The image above: Canada declared war on August 5th 1914. The Register of the Elgin Regiment reveals that Arnold Logan volunteered for service on August 11th. By the 22nd he was on his way to Valcartier, Quebec as a member of the 91st Battalion and the First Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Two years later he was dead.
Snippets of a life lived in barely twenty years reveal a man who knew how to be a good and loyal friend and was sorely missed by all who knew him.
Unfortunately, family photos were lost to a fire so these faded clippings are all that remain. These clippings, and his place in history as the first First Nations man to be killed in action during the Great War -
April 26, 1916.
Before enlisting to go overseas, the young man from Muncey and his best friend and fellow railroad employee, Ernest William Biggs, were both members of the 25th Elgin Regiment and the St. Thomas Rifle Association. Biggs' letters home to Captain Miller of the Rifle club reveal a fast friendship - although Biggs was not shy about playing up Arnold's reputation as a perfect model. He writes that he is sending a photo of himself to the Captain but British camera's could not stand the strain of Arnold's perfection.
Mexican Luck Charms
We were both glad to get your letter and we also thank you kindly for the Mexican luck charms you sent us. We have hung them around our necks with our identification discs, we hope that they will turn the German bullets and bayonets.
Little did they know...
By the time you get this we will be in France on our way to the front, and I tell you we are glad to get out of the mud of the Salisbury Plain.
Bodies more used to Iron Horses
We are driving the ammunition wagon and of course ride the horses. We rode eleven miles last night and every bone in our bodies was sore and stiff. We can hardly walk yet.
We have a nice team and carry the ammunition for the machine guns only. We got the Webb equipment in place of the Oliver a few days ago and now look like real soldiers. We also have a good pair of English shoes.
Broken Heart Cannot be Concealed
Once again we turn to the letters written by Ernest Wm. Biggs to Capt. R.J. Miller of the Rifle Club back home in St. Thomas to learn more about Arnold's death and the depth of his loss.
May 5th, 1916
Just a few lines hoping they will find you in good health. I am as well as can be expected. I thank you very much for the papers which I duly received. It is good to get home news. Well, Captain, I am very sorry to report that poor Arnold was killed at his gun. Oh, how I miss him, for we have been together so very long and being on the same gun crew together. At the time he was killed I just happened not to be there. I guess you will have heard of it before you get this letter. There were six of us St. Thomas boys joined that gun section at Valcartier but now there is just me left of the six. I am pleased to say that they are not all dead but have been send back from wounds. …
Dartford War Hospital
Dartford, Kent, Eng.
June 24th, 1916
At last I am going to try and answer your letter of 22nd May so long neglected. I hope you are well as this leaves me as far as health goes, but the Germans have made a target of me at last. My right hand is mangled quite a bit, also my right ear and my right eye is badly injured, I am also deaf but think my hearing will come back again in time, but I got off very lucky considering all things. The shell burst right in front of me and buried me completely. That is all that saved my life as the dirt weakened the force of the explosion. I was stone blind for three days, but can see fairly well now. But why should I worry now that I am safe in England away from the storm of shot and shell. You cannot realize the relief.
I am sorry Captain that I was unable to get you a flower from poor Arnold’s grave. We had been together constantly until the day he was killed and I was not there when he was hit. I am glad to report that he never suffered, as he was killed outright. I saw him after he was dead. There were eight men on the same gun with Arnold, and seven were killed and the eighth lost his sight. I hope this war will be all over soon. It is awful. I had 18 months out there and it is plenty for me. I was wounded June 13 and have been in England now four days. My God, how good to get away from the roar of cannon and shell. Give my best to friends of the Rifle Assn. It is showery here, but I have a roof over me now. It is some job writing with left hand.