838008 Pte. Percy Barber was born on March 31st, 1896, in the small rural Ontario village of Keady, just south of Owen Sound, and the Georgian Bay shores.

Second son to Joseph and Margaret "Maggie" (née Nelson) Barber, Percy's older brother William Henry Barber, was born five years earlier, on February 1st, 1891.

As the years passed Percy became an active and athletic teen, playing baseball for the Owen Sound team. In his later teen years his focus turned toward a young lady, Myrtle Gough, originally from nearby Markdale. They apparently were madly in love, inseparable, at least until the War entered the picture, when Percy attested into the 147th (Grey) Battalion ('A' Company), on November 27th, 1915.

Billeted locally over the winter, the 147th Battalion mobilized in Owen Sound in the spring of 1916, and as they were readying to leave for training at Camp Niagara, Percy arranged to marry his sweetheart, with the assistance of Battalion Chaplain Rev. H.S. Muldowney. Married on April 26th, 1916, the newly wed Mr. and Mrs. Percy Barber (click on image right), barely had time to celebrate before saying their good-byes, and Percy's time in service was set in motion.

As the conditions at Camp Niagara were poor, the unit moved to the new training facility of Camp Borden in late June. In September 1916 the unit received their orders to proceed overseas, but due to an outbreak of diphtheria they were held in Amherst, Nova Scotia, for over a month. The unit finally sailed for Great Britain on November 14th, 1916, on the S.S. Olympic, one of the sister ships of the by then infamous Titanic.

On January 1st, 1917, the 147th Battalion ceased to exist when it became the nucleus for the 8th Reserve Battalion. On March 7th, 1917, Percy was taken on strength of the 4th C.M.R. and served with the unit through the Battle of Arras, that saw the Canadian Corps storm, and take at great cost, Vimy Ridge, in the second week of April.

Having relieved the 5th CMR on the Outpost Line of the Vimy Line on the 21st/22nd of April, the 4th CMR was instructed to advance its left flank on April 23rd, in co-operation with the 5th Division. Whilst the 4th CMR reached its objectives the 5th Division did not and the 4th CMR was instructed to pull back.

It was during this action that Percy was wounded; a simple but painful shot to the upper right thigh (click on image left: Percy, with hat, sitting up). Percy was to celebrate his first wedding anniversary (April 26th) at the No. 35 General Hospital, in Calais, France, likely making it a more difficult time to endure being so far away from his sweetheart on their anniversary.

Percy went through a series of hospitals in England, including the Southern General Hospital in Birmingham, before being discharged to convalescence at Woodcote Park, Epsom, Surrey, in late July 1917.

After being transferred to the 8th Reserve Battalion in early August, 1917, and finally being discharged from convalescence, Percy later took 14 days leave before he returned to the 4th CMR in the field in November 1917.

In April 1918 he was attached to the 3rd Battalion Canadian Machine Gun Corps (3rd BN CMGC) for instruction and then on May 4th, he transferred to the 3rd BN CMGC, with whom he served during the final months of the war. Percy was struck of strength and sailed back to Canada on March 17th, 1919, on the very ship that brought him to Europe, the S. S. Olympic.

Percy returned to 5th Avenue West, Owen Sound, to his wife, and a son he had never yet met, Harold Percy Barber. He again began to serve his country as a "Postie" (click on image right) with Canada Post, which he did so vigorously until retiring in 1961. A brief two summer career on the Great Lake ferry Norgoma, led way to a return to service at the Owen Sound armouries. Percy's job as the Steward at the Sergeants' Mess, was an important position that he completed with a great deal of pride, and of course, his usual gift of gab.

Failing health forced Percy to retire from this position in the late 1960's. He and Myrtle made a short move to the top of the hill, and a home more conveniently laid out on one level. Together they continued to live a happy retired life, until Percy passed away on April 10th, 1974. Myrtle passed away on March 23rd, 1984.

They were a young loving couple, who were so much alike in many ways, including their knack for speaking out on some topics, before totally understanding what they really wanted to say. A family trait, kept alive by many ancestors, even today. As a family we are proud of Percy's contributions to the freedom we all love and appreciate to this day. We are also proud of the example that both Percy and Myrtle set for us, concerning our family values. To be a Barber, you need not be perfect, all you need to do is try.

Biography and image credits with thanks to Percy's grandson, Paul Barber.

Additional service details with thanks to George Auer and courtesy of 4cmr.com