Joseph Buxley Stretch. Born Long Creek, Prince Edward Island January 5, 1892. Trade: Carpenter. 26 years old. Married. No children. Height 5 foot 10. Weight 163 lbs. Complexion medium. Eyes blue. Hair brown. Present postal address Collins P.O. Saskatchewan. Called up January 3, 1918. First Depot Battalion, Saskatchewan Regiment, Regina. Regimental service number: 1263521. Terms of service: Duration of war.
Joe had a short war, and that was good. He didn’t know how long it would be, he just knew he’d been called up and had to go. The Military Service act of 1917 had been instituted because rather a lot of Canadian boys were being annihilated in the great war and the army needed more men. It was simple arithmetic.
So they were even scooping up ancient 26 year old married guys with useless skills like carpentry in Saskatchewan, by law. You need to stop wasting your time, Joe, building things and join us and maybe get yourself killed in the war.
Joseph Buxley Stretch was in the 3rd draft. The war had entered a new phase and it was looking like a lot more killing although you just never knew. Maybe it’d all be over by Christmas.
The Saskatchewan volunteers up to the draft had demonstrated a peculiar knack for getting slaughtered over there in Belgium and France in the previous three years. 70%, 80%, 90% casualties in their units was common, and too close for comfort. These boys just didn’t know how to quit. The term “Suicide Battalion” had been coined.
Joseph Buxley Stretch proceeded overseas with the 5th Division Canadian Expeditionary Force He sailed on the S.S. Missanbie on March 4th, 1918. His timing was great. The Missanbie was sunk by German submarine U87 off Ireland on September 9, 1918 with the loss of 45 lives.
Assigned to the 15th Reserve Battalion March 7, 1918. Recorded as being with the 5th Battalion in France on August, 20, 1918 and transferred to the 16th Battalion Infantry September 8, 1918.
On October 5, 1918 Joseph Buxley Stretch was reported missing after action. On October 28, 1918 he was reported as being a prisoner of war. The war was less than two weeks from being over but it was still full-on war.
On December 10, 1918 Joseph Buxley Stretch was reported released and was at Nº 1 Rest Camp, Dover, England.
Embarked for Canada from Liverpool on the Cunard Line RMS Carmania on February 1, 1919. Pvt. Joesph Buxley Stretch travelled in style.
Disccharged on demobilization March 4, 1919, Regina Saskatchewan.
Entitled to wear one blue “Service Chevron” for overseas service up to 12 months. Last pay certificate from the Canadian army $186.20.
Joseph Buxley Stretch and Mrs Ina Neoma Stretch had 9 children, all of whom survived to adulthood and beyond. They left Collins and raised their family in Beechy, Saskatchewan and in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Today you can’t find Collins, Saskatchewan on any map of the province. According to a source who would know, “A lot of towns disappeared.”
Image of Joseph Buxley Stretch to be inserted top of column, left. Data from official documents. Have a great wknd..