January 31, 1916
A hundred years ago today, Percy presented himself to the Toronto Recruiting Depot and enlisted. Toronto’s Globe newspaper reported “All City Records Broken in Rush to the Colors [sic]”: 328 men enlisted on that day. (1)
The Attestation Paper records his answers to a dozen questions from his name and date of birth, his next of kin, his occupation, his military experience, his willingness to be vaccinated, and his understanding of the nature and terms of engagement.
He declared that his answers were true, and that he was willing to serve in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force, “for one year or for the duration of the war now existing between Great Britain and Germany should that war last longer than one year, and for six months after the termination of that war provided His Majesty should so long require my services, or until legally discharged.”
He swore to “bear true Allegiance to His Majesty King George the Fifth, his Heirs and Successors, in Person, Crown and Dignity, against all enemies” and to “observe and obey all orders of His Majesty, His Heirs and Successors, and of all the Generals and Officers set over me.”
A magistrate attested to his understanding of what he had done.
Percy was not a big man: 5 foot 8 inches tall, with a chest measurement (expanded) of 33 inches. (When the war began, the minimum requirement for British recruits was 34 inches.) He was considered fit for service, presenting none of the “causes of rejection specified in the Regulations for Army Medical Services.” A medical officer with an indecipherable signature noted that he could “see at the required distance with either eye; his heart and lungs are healthy; he has the free use of his joints and limbs, and he declares that he is not subject to fits of any description.”
Officially, he was a fresh-complexioned, blue-eyed, fair-haired twenty-four year old, indistinguishable from hundreds of Englishmen, apart from a birthmark on the small of his back and a tattoo on his left forearm. It read D.T.V. No one seems to know its significance.
He was now a member of the 48th Battery, C.F.A. (Canadian Field Artillery) of the 12th Canadian Infantry Brigade, regimental number 316988.
(1) The Globe (1844-1936). February 1, 1916. 1. Archive available from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
Copyright 2016. See “About this project.”