Earl Campbell - Life in the Army

Earl's Recruitment and the 127th Battalion

In 1916, Lorne Campbell, Earl’s cousin came to King on a recruiting assignment for the 127th Battalion, York Rangers of Aurora and signed up Earl on February 14, 1916 – Attestation Paper at an auction sale in a barn on the same farm Earl purchased some nine years later in 1925. The farm was located on W ½ , Lot 8, Concession 4 in King Township.

The 127th (12th York Rangers) Battalion, CEF was a unit in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. Based in Toronto, Ontario, the unit began recruiting in late 1915 in York County. After sailing to England in August 1916, the battalion was designated the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops on November 8, 1916. The 127th (12th York Rangers) Battalion, CEF had one Officer Commanding: Lieut-Col. F. F. Clarke, DSO.

127th Battalion
127th Battalion, CEF King Aurora 1916

J. Allan, A. Brown, H. Boys, L. Campbell, F. Brown, L. Sturdy
J. Allan, A. Brown, H. Boys, L. Campbell, F. Brown, L. Sturdy
Taken from the Laskay Women’s Institute

Frederick Fieldhouse Clarke was an engineer and surveyor in northern Ontario. He was born on 22 August 1878 in Hamilton. He served for three years with the Royal Canadian Regiment and nearly twenty with the 12th York Rangers. In January 1916, Clarke was appointed commanding officer of the 127th Battalion of York County.

As railway troops, the 127th Battalion specialized in building light railway lines close to the front , a Canadian specialty, for the rapid movement of troops and supplies from established railway heads. The battalion prided itself on its rapid bridge-building skills and an improvised turntable it crafted on several occasions.    

Lieut-Colonel F.F. Clarke
Lieut-Colonel F.F. Clarke

According to Fred F. Angus article entitled The Canadian Railway Troops in World War 1, written in Canadian Rail, November-December 1993 issue Angus lists the first five battalions of the Canadian Railway Troops:

"The 1st Canadian Overseas Construction Battalion, which had reached France in October 1916 and was working on Standard gauge railways, became the 1st Battalion, CRT The 127th Infantry Battalion, then at Bramshott, England, became the2nd Battalion, CRT and proceeded to France on January 11, 1917. The 239th Battalion became the 3rd Battalion, CRT. The 4th & 5th Battalions, CRT, were organized at Purfleet, England and were sent to France in February, 1917."

"Things were now moving at ever-increasing speed in anticipation of the campaigns scheduled for 1917. In March, 1917 it was decided to organize five more Battalions of the Canadian Railway Troops, and as more units arrived from Canada they were sent to Purfleet to be organized. By April 1, there were six Battalions in the file, and by the end of June, 1917 all ten were fully operational. So quickly had official thinking turned around that the majority of these units were employed on light railway construction and maintenance and, from mid-1917 until the end of the war, all light railway construction on the British Western Front was carried out by the Canadian Railway Troops."

The Canadian Railway Troops in World War 1

Angus, Fred F. "The Canadian Railway Troops in World War 1" - Canadian Rail, November-December 1993


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