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Gunner John Cockburn - Colborne, ON

Harry Macdonough (1871-1931) & Frank C. Stanley (1868-1910):
"Pass Me Not" c 1901

You are listening to an original recording from c 1901, featuring two of Canada's very first recording artists, Harry Macdonough, and Frank Stanley, singing "Pass Me Not Oh Gentle Saviour." Hymns like this were sung at countless Church Parades during the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa and during World War I.

Technical Note: To turn off this recording, use a hammer on the front of your monitor.

Five Soldiers Found:

Thanks to dogged research, a quick eye, and a good memory, we were able to repatriate, from a Winnipeg auction, a photo postcard of five Canadian artillerymen from World War I, pals of John Cockburn whose medals and memorabilia we already had in the Museum's archives.

We are happy to report that all five survived the war and went on with their lives.

The WWI Generation: Many of the men born during the Anglo-Boer War would be old enough to fight in the first Great War that followed in 1914, no doubt bolstered by "thrilling stories" of the Boer War told by their fathers.

Left, a group of young Canadian artillerymen in their late teens, lucky enough to have been too young to enlist in the early part of the war, pose after the victory. Their names are on the back.

Proud Volunteer: Jack Cockburn, from Colborne, ON, served in the Royal Canadian Artillery. Below are his WW1 badges, from the 109th "Where Duty Leads," Overseas Canada Victoria & Haliburton Battalion into which he was recruited locally and a shoulder flash for the Canadian Field Artillery in which he served in France.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
John Cockburn (far right) & Pals, 1919
Orig. postcard - Size - 3.5" x 5.5"
Found - Winnipeg, MB
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
John Cockburn (centre) & Pals, 1919
Orig. postcard - Size - 3.5" x 5.5"
Found - Port Perry, ON
Something Had Changed: These young men were led by the same British officers who had led their fathers to war during the Boer War, and who were still using the same old tactics. General John French who led the cavalry after the Boers, was now, a dozen years later, British Commander-in-Chief. He proved so inept during early disasters that he was replaced with - by who else? - the man he had taught everything he knew - General Douglas Haig - who during the Boer War had been French's right hand man. Haig too carried on his old mentor's Boer War tactics, "There they are! Everybody charge!"

But where the Boers had fled, the Germans stood their ground, now in massive trenches, behind tons of barbed wire, and bolstered by hundreds of highly efficient machine guns. In only minutes, Haig now lost more men than the entire British Army had lost during three years of the Anglo-Boer War.

"Butcher Haig" never did learn but literally killed off an entire generation of "British" young people through sheer stupidity. Apparently he remained in charge only because the British High Command believed no one else could do any better. So, unable to see that technology had changed, and rendered his tactics nothing short of mass murder, Haig kept his men "charging away" through four years of the bloodiest war mankind had ever seen.

7,000 Canadians had enlisted to fight in the Boer War; 300 died. In World War I, 61,000 Canadian soldiers died in Haig's army. In contrast, in World War II, 42,000 Canadians died.

The Disgrace Goes On: Appallingly, people still have Earl Haig schools, and near Brantford, the Earl Haig Family Fun Park. It sends a chill through the heart every time one passes its sign. In a typical folly of historic commemoration, the "Butcher" is honoured; the boys who came so eagerly from the schools and towns to serve their country, never returned to family and friends in their old haunts. Instead, they were massacred. Most were never even found. Instead it was "the Butcher" who came back to Canada, to dedicate schools and parks to himself instead of to the boys who had given their all for these communities.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Badge, 109th Overseas Battalion
Shoulder Flash, Canadian Field Artillery
Orig. badges - Size - full
Found - Port Perry, ON
Prov - Jack Cockburn Collection
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
British War Medal, British Victory Medal
Orig. medals - Size - full
Found - Port Perry, ON
Prov - Jack Cockburn Collection
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Compass
Orig. compass
Found - Port Perry, ON
Prov - Jack Cockburn Collection

Above right Jack Cockburns badge and shoulder flashes he wore during his Wold War I service with the Canadian Field Artillery.

Far right, Jack Cockburn's World War I medals, from the left the British War Medall and right the Victory Medal in "The Great War for Civilization."

Right also are his compass, its needle now sadly dismounted from a severe shock, but which he still kept as a memento, and his knife which shows very heavy usage on the can opener and the scissors, which were old standbys for soldiers fed from tin cans and expected to mend their own clothes.

Jack Cockburn, like many of his generation, was still young enough to serve in the Second Great War for Civilization from 1939 to 1945. He served, this time, in the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps.

Below right, are his badges from his World War II service, and below, his medals from that war:

Left to right, The Defence Medal, The Canadian Voluntary Service Medal, The War Medal 1939-1945).

Jack proudly wore all his medals in countless Remembrance Day parades in the years after the war, in emotional tribute to 103,000 of his Canadian comrades who never came back to family and friends to little towns like Colborne, ON.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Cap Badge and Collar Dogs, RCOC
Orig. badges - Size - full
Found - Port Perry, ON
Prov - Jack Cockburn Collection
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Campaign Knife
Orig. pocket knife
Found - Port Perry, ON
Prov - Jack Cockburn Collection
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Defence Medal, Volunteer Service Medal, War Medal 1939-1945
Orig. medals - Size - full
Found - Port Perry, ON
Prov - Jack Cockburn Collection

The Ash Heap of History:

Sadly these poignant symbols of one Canadian's loyal service to his country during two World Wars, were all dumped on a local auction at Port Perry ON, to be scattered to the four winds, as family descendants no longer cared that Jack Cockburn had, twice, laid his life on the line for his country.

Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996-1999-2005