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

477805 Private Harold George Rumsby

The Royal Canadian Regiment

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

Harold George Rumsby was born in Hull, Yorkshire, England, on 26 Sep 1894. He emigrated to Canada in 1912 and was in British Columbia at the start of the First World War.

On 17 Oct 1914, Rumsby was medically examined at Esquimalt, British Columbia, to determine his fitness to serve. He was described as a 21-year-old farmer, 6 feet 1 inch in height, weighing 150 pounds, with a 33 1/2-inch chest, and good physical development.

At the age of 21 Rumsby enlisted with The Royal Canadian Regiment in the Canadian Permanent Force (P.F.) on 18 Oct 1914 at a new regimental station established at Esquimalt, B.C. The RCR had garrisoned company stations in central and eastern Canada since the Regiment was formed in 1883. In 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War, Captain Edward Seely-Smith was in British Columbia en route to an exchange posting in Australia. The declaration of war resulted in Seely-Smith being ordered to remain in Canada, and to establish a new company garrison at Esquimalt. This new location, "L" Company, would perform garrison duties and recruit regimental soldiers throughout the First World War. On enlistment as a P.F. soldier, Rumsby was given the regimental number 20188.

Some soldiers of the Regiment who enlisted in Esquimalt spent much of the war in that garrison. Others were sent to the regimental depot at Halifax, Nova Scotia, with the intent that they would join the active service battalion of The RCR. Rumsby, departed for Halifax soon after enlisting and arrived at Halifax on 29 Oct 1914. The Regiment was already serving outside of Canada.

On 11 Sep 1914, The Royal Canadian Regiment had sailed for Bermuda where they would serve for a year on garrison duty. The Regiment relieved the 2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment, which sailed immediately for England. Rumsby arrived in Bermuda as a reinforcement for The RCR on 7 Jul 1915.

A little more than a month after Rumsby joined the Regiment in Bermuda, The RCR was relieved in turn by the arrival of the 38th Overseas Battalion from Canada on 12 Aug 1915. The RCR returned to Halifax for a stay of only a week. During this time, the Regiment was re-attested for overseas service. Although The RCR had just spent a year in Bermuda, there were concerns regarding the applicability of the soldiers' Permanent Force enlistments for wartime deployments. This was, perhaps, prompted by the idea that a man on a P.F. three-year engagement could choose not to re-engage and the Government would be obligated to bring him home. Enlistment in the C.E.F., on the other hand, was for the "Duration of War." Accordingly, the soldiers of The RCR were re-attested, signing C.E.F. attestation papers in August 1915 before sailing for Europe.

Rumsby attested for overseas service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.) with The RCR at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 23 Aug 1915. In addition to the physical description recorded at his enlistment medical, Rumsby was noted on his attestation form as having a fair complexion, grey eyes, and light brown hair. He identified his next of kin as Mr. A.B. Rumsby, 54 Linnaeus St., Hull, Yorkshire, Eng.

The RCR sailed from Halifax aboard the S.S. Caledonian on 26 Aug 1915. This was the same ship that had brought them home from Bermuda. Disembarked at Plymouth, England, on 6 Sep 1915, the Regiment went to Shorncliffe for training.

On 28 Sep 1915, Rumsby would receive a new C.E.F. service number to replace the regimental number he received on enlisting. While serving in the C.E.F., his service number would be 477805. Since the Regiment received its C.E.F. numbers while at full strength and not as they were recruited, it had the interesting effect that the soldiers of the Regiment at the time were renumbered in alphabetical order.

In preparation for entering the theatre of war, Rumsby completed a military Form of Will on 14 Oct 1915. In this will he decided to leave all of his estate to Mr. R. Rumsby, 54 Linnaeus St., Hull, Yorkshie, Eng.

The RCR crossed the English Channel on 1 Nov 1915, entering the theatre of war at Boulogne, France. During November and December of 1915 the Regiment prepared for service in the trenches, with companies rotating in the lines for training and a period of providing working parties before entering the line as a battalion at the end of December. The first months of 1916 saw the Regiment in the steady rotation through front line trenches, support trenches, and reserve positions that was the fundamental experience of the infantry in the Great War.

On 15 Dec 1915, Rumsby was admitted to No. 1 Field Ambulance for a club foot. He was sent the same day to No. 5 Field Ambulance and the next day to the Divisional Rest Station at Bailleul. With this transfer he came under the responsibility of the Deputy Director of Medical Services (D.D.M.S.).

Three weeks later, on 9 Jan 1916, Remsby was back at No. 1 Canadian Field Ambulance with influenza. He remained here until 15 Jan 1916 when he was admitted to No. 8 Casualty Clearing Station with bronchial pneumonia. Before the end of that month, on 26 Jan 1916, Rumbsy was examined by a Medical Board and classified Permanent Base for his club foot and he was admitted to No. 11 General Hospital with influenza.

Rumsby moved again on 5 Feb 1916, when he was admitted to No. 1 Convalescent Depot at Bologne because of his club foot. On 18 Feb 1916, he was pronounced fit for Base Details and discharged from the convalescent depot on 25 Feb 1916. Rumsby's medical classification was noted as "Permanent Base," this established that he would not return to the front lines with The RCR. On 2 Mar 1916 he was designated for return England and on 27 Mar 1916 he was transferred to Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre (C.C.A.C.) in England and left France the same date.

On 29 Mar 1916, Rumsby was examined by a Medical Board at Shorncliffe. His disability was recorded as "Talipes Equinar" (i.e., club foot) and the present condition was "marked." Rumsby was classified as fit for permanent base duty.

Considered employable in static base jobs, Rumsby was taken on the strength of the Canadian Records Office, London, on 7 Apr 1916. He was employed here as an orderly until 15 Sep 1916 when he returned to the C.C.A.C. On 19 Sep 1916, Rumsby was attached to the P.P.C.L.I. & R.C.R. Depot, Caesar's Camp South. The R.C.R. & P.P.C.L.I. Depot at East Sandling was a short-lived depot unit that supported those two named regiments with drafts of reinforcements. It was created on 13 Feb 1916 by separating it from the 11th Reserve Battalion, and it was disbanded on 20 Jan 1917 when it was absorbed into the 7th and 26th Reserve Battalions. Rumsby ceased to be attached to P.P.C.L.I. & R.C.R. and was attached to the 7th Reserve Battalion, Seaford, on 1 Jan 1917.

Rumsby was admitted to Moore Barracks Canadian Hospital (M.B.C.H.) at Shorncliffe on 30 Jan 1917 with a diagnosis of neurasthenia on 30 Jan 1917. This diagnosis was later changed to Delusional Insanity. Notes on his condition recorded for his service record read: "Delusional Insanity. Urine & Wassermann negative. Hears voices talking to him – laughs and talks to himself in a silly manner. Signed F.L. Neely, Captain, C.A.M.C."

The detailed case notes on Rumsby read:

"Disease: Delusional Insanity

"Born Hull, Yorkshire, England Father: Arthur Rumsby, 54 Linnaeus St., Avalambury Rd., Hull, Yorkshire. Mother, living. Brothers, 0. Sisters, 2, healthy.

"No history of insanity. Enlisted - Nov 1914, Vancouver with RCR. Came to Bermuda for 8 months. Came to England, Sept 1915. Went to France, Nov 1915. Came back April 1916 following pneumonia and a weak ankle, always has been weak. Was sent to London as orderly in Records Office attached till Sept 1916. Went to CCAC and then sent to RCR camps. He was sent here from his camp 30/1/17. He has been restless and heard voices and bells ringing; memory was very bad.

"Patient went to Canada in 1912, worked at various jobs as a laborer, never saved any money. Says he was always down on his luck. Patient smiles frequently in a silly manner, has defect in speech, says he has always been considered stupid, laughing to himself, says he is laughing because he came here November.

"His general expression is silly and childish.

"Physical - tall, 6' 1". head somewhat asymmetrical. Eyes normal. Heart and lungs normal. Reflexes normal. Urine and Wassermann negative.

"This man is evidently suffering with an attack of dementia praecox as a defective basis. He hears voices and bells in his ears, laughs in a silly manner, is indifferent and stupid."

On 7 Mar 1917, Rumsby's condition was noted as "unchanged" and he was boarded for discharge to Canada.

In another shuffle of the reserve units in England, Rumsby ceased to be attached to the 7th Res Bn from the C.C.A.C. on 7 Feb 1917 and was attached to the 26th Res Bn for quarters, rations and discipline. This only affected the identification of his parent unit, since Rumsby remained in hospital.

Rumsby was examined at M.B.C.H. on 17 Feb 1917. The examination report, titled Report on a Case of Mental Disability (Army Form B. 183) recorded his condition as one of "Delusional Insanity." Rumsby's state was noted as a first attack "as far as is known," having lasted three weeks, and of an insidious nature rather than a sudden onset. The examiner described the condition as being a result of "stress of campaign, aggravating a case of mental deficiency." No hereditary predisposition was ascertained. Rumsby's behaviour, noted as described by others than the examining medical officer, were:

"(A)     Dull and stupid during the day; laughs a good deal to himself, a silly manner, hears voices talking to him.

"(B)     At night orderly states he is noisy, waves his arms about and talks and laughs loudly."

Rumsby was not noted as being "noisy dangerous, mischievous or given to steal." He was also noted as being of "cleanly" habit. It was recommended that Rumsby be "brought before a Medical Board with a view to his mental; condition being affirmed and his disposal determined."

A Medical Report on an Invalid (Army Form B. 179 Canada) was also completed on Rumsby on 17 Feb 1917 at M.B.C.H. Recording his disability as "Delusional Insanity" beginning in 1916 when "symptoms became acute." The form summarized Rumsby's service:

"Went to Canada in 1912, worked as laborer, did not do well. Enlisted 1914 with R.C.R., went to Bermuda for eight months. Came to England Sept 1915, went to France Nov 1915, was not wounded. Sent back April 1916 with pneumonia (no note on Med. Hist.). Later sent to London as orderly, sent back to C.C.A.C. Sept 1916, then to his lines R.C.R. he was sent from his lines to M.B.C.H. 30 Jan 1917."

Rumsby was described as having "mental instability from childhood." His present condition was not determined to have been caused by wounds received or illness contracted in the presence of the enemy. It was, however, attributed to "active service conditions aggravating a tendency to mental disease."

Rumsby's physical condition was assessed as normal. His mental state was described as:

"Mental — hears voices talking to him, is dull and indifferent. Laughs a great deal in a silly manner. Is very restless and noisy at night, talking and waving his arms about."

The examining Medical Officer recommended that Rumsby be discharged as permanently unfit. This assessment was concurred with by the Officer in Charge of the Hospital. The reviewing Medical Board assessed that Rumsby's incapacity as "Total disability; 1/4 of which is due to service" and upheld the recommendation for discharge.

On 21 Feb 1917, a letter completed by the Office of the Assistant Director of Medical Services (A.D.M.S.), Canadians, Shorncliffe, recommended that Rumsby be discharged. The specific diagnosis in Rumsby's medical records that led to this recommendation was:

"Moore Barracks Hospital, Shorncliffe. 30-1-17 – Delusional Insanity. Urine & Wassermann negative. Hears voices talking to him – laughs and talks to himself in a silly manner. Signed F.L. Neely, Captain, C.A.M.C."

Rumsby was discharged from Moore Barracks Hospital on 12 Mar 1917 and embarked for return to Canada aboard the Hospital Ship S.S. Letitia, being classified as an "Insane" patient.

Back in Canada, Rumsby was discharged at Military District No. 3, Toronto, to the Cobourg Asylum on 23 Mar 1917. Two days later, he was examined at the Discharge Depot by a Medical Board which determined that he had a 100% disability caused by "Delusional Insanity, aggravated by service." The detailed statement of his condition was noted as:

"States that he was never troubled with delusions until Sept 1916. He enlisted Oct 1914 and carried on in Bermuda and England until Nov 1915 when he went to France. States he had pneumonia Feb 1916. Was sick in Bologne and came to England in April 1916 (no account of this in medical history). Hears voices and impulses to do things at times. Mentality is slow. History states he "laughs a great deal in a silly manner. Is very restless at night. Talking and waving his arms around."

The Board found the probable duration of his incapacity "impossible to estimate" and recommended Rumsby be sent to the Asylum at Cobourg.

Rumsby was admitted to Ontario Military Hospital, Cobourg, on 27 Mar 1917. His diagnosis was "Dementia praecox" and his case notes read: "well developed, well-nourished, malformation of right foot, 1" shorter than left. He is hearing voices constantly telling him things of pleasant nature; has much dementia of hebephrenic type."

[Wikipedia: "Dementia praecox (a "premature dementia" or "precocious madness") is a disused psychiatric diagnosis that originally designated a chronic, deteriorating psychotic disorder characterized by rapid cognitive disintegration, usually beginning in the late teens or early adulthood. Over the years, the term "dementia praecox" was gradually replaced by "schizophrenia", which remains in current diagnostic use." —- "... dementia praecox is still essentially hebephrenia, and it, dementia paranoides and catatonia are described as distinct psychotic disorders among the "metabolic disorders leading to dementia". - Noll, Richard. The Encyclopedia of Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders]

A Medical History of an Invalid form was completed on Rumsby at the Newmarket Military Hospital on 30 Jan 1918. The form noted his brother as next of kin, Arthur Rumsby, 54 Lumaens (sic) St., Analamby Rd., Hull, Yorkshire, Eng. The same address was given for Rumsby's address after discharge. The form recorded the dates of Rumsby's service in Canada, England, and France, and noted the following for his present mental condition:

"Patient is very foolish with well-marked mannerisms; is at times inclined to be impulsive and at times quite troublesome. He is rather untidy in his dress."

The form noted that Rumsby has been treated continuously in hospital since 30 Jan 1917. It stated that further hospital treatment was not likely to be of material benefit, "but patient must necessarily be maintained in a Mental Hospital." The examining medical officer recommended that Rumsby be "discharged from the Army and kept in a Mental Hospital." Rumsby did not sign this form in the allotted space, instead it was annotated "Patient incapable of signing intelligently."

The closing recommendation, signed by the three-member of the Medical Board read:

"It is recommended that this soldier be discharged from the Army, and as his case is incurable and a hopeless one for an ultimate recovery, that arrangements be made for his maintenance in one or other of the Provincial Hospitals for the Insane. The hospital to which he should go would be the Public Hospital for the Insane at New Westminster, B.C."

This was approved and signed off for the Assistant Director of Medical Services on 5 Feb 1918. On 28 Feb 1918, Rumsby was supposed to transferred to the New Westminster Asylum but this was cancelled on 28 Mar 1918.

On 24 Mar 1918, Harold Rumsby was discharged from the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He remained in hospital for treatment as pensioner. With Rumsby's discharge from the C.E.F., the record of his treatment within his military service record ends.

Rumsby's Last Pay Certificate was completed by "D" Unit, M.H.C.C. on 24 May 1918 and transferred to the Officer in Charge of Estates. To that date, Rumsby had an accrued credit balance of $581.32. To that was added his pay for the month on $26.40, based on his pay of $1.00 per day plus ten cents daily field allowance. Lastly, he received $13.00 clothing allowance, for a total of $620.72.

Harold Rumsby was discharged from the C.E.F. on 24 Mar 1918 as "no longer physically fit for War Service." His proceedings on Discharge form note as descriptive marks his "club foot and hammertoes." Rumsby's intended place of residence was noted as Vancouver, B.C. Rumsby did not sign this document, and the sections where he would have signed were annotated "Insane."

Rumsby's entitlement to a War Service Gratuity was calculated on 16 Apr 1920. His gratuity of $420 was reduced by the amount of an outstanding over-payment on his records, of $1.10. The remaining amount, $418.90 (£86 / 1 / 6), was sent to Rumsby at the family home in Hull, England, by cheque.

For his service in the C.E.F., Rumsby was entitled to receive the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal. These were despatched to him at Vancouver, B.C., on 14 Apr 1921. The medal card in his service record has his surname spelled as "Rumsly," a similar error can be seen on another data card where the spelling is "Rumsley," both of which are most likely from incorrectly reading the handwritten final letter of his name. The error on his medal card was repeated in the naming on his British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Harold Rumsby died on 21 Nov 1959. His death was not attributed to his military service.

Pro Patria


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