By: Captain Michael M. O'Leary, The RCR
British War Medal awarded to 477136 Private Thomas Byford.
Thomas Byford was a Permanent Force soldier who served for nine years before the First World War. After serving in Bermuda (1914-15) with The Royal Canadian Regiment (The RCR), he served overseas for 4 years, 11 months, 22 days with The RCR and with the 2nd Labour Battalion (redesignated the 12th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops) of overseas service in the First World War. After his discharge from the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Byford reenlisted in the Permanent Force and served from 1920 to 1922 when he retired, later being granted a pension for his accumulated 15 1/2 years service between January 1906 and October 1922.
Thomas Byford was born on 17 March 1878 at Cork, Ireland.
On his attestation for the Permanent Force during Jan 1906, he reported his brother as his next of kin (Mr Samuel Byford, 8 Lower Jane Mount, Sunday Well, Cork, Ireland and, later, Donnaran Road, Cork, Ireland). While in Bermuda with the RCR in 1914, Byford again listed his brother as next of kin, but with a new address (3 Val Villa, The Lough, Cork, Ireland). In 1915, when he reattested for overseas service with the CEF, Byford changed his next of kin to his sister (Mrs F.H. Good, 3 Valen Vine Villas, The Dock, Cork, Ireland).
Thomas Byford was a Permanent Force soldier serving in The Royal Canadian Regiment before the First World War. Byford first enlisted in Toronto, Ontario, with The RCR on 16 Jan 1906 for a 3-year commitment. His Permanent Force regimental number was 7374.
Byford transferred from Toronto to Regimental Headquarters at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 3 April 1908. He took his release on 15 January 1909 at Halifax at the end of his 3-year engagement. His rank and character on discharge were recorded as "Private" and "Good".
Although released in January 1909, he was only on "civvie street" for a few weeks before reenlisting on 3 Feb 1909 at London, ON. Again, he transferred to Halifax, on 2 April 1910. This time he would be recorded as serving continuously in the Regiment until 15 July 1919, releasing on demobilization still at the rank of Private, with a conduct recorded as "Exemplary."
Thomas Byford was serving in The RCR at the outbreak of the First World War and served with the Regiment in Bermuda from September 1914 to August 1915.
Thomas Byford reattested for overseas service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force with The Royal Canadian Regiment on 25 August 1915 at Halifax. At the time of his attestation for the CEF, Byford was described as: apparent age 37 years, 5 months; height 5 ft 5 in; weight 132 lbs; girth 31 in; physical development good; complexion fair; eyes blue; hair brown; distinctive marks - tattoo; maple leaf, left forearm; right little finger contracted; and artificial (upper) teeth. He reported his civilian trade as Clerk and his religion as Church of England.
On 2 November 1915 Byford crossed the Channel with The Royal Canadian Regiment, disembarking at Boulogne. He served with the Regiment in France until 30 August 1916 when he was attached to the 3rd Division Baths.
From 7 to 16 September 1916, Byford was admitted to No. 3 Canadian General Hospital at Boulogne for "callosities" of the feet. On 3 November he was classified "P.B." (?) and transferred to the Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre at Shoreham where he was taken on strength on 5 November.
On 7 Nov 1916 Pte Byford, at age 38, went before a Medical Board at Shoreham. His medical condition was described as: "Corns on R, foot; and D.A.H. (Disordered action of heart)". His condition was recorded as "In France 12 months. A poorly nourished man with tendency to hammer toes on Right foot, a bad callus and bad corns on bottom. His heart is slightly enlarged and misses a beat about 1 in 8. Is short of breath and looks older than his years." Despite this report, he was classified "Fit for Duty."
Following his medical assessment, Byford was transferred On Command to the Garrison Duty Depot at Shoreham. He served with that unit until 13 January 1917 when he was transferred again to the 2nd Labour Battalion at Seaford. With the 2nd Labour Battalion he went back overseas to France on 10 February 1917 where he served until 12 March 1918. (The 2nd Labour Battalion was redesignated the 12th Battalion Railway Troops on 25 November 1917.)
On 17 March 1918, while on leave from France, Byford was admitted to the Central Military Hospital at Cork. As a result of this he was taken on strength the Canadian Railway Troops Depot at Purfleet the same date. Byford remained in hospital with a diagnosis of "Disordered action of heart". He was transferred to the Military Convalescent Hospital at Woodcote Park, Epson, on 12 April 1918, from where he was discharged on 10 May 1918.
On 27 May 1918 Pte Byford, at age 40, went before another Medical Board, this time at Purfleet. His disability was: "Shortness of Breath" and his condition was described as "D.A.H. (Disordered action of heart), pulse slightly irregular, compensation good, other systems normal. Can march 3 miles, says cannot march further owning to shortness of breath." He was classified by the Board as "Bii" and Fit for Duty.
Category B was . . . subdivided into four groups, to include men who were fit for employment in labour, forestry, and railway units; men who were fit for base units of the medical service, garrison, or regimental outdoor duty; men capable of sedentary work as clerks; or skilled workmen at their trades. (Official History of the Canadian Forces in the Great War 1914-19; The Medical Services)
On 25 June 1918, Byford was transferred on command from the Canadian Railway Troops Depot to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital Bearwood at Wokingham, possibly for physical training to improve his medical condition. He ceased the attachment on 12 July 1918 and was struck off strength to the Canadian Army Medical Corps (C.A.M.C.) Shornecliffe from which he was subsequently transferred to No. 9 Canadian General Hospital Shornecliffe. Byford remained in the medical system for the rest of the War, being later transferred to the C.A.M.C. Casualty Company at Kinmel Park on 20 June 1919. He remained at Kinmel Park until 22 August 1919 when he was struck off strength and sent to Witley for return to Canada.
Pte Thomas Byford embarked for Canada on the S.S. REGINA at Liverpool on 15 July 1919, the official date of his release. For the purpose of his discharge, he was transferred to No. 6 District Depot at Halifax.
477136 Private Thomas Byford of The Royal Canadian Regiment was discharged from the CEF on 15 Jul 1919 at Halifax, N.S. by reason of Demobilization. He was described at the time as age 43 years, 3 months, descriptive marks tattoo Maple Leaf left forearm and right little finger contracted; height 5 feet 5 inches; complexion fair; eyes blue; hair - brown. Byford's trade was recorded as "Clerk". His conduct was recorded as "Exemplary" although he had no Good Conduct badges identified.
Byford declared his place of residence on release to be the Oak Hotel, Brunswick St, Halifax, N.S. He also identified 3 Valentine Villa, The Lock, Cork, Ireland, as an intended residence.
Byford was issued War Service Badge Class "A" No. 385213
As a private in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Thomas Byford was paid the grand sum of $1.00 per day plus ten cents daily Field Allowance. On his release he received a War Service Gratuity received of $630.
Thomas Byford reenlisted in The RCR on 30 Oct 1920, and was given the post war Permanent Force regimental number 15110. His rate of pay as a private soldier was $2.00 per day. Byford's address at the time of reenrolment was the Paris Hotel, Barrington St., Halifax, N.S. He was medically examined at the time and classified category "A" for fitness, although he was identified as having "some irregularity of heart, probably due to smoking."
On 23 July 1921 Byford was transferred to the P.M.P.S. (?) as Supplementary to Establishment The R.C.R. He rejoined Halifax Station, The R.C.R., from P.M.P.S. and was posted to "A" Company on 15 Aug 1921.
15110 Private Thomas Byford was struck off strength The RCR on 29 Oct 1922 at his own request: "I hereby declare that I do of my own free will request to be discharged from His Majesty's Service". His intended place of residence was declared to be 801 Barrington St., Halifax, N.S.
At the time of his discharges, Byford was described as age 44 years, 7 months; height 5 feet 4 inches; complexion ruddy; eyes blue; hair greyish. His conduct and character while in the service were described as "Exemplary" and as "steady, industrious and thoroughly trustworthy". Byford was in possession of three Good Conduct badges and the following medals and decorations: "1914-15 Star, British War, Victory".
On 26 October 1922, Thomas Byford signed the following affidavit before C.B. Burns, Justice of the Peace in and for the County of Halifax:
"I, THOMAS BYFORD, the Royal Canadian Regiment, do hereby declare that I enlisted in the Royal Canadian Regiment on the 16th day of January, 1906 and served with the said Regiment until the 15th January 1909, when I was discharged on the expiration of my period of engagement. My discharge certificate, to the best of my belief, was handed in at the Orderly Room of the Royal Canadian Regiment, London, Ontario, when I was re-enlisted at that Station on 3rd February, 1909."
Byford's total service with The RCR was confirmed to be:
His total pensionable service was 15 years, 163 days.
On 30 September 1922, a Regimental Board to Establish Entitlement to Pension was convened at Halifax under E.A. Seely Smith, Major, The R.C.R., President. Members of the board were A.C. Campbell, Lt. & Bt. Captain, The R.C.R, and C.L. Wood, M.C., Lt. & Bt. Captain, The R.C.R. The Board's purpose was recorded as "for the purpose of certifying as to the length of service and adducing evidence as to the granting of pension to No. 15110 Private THOMAS BYFORD, the Royal Canadian Regiment."
The Board confirmed Byfords's total length of service and his character on discharge as "Exemplary." Following concurrence by Major-General H.C. Thacker Commanding M.D. No. 6, Halifax, N.S., the Board's report was then forwarded to the Pensions and Claims Board for further action.
The Pensions and Claims Board assembled at Militia Headquarters 27 November 1922 for the purpose of reporting upon the claim for pension of No. 15110 Private Thomea Byford, Royal Canadian Regiment. The president of the Board was Lt.-Colonel C.L. Panet, Secretary, Dept. Militia and Defence and the members were Lt.-Colonel R.J. Orde, Judge Advocate General and Colonel A.E. Snell, C.M.G., D.S.O., Deputy Director, General Medical Services.
The Pensions and Claims Board examined Byford's service and his annual rate of pay over his last three years of service to calculate the pension to which he was entitled. His rates of pay were presented as 365 days at $1.07 and 730 days at $2.00. This provided a total pay over his last three years of $1850.55, and a yearly average of $616.85. Added to this was $310.25 annual allowances for a total annual average pay of $927.10 for pension calculation purposes.
Thomas Byford's annual pension was calculated at 15/50ths of $927.10 = $278.13 per annum, to be drawn monthly from 30 Oct 1922.
The Pension Board's decision, signed 27 November 1922, was rendered as:
"That under the provisions of The Militia Pension Act, No. 15110 Private THOMAS BYFORD, is entitled to retire and receive a pension for life equal to 15/50ths of his annual pay and allowances at retirement (being the average annual amount received by him during the three years preceding retirement) such pension to amount to $278.13 per annum, and to commence from the 30th October, 1922."
This pension award was confirmed in an extract from the minutes of a meeting of the Treasury Board held on 22 December 1922, and approved by His Excellency the Governor General in Council on the 30th December, 1922.
(Byford's annual pension of $278.13 would be worth $3,426.19 (1,606.66 GBP) in 2007. - (Bank of Canada Inflation Calculator)
Byford's post war address noted in his pay records was Gen Delivery, P.O. Station H, Montreal, P.Q.
On 23 October 1921, Thomas Byford wrote to the Militia Department and requested that his Victory Medal, once received, by forwarded to him at The Royal Canadian Regiment, Citadel, Halifax. In response he received a form letter, dated 9 November 1921, obviously the result of many inquiries as to expected date of medal issues, in which he was informed that receipt dates for medals could not be predicted and would he please let the Department know of any future changes of address.
Again on 8 January 1923, Byford provided a new address, 801 Barrington St, Halifax, N.S.
Thomas Byford died on 4 April 1946. Following his death, the Department of Veterans Affairs was not able to ascertain a likely recipient for residual pension benefits; these benefits were re-credited to the pension account.