Veteran Stories:
Robert Hainsworth

Army

  • Robert Hainsworth and Rebecca Wood at their wedding in February 1919.

    Robert Hainsworth and Rebecca Wood at their wedding in February 1919.
  • Compass and case with strap used by Robert Hainsworth while he served with the British Army in the Post Office Rifles, 8th London Regiment, from mid 1917 to the war's end in 1918.

    Compass and case with strap used by Robert Hainsworth while he served with the British Army in the Post Office Rifles, 8th London Regiment, from mid 1917 to the war's end in 1918.
  • British issue whistle Robert Hainsworth used while with the Post Office Rifles. Mr. Hainsworth started the war with the 2nd Battalion Canadian Mounted Rifles, was injured, discharged from the Canadian Army and then he enlisted with the British Army.

    British issue whistle Robert Hainsworth used while with the Post Office Rifles. Mr. Hainsworth started the war with the 2nd Battalion Canadian Mounted Rifles, was injured, discharged from the Canadian Army and then he enlisted with the British Army.
  • After receiving what he thought were fatal injuries, Robert Hainsworth gave this "Soldier's Own Diary" from 1917 to a German soldier with the request that it be returnedt to his family. The diary finally made it in 1935.

    After receiving what he thought were fatal injuries, Robert Hainsworth gave this "Soldier's Own Diary" from 1917 to a German soldier with the request that it be returnedt to his family. The diary finally made it in 1935.
  • Robert Hainsworth enlisted with the Canadian Army in 1914. He was on active service from 1915 to 1919. He was wounded twice - once while serving with the Canadian Mounted Rifles and once while serving with the British Post Offices Rifles.

    Robert Hainsworth enlisted with the Canadian Army in 1914. He was on active service from 1915 to 1919. He was wounded twice - once while serving with the Canadian Mounted Rifles and once while serving with the British Post Offices Rifles.
  • While the German soldier, Mathias Finck, had Robert Hainsworth's diary in his possession, he used it to jot down his own notes.

    While the German soldier, Mathias Finck, had Robert Hainsworth's diary in his possession, he used it to jot down his own notes.
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Transcript

Robert Hainsworth was born in the little village of Burley Woodhead up on the edge of the West Yorkshire moors in England. After completing his education in the Doncaster Grammar School he began apprenticeship with Doncaster Light and Power and in due course, in this field, migrated to North America to work for Commonwealth Edison in Montreal and later in Chicago.

On a holiday he visited with old friends from his school days who were farming near Lacombe, Alberta. He found farming held appeal, responded to suggestions that he stay on and he never returned to his chosen career. At that time, early 1900s land was being offered at very favourable prices in Western Canada to encourage settlement and seeing the opportunity, he bought his own place. When war was declared in 1914, he, a loyal Englishman, quickly enlisted to serve both his home land and his adopted country. The war was not expected to last long and perhaps he probably saw it as an opportunity to visit family and friends back in England. Quite a visit as it turned out!

Robert began training in the militia with the 35th Central Alberta Horse in the fall of 1914 and in January 1915 was called up for active service in the 12th Canadian Mounted Rifles which late became the 2nd CMRs. The battalion arrived in France in early 1916 and we know Dad was in the front line trenches for the first time in February. We know this from his letters which he wrote to our Mother, Rebecca Wood, who at that time was just a friend, a daughter of acquaintances of Robert's family. From the time he went over to France they corresponded daily and she kept all his letters. He could not tell her much because of the censorship but following the Battle of Mont Sorrel, June 3-16, just a couple of miles south of Ypres, Belgium, he vividly described the action saying he had never expected to come through it alive. He spoke of "missing the touch of vanished hands and voices no longer heard." Not an exaggeration for we know, from extracts of the Commanding Officer's Daily Diaries we obtained, that some 275 of Dad's mates were casualties in that fierce action. While he, himself came through that battle he was wounded shortly after on August 17 in heavy shelling near Hill 60 at what was called "the Bluff," a spoil bank on the Ypres/Comines canal.

Following convalescence, he was discharged as unfit for further service by the Canadian Army due to the severity of his wound but notwithstanding he volunteered for service with the British Imperial Army and was wounded again in the Battle of Bourlon Wood near Cambrai on December 2, 1917. It was in this obviously hand to hand action he gave his diary to a German soldier with the request that the latter return it to his family in Doncaster England (see caption on the artifact).

Robert received his final discharge at war's end and he and Rebecca married in February 1919. He brought his new bride back to the little log house on his farm near Lacombe, Alberta to begin their long life together there.

This collection and the memories are by courtesy of their two sons James W. and J. Laurie Hainsworth.

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