Private Jabez Barnes
2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles Bn

Town Memorial P10.R4.C1
the memorial is incorrect *

Badge of
143 Bn CEF
BC Bantams

patch of 2nd Bn Canadian
Mounted Rifles
Canadian Expeditionary Force

Taken, Not Given

Jabez Barnes
2nd. Canadian Mounted Rifles
Passchendaele [sic]
September 26, 1918 [sic]

Taken, Not Given, Liam Sumption, L&DLHS

Unlike the other Leatherhead men serving in the Canadian Forces, Jabez Barnes is not mentioned in the parish magazine [of May 1915].

The only documentary evidence is contained in the War Diary of his unit. (1) 

This suggests that he was not killed on September 26, 1918 though he may have died of wounds. Also the evidence indicates that he did not die at Passchendaele, but further south in France.

The 2nd. Canadian Mounted Rifles served as an infantry battalion and in August 1918 were involved in the Battle of Amiens, and many officers and men were decorated for for their part in this action. Possibly Jabez Barnes may have sustained mortal injuries during this period.

The Rifles had also been involved in patrol actions during the nights of 17/18th and 18th/19th of September, but on 20 September they moved to WAN QUINTIN (St QUINTIN?)

On 26 September, the Rifles moved to the BULLECOURT area, and from early on the morning of 29th September until 3 October 1918 were involved in a series of engagements before CAMBRAI, but not Passchendaele.

Out of a strength of 29 officers and 575 men, the Rifles lost heavily. The casualties were:
Killed: Officers 6 - ORs 45
Wounded: Officers 9 - ORs 221
Missing: Officers nil - ORs 15
Totals: Officers 15 - ORs 281
That is 296, about 3/5 of those on strength.

The Germans were still fighting hard.

Passchendaele took place in 1917 and on 26 September of that year, the Rifles were elsewhere, and actually not in the line. Possibly, therefore, Jabez Barnes died either from wounds received prior to 26 September, or else was killed subsequent to the 29th.

Notes on sources
1. File W0 95–3871 War Diary (Jan 16–May 19) 2nd. Canadian Mounted Rifles, Public Record Office, Kew, Richmond.

Further Research


Service Number 827130
Died 29/09/1918
2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion

Location: Nord, France
Cemetery/memorial reference: III. A. 1.

* The CWGC record proves that Liam Sumption was right to doubt Jabez Barnes' date of death as recorded in Leatherhead: 26th September 1918 should be 29th September 1918. He also cast doubt on the place being Passchendaele. The Drummond Cemetery is very close to Cambrai, near where Liam found that the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles were in action in September 1918.

Jabez Barnes was 33 when he died. His entry in the Canadian Circumstances of Death Registers, First World War adds that he was a Congregationalist; his unit was at Bourlon (to the West of Cambrai) at the time of casualty. There is a Canadian War Cemetery nearby.

As we shall see he was not in the UK at the time of those named on the Church Lads Brigade Tryptich in All Saints Church and therefore was not listed in the May 1915 issue of Leatherhead Parish Magazine among those serving. He is listed on the Ladies' War Shrine in the Parish Church.

The virtual Canadian War Memorial entry for him adds that his name is inscribed in the First World War Book of Remembrance displayed in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa. This was the first of the Canadian Books of Remembrance created, and the largest, containing more than 66,000 names. It was not completed until 1942.

In the Library and Archives Canada on line records is his Attestation Paper and other records:

827130 21 Dec 1916
143 O/S Batt CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force)
Present Address: 1323 Carnsew St, Victoria BC
NOK: wife
DOB: Aug 1 1885, Dorking, Surrey, England
Trade: Plumber, Married: Y, Age: 31 yrs, Height 5ft 2 1/4in, Eyes: Blue, Hair: Fair

The significance of his diminutive height will soon be apparent.

His records also show:
Next of Kin: Mrs R Barnes (wife) 30 Erie Ave, Niagara Falls, Ont, also 205 River Road, Niagara Falls, Ont
4/4/19 deleted > England
15/10/18 Killed in Action Sept 29 1918
c/o JK Cave or Cane 56 Egerton Rd, Wavertree, Liverpool, England
His Will made on 7 February 1917 was in favour of Ethel Ruby Barnes, 734 Queens Avenue, Victoria BC

143 Bn - The BC Bantams
Jabez Barnes' initial unit was the 143rd Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), who came to be known as the BC Bantams. This was one of two "bantam" battalions raised in Canada during World War 1.

Until compulsory service was introduced in 1917, all soldiers other than members of the regular army who enlisted during World War 1 were volunteers.  In order to enlist in the British or Canadian Army you had to be at least 5' 4" tall, single, between 19 and 30 years old and a minimum chest measurement of 34".  Men under 5' 4" were regularly rejected although it was not unusual for battalions to accept men under the regulation height.

Jabez would therefore until 1917 have faced rejection on height and age.

However, Alfred Bigland the Member of the British Parliament for Birkenhead was very active in recruiting volunteers for the British Army overall and was the leading advocate to allow under-height men who were otherwise fit, to serve.  In 1915 he wrote to the War Office requesting permission to raise a battalion of bantams.  He was informed that the War Office was interested in the idea of bantam battalions but were too much pressed to undertake the formation of a new type of regiment. However it was prepared to supply the rifles, baggage wagons etc., but Bigland and the Birkenhead Recruiting Committee would have to provide everything else, recruiting, food and lodging.  And so started a process that eventually saw over 48,000 British and 2,000 Canadian Bantams recruited for the war effort.

On February 17 1916 the Canadian Ministry of Militia authorized the formation of a bantam battalion in Toronto. The fitness standards were slightly different than those applied by the British, in that the minimum height was 5' 1 1/2", chest minimum was 30 inches and, what turned out to be the most flexible standard, a minimum age of 22 years old.  By mid summer, the Toronto Bantam unit (216 Bn) had reached full strength with 1,000 men. 

The 143rd would not be so lucky or quick in its recruiting effort. In late 1915 the formation of the 143rd Battalion, B.C. Bantams was authorized by the Militia Department in response to the petition of a large number of men of Victoria, Vancouver and other British Columbia districts.  They represented that, although under the regulation statute [they were not permitted to serve] ... it was [still] their desire to "do their bit", and they asked that some provision be made for them, and others similarly placed, by the formation of a special unit.  This was done.  The formation of a bantam battalion was the result.

Administrative delays meant that although Mobilization was authorized for the 143rd on November 29th 1915, recruiting did not begin until February 20th 1916. 

Jabez arrived back in the UK on the ss Southland on 27 February 1917. Before they left Canada the 143rd Bn had their photo taken.

The Bantams were posted to Purfleet Camp, Shorncliffe, near Folkestone,Kent. Upon arrival, the battalion was medically examined and categorized.  On the 15th of March 1917 all ranks in Category A, (744 all ranks) were transferred to Seaford and attached to the 24th Reserve Battalion. The remainder were transferred to the Canadian Railway Troops.

From the 24th Reserve Battalion, former members of the 143rd were assigned to several units on the Western Front. Jabez Barnes went to the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion.

His life

Jabez Barnes was born on 1 Aug 1885, in Dorking, Surrey.

His parents were Abraham Barnes, born 1856, Charlwood, Surrey, England (died 1921) and Philadelphia Holliday, born 1853 in Charlwood (died 1929). His siblings were Abraham, John, Mary, William, Thomas, Ruth, Esther.

In the 1891 Census the Barnes family were at Brick Row, Leatherhead, Surrey: Abraham 36 (Butchers Labourer), Philadelphia 34, Abraham 9 scholar, John 8 scholar, Jabez 5 scholar, Mary 3, William 1, Thomas 1mo

In the 1901 Census they were at 3 Flint Cottages, Leatherhead, Surrey: Abraham, Philadelphia, Abraham 19 (Greengrocers Labourer), John was not listed, Jabez now aged 15 (Gardener's Labourer), Mary was not listed, William (Newsboy), Thomas, Ruth, Sarah. Esther was not listed.

By 1911 Jabez had emigrated to Canada. On 25 September 1911, in Niagara Falls, Welland, Ontario he married Ethel Ruby Manton b1881, Liverpool, England.

Ethel's father was William Edward Manton, born 1859, Manchester, Lancashire, died 1901, Birmingham, Warwickshire. Her mother was Clara Villavance Hudson, born 1855, Bolton, Lancashire, England, died 1932, Hamilton, Wentworth, Ontario.

In 1906 Ethel's mother Clara travelled to Montréal, returning to England in August 1910. In November 1910 she was on her way back to Montréal and remained in Canada, in Ontario, until she returned to Liverpool in 1919 where she married John Kelshaw Cave. They travelled to Canada in 1921 where John Cave died in 1930 and Clara in 1932.

Ethel's various addresses after she was widowed are connected with her mother's movements. Ethel's life after the death of her mother is not yet known.

Neither Ethel nor Jabez's parents are noted on his CWGC record.

Jabez Barnes is remembered on these memorials

Leatherhead Town Memorial
Leatherhead RBL Roll of Honour, Leatherhead Parish Church
Ladies War Shrine, Leatherhead Parish Church
The virtual Canadian War Memorial

the website editor would like to add further information on this casualty
e.g. a photo of him, of his grave and of any recollections within his family

page last updated 27 May 20