Veteran Stories:
James Ross

Army

  • James Ross enlisted in both the First and Second World Wars. Left: As a young medical student, Mr. Ross enlisted for war service on September 22, 1914. Right: He enlisted with the Army Medical Corps in 1940.

    James Ross enlisted in both the First and Second World Wars. Left: As a young medical student, Mr. Ross enlisted for war service on September 22, 1914. Right: He enlisted with the Army Medical Corps in 1940.
  • Postcard from the RMS Grampian, the troopship that carried James Ross and other members of the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force to England. The RMS Grampian was one of the many ships listed on the back of the postcard.

    Postcard from the RMS Grampian, the troopship that carried James Ross and other members of the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force to England. The RMS Grampian was one of the many ships listed on the back of the postcard.
  • James Ross wrote many letters and kept a diary during WWI, which he transcribed after the war. In this entry dated April, 29, 1915, he wrote to his mother who he knew would be anxious after reading of the casualties at Ypres.

    James Ross wrote many letters and kept a diary during WWI, which he transcribed after the war. In this entry dated April, 29, 1915, he wrote to his mother who he knew would be anxious after reading of the casualties at Ypres.
  • On January 8, 1915, University of Toronto Registrar, James Brebner, wrote to James Ross, telling him that he would be awarded his medical degree, despite having left his studies to serve overseas.

    On January 8, 1915, University of Toronto Registrar, James Brebner, wrote to James Ross, telling him that he would be awarded his medical degree, despite having left his studies to serve overseas.
  • Now a Lieutenant-Colonel, Dr. James Ross (seated, third from left) became the Chief Surgeon at the Camp Borden Military Hospital in Canada during the Second World War.

    Now a Lieutenant-Colonel, Dr. James Ross (seated, third from left) became the Chief Surgeon at the Camp Borden Military Hospital in Canada during the Second World War.
  • Left to right: Order of the British Empire; 1914-1915 Star; British War Medal; Victory 1914-1918; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal; Victory Medal; Canadian Efficienty Decoration. Collection courtesy of Susan Parish.

    Left to right: Order of the British Empire; 1914-1915 Star; British War Medal; Victory 1914-1918; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal; Victory Medal; Canadian Efficienty Decoration. Collection courtesy of Susan Parish.
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Transcript

My name is Susan Parish, and I'm the granddaughter of Lieutenant Dr. James Wells Ross. My grandfather was in World War I, and he had actually started medical school before he left and signed up for World War I. He ended up receiving his notice that he had finished and that he had his Bachelor's Degree of Medicine. It was mailed to him January the 8th 1915 overseas, so after that he was officially a doctor and able to perform more of that role.

Dr. Ross was at the battle of Ypres, and I can read a short bit out of the newspaper:

"The trenches and battery were subjected to very heavy battery fire, and reminded many of the battle of Ypres. Some of the officers were under particularly good service under the action. Captain J. Ross was an observing officer for the battery and was under heavy shell fire all day.

During the morning, an Artillery Major of the Imperial Army lay wounded out in the open, and Captain Ross climbed out of the trench and went over to him, rendering first aid, and tried to bring him back, but the Major would not consent, as others were laying there also. It was a splendid act, and Captain Ross was mentioned by Colonel Mitchell for distinguished service."

There is one funny anecdote that was kind of interesting. He was "wounded" in 1915. I think he was embarrassed that he made the casualty list. He wrote, "I thought I'd better explain my cable, in case you should see the casualty list, because even a scratch like mine gets into those things. Mine is like a bump on the head from the corner of a bureau, about a quarter inch long and just the skin. It was only a little splinter that hit me, and a piece of court plaster would have fixed it. I haven't anything on it at all now, and have been on duty all the time." That was his only injury. He was extremely lucky, but I think he was embarrassed that it was so small.

In the late 1960s my uncle was working in the engineering department of Canadian Breweries, and he had a chap from England as one of their architects. He was telling them about an adventure he had in the war. He said it was nearly dawn one day as he was riding his bicycle along a wet and muddy road near Passchendaele in France, and as he was driving past the hedge row, there was a mighty thunder of gunfire from the other side of the hedge, and in the excitement he fell off his bike. With great apologies, he was picked up and cleaned up by the gunners, offered a hot tea, and was sent on his way by the Canadians. A few days later I was talking to my father and asked him if he had by any chance been firing on a particular day in France in an early morning barrage on the Germans. He replied that yes he had, and in fact remembered it vividly, because they had caused a British dispatch rider to fall off his bike. I then told him the rest of the story. It really is a small world.

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