Veteran Stories:
Albert Crook

Army

  • Albert Crook enlisted in the Canadian Army on July 29, 1915. He was later transferred to the Royal Canadian Engineers and served until March 29, 1919.

    Collection courtesy of Albert's daughter, Joyce Crook.
  • An example of a sapper using a geophone. Albert Crook was trained to operate a geophone, a device used by both sides during WWI to detect soldiers on an opposing side digging under the trenches.

  • Hat badge for the Royal Canadian Engineers.

  • Albert Crook's Army-issue identification bracelet.

  • The Canadian Corps had a reunion at the Exhibition Grounds in Toronto in 1938. All attendees, including Albert Crook, received this pin.

  • Joyce Crook visited the trenches of Vimy Ridge in September, 2000. Miss Crook is an active member of the East York Historical Society and led a campaign to have a plaque made for East York's Dieppe Park.

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Transcript

I'm Joyce Crook, and I'm the daughter of Albert, or Bert Crook, as he was known. He joined the Canadian Army in 1915 with his brother – his elder brother. He went to Niagara-on-the-Lake for his basic training, and while there, he was selected as the smartest man on parade.

They had to route march when they were in training camp. They had to go from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Queenston every Friday with full pack, and of course, in those days they wore the all wool uniform. The last toughening-up march that they did before going overseas was leaving from Niagara-on-the-Lake there at their base camp, and they marched to Toronto. And he said passing through the town, the townspeople were very kind. They would lay out tablecloths and have the men stop when they had their rest periods and give them all kinds of goodies. In one occasion when he was at camp, one of the farmers had a wagonload of peaches, and he went down to the wharf to have these peaches sent over to Toronto, but he just missed the ferry. So he just took the entire load of peaches into the base camps so that the soldiers could have fresh peaches.

But once they got to Toronto after marching, then they boarded the train on their way to France. My father was with the 37th Battalion. He was in the Infantry, and served with them at Vimy and Passchendaele with all the dreadful mud. He said that was horrendous, and the conditions in the trenches he said were deplorable. They suffered a great deal from having rats. He said the rats were infesting the trenches, and one of these soldiers had a little terrier that he carried with him in his jacket. They would try to kill as many rats as they could, so they were always glad of this particular soldier to be in his unit.

They suffered from poor equipment. The Ross rifle apparently had been a good target rifle, but when it came to the front lines, with all the mud and dreadful conditions, as they would try and fire it, it would jam. So finally, they did get to the Enfield rifle, which was much better.

In the latter part of 1917, my father transferred to the Royal Canadian Engineers, and he served as a 'listener', underneath the German lines, and he used a rather unique piece of equipment called a 'geophone', and this was used like a stethoscope that he would put in his ears and attach to this instrument.

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