Saturday, August 11, 2018



So the other day, for a reason that will become apparent, I wanted to learn about someone- J. C. Abbott. I was trained to be an historian, but back before the internet when everything was on paper, in books or microfilm, in libraries or institutions. It took me only an hour to find this stuff out. 
     He was born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1896- six years younger than my grandfather. By the time he was 18, he was working as a cabinetmaker in Vancouver, B. C. His home was in Cloverdale with is parents- his mother’s name was Katherine, but she went by Kate. He was 5 feet 8 1/2 inches tall, fair haired with grey eyes and a small scar above his left eye. We know all this because on November 19, 1914, he signed on to the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s 29th Battalion- raised by a Vancouver lawyer, Henry Tobin. 

     James Curtis Abbott, now # 75042, embarked on May 20, 1915 with the rest of “Tobin’s Tigers” aboard the steam ship Missanabie and ultimately on to France. He and his mates were lucky, Missanabie and 45 men were torpedoed and went to the bottom in 1918.
     He would have worn a cap badge like this one. 
     I even found his picture! 

     The 29th were a fighting regiment, staying on the Western Front right through the war. With a full strength of about a thousand soldiers, over 4300 men served in the battalion during the war. About 600 were killed and 1400 more were wounded, not good odds at all for the originals. 

     Their battle honours are a list of awfulnesses- 

    Private Abbott was assigned to “A” company, which must have been a good outfit- as witnessed by this incident after another Battalion was so shot up as to require its dissolution.

     Private Abbott stayed a private soldier- he earned a good conduct badge and the little extra pay that came with it. He stayed lucky with diseases and flying steel, too- went to hospital with the ‘flu a couple of times and caught a bullet in the left arm at Hill 70 in the same action where Sergeant Hanna over in "D" company won the Victoria Cross.

      Maybe Abbott is in one of these pictures of 29th men in and out of action: 

     I did all this research on Wednesday, that’s the 7th of August. Thanks to the Canadian National Archives, the war diaries of the 29th are digitised- no trip to Ottawa required. I wondered what was happening exactly a century ago?

     Hmm. Let’s look at these appendices....

     Well! I can put a face to that spot, having driven through Rosieres many times. The Major is very matter of fact about the “Too late, chum” on those Boche, isn’t he? The 29th’s brigade mates in the 28th originated the term “too dead to be used as prisoners”, perhaps a pattern is emerging. 

     And Lieutenant Burridge  in “D” likes to provide some atmosphere-  I think C. T. C. channels him-

     But we're interested in Abbott-  did “A” company leave a report? Yes it did- 

     Today is August 11, 2018.  11-8-18, as a Canadian would write it-

     So, why did I have this interest? On Wednesday, I bought 

          James Curtis Abbott’s watch. Undoubtedly he was carrying it at Rosieres, and a hundred years ago today it began its journey to me from Rouen hospital. Sometimes an object can take you places all by itself. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Abbot and James Curtis Abbott.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Thursday, January 11, 2018

"Figuring" is Shell Shock Imitation...

Apparently the New York Times thinks it IS hip 'n' cool to imitate the disabled, as long as the disabled are dead soldiers...

Thursday, January 04, 2018


n French first, because that's whom it's for:

La première fois que je suis allé en France pour chasser, je me suis montré.

Puis, et dans la douzaine de saisons depuis, les chasseurs de Compiègne-Laigue-Retz-Villers-St. Les forêts de Gobain m'ont fait, une personne qui ne parle même pas la langue, bienvenue. Ils sont tissés dans les jours de chasse qui sont les points forts de ma vie.

Maintenant, les Antis ont choisi d'attaquer là-bas. Pas seulement des gens comme moi, mais des gens dont j'ai secoué les mains cinquante fois. Je connais leurs noms et ils connaissent les miens. Je les reconnais dans les images comme je le ferais lors d'une rencontre. C'est exaspérant. Si cela pouvait faire du bien, je me dirigerais vers un travail de contre-insurrection.

Mais ce ne serait pas le cas. J'aimerais que nous puissions faire quelque chose pour aider. Il n'y a pas vraiment de défis à relever. Au moins, nous pouvons dire à nos amis que nous sommes derrière eux, et que nous voyons et comprenons les assauts auxquels ils sont confrontés. Garder une meute de chiens en marche est un véritable exploit, et c'est encore plus difficile avec ce genre de choses.

Alors. Ils ne passentont pas.

Et comme d'habitude, je recommande la chasse en France à tous mes amis américains et britanniques. Et aussi, comme d'habitude, d'inviter tous mes amis français à venir chasser au Tennessee et en Alabama, où il n'y a pas d'écologiste à voir.

The first time I went to France to hunt, I just showed up.

Then, and in the dozen seasons since, hunting people in the Compiegne-Laigue-Retz-Villers-St. Gobain forests have made me, a nobody who doesn't even speak the language, welcome. They are woven into hunting days that are highlights of my life.

Now the Antis have chosen to attack there. Not just people like me, but people whose hands I have shaken fifty times. I know their names and they know mine. I recognise them in the pictures as I would at a meet. It is infuriating. If it would do any good, I'd head over for some counterinsurgency work.

But it wouldn't. I wish there were something we could do to help. There isn't really, the challenges just have to be met. At least we can tell our friends that we are behind them, and that we see and understand the assaults they face. Keeping a pack of hounds running is a real accomplishment, and it's made even harder with this stuff.

So, hang on. Ils ne passeront pas.

And as usual, I recommend hunting in France to all my American and British friends. And also as usual, extend to all my French friends an invitation to come hunt in Tennessee and Alabama, where there is not an ecologiste to be seen.