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Physical Qualities

From June 1916 onwards, forestry units were allowed to recruit men up to age 48. Those with missing fingers or toes could also be accepted provided the impairment did not prevent them from working. Even the relaxed rules were stretched and the 238th Forestry Battalion enlisted a Private Claridge from Vancouver who had been born with no left hand.

Claridge was about to be released when he slipped away and attached himself to the Railway Service Guard. He was later apprehended in Ottawa and returned to Vancouver for discharge. No personnel file exists for Private Claridge, but MD 11 subject files contain correspondence concerning his enrolment and release. I should add that I have seen attestation papers on subject files from other districts for men who are not listed on the LAC site, ‘Soldiers of the Great War’.

To return to the 238th Forestry Battalion, the unit seems to have ignored the age limits. Assuming everyone was truthful about their age (doubtful) about one-third of the unit was over forty with nineteen men aged 49 to 56 plus seven others aged 14 to 17. There were at least eighteen ex-loggers, sawyers, and saw filers missing one or more fingers.

Thanks to Richard Holt and Jack Bates.

CFC 242nd

Fred Walter, 58 years old, 1048764, 242nd Btn, Ganges, Saltspring Island