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

12536 Private Gaudias "Jock/Grandpa/Pop" Villeneuve

9th Regiment, Voltigeurs de Quebec
5th Battalion, Canadian Garrison Regiment
The Royal Canadian Regiment

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

Gaudias Villeneuve was born in Sillery, Quebec, on 25 Mar 1876. Sillery is a former separate administrative sector (quartier) which is now part of the city of Quebec. Villeneuve's family can be found in the 1881 Canadian census, residing in the Jacques Cartier Division of Quebec Est, parents George (34) and Marie (32) have one son, Gaudias (age recorded as 3).

On 2 Oct 1898, Villeneuve married Amanda Genert of St. Malo, P.Q. In the 1881 census, Villeneuve (25) and his wife, Amanda (21) are living in the Saint-Saveur Quartier of Quebec City. The family has grown by the 1911 census, adding daughter Alice (10).

Villeneuve began his full time service during the First World War on 7 Aug 1914 with the Composite Battalion formed at Quebec in No. 5 Military District. The Composite Battalions were non-C.E.F. units that performed garrison duties in the districts where they were formed. Enlisted as a Private with regimental number 74, Villeneuve was promoted to Lance Corporal in April 1915 and to Corporal in May 1915. His next promotion, to Sergeant, came on 16 May 1916.

On 5 Sep 1917, Villeneuve's service was interrupted when he was sent to a Convalescent Home and transferred to the district Casualty Company. He returned to duty on 18 Jan 1918 and was taken back on the strength of the Composite Battalion the following day.

Villeneuve attested for service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.) with the 5th Battalion, Canadian Garrison Regiment (C.G.R.) at the Citadelle, Quebec, on 8 May 1918. A 42-year-old laundry agent, Villeneuve was described on his attestation paper as 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing 163 pounds, with good physical development, a 38-inch chest, a dark complexion, brown eyes, and brown hair. His religious denomination was Roman Catholic. Villeneuve identified his wife, Mrs. G. Villeneuve, 192 1/2 Bayard St., Quebec, P.Q., as his next of kin. Claiming service in the Canadian Militia, Villeneuve gave his unit as the 9th Regiment, Voltigeurs de Quebec. On attesting with the C.G.R., Villeneuve was given the service number 2697659.

The battalions of the C.G.R. were formed in April 1918 for the purpose of performing garrison duties in Canada. Thirteen battalions, one in each Military District, were established and they absorbed the Special Service companies in each district that had been executing those duties.

On 29 Oct 1918, Villeneuve was "taken on strength Canadian Army Gymnastic Staff on transfer from 5th Bn., C.G.R., and posted for duty as P. & B. [Physical Training and Bayonet Fighting] Instructor, Military District No. 5." A little more than two weeks later, on 15 Nov 1918, Villeneuve was discharged from the C.E.F. at Quebec. His discharge certificate gives his rank as Sergeant Instructor, and records that he had enlisted in May 1918 for the Canadian Army Gymnastic Staff. The reason for his discharge was noted as "Enlistment in Re-constituted Permanent Force." Villeneuve's character and conduct were noted as "Very Good."

Villeneueve was transferred from the Canadian Army Gymnastic Staff to the Instructional Cadre of M.D. 5. on 31 May 1919. This was likely the changing of parent units as a result of the C.E.F. training and administrative unit structures being dismantled. His next change of units would come on 15 Nov 1919 when he was struck off the strength of the C.E.F. for enlistment in the Instructional Cadre of The Royal Canadian Regiment.

On 19 Nov 1919, Villeneuve was taken on the strength of The Royal Canadian Regiment and posted to the Instructional Cadre (I.C.). His trade on joining the Regiment was recorded as bookkeeper. Despite his having achieved the rank of Sergeant Instructor while employed with the Canadian Army Gymnastic Staff, he was enlisted in The RCR at the substantive rank of Private. Villeneueve returned to regimental duty from I.C. on 30 Mar 1922.

In his tenth year with The RCR, Villeneuve appeared in a casual comment in the regimental journal, The Connecting File. The June, 1929, edition mentioned his move into married quarters at "D" Company, in the St. Jean, P.Q., garrison:

"Old "Jock" Villeneuve and family have moved into public quarters recently, so he has a much better chance to cut up, in town. He sure is a fast stepper."

The April, 1930, issue of The Connecting File also included Villeneuve in the "D" Company Notes. He was listed among the members of the company who contributed to the success of their Paardeberg celebrations:

"Paardeberg Day was celebrated in a very fitting manner in this Station. A holiday was observed in the afternoon, and a Smoking Concert was held in the Barracks Gymnasium in the evening. The "Smoker" was presided over by C.S.M. J.H. Bazley, who opened the proceedings with a few words about Paardeberg. A most delightful thing about the programme was that quite a number of turns were rendered by "dark horses" whom we did not expect to be able to please us in the capable manner in which they did. Quite the star event of the evening was put on by "Kid Chesley," who gave us a red hot step dance. The way the old youngster stepped around would have made any of the "runway girls" at the Gayety quite envious. Needless to say "Ches" got several encores. An intermission was held for refreshments, during which time those present renewed old acquaintances. After the inner man was satisfied, the programme was resumed. The chairman proposed the toast to the King, which was followed by the toast to "Old Comrades Past and Present" by Lt.-Col. E.W. Pope, C.M.G. (remembered by all as a previous Commander of the Company), and "Our Allied Regiment" by Major H.T. Cock, M.C. Major R.S. Timmis, O.C. "A" Squadron, R.C.D., who served in "I" Company before the War, spoke a few words indicating how pleased he was to be present. Other speakers were Capt. A. Nicholls, M.C., Rev. C.H. Winch (local pastor), and Mr. L. Gage. The following contributed to make the evening a success: Major H.T. Cock, M.C.,; R.Q.M.S. J. Snape (ex-R.C.R. and Manchesters), Serjts. Rayner, M.M.; L/Cpl. C.E. Ward and Gang, Ptes. T. Rowlands, A.F. Charlton, G.H. Cook, F.T. Chesley, O.S. Lewis, H. Williams, W.M. Cunningham, G. Villeneuve and Tpr. (Bombardier) Billy Wells, ex-R.C.R. now R.C.D. (pro tem). We were very glad to see so many ex-members of the Company present, but regretted the fact that there were no representatives of our Instructional Cadre from Montreal. Every body reciprocated with Capt. A. Nicholls, that such gatherings might be held more often. We were very pleased to see an unexpected visitor in the person of Major F.G. Macculloch. Many thanks are due to the entertainment committee, who made the evening's enjoyment possible."

The January, 1931, issue of The Connecting File may provide a hint as to Villeneueve's employment in garrison in his later years of service:

"While M.T. may be available for the P.B.I, in the next rumpus, "D" Coy. is no optimist, so when going to Point-aux-Trembles for field firing and "execution" of casuals, it was decided to march. On the 12th of Oct., therefore, on the first leg of the course, it marched from St. Jean to the Chateauguy Armouries, St. Lambert, 24 miles. It would have been 22, only the C.Q.M.S. with his delightful sense of humor and insatiable thirst for walking (having come by M.T.), decided to take the Company on the tour round St. Lambert.

"Unfortunately, it was dark, so the local movie men lost a golden opportunity of filming the Retreat from Mons.

"The last mile reminded one of the pigeon story, 'You should have seen his poor feet,'—oh my, with what a delicate tread (or do you spell it Tred), we stepped.

"Q.M.S. Sarrasin in now slated for a special J.D. course next Spring. However "Grandpa" Villeneuve had a wonderful meal awaiting us. Afterwards, with the aid of a taxi and a hasty trip to Laprairie, the whole Company was admitted to the Ancient Order of Frothblowers, followed by raucous singing with the aid of a player piano, belonging to the Regt. de Chateauguy.

"D" Company thanks Le Regt. de Chateauguy for its hospitality."

The Connecting File edition on January, 1931, including a listing of "D" Company men and their hobbies. Private Villeneuve's was cryptically listed as "Studying the upper air currents."

In January, 1934, The Connecting File, listed Villeneuve in the extracts of Regimental Orders:

"Regimental Order No. 24—28th November, 1933
Medals and Awards:

"The undermentioned are awarded the Canadian Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct (Military):

(G.O. 117/1933).

Originally instituted in 1830 as the Army Long Service and Good Conduct (LSGC) Medal, this medal for long service replaced the Permanent Forces of the Empire Beyond the Seas LSGC for the Permanent Force soldiers of Canada in 1930 which had been awarded since 1909. That same year the award was renamed the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (Military) and a fixed suspension bar was added which included the name of the dominion in which the soldier served. British soldiers' medals had "Regular Army" on the bar. At the time of Villeneuve's award, the Canadian Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct (Military) was awarded for 18 years of service.

Villeneuve's last appearance in The Connecting File occurred in the November, 1934, edition and announced his retirement to the Regiment:

"D" Company, St. Jean, P.Q.

"Since our last appearance in print we have been obliged to surrender the following: To the joys of a pensioned life, Pte. G. Villeneuve ("Pop" to you); to the rains of Manchester, Pte. A. Nicholas (Embroidery and Football expert); and to the very doubtful pleasures of bear-hunting, 2nd. Lieut. J.H.W. Pope (Efficiency Expert) after which, if he survives, to the tender mercies of "B" Company."

Villeneuve retired at his permanent grade of Private after completing 20 years of service. His character on discharge was recorded as "Exemplary." Villeneueve's date of discharge was 6 Aug 1934, he was 58 years of age.

Gaudias Villeneuve died on 14 May 1948.

Pro Patria

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