahey

Relationship between Lucy Armstrong and John Lahey

Relationship between William Henry Killeen and Margaret Jane Killeen

Relationship between William Henry Killeen and Margaret Jane Killeen

Courtesy of one of their descendants, here is a wonderful photograph of William Henry Killeen and Lucy Armstrong, with the first six of their nine known children:

William Killeen and Lucy Armstrong and family, ca. 1896

William Killeen and Lucy Armstrong and family, ca. 1896

I believe this photograph was taken in 1896 or 1897. And I have to love the stylized backdrops of 19th-century studio portraits. This family lived and farmed at Sebastopol, in Renfrew Co., Ontario, Canada. But from the background of the above photograph, you might think they dwelled amidst the ruins of ancient Tuscany! or something like that.

William Henry Killeen died in August 1904, leaving his wife Lucy Armstrong a widow with nine children. About five years later (in May 1909), Lucy Armstrong Killeen married Albert Austin Massey, a British Home Child who was about twenty years her junior. The family moved out west, to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Albert Austin Massey fought with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in World War I, as did at least one of his stepsons, Francis Joseph Killeen.

How tall was Denis Killeen?

How tall was my 3x-great-grandfather Denis Killeen (1786-1850)?

According to his record of service, he was 5 foot 8 when he enlisted in the 97th Regiment of Foot at the age of 18, in 1804; and six years later, at the age of 24, he was 5 foot 10:

Denis Killeen, Canada, British Regimental Registers of Service, 1756-1900

Denis Killeen, Canada, British Regimental Registers of Service, 1756-1900

This from a newly added database at ancestry.ca: Canada, British Regimental Registers of Service, 1756-1900.

Note: Ancestry.ca has recently added a number of new databases. Worth checking out.

Denis Killeen’s Kilmainham Pensioner Discharge Record

Note: I discovered the following via John Reid’s Anglo-Celtic Connections.

I already have a copy of this record in black and white, having purchased a photocopy from The National Archives (UK) (document cited here, in “Description of Denis Killeen”). But online and scanned in colour is really taking things to another level. Wow. Now available at findmypast.co.uk  and findmypast.ieBritish Army Pensioners – Kilmainham, Ireland 1783-1822.

Click previews to see larger images of Denis Killeen’s discharge record:1

Denis Killeen’s Kilmainham pensioner discharge record

Denis Killeen’s Kilmainham pensioner discharge record

This record gives me more information than I have for any other ancestor born pre-1800.

First, his record of discharge informs me that Denis Killeen was born in “the Parish of Melick [Meelick] in or near the Town of Melick [Meelick] in the County of Galway.” So: a county and a parish: the holy grail of Irish genealogy.2 Second, it supplies an occupation: Denis Killeen was “by Trade or Occupation a Carpenter” (an occupation that was followed by some of his male descendants in Canada). And perhaps most interestingly of all, it offers a physical description: Denis Killeen was five foot ten inches in height, with fair hair, grey eyes, and a “Swarthy” complexion.

Findmypast.ie has a bit of background and context for the Green Redcoats, with a glossary of relevant terms here.

  1.  WO 119/54, Denis Killeen, Served in 97th Foot Regiment, Royal Hospital, Kilmainham: Pensioners’ Discharge Documents (Certificates of Service), The National Archives: database, findmypast.co.uk (www.findmypast.co.uk: accessed 8 Dec 2012), British Army Pensioners — Kilmainham, Ireland, 1783-1822.
  2. Note: The parish of Meelick is the civil parish. For Catholic records (which do not exist/have not survived for Denis Killeen’s period), the RC parish is that of Clonfert, Meelick & Eyrecourt.

‘Ottawa Flier Missing’ (Donald Michael Sloan)

Ottawa Citizen, 26 January 1945

Last Remembrance Day I posted a brief remembrance of Emmett Patrick Sloan and Donald Michael Sloan. I’ve since come across a couple of brief but interesting newspaper notices relating to the two brothers. These I discovered through a search of the Google news archive (which is no longer easy to use and now seems like a bit of a hit-and-miss affair: see The Death of Google News Archivefor more information).

As per the article “Ottawa Flier Missing” (26 January 1945), his parents (John Percival Sloan and Mary Lillian Fagan) were informed by the RCAF casualty office (in late January 1945? or perhaps a bit earlier?) that Donald Michael Sloan was missing in action. No doubt they initially feared he was dead. In fact, he had been taken prisoner by the Germans. After spending time in a POW camp, he ended up in a military hospital in England, where his brother Emmett Patrick Sloan found him shortly after the war.

At findmypast.co.uk, there is this brief but tantalizing transcription:

Donald Michael Sloan survived the war, and returned to Ottawa with his brother. In 1947 he married Constance Ethel Renton, with whom he raised a family of five children.