Veteran Stories:
Joseph Forrest Whiteley

Army

  • Joseph Forrest Whiteley (centre) and two friends from the 1st Battalion Canadian Tank Company. They called themselves the "Three Tanketeers." Collection courtesy of of J.D. Whiteley.

    Joseph Forrest Whiteley (centre) and two friends from the 1st Battalion Canadian Tank Company. They called themselves the "Three Tanketeers." Collection courtesy of of J.D. Whiteley.
  • While overseas, Joe Whiteley was a member of the "Dumbells," a group of enlisted men who put on skits to entertain troops. In this photo of the Dumbells' camp, there is a sign that reads: "Where Whiteley Warbles Wagner."

    While overseas, Joe Whiteley was a member of the "Dumbells," a group of enlisted men who put on skits to entertain troops. In this photo of the Dumbells' camp, there is a sign that reads: "Where Whiteley Warbles Wagner."
  • Joe Whiteley (right) with his brother Charles Lewis. Charles was killed in battle on June 13, 1916 and his name is listed on the Ypres Memorial and the War Memorial in his home town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

    Joe Whiteley (right) with his brother Charles Lewis. Charles was killed in battle on June 13, 1916 and his name is listed on the Ypres Memorial and the War Memorial in his home town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick.
  • Pass that allowed Joe Whiteley to visit his brother Charles on board the Caledonian while it was docked in Halifax harbour on June 14, 1915.

    Pass that allowed Joe Whiteley to visit his brother Charles on board the Caledonian while it was docked in Halifax harbour on June 14, 1915.
  • On his own Atlantic crossing in 1918, Joe Whiteley and other soldiers aboard the SS Cassandra found that Gulf Stream so warm that they pumped water on the deck so the men could have their only shower of the three week crossing.

    On his own Atlantic crossing in 1918, Joe Whiteley and other soldiers aboard the SS Cassandra found that Gulf Stream so warm that they pumped water on the deck so the men could have their only shower of the three week crossing.
  • Joseph Whiteley's discharge certificate showing his service in the Canadian Army from April 23, 1918 until June 2, 1919.

    Joseph Whiteley's discharge certificate showing his service in the Canadian Army from April 23, 1918 until June 2, 1919.
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Transcript

There were a lot of Joes in my family: My grandfather, my uncle, one other uncle married a Josephine, and there was me, Little Joe.

Uncle Joe worked at home, and the family was in Milltown, New Brunswick, and he didn't join until 1916, I think. He went to England and then into France in the tanks. He didn't really get into the front lines, but he just had these pictures in his records. He didn't say a lot about it. It was just after I went over to England and buried him and cleaned out his apartment that I brought this stuff home and went through it that I found these. I have his discharge papers, which are not technically paper that we know today, but it's the old linen paper, which was much more durable than paper in those days.

He entertained the troops a lot. He had a flare for music, and eventually ended up making his life on the stage in England for a while in the '30s entertaining. During the First War, there's a picture of him as a member of the 'Dumbbells', which was a group of soldiers that got together and went around entertaining the rest of the troops. I believe, in the photo I have, he's the lady. It's interesting that at that age he was into the entertainment business, and he stuck with that. This picture I know is him, because when I blow it up quite large, there's a sign on the fence that says 'Where Whiteley Warbles Wagner'. There are quite a number of people – officers and soldiers – standing around and there are nine fellows in blackface, and my uncle in his ladieswear, and they're putting on a minstrel show.

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