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

6256 Acting Sergeant James Fiddes Murray, D.C.M.

1st Canadian Infantry Battalion

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

James Fiddes Murray was born in London, Ontario, on 31 Mar 1884. Murray's family, led by father Scott (41) and mother Jessie (32) can be found in the 1891 Canadian census with four children; David (11), James (7), Thomas (5), and Ross (3). By the time of the 1911 Canadian census, the household consists of father Scott (now 52), grandmother Jessie Fiddes, and four of widower Scott Murray's sons; David S. (20), James (17), Thomas H. (15), and William R[oss]. (14).

Murray attested for service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.) with the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion at Valcartier, P.Q., on 18 Sep 1914. A 39-year-old bricklayer, Murray was described on his attestation paper as 5 feet 8 1/2-inches tall, weighing 170 pounds, with a 38 1/2-inch chest, a dark complexion, bark brown eyes, and black hair. His religious denomination was Presbyterian. Murray identified his father, Scott Murray, 591 King St., London, Ont., as his next of kin. Murray declared that he was currently serving in the Active Militia, but his record does not mention his unit or the length of his service. On attesting with the 1st Battalion, Murray was given the regimental number 6256.

Starting in September 1914, Murray maintained a monthly pay assignment of $15. This money was sent home to his father, his next of kin, each month. As a Private in the C.E.F. when he established the pay assignment, Murray was paid $1.00 per day plus an additional ten cents daily field allowance. His pay assignment represented about one-half of his monthly pay. This payment continued until December 1916 when it was ceased on his return to Canada.

While few details have survived in his service record, Murray displayed a notable rebellious streak as a soldier of the 1st Battalion. This is especially notable considering that he was not a young man and might have been expected to better adjust to army life. On 6 Jan 1915, he was awarded a punishment of 21 days detention for a crime that isn't specified. This would not be his only brush with the military's justice system.

The 1st Cdn. Inf. Bn. sailed for England from Quebec aboard the S.S. Laurentic on 3 Oct 1914. The unit arrived in England on 14 Oct 1915 with 45 officers and 1121 men. When the 1st Canadian Division went to France in early February, 1915, Murray began his front line service. The Battalion's first four Battle Honours, awarded for actions in the spring of 1915, became familiar names to Canadians for the Division's baptism of fire they constituted:

For Murray, the spring of 1915 was also punctuated by charges and summary trials. On 4 Apr 1915, he was awarded seven days Field Punishment No. 1 and the forfeiture of one days' pay and allowance. Field Punishment No. 1 consisted of extra work and drill and the penance of being secured standing to a fixed object for an hour or more each day. Before that punishment was completed, on 9 Apr 1915, he was again charged with being unshaven on parade and awarded a further punishment of three days, Field Punishment No.1.

Despite his disciplinary problems, Murray must have been demonstrating some skills as a soldier and the potential for advancement. On 29 Jun 1915, he was appointed to the rank of Lance Corporal. He would keep this rank for less than a month. Murray was deprived of his Lance Corporal stripe on 21 Jul 1915 and forfeited one days' pay under a Royal Warrant. His crime this time was absence from 9.00 a.m. 21 Jul 1915 until apprehended by an escort at 7.00 p.m. 21 Jul 1915.

On 22 Sep 1915, The London Advertiser printed a short item based on letters that Murray wrote home.

"Calls Germans Very Good Boys
"James Murray Declares Those Opposite 1st Battalion Are Behaving

"James F. Murray, son of Scott Murray, one of the few London boys who went to the front with the first Canadian contingent and has been through the whole campaign without a scratch so far, has written to Edward Galpin from the trenches, which he says are in Belgium close to the French boundary line. He says the front is very quiet just now, and that the Germans opposite are "very good boys," and, outside of a few trench mortars, rifle grenades, etc., are good neighbors. But, of course, he adds, they will take advantage of a greenhorn who shows too much inquisitiveness and scatter his brains.

"Murray says very few of the London men are left with the battalion, almost all of them having been invalided into hospital for one reason or another. The battalion, he says, is up to strength again, the drafts from the 33rd and 34th battalions having been sent to fill the ranks. He expresses the hope that the war will be over soon, although he feels as fit as ever and has gained weight."

Murray proceeded on one weeks' leave on 27 Sep 1915, his first break from the front lines since landing in France. The week away probably did little to lessen the strain he was under by the time he rejoined from leave on 4 Oct 1915.

On 1 Dec 1915, Murray crossed the military's justice system once again. He was awarded a punishment of seven days F.P. No. 1 for drunkenness while on active service.

While his disciplinary issues continued, it is clear that Murray's competence as a soldier was also being recognized. The 14 Jan 1916 edition of the London Gazette included Murray name in the list of Canadians who had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (D.C.M.) (L.G. 29438). Less than two weeks later he was gazetted again, this time with Canadians who had been Mentioned in Despatches for Gallantry and Distinguished Services. (L.G. 29453, 27 Jan 1916).

Murray had cause to write to The London Advertiser after the Christmas mail had been received at the front. On 18 Jan 1916, the Advertiser printed the following note:

"Thanks Mothers' Club
"Pte. James Murray, D.C.M., Got Generous Christmas Hamper

"Pte. James Murray, son of Scott Murray, King street, who was recently awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, in a letter to his father, expresses his thanks and appreciation of a box of good things sent by the Mothers' Club of the Simcoe street school which arrived before Christmas. Pte. Murray did not know the address of the president of the club and he asked The Advertiser to convey his thanks. The gift was greatly appreciated."

The following month, on 24 Feb 1916, The London Advertiser again made mention of Murray after he wrote home to his father:

"Give No Details of Winning of D.C.M.
"Modest London hero Declines to Say How he Won Coveted Medal

"Scott Murray, 591 King Street, has received a letter from his son, Pte. James Murray of the 1st Battalion, notifying him that he had received his Distinguished Conduct Medal, but he gives absolutely no information as to how he earned his honor. He is modest, and his relatives and friends have no inkling as to the gallant conduct that merited the decoration. He has been in the trenches more than a year, but declares he is going to stick it out until it is over.

"We are at the same old thing," he writes, "The rain is not nearly so bad as a year ago, and I must say that conditions are much better. I wish you would thank the members of the King Street Presbyterian Church for the parcel they sent me. It was a dandy.

"I received my D.C.M. all right, and it is quite an honor, but I guess some of the boys, my pals, were much more pleased than I was. I guess you have seen all about it in the papers."

At the end of February, Murray was given a small reprieve from the more stressful duties of front line service. On 29 Feb 1916, he was attached to the Trench Wardens for 1st Cdn. Inf. Bde. The trench wardens were responsible for monitoring the state of trenches in an assigned area, executing or coordinating repairs as needed to maintain them for continued use. They would have worked primarily in those sections of the trench lines trenches, fighting and communications, that were not actually occupied by the Brigade's units.

As usually happened with the confirmation of awards that had citations, the man's name was first gazetted to state the honour had been awarded, and that was followed some weeks later by the publication of the award citation. The citation for Murray's D.C.M. was published in the Supplement to the London Gazette dated 11 Mar 1916.

"6256 Private J. F. Murray, 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion.

"For conspicuous gallantry; during a bombardment, he continually carried messages under heavy shrapnel fire. With a comrade's assistance he rescued three men who had been buried in a "feather" trench after the remaining five in the same place had been killed. He also did fine work on three other occasions."

On 18 Mar 1916, Murray again appears in the columns of The London Advertiser:

"Won His D.C.M. By Daring Rescue of Buried Comrades
"Pte. James Murray of London Saved Three Lives

"Pte. James Murray, 591 King street, of the 1st Battalion, who was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery at the front, has been decorated with his badge and medal, the investiture taking place at the front.

"He has written his father, Scott Murray, several times, but never gave any inkling as to the feat of arms that resulted in being decorated.

"The Official Gazette gives a meagre outline of his bravery. It states that Pte. James Murray was awarded the medal "for rescuing three men buried in a trench, after five others had been killed."

"No further information is given as to the place where it happened, or anything like it.

"In conversation with some returned men, they are of the opinion that it happened at Festubert. Some trenches were blown up there, and some of the men buried. Five soldiers tried to dig themselves out, but lost their lives in the attempt. Pte Murray brought them out safely. It was a striking feat.

"Pte. Murray has been in the trenches for 13 months without cessation. He went in with the 1st Battalion, and has remained with it ever since. He had two weeks holidays in Scotland last summer, this being his only lay off since going to France.

"In his last letter to his father, he states that he has just come out of the trenches and is feeling fit."

The Advertiser printed the full citation for Murray's D.C.M. on 13 Apr 1916. Citations for two other D.C.Ms. awarded to 1st Battalion soldiers were also printed, those to Sergt. F.C.C. Newell and Pte. C.D. Smith.

Murray's letters home would be a consistent source of news for The London Advertiser. The 19 Jun 1916 edition included a brief note from one of Murray's letters to family and friends: "Jimmy Murray, D.C.M., who has been in the trenches more than seventeen months, and who has been mentioned I dispatches recently by the commander, Sir Douglas Haig, is a wag in his way. In a recent letter, Jimmy writes: "One of the sad things about war occurs when one leaves the trenches to have a bath—one loses so many close friends. When I get through, if I ever do, I think Mud will be my middle name."

On 29 Jun 1916, Murray was again mentioned in the Advertiser. In an article on returning soldiers who had been wounded, remarks by Pte. R. Reid included:

"Pte. Reid stated that few of the original 1st Battalion are left.

"There are about six, the last account I heard," he said, "Jimmy Murray, who has won his D.C.M., and who is still at the front, is a friend of mine. He was a prince, a game fighter, and never knew when he had enough. I am glad he has been recognized, for Jimmy Murray would give you the shirt off his back. There are none better. I hope he comes back safely. He deserves somethings for all he has gone through."

On 24 Sep 1916, Murray was once again appointed to the rank of Lance Corporal. Two months later, on 28 Nov 1916, he proceeded on nine days leave to England.

News form Murray's letters home continued to appear in the London papers. On 3 Oct 1916, The London Advertiser shared the following:

"Further Honors for London Boy in 1st
"Military Medal and French Legion of Honor for Pte. Jas. Murray

"Word has come to London that Pte. James Murray, son of Scott Murray, has been recommended for the military medal and the French decoration, the Legion of Honor.

"Pte. Murray was awarded the distinguished conduct medal by Sir John French for gallantry on the battlefield. He rescued three companions, buried in a trench under heavy fire. Prior and subsequent to that time, he was mentioned in dispatches for valor. Since Sir Douglas Haig has been in command he has also been mentioned in despatches, and reports from the front are to the effect that he will be given the military medal and the French will give him the legion of Honor. [Note: Murray received neither of these awards and was only mentioned is despatches once.]

"Pte. Murray went to the front with the 1st Battalion, and has seen continuous service since February 8, 1015, or twenty months. Out of that time he was on leave but five days, a remarkable record. Promotion has been frequently offered him, but he prefers to remain in the ranks.

"He recently sent home to his father his D.C.M. medal."

The London Advertiser edition of 15 Nov 1916 also reminded it's readers of Murray's service, when it printed the brief note: "Just to think that some boys like "Jimmy" Murray will soon be spending their third Christmas with the fighting forces!" On 6 Dec 1916, the paper had more to say about Murray in a story about C.E.F. men from London. With a sub-title of "Heroic Jimmy Murray", the article included the following remarks from Capt. Chester Butler who was on brief home leave while recovering from a wound:

"A London Wonder

"Jimmy Murray, son of Scott Murray, King street, is one of the ten [originals still with the 1st Battalion], and that boy is an absolute wonder. He's one of the greatest fighting chaps that ever faced a gun. He has never been wounded, won his D.C.M. and after nearly two years' continuous service in the trenches, he is still at it.

"Jimmy is a great lad. Once, an officer told me, Jimmy was buried in a trench and rendered unconscious. They dug him out, and sent him to hospital. He was put to bed, and after a time he came to, he rubbed his eyes, looked about him, asked where he was, and where his battalion was. The questions were all answered to his satisfaction, but Jimmy had other things in mind. He felt himself all over, saw that he was not hurt, and decided on his own course. He got up, dressed, and was back with hi old bunch in no time. He simply would not stay in hospital.

"Later the officers thought he had seen enough hard service, so they decided to give him a place on the headquarters staff, lighter work, of course, and free from danger to a large extent. Jimmy stood it for 24 hours, and then he disappeared. The next day he was found again in the front line of trenches, fighting with his comrades of the 1st Battalion. Murray simply will not take leave or anything like that. He wants to fight and he is doing it. That's the kind of stuff London sent to the front. Stories by the yard could be written about Jimmy Murray. He has been decorated, and he deserves all the good things said of him."

While his home town was reading about his exploits, Murray was admitted to the Military Hospital at Shornecliffe on 9 Dec 1916. This hospitalization would prevent his returning to France from leave and he was taken on the strength of the Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre (C.C.A.C.) at Shoreham effective the same date.

Examined at the hospital in Shornecliffe on admission on 11 Dec 1916, Murray was diagnosed with shell shock and his case notes read:

"Patient states that on or about 13 Jun 1916 first began to be shaky and could not sleep with dreams but carried on with battalion til 28 Nov 1916 when his M.O. insisted to sending him on leave for a rest and treatment. Arrived in England 29 Nov 1916."

"Present Condition: Fine tremor of hands, sleeps badly, only a couple of hours during the night. Often times he springs out of bed. Pulse 92. Face twitches. Patient was in France 22 months, was in all big engagements with Canadians. Loss of appetite. Reflexes exaggerated. Heart normal, also lungs normal. He needs a good rest."

Murray's condition was attributed to the "stress of campaign" and he was assessed to be at a 50% level of capability to work [in the general labour market as a comparable] for a further six months. It was recommended that Murray be invalided to Canada.

The news of Murray's hospitalization did not take long to reach home and the local paper. On 11 Dec 1916, The London Advertiser shared the following:

"Jimmy Murray Has to Go to Hospital at Last "Word Sent by Brother, However, He Is "All Right."

"Pte. Jimmy Murray, D.C.M., 1st Battalion, is doing his first real hospital duty since he went into the trenches 22 months ago. His father, Scott Murray, Kings street, received a telegram from his other son, Sergt. Thos. Murray, of the postal department, saying that Jimmy was in the hospital; at Shorncliffe. He said that he was all right, and it is thought that his is either slightly ill or slightly wounded. He record for continuous fighting in the trenches is one of the best of the war."

Having failed to return to the 1st Cdn. Inf. Bn. on the expected date of the end of his leave, Murray was declared a deserter as of 8 Dec 1916. This entry in his service record, however, was later canceled and struck through once it had been determined that the reason for his failure to return was his admission to hospital.

Notes on Murray's Medical Case Sheet recorded on 18 Dec 1916 include the following:

"Disease: Shell Shock.

"Father, living and well. Mother, deceased. Brothers, living and well.

"Previous Illness: Slight wound 13 Jun 1916. Never any serious illness.

"Present Illness: Has been in France 22 months. Came over on pass 2 Dec. Could not eat of sleep and after three days leave was admitted into Shornecliffe M.H.

"Present Condition: Well nourished. No physical sign of disease. Does not sleep well. Before leaving France was unable to carry on owing to sleeplessness and nervousness. Has been buried by shells several times and the nervous results still remains."

On 13 Jan 1917, Murray was discharged from hospital for return to Canada. Back in Canada later that month, he was transferred by Military District No. 1 to a convalescent home on 23 Jan 1917. By 1 Feb 1917, Murray was admitted to Military Hospitals Commission Command (M.H.C.C.), London, Ont., as an out-patient. He would remain in medical care over the next few months.

The local papers printed articles announcing Murray's return to the city in their editions for 1 Feb 1917. The London Free Press wrote:

"Pte. Murray, D.C.M. Arrives in City
"Party of Fifteen heroes, Invalided Home, Tendered a Reception

"An enthusiastic ovation was tendered Pte. "Jimmy" Murray, D.C.M., son of Mr. Scott Murray, 591 King Street to-day, when he stepped from the C.P.R. train which brought him home after 22 months in the trenches. A large number of citizens were at the depot and there was a scramble to shake the hand of the London soldier, whose exploits on the firing line brought him mention in despatches, four times under Gen. Sir John French and once under Sir Douglas Haig (sic).

"Pte. Murray, however, is one of the most modest soldiers who have returned from the front. A quiet "Thank you, gentlemen," was his only answer to the cheers of the crowd, many of whom were his old comrades in the famous 1st Battalion, who had preceded him home.

"Pte. Murray won the Distinguished Conduct Medal for digging three comrades out of a trench which had been blown up, under fire. A bar was added to the medal (sic), but for just what the winner doesn't know. He was only away from the trenches 18 days in all the 22 months from the time he went to France. He got leave on two occasions for the 18 days. Although offered promotion several times he preferred to stay in the ranks and some who knew him and have returned from the front have declared that "You simply couldn't keep Jimmy out of the firing line."

"Only One Left

"Of the original lot who went overseas with the 1st Battalion, Pte. Murray knows of only one man, Sergt.-Major Charles Rowe of Woodstock, also a winner of the D.C.M. who still remains at the front. [Note: No Canadian named Rowe received the D.C.M., and no Charles Rowe sailed with the 1st Battalion.]

"Pte. Murray declared that the "toughest" experience he had while serving in the trenches was when he carried Lieut.-Col. (then serving as a major) Campbell Becher back out of the danger after the latter had been so badly wounded that he died a few minutes later.

"Major Becher said to him: "Murray, if I could only see my mother for five minutes I would be happy."

"With Pte. Murray were 14 others invalided from France and England."

The London Advertiser also ran an article on Murray in its 1 Feb 1917 edition:

"Took Col. Becher Back After Wound; Dug Out Comrades
"Sergt. James Murray Home After Long Service.
"22 Months in Trenches
"Londoner One of Party Here Today—Has Never been Wounded

"Twice winner of the distinguished conduct medal, which entitles him to wear a bar, mentioned in dispatches on numerous occasions for valor under Sir Souglas Haig, after 22 months continuous service in the front line trenches, is the remarkable record of Sergt. James F. Murray, son of Scott Murray, King street, who with 15 other invalided soldiers, returned to London at noon today. Sergt. Murray, because of his record, was the feature of the celebration in honor of the boys in khaki.

"He is the second last of the original 1st Battalion who remain. The other, Sergt. Chas. Owens, D.C.M., Woodstock, is now the last man of the battalion that left London in August 1914, to go to the front.

"I know of only one man remaining, that is Charlie Owens," said Sergt. Murray. "He is a splendid soldier, and is entitled to the credit for this performance, after serving in the front line trenches. Major Thomas was the last officer to remain on the firing line, and he was off for a time."

"Only Two Holidays

"Sergt. Murray went into the trenches in February, 1915, and came out on November 29th, 1916, 22 months continuous service. During that time he had two holidays, one of eight days after ten months fighting, and the other of ten days.

"I am one of the lucky fellows," said Murray, when questioned about his record. "I only did what i could not help doing. I do not deserve any more credit than lots of other boys, who only had a short stay in the trenches. They did what they could, and that's all I did.

"I lost nearly all my pals. The majority of them are killed. One loses a lot of friends when a battalion is shot to pieces. I miss them very much. That's war and this is an awful war, believe me."

"Sergt. Murray was named for the D.C.M. at Givenchy, where lieut.-Col. Campbell becher was killed. He carried the colonel back and later dug three companions out of the trenches where they were buried. He volunteered as an ambulance man, and spent the night on the battlefield, looking after the wounded.

"He cannot wear the gold briad on his arm, as he has never been wounded in all his experience.

"Never a Wound

"Shells have stood me on my head several times, and I have been knocked over, but I never got a wound," said Sergt. Murray. "There must be a special providence looking after me."

"Sergt. Murray was very modest in talking about his exploits, declaring that the wildest stories about the war generally come from fellows who have seen very little of it. He refused to talk at any length on the subject."

As a recuperating soldier back in Canada, a Medical History of an Invalid form was completed on Murray at London, Ont., on 13 Apr 1917. This form recorded Murray's disability at that time as "Shell Shock" with a date of origin in France of 13 Jun 1916. His present condition was described as follows:

"Sleeps well, except that he has exciting dreams. Appetite good. Memory fair. Irritable and easily excited. Spells of worrying and being excited, seem to come every two or three weeks, without cause. Has vomiting about once a day, generally in the morning as soon as he goes out in the air. Muscle strength good. Reflexes are exaggerated. Sensation normal. Tremor of the hands and tongue. Has occasional feelings of pressure in the eyeball, followed by what he calls bilious spells. Weight 184 lbs., 9 lbs. more than at time of enlistment. Heart, lungs and urinary system normal."

The Medical History attributed Murray's condition to "Exposure to shell fire" and "Twenty-two months in trenches." He was expected to have his ability to earn his livelihood decreased by half for two months. The Board recommended that Murray receive a further two months' treatment at the London Military Convalescent Hospital.

It is notable that this was a period during the war when "shell shock" was recognized as a condition by that name and used by both soldiers and the medical corps to define nervous conditions resulting from battlefield experiences. Later it would fall out of use through mandated actions of the Medical Corps overseas, being replaced by various euphemisms for nervousness and neurasthenia as the chains of command and medicals system attempted to moderate the losses of manpower due to self-diagnosis and acceptance of shell shock symptoms as legitimate reasons for men seeking rest, recuperation, or evacuation.

On 8 Jun 1917, Murray's condition and fitness for service was again assessed. His condition was summarizes as:

"Has improved considerably since last Board. Very rarely troubled with dreams. No worrying spells. Has no vomiting spells now. Reflexes normal. No tremor. Claims to be still easily excited and irritated. Weight 184 lbs. Well nourished, robust and of good physique. Heart, lungs and other systems normal."

The Board assessed a ten percent disability which was expected to reduce to nil over six months. Murray was placed in Category "B" and recommended for employment with a construction battalion. On 30 Jun 1917, he was discharged as an out-patient and transferred to No. 1 Railway Construction Draft.

Two months later, Murray was on his way back overseas. He arrived in England aboard the S.S. Grampian with the No. 1 Railway Construction Draft on 23 Aug 1917. On arrival in England, he was taken on the strength and appointed Acting Sergeant (without pay) at the Canadian Railway Troops (C.R.T.) Depot, Purfleet. Once overseas, Murray also restarted his pay assignment, again sending $15 each month home to his father.

Murray's return to England, likely exacerbated by the possibility of a return to France, also meant the return of some of his nervous symptoms. On 5 Sep 1917, he went before a Medical Board at Purfleet. His diagnosis was neurasthenia and his present condition was stated succinctly: "Evacuated with shell shock in Dec 1916. Is still nervous." Murray was considered fit for temporary base duty, category "Bii." The Board's proceedings document was reviewed and confirmed on 28 Jun, 8 Aug, and 9 Sep 1918.

Murray's medical condition and employability also led to a change of employment. On 6 Oct 1917, he was struck off the strength of the C.R.T. Depot on transfer to the Canadian Postal Corps (C.P.C.) at Shorncliffe. The following day he reverted to the rank of Private at his own request and two daya after that, on 9 Oct 1917, he was posted to C.P.C., Seaford.

On 12 Nov 1917, Murray was attached to the Eastern Ontario Regimental Depot (E.O.R.D.) for "duty, pay, rations, quarters, clothing and discipline." This lengthy list of responsibilities for the gaining unit was more often shortened to "for all purposes." The E.O.R.D. was part of the regionally based reinforcement system instituted in March 1917, with named Depots taking in troops from battalions raised in those areas in Canada and providing reinforcement drafts to similarly designated fighting units.

Murray would again be recognized and rewarded for his abilities again on 21 Dec 1917. The entry in his service reads: "Having been detailed for special duty as N.C.O. i/c Postal Detachment E.O.R.D. Seaford, is appointed to [the] rank of Acting Sergeant with pay of Corporal." Ten days later, on 31 Jan 1918, he was struck off the strength of the C.P.C. Seaford to the E.O.R.D., reverting to the rank of Private. The drop in rank was temporary, and likely associated with the "Acting" status which could not pass from one unit to another. On 1 Feb 1919, Murray was again appointed Acting Sergeant with pay and allowances whilst employed as Postal Sergeant to the Depot. Effective the same date he was attached to the 6th Reserve Battalion for rations and quarters. This attachment would be effective until 5 Apr 1918 when he ceased to be attached to the 6th Res. Bn. for only rations and quarters, and remained attached for duty, etc.

Throughout his continuing service in England, it is apparent that Murray struggled to serve despite his mental health condition. On 4 Dec 1918, he once again went before a Medical Board at Witley Camp. Diagnosed with neurasthenia, the Board's report summarized his medical history as:

"Man states he was in France 22 months. Never wounded. Was blown up by shell 13 Jun 1916. Felt nervous afterward. Carried on. Blown up again on 20 Nov 1916. Shell shock, wounded. Mil. Hosp. Shorncliffe 8 Dec 1916 to 13 Jan 1917. Shell shock. Improved. Invalided to Canada. States he was invalided to Canada Feb 1917. In Canada was sent to farm for 3 months, felt better. Returned to England Aug 1917. has not returned to France. Purfleet 5 Sep 1917 – Neurasthenia. Bii."

Murray's present condition at the time was also described:

"Man states he is 34 years old. Complaints – nervousness. Excited and confused when drilling men.

"Examination: Man has a slight stoppage in speech. He states when he gets excited or attempts to drill men he losses his power of speech entirely and that he quickly becomes confused. He states he could not put a platoon through drill because of his confusion. Man is well developed, well nourished. Abdomen somewhat pendulant. Is a beer drinker. There is a fine tremor in fingers, when excited shakes all over. Superficial and tendon reaction is active. Heart slightly rapid, lungs clear. Cyanosis of lips and finger nails. Alcohol is most likely a contributing cause."

Murray was considered fit for duty, medical category "Bii" with a three percent disability (this was amended to eight percent).

On 30 Jan 1919, Murray ceased to be attached to the 6th Res. Bn. and was officially taken on the strength of the 6th Res. Bn. Two months later, on 8 Mar 1919, Murray was medically examined and a form titled "Medical History of an Invalid" was completed on him.

The original injury recorded for Murray was Neurasthenia. The date and place of origin of 13 Jun 1916 at Ypres, Belgium, was noted and the cause recorded as "Strain of service under fire in front line." Murray's present disability at the time of the exam was "(1) Nervousness (marked)," and "(2) Partial loss of power of concentration (slight)."

Murray's present condition was described as:

"Objective: The man looks nervous and somewhat worried. General tone is below par. He has no tremor. All reflexes are normal. Pulse 70 sitting. Heart normal. Has no slut in his speech.

"Subjective: He feels very nervous. Small things excite him and cause him to tremble, for example when drilling men on the square he begins to stutter badly and begins to tremble. When nothing excites him he acts quite normal. He can walk a normal distance without becoming tired. He becomes very nervous when working on a high building."

Under the history of his condition, it was recorded that:

"He states he was well until 13th June 1916. About this time he was under continuous shellfire for fourteen days. He began to feel very nervous. He vomited frequently. He carried on however until 30th Nov 1916 when he was partly buried and shaken up by explosion of a shell. He went on leave to England then. He reported sick on leave and was sent to Shorncliffe hospital. He is about the same now as six months ago."

It was recommended that Murray be boarded for discharge and return to Canada. On 18 Mar 1919, he was taken on the strength of Military District No. 1 at Rhyl from the E.O.R.D. Murray would not remain in England for long. On 29 Mar 1919, on sailing from Liverpool, he was struck off strength to Canada and taken on the strength of No. 1 District Depot at London, Ont. Murray arrived back in Canada on 5 Apr 1919, disembarking from the Hired Military Transport (H.M.T.) Caronia at Halifax, N.S.

James Murray was discharged from the C.E.F. at London, Ont., on 8 Apr 1919. Medically unfit, he was placed in medical category "Bii," which included "men who were fit for base units of the medical service, garrison, or regimental outdoor duty." After his discharge, Murray was eligible to receive a War Service Gratuity of $420. Cheques were issued in five installments between April and September, 1919.

Murray reappears in the recording of the family home in the 1921 Canadian census. By this time there is only father Scott and James living at the family's residence.

For his service in the C.E.F., in addition to his Distinguished Conduct Medal, Murray was entitled to receive the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal. These were despatched to him at 591 Kings St., London, Ont., in 1922.

James Fiddes Murray died on 7 Sep 1948 at Westminster Hospital in London, Ont. The cause of his death was recorded as "squamous cell carcinoma of bronchus" (lung cancer) which was not attributed to his military service. His next of kin noted on his Veteran's Death Card held by Library and Archives Canada was his cousin, Miss Bella Murray of 593 King St., London, Ont.

The day after Murray's death, 8 Sep 1948 , The London Free Press printed an obituary column:

"Urged New Rifle, London Vet Died

"James F. Murray, D.C.M., 63, of 591 King Street, one of the men credited with calling attention to difficulties in the use of the Ross rifle for trench warfare during World War I, died yesterday at Westminster Hospital after a long illness.

"As a result of Mr. Murray's and others statements concerning the rifle, an investigation was held and the Lee-Enfield rifle substituted.

"Mr. Murray, son of Mr. and Mrs. Scott Murray, was born and lived all his life in London. He served overseas in World War I and was decorated with the D.C.M. On his return he entered the building contracting business with his father, but ill health forced him to retire in 1934.

"Ran 'Nap Nook'

"During World War II, Mr. Murray operated the Nap Nook, opened on York Street, by the Ontario Commercial travelers.

"He was a member of the Canadian legion, King Solomon Lodge No. 370, A.F. & A.M., the 1st Battalion Association. And a charter member of the Originals' Club. Mr. Murray was a member of No. 6 Bearer Corps, the first militia medical corps formed in London in 1906.

"A brother, Ross Murray, Cleveland, survives, also two cousins, James E. and Miss Bella Murray, London.

"The body is at the Bennett and Pincombe-Oatman funeral home, where service will be Friday at 2.30 p.m. Burial will follow at Mount Pleasant Cemetery."

Pro Patria


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