Thursday, November 21, 2013

30 Days of Remembrance - Day 23 - James Joseph Wheeler

In memory of
James Joseph Wheeler
who died on November 21, 1916 

Military Service:

Service Number: 1432
Force: Army
Unit: Royal Newfoundland Regiment
Division: 1st Bn.

Additional Information:

Son of John Thomas and Agnus Wheeler. Native of Torbay, Newfoundland.
Cemetery: GROVE TOWN CEMETERY; Somme, France
Grave Reference: II. K. 25.
Commemorated on Page 129 of the Newfoundland Book of Remembrance.

In my lifetime Newfoundland has always been a province of Canada so it feels odd to think of a time when it wasn't.  It becomes very apparent however when searching for records; the Canadian military records from WWI don't include Newfoundland. James Joseph Wheeler was born in St John's Newfoundland about 1892 but a search of Ancestry left me with very little. A google search for Newfoundland military WWI brought up a multitude of websites

From a History of Newfoundland by Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College
In proportion to wealth and population, Newfoundland's contribution in the First World War was outstanding. Approximately 8,500 men were enrolled, nearly 7,000 in the Newfoundland Regiment and Forestry Corps, the remainder in the Royal Navy. Casualties were extremely high. In the Newfoundland Regiment about 1,300 were killed and over 2,300 wounded; of those who enlisted in the Royal Navy about 180 lost their lives and 125 were invalided home.
The most useful site for my purposes turned out to be The Newfoundland and the Great War database. There I was able to find an entire file on James Joseph Wheeler, including his Newfoundland Regiment attestation papers.

In the files was several communication to James' parents, John and Agnes Wheeler, including one that indicated that he had been wounded on  Oct 12, 1916 but remained on duty.

I also located a service record for James Wheeler which indicated that he served 1 year, 219 day before dying of wounds to the arm, leg and chest.

His parents received a notice dated Nov 23 1916 to inform them that their son was gravely wounded; sadly James had already succumbed to his wounds and another notice was sent on Nov 28 to inform them of the death of their son James Joseph Wheeler.

James Joseph Wheeler was buried in Somme, France. His parents received a photo of his  grave marker.

It was later replaced by a more permanent marker bearing the Moose Emblem of the Newfoundland Battalion.

James Joseph Wheeler died Nov 21, 1916

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