The O'Leary Collection—Medals of The Royal Canadian Regiment

400831 Pte Ernest William Manzi

33rd Canadian Overseas Battalion

By: Capt (ret'd) Michael M. O'Leary, CD, The RCR

Ernest William Manzi was born in London, England, on 23 Aug 1872. In 1913, Manzi (44), with his wife Celia (36) and their children Ernest G. (14), Clifford (11), and Elsia (10) emigrated to Canada. (In various sources, the family's surname also appears as Manzie or Menzie.)

Having sailed from Liverpool, Eng., the family arrived at Quebec, P.Q., on 30 Jun 1913 aboard the Canadian Pacific liner S.S. Lake Manitoba. The passenger manifest listed Ernest W. and Ernest G. as farm labourers, with the intention of farming in Canada. Their initial destination was London, Ontario.

Manzi attested for service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.) with the 33rd Overseas Battalion at London, Ont., on 19 Apr 1915. A 43-year-old teamster, Manzi was described on his attestation paper as 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighing 160 pounds, with a 37-inch chest, a dark complexion, brown eyes, and black hair. His religious denomination was Church of England. Manzi identified his wife, Celia Manzi, as his next of kin. On attesting with the 33rd Battalion, Manzi was initially given the regimental number A1323. In October, 1915, this number was replaced with the C.E.F. service number 400831.

Less than two weeks after his father's enlistment, Manzi's oldest son, Ernest George Manzi, also enlisted with the 33rd Battalion. Attested on 30 Apr 12915, his service numbers were A1371 and 400854.

On 20 Apr 1915, The London Advertiser published a brief note on local recruiting on its front page:

"London's Young Men Enlisting Readily
"Many Today Add Their Names To Muster of the 33rd Battalion

"London young men are continuing to take a very active interest in military matters and have been steadily enlisting in the 33rd Battalion. Every day the orders contain the names of a number of local young man, and today's contain the following list of those who have passed the necessary medical examination and have been taken on the strength of the battalion:"

"E. Manzi" was identified as a new soldier in "D" Company. (Reflecting the description of the new recruits in the title, this may have been a reference to the younger Manzi, except that it predates his joining the unit by ten days.)

In Manzi's C.E.F. service record is a file card which recorded, with simple checkmarks, that he was paid during each month from April, 1915, to March, 1916, during the battalion's period of training in Canada. In columns titled "Particulars" and "Authority" there is a single entry opposite September, 1915. This notation reads "Detention." There are no details in the service record to explain why Manzi was in cells, but his name does show up in the local papers.

On 13 Sep 1915, the late edition of The London Advertiser broke a story of ration thefts at Wolseley Barracks. On that day, the local police arrested a butcher's delivery driver, Thomas Redman, with stolen rations from the camp in his wagon. This was quickly followed by the arrest of 14 non-commissioned officers and soldiers at the Barracks by the men of the 7th Regiment Guard. This was a detached company of the local Militia infantry regiment under the command of Capt. Ebenezer McLean tasked with local security duties in support of the local military establishment. All of the arrested troops were from the 33rd Battalion and these included the battalion quartermaster, the quartermaster-sergeant, the sergeant cook, and others.

The following day, the arrests continued, although eight of those rounded up were discharged from custody after it was confirmed that they had no direct role in the affair. Although the paper had some errors in the reporting of names, it becomes clear that Ernest Manzi was one of the troops arrested and held.

These arrests followed a six-week investigation into claims of ration shortages in the 33rd Battalion's lines. The men had complained of insufficient rations and an investigation by Capt. McLean and his locally mobilized Guard of men from the 7th Fusiliers. Once surveillance of the suspected bad actors established that there was definitely a case to be made, the arrests began.

Redman, the butcher's driver, regularly delivered meat to the camp. His wagon did not always leave empty. He regularly collected old bones to be carted away, and on some days pilfered rations or stores stores were smuggled out under a layer of old bones. These goods he would deliver to various addresses in town, including to the homes of men who were arrested by the Guard.

With the scope of the pilfering and the number of arrested men, a District Court Martial (D.C.M.) was convened. The paper's reporting on the case resumed with the commencement of the D.C.M. on 30 Sep 1915. The first witness called was the butcher's man, Redman. He had already been convicted in Police Court, but his sentencing was held over until after the military trial. At this point, he had little to lose in cooperating and providing evidence against the soldiers.

After Redman had described his role in taking stolen goods from the camp and delivering them to various addresses, the first military witness was called. Perhaps hoping that cooperation would lead to leniency, the first soldier to be questioned was Pte. E.W. Manzi. Extracts from the newspaper's reporting on 30 Sep 1915 include:

"Pte. E.W. Manzie (sic) was the first military prisoner called. He said he had assisted in giving out supplies to Redman, and that he had received emolument in the form of cigars, whiskey, etc."

"Pte. Manzie, in his evidence, stated that the baker, who has the contract for supplying the camp with bread, had made a present of four boxes of cigars to the men connected with the supplies department, and that the supply of bread had been short on occasions. He did not infer, however, that the cigars had been forthcoming because there had been a shortage in bread."

The D.C.M. resumed the following day, and The London Advertiser followed the proceedings closely. Manzi's cooperation was not enough to save him from being found guilty of his crimes:

"Pte. E.W. Manzie of 201 Clarence street, at whose home was found 200 pounds of sugar, two pairs of military boots, meat, uniforms and other stuff, originally the property of the 33rd Battalion, was convicted, but until the finding of the board has been sent to Ottawa for ratification on, the extent of his sentence will not be known."

Later in the article published on 1 Oct 1915 was a more expansive description of Manzi's trial:

"Pte. E.W. Manzie was the next prisoner brought forward for trial.

"Manzie stated, when arraigned by Lieut.-Col. Cohoe, president of the court-martial board, that he had been guilty of sending goods home, but was not guilty of theft. He merely took the stuff, rather than see it thrown in the swill-tub. He pleaded not guilty to stealing sugar and meat, the charge he was arraigned upon.

"Detective Bob Egelton was the first witness to appear against him, Egelton told of finding, in the home of Manzie on Clarence street, two bags of sugar, one bag of potatoes, two pairs of military shoes, a bag of military uniforms, a pair of field glasses and two dozen of canned goods. Manzie proved himself a keen cross-examiner, in a court-martial a prisoner is allowed to cross-examine witnesses appearing before him.

"Ptes. Eaton and Sutherland, two of the sleuths detailed by Capt McLean, commander of the 7th Detached Regiment Fusiliers, to watch Manzie, and who appeared as witnesses against him, swore that they had seen Redman drive to Manzie's house on September 10, and that the driver had deposited there a good-sized box on top of which was some kindling wood. What else, if there was else in the box, Eaton, who gave this evidence, could not state. The box had been deposited on the veranda and left there. Sutherland declared that he had seen Redman, on the same day, carry a small square parcel to the house and hand it to Mrs. Manzie. What was in the parcel he did not know.

"Manzie cleverly, by cross-examination, brought out the facts that the box and parcel, so far as the two 7th men knew, might have contained wood and meat, and as Sutherland stated that Redman had first driven to Jackson's store on the market before going to Manzie's home, the contention of Manzie that the parcel contained some steak for the dinner meal was not disproved."

"Redman was next called as witness, He stated that he had delivered meat and canned goods to Manzie's home from the quartermaster's department of the 33rd Battalion, and that these goods had been given him by Manzie.

"Sergt.-Cook Froude declared he knew nothing whatsoever of meat or goods of any other kind being delivered to Manzie's place.

"Lance.-Corp. Pere declared that he had given Manzie permission to take small quantities of cheese and small roasts and send them home, but that ho understood that the quantities of each had been small, Mrs. Manzie, so witness was compelled to state, did his (Pere's) washing for him, and for nothing, in exchange for the goods she was receiving, through her husband, from 33rd stores.

"Manzie, in a statement made before the members of the court-martial took his case under advisement, declared that he had enlisted to fight for his King and country. That he had a son in the 33rd in the same company and platoon that he was in, He stated that the finding of the 200 pounds of sugar was right enough, and that he had taken it in small driblets from one pound to twenty pounds, and that his wife was saving it against the time he should be fighting at the front and unable to provide all the necessities of life. He stated that his wife would have been at the court-martial yesterday to testify in his behalf, only that she was ill, and that if he were not acquitted it would break her heart. "She told me she would rather see me shot dead on the battlefield than——" and then his voice failed him, and he was taken from the room almost in a physical collapse.

"He was convicted. and the evidence in his case has been sent to Ottawa, When it is returned he will be sentenced to whatever punishment is deemed fitting in his case."

A few days later, on 5 Oct 1915, the Advertiser included in its reporting of the ongoing D.C.M. that Manzie's punishment had been confirmed: "Manzie, so it was given out at camp yesterday, must spend fourteen days in detention."

The following day, the Advertiser's issue of 6 Oct 1915 highlighted the number of Londoners that were serving in "D" Company of the 33rd Battalion:

"Many Londoners in "D" Company of 33rd
"Unit Is Most Representative of the City on Carling Heights.

"D Company of the 33rd Battalion may lay claim to being the representative of the city of London units on Carling Heights. There are in this company, which is commanded by Major N.W. Ashplant, 100 N.C.O's and men, exclusive of Londoners sent forward in various detachments."

The listing of the company's officers and men, the "bona-fide London men at present in this smart unit" included "Pte. E.W. Manzi."

As the trials under the District Court Martial at Wolseley Barracks continued, Manzie returned to the witness stand to speak on his part in their roles in the pilfering scheme. The evolving story of the theft ring was one of stolen rations and military supplies, their distribution to the homes of local soldiers involved in the thefts, and the collusion with representatives of contracting merchants to cover up short deliveries or to exchange good for other materials or favours. Sentences of detention and/or reduction in rank to Private for the non-commissioned officers were handed out to those found guilty of their parts.

Slowly, the D.C.M. worked its way up the ranks of the arrested men and would soon call for the battalion quartermaster, Capt. Thomas Haygarth. Charged with neglect of duty, he had continued to live in the officers' tent lines awaiting his appearance before the D.C.M. during which time he freely spoke to visitors including members of the paper's staff.

Haygarth alluded to a bigger picture of crime and corruption when he spoke to a reporter from the Advertiser. This came before his own trial, as the D.C.M. was starting to look at the roles played by certain members of the Canadian Army Service Corps (C.A.S.C.) through which rations and stores were received by the battalion. Haygarth also left the impression that there were members of the public involved sufficiently to be worried about their own futures.

On 15 Nov 1915, The London Advertiser reported on the opening of another court of inquiry. This one, to be conducted at the London Armouries under Brigadier-General Henry Smith was established to look into the affairs if the 33rd Battalion. Manzi and other men who had been tried by the D.C.M. were on the inquiry's list of witnesses to be called.

From Manzi's appearance before the inquiry, the Advertiser reported the following on 17 Nov 1915:

"Pte. E.W. Manzie told naively of storing up about 400 pounds of sugar for the family use during winter, and of receiving canned goods also. Pieces of meat were frequently brought to his home, also butter. He had no use for klim or bacon so did not take any from the stores department for his personal use. He had seen officers drinking in the stores tent, but could not remember who they were; in fact, he did not know them personally. He declared that shortages from the A.S.C. department during one week that he had kept account of the supplies from there, would total many hundreds of dollars. Butter, tea, bacon, klim, sugar were generally short, and the shortages were never made up."

The following day, 18 Nov 1915, with deepening implications of the role of the men of the C.A.S.C. in suspicious activities, the Inquiry abruptly ended the questioning of witnesses and turned to the examination of documents and records. With his testimony to the Inquiry, Manzi's role in the affair was at an end.

Commencing March, 1916, Manzi established a monthly Pay Assignment of $20 to be sent to his wife. As a Private in the C.E.F., Manzi was paid $1.00 per day plus an additional ten cents daily field allowance. His pay assignment represented about two-thirds of his monthly pay. Celia Manzi also received $20 monthly Separation Allowance, which began in June, 1915, and was canceled after the September payment.

On 17 Mar 1916, the 33rd Canadian Overseas Battalion embarked at Halifax on the liner S.S. Lapland. The unit arrived in England on 25 Mar 1916..

While still with the 33rd Bn. at Shorncliffe, Manzi had another encounter with the military justice system. On 14 Jun 1916 he was awarded seven days Field Punishment No. 2 for absence at tattoo.

Manzi was transferred to 36th Battalion, C.E.F. on 6 Jul 1916. The 36th Bn. was authorized in Canada on 7 Nov 1914 and recruited in and around Hamilton, Ont. The unit embarked for Britain on 19 Jun 1915, where it provided reinforcements to the Canadian Corps in the field until 4 Jan 1917. The unit's personnel were then absorbed by the 3rd Res. Bn. and the battalion was disbanded on 15 Sep 1917.

On 18 Aug 1916, Manzi was again transferred. This time, he was sent to the Canadian Army Service Corps Training Depot (C.A.S.C. T.D.). Only a few days after joining his new unit, Manzi was medically examined at West Sandling on 21 Aug 1916. The resulting "Medical Report on an Invalid" listed his disabilities as osteo-arthiris and over-age. The former condition affected his left elbow and was noted as resulting from a fall on ice at Quebec on 2 Jan 1916. The report states "Patient had fall on ice in Quebec last January falling on his left elbow. Reported same day to M.O. suffering considerable pain and elbow swelled. Swelling retucent in about two weeks but elbow has remained stiff. Was not X-Rayed at the time. The use of arm is decreasing and elbow getting more stiff." Between this condition and being judged over-age, Manzi was recommended for discharge.

On 6 Sep 1916, Manzi was struck off the strength of the C.A.S.C. T.D. to the Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre (C.C.A.C.) at Folkestone.

Manzi's case was considered by a Pensions and Claims Board assembled at Prior Park, Bath, on 11 Sep 1916. The Board's recommendation reads: "That this man's discharge be not carried out until he is in receipt of the first payment of the following pension:— That he be granted a pension for the period of one year under Class 5 at the rate of 20 per cent – Ninety Six Dollars per annum under the Pay and Allowance Regulations 1914 as amended by P.C. 1334 of June 3rd, 1916."

Ernest Manzi was struck off the strength of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada (O.M.F.C.) when he proceeded to Canada for Discharge, Medically Unfit, on 29 Sep 1916. Manzi's record of service sheet was stamped for the signature of the Commandant of the Canadian Casualty Discharge Depot at Bath, Eng., with the following confirmation: "Discharged under Para 392, Sec. 16, K.R.&O. 1912. Being no longer physically fit for war service."

Effective his return to Canada, but not yet back in London, the District Depot was already setting in place the administrative arranges for Manzi's return. On 6 Oct 1916, he was (on paper at least), posted by the District Depot of Military District No. 1 to a Convalescent Home.

The 10 Oct 1916 edition of The London Advertiser noted that "Twenty-Eight Londoners Among Returned Soldiers." The paper confirmed the arrival of these soldiers, either wounded or invalided, at Quebec the preceding week but did not yet know when they would proceed to London. Among the listed names was "Manzie, 326 Shaw St." (sic).

It was not until 20 Oct 1916 that The London Advertiser announced the return of Manzi and others to the city. Twenty-six soldiers arrived on the early morning Canadian Pacific train, including four Londoners.

"Returned Soldiers Brought Into City In Early Morning

"Twenty-Six Arrive Over C.P.R. at 4:30.
"Four Belong to London
"Were Taken to Breakfast at Hotel, After Welcome at Station.

"From The City

"E.W. Manzie, 326 Hill street.
E. Bates, 302 Clarence street.
G.A. Borland, 464 Dufferin avenue.
John Weaver, 137 St. George street.

"One of the largest parties of returned soldiers that have arrived in the city since the outbreak of the war came in by special C.P.R. train at 4:30 this morning, when 26 wounded and invalided men were welcomed by representatives of the Soldiers Aid Commission and citizens.

"The train bearing the party arrived at the above mentioned early hour, but was guarded until 8 o'clock this morning by an escort from the 149th Battalion, when the car was moved up from the siding to the Richmond street station, where the men detrained. The party which left Quebec consisted of 54, the other 28 being permitted to leave at other points en route nearer to their homes.

"Taken To Breakfast.

"The men, in autos, were escorted by the 149th Battalion band to the Tecumseh House, where breakfast was served and the men welcomed by officials from the Soldiers' Aid Commission.

"The men that came today are well representative of a large area of Western Ontario, extending from Embro to Windsor, and St. Thomas to Wingham.

"Four From City.

"Four city men were in the party, E.W. Manzie, E. Bates, G.A. Borland and John Weaver.

"E.W. Manzie of 326 Hill street enlisted with the 33rd Battalion here and left with this unit when it departed for Quebec, and subsequently overseas. While at Quebec he met with an accident that produced a growth on the bone. Proceeding overseas with the battalion, he was invalided home from Shorncliffe, England, after operations proved unsuccessful in eliminating the growth."

On 20 Feb 1917, Manzi was examined at London, Ont., and a "Medical History of an Invalid" form completed. This was one step in his discharge process that recorded his medical condition and any injuries suffered during his service that might later have an effect on pension entitlements and medical care benefits. Two conditions were listed on the form under "Disease or Disability," these were "(1) Over-age. (2) Osteo-arthritis left elbow."

Other than his elbow, Manzi was judged to be in "good general health." Manzi's elbow injury was attributed to a fall on an icy sidewalk at Quebec on 2 Jan 1916. Unable to completely extend his arm and suffering intermittent pains, the report noted that while the injury occurred during his service it happened while off-duty and no Court of Inquiry was conducted. He was assessed as having a permanent 20% disability. The Medical Board review of the report increased the judged disability to 30%. It also noted that Manzi claimed that "he was "on duty," i.e., not absent without leave or engaged in any illegal act when accident occurred, can scarcely touch mouth with fingers of left hand."

Manzi was discharged from the CEF at London, Ont., on 21 Mar 1917. His discharge took place under "Para. 392, Sec. 16, K.R.&O. 1912, Being no longer physically fit for war service." Manzi military character was recorded on his Proceedings on Discharge form as "good."

On discharge, Manzi was eligible to receive a War Service Gratuity (W.S.G.) of $400. This amount, less the $160.10 Post-Discharge Pay he had already received, left $239.90. Of this Manzi received $119.90 and Celia received $120 as a dependent's entitlement. Manzi received his W.S.G. cheques in Sep 1919.

The London Advertiser edition of 14 May 1918 included a brief item titled "War Service Badge Awards." Preceding a list of recipients, the paper noted "The 21st list of war service badges has been issued by Major C.O. Fairbank at district headquarters, Wolseley Barracks. Class A badges are now being supplied by Ottawa, after a brief delay due to the stock being depleted temporarily." Included in the list of names for the Class B war service badge was "E.W. Manzie, 277 Ottaway avenue, London." As described by Veterans Affairs Canada, the Class "B" war service badge was awarded to "Members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) who served in the United Kingdom or at the front, and who, due to old age, wounds or sickness, had retired or relinquished their commissions or been honourably discharged."

For his service in the C.E.F., having only served overseas in the United Kingdom, Manzi was entitled to receive the British War Medal. This medal was despatched to him at 326 Hill. St., London, Ont., on 8 Feb 1922.

Manzi and Celia appear in the 1935 voters' list for London, Ont. Living at 642 1/2 Dundas St., Apt. 1, Ernest's trade is recorded as "operator." In the 1938 voters' list they are living at 805 Dundas St., Apt. 1, and Ernest's trade is recorded as bus driver. In 1940, he is shown as a bus operator, in 1945 as a bus driver, and by the 1949 voters' list, Manzi is back to being shown as an "operator."

Ernest Manzi died at the Westminster Hospital, London, Ont., on 10 May 1950. The cause of his death was recorded as broncho-pheumonia, which was not attributed to his service. The veteran's death card held by Library and Archives Canada notes his next of kin as his son, Mr. Ernest G. Manzi, 805 Dundas St., London, Ont. Manzi is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, London, Ont.

Pro Patria


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