838091 Pte. Melville Geddes Henry was born on March 14th, 1897, and was the youngest of Charles and Elizabeth Henry's, two sons. His older brother 109387, Pte. Harold Stewart Henry was born on April 1st, 1895.


Growing up on the family farm outside the village of Chatsworth Melville attended Owen Sound Collegiate Institute when the family eventually moved into town. After his schooling Melville found work as a clerk and was also a member of the 31st Regiment's band. Harold was a tinsmith by trade and had served time with the 9th Mississauga Horse.


Attesting in Owen Sound, Melville joined the two independent infantry companies being raised by the 31st (Grey) Regiment, for overseas service. When the 147th (Grey) Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force was authorized all the men of these two companies were taken on strength of the new battalion on November 29th, 1915.


Brother Harold had already attested into the 4th C.M.R. on November 27th, 1914, in Toronto, though due to medical reasons was transferred out to a variety of regiments and postings, including the C.C.D., C.A.M.C.T.S. the 34th Battalion and then to the 58th Battalion in July 1916, with whom he suffered gunshot wounds to his right shoulder and arm in September.


For Melville, with his unit billeted locally over the winter, and being assigned to "A" Company, he would have been housed in Owen Sound until the unit left for centralized training in the spring of 1916. The 147th Battalion mobilized in Owen Sound in May to finalize the administration and organization of the unit, just prior to their departure for Camp Niagara later that month. As the conditions in this Camp were found wanting the unit moved to the new training facility of Camp Borden in late June.


The unit received their orders to proceed overseas in September and while en-route to Halifax, there was an outbreak of diphtheria and they were detained in Amherst, Nova Scotia, for over a month. The unit finally sailed for Great Britain, on November 14th 1916.


On January 1st, 1917, the 147th Battalion ceased to exist when it became the nucleus for the 8th Reserve Battalion, whose task it was to supply reinforcements to the 58th Battalion and the 4th C.M.R. Although Melville was initially assigned to the 102nd Battalion, he was fatefully transferred to a draft going to the 4th C.M.R. on September 23rd, 1917, while the unit was at Cambligneul, and was briefly reunited with his brother there. Harold had also found himself in 8th Reserve Battalion in May 1917, and was transferred back to his old regiment, the 4th C.M.R. on September 24th, joining them in the field on October 9th.


Just six days later, on October 15th, 1917, the unit moved into the Ypres Salient in preparation for their assault against German strong points on Belleview Spur. At 5:40 on the morning of October 26th the 4th C.M.R. led the attack for the 8th Brigade and Private Melville Henry was never to be seen again. Initially listed as missing he was subsequently declared Killed-in-Action and his death shows the life expectancy of a soldier in the front lines as he'd served a little over a month and was killed in his first major action. As Melville's body was never identified, his name is inscribed on Tablet K, Panel 32 of the Menin Gate.


838091 Private Melville Geddes Henry's service is remembered locally on the Owen Sound Collegiate Institute's memorial plaque, as well as at the Chatsworth Cenotaph.


It seems that Harold was affected by his brother's loss and was in and out of various hospitals amidst further transfers to the 6th Infantry Brigade, the 12 Canadian Field Artillery, etc. He is noted has having suffered trench fever and reduced mobility in his previously wounded shoulder. His demeanour was also noted as "a little depressed or dull". Eventually he was returned to Canada "on compassionate grounds" on the SS Corsican in March 1918 and discharged from the service in April. He passed away in October 1960.





Biography credit for Melville Henry: George Auer, as part of his 147th (Grey) Battalion project.


Biography details for Harold Henry added by 4cmr.com in conjunction with Mike Kavanagh.