Blencowe Families' Association Newsletter Vol. 22 No. 1 February 2007

Blencowes in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force in World War I

Six Blencowes served in the Canadian military in World War I as did 8 more soldiers with surnames either of the familiar spelling variations or others that I considered might fit under our umbrella. I found them by searching the Library and Archives Canada database “Soldiers of the First World War” with free images of attestation papers. The accompanying table shows the individuals with some of the data from their attestation papers. Particularly helpful for identification purposes are birth date and birthplace as well as name, relationship and address of next of kin. In addition to the information included in the table, the forms provide details of any previous military service and also give some indications of physical appearance such as height and colour of complexion, hair and eyes.

A wild card search (Bl?n?o$) gave 21 hits of which 7 were eliminated, e.g., Blandon. I almost eliminated one more name initially selected. In the index he shows as Blenko, Fred Arthur. However, his typed attestation paper shows his name initially as Blenko with the “o” stroked out and replaced with a letter “s”. Thereafter on the form the name is shown as Blenks, leading me to believe it was the most likely spelling. Since his place (Brixton) and date of birth in England were given, I decided to check the Free BMD site. I did not find a Fred Blenks; in fact the name Blenks occurs only once in all the births transcribed to date by the Free BMD project. However, I did find a birth indexed in the 3rd quarter of 1897 for Frederick Arthur Blenko in Lambeth, which includes the sub district of Brixton. He remains on the list.

I retained Blanco, James Henry because his surname sounds similar enough. Then I had to decide about Blincome, Thomas. When I read his attestation form some of the data sounded familiar. Sure enough, like Edward Blencoe, he was born in Edgar, Ontario, now a ghost town. Both men reported a mother named Hannah of Collingwood, Ontario as next of kin. They are shown as having different religions, which could represent a change of faith for one or both from childhood or a clerical error. It seems worth investigating further whether they were brothers and if they connect to us.

I found three different versions of the attestation form, each of which gives slightly different information. For example, in 1916 address of the recruit was added which is why it is in my last column. Several of the men were drafted in 1917 or 1918 (a different form) while most had volunteered earlier. A few of the forms are typed whereas most are completed by hand with the usual problems of interpretation. You will note there is no data in the table for Bert Blencowe. From the site it appears that his attestation papers may have been lost. He does apparently, like the other men, have a military file, a copy of which can be ordered.

The men joined in locations across Canada, as far east as Quebec City and as far west as Vancouver. Harry Blincoe signed up at Valcartier, which would have been Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, a military camp established in August 1914 as part of the mobilization of the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. Located near the port of Quebec, CFB Valcartier eventually housed 32,000 men and 8,000 horses, the largest military camp in Canada.

Several entries stood out for me in the table. George Blencowe enlisted at the age of 44. William James Blencowe was born in Marston St. Lawrence and is mentioned in The Blencowe Families. As Peter Blencowe states, while he survived the war, William was badly gassed in the trenches of France and was an invalid for the remainder of his life. While 7 of the 14 men were farmers, Alfred Blinko was a professional golfer - a very rare occupation at the time.

The second site I searched was that of Veterans Affairs Canada, which has published the Books of Remembrance honouring Canadians who fought in wars and died as a result. The First World War Book includes both the Canadian Expeditionary Forces and British Empire Forces and I did not find any of the 14 men identified in this article or any other Blencowes or variations.

Veterans Affairs Canada has also published on its site the Virtual War Memorial http://www.vac- which contains information on graves and memorials of more than 116,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders who gave their lives in war. Again I found no Blencowes or variations for World War I. The only relevant entry was from the Second World War: Lance Corporal Robert William Blencoe of Newmarket, Ontario died March 30 1945 and is buried in the Netherlands.

The information compiled here is a starting point from which we can work together to research in more detail each of these men along with the other war veterans from our Blencowe families.
Marilyn M. Astle

We appreciate the time and effort Marilyn has put into this research for the following table.


Blencowe Families' Association   Vol. 22 No. 1 February 2007
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updated: 21 March 2007