Corporal John Harold Becker

John Harold Becker was working as a clerk-stenographer in St.Thomas, Ontario when he enlisted for the Great War in September 1915. Originally he was part of the 70th Overseas Battalion then being formed in London, Ontario. Later the 70th became part of the 91st Battalion, and training proceeded in London, Ontario. Becker and his battalion left for England on the The White Star Olympic on June 28, 1916. Soon after arriving in England, the 91st was disbanded and its members were used to reinforce the front line battalions, who had by then incurred heavy casualties. Becker was assigned to the 75th Battalion of the 4th Division and arrived in France on May 4, 1917. He kept a detailed Soldier's Diary of his early days in France and his first experience being in a trench and going over the top. This is a fascinating, first-hand account of an ordinary soldier's experiences.

Becker went on to fight in the front lines on a number of occasions over the next year. He was gassed during the Battle of Passchendaele but recovered and once again entered active service. On August, 8, 1918, now known as "The Black Day," Becker was wounded on the shoulder from the shrapnel of a whizzbang. He got his blighty just before the war ended.

Becker arrived home to St. Thomas in February 1919. During the 1930s he wrote his memoirs (Memoir of John Harold Becker 1894-1956), a riveting account of his time in the War. They were published in 1998 by his daughter Catherine Jane Becker Monroe.

A Soldier's Diary
home battlefields resource centre the archive culture & war collector's forum