A First War Memorial Cross to the First Ontario Regiment
A First War Memorial Cross to the First Ontario Regiment - (6854 Pte J.D. STEWART.). Naming is officially engraved. Light contact, gilt wear on both sides, better than very fine. Accompanied by copies of his Index Cards, Attestation Paper, Service Records, District Court Martial Documents, Medical Records, Pay Records and Discharge Certificates, along with assorted research papers. Footnote: James Downing Stewart was born on April 28, 1889 in Chesley, Bruce County, Ontario. Upon the outbreak of the Great War, he immediately enlisted, signing his Attestation Paper with the 1st Infantry Battalion "Ontario Regiment" on September 22, 1914 at Camp Valcartier, Quebec, at the age of 25, naming his next-of-kin as his mother, Mrs. James (Sarah) Stewart of Chesley, stating that he had no previous military service, that he was not married and that his trade as that of Mechanical and Electrical Engineer. The Battalion was raised in Southwestern Ontario with mobilization headquarters at Camp Valcartier under the authority of P.C.O. 2067, August 6, 1914. He was promoted to Armourer Corporal two days before the Battalion departed for the European theatre. The Battalion sailed October 3, 1914 under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel F.W. Hill with a strength of 47 officers and 1,106 other ranks. The Battalion served in France with the 1st Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division. Stewart entered the French theatre on February 15, 1915, with his Battalion entering the line between February 17th and March 2nd. Their first action was at Neuve Chapelle between March 10th and 12th, where the Canadians suffered one hundred casualties. They then moved on to the Ypres Salient, where the conflict was in full force between April 2nd and 17th. It was here that Stewart developed a "double heart murmur caused by stress of action at the Battle of Ypres 17 April 1915". The following day, his stress level increased, as he was sentenced to fourteen days Field Punishment No. 1 for stealing rum. He was admitted on the 18th to No. 1 Canadian Field Ambulance, then transferred to the Casualty Clearing Station on the 19th. It was discovered that he had a "mitral (double) murmur" and once stabilized, was transferred on the 20th to No. 1 British Red Cross Hospital at Le Touquet, where the official diagnosis of "Valvular Cardiac Disease" (involving one or more of the valves of the heart: the aortic and mitral valves on the left and the pulmonary and tricuspid valves on the right), the problems being congenital (inborn) or acquired (due to another cause later in life)) was noted. He was evacuated to England aboard the Hospital Ship St. Andrew and admitted to London Temperance Hospital, Hampstead Road, London on the 23rd. He returned to Shorncliffe and was found permanently unfit by a Medical Board. He was admitted "sick" to No. 1 London General Hospital on June 7, 1915 and again found medically unfit on the 11th. Captain C. Woollard, Canadian Army Medical Corps stated in his report: "I recommend suspension of discharge and retention in the Service for duty in Great Britain until end of War, if in your opinion this could be done without injustice to this man's civil opportunities." Stewart was discharged on the 12th and assigned to Base Details with the 9th Reserve Battalion. By the end of the month, Stewart had run afoul of the authorities and because of it, he faced a District Court Martial, the official charge stating: "6854 Cpl. J. Stewart 9th Reserve Battalion C.E.F., a soldier of a force raised in a colony and doing duty with the Regular Forces is charged with: When on active service deserting His Majesty's service, in that he at Lower Dibgate Camp, Shorncliffe, Kent, England, on June 30, 1915 absented himself from the 9th Reserve Battalion C.E.F. until apprehended by the Military Police in London on the 5th day of August 1915, at 10:30 p.m.". He was convicted of the charge on September 6, 1915: "To be Reduced to the Ranks and to undergo Detention for thirty-six (36) days. The Court unanimously recommend that the accused, during his period of detention, be kept under special medical observation" (due to his heart condition), with the sentence and conviction confirmed by Major-General S.B. Steele, Commanding Troops, Shorncliffe. He also forfeited thirty-six day's pay in the process. He was taken on strength of the 36th Infantry Battalion at West Sandling on September 25, 1915, where his "shortness of breath, general weakness" and nervousness was noted. Another Medical Board was convened at Shorncliife on October 29, 1915 and recommended that the now Private Stewart be "discharged as permanently unfit". He was struck off strength upon return to Canada on November 5, 1915. Stewart was discharged to pension as being "Medically Unfit for further Service" on April 15, 1916 at Military District No. 1 in London, Ontario, with him stating his intended residence as Chesley, credited with having served one year and seventy-nine days in the CEF. He married after the appearance of his disability and died in the early 1920's from Heart Disease. His widow, Mrs. Mary L. Stewart of Waterloo, Ontario, received his 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal, his Plaque and Scroll and his Memorial Cross. His mother, Mrs. Sarah Stewart also received his Memorial Cross.