Home / 52 Weeks of Ancestors / 52 Weeks of Ancestors Challenge – Week 7 – Roger James Hall by Andrew Simpson

52 Weeks of Ancestors Challenge – Week 7 – Roger James Hall by Andrew Simpson

Born in Birmingham 1898, date and location of death unknown.


My great uncle Roger had spent most of life along with his siblings in care. And by the age of 13 was judged to be in need of correction on one of the training ships which were little more than naval boot camps.


Unlike my grandfather he declined and so the Guardians of the Derby Workhouse, passed him in to the care of the Middlemore organisation who was one of the agencies who placed British Home Children.

He left Liverpool aboard the SS Carthaginian in May of 1914. It was home to 175 people who shared the crossing with nearly 3,000 tons of assorted freight and arrived in Halifax in November 1914 and spent a short time at Fairview Station which was a Middlemore home.


But he did not settle well to this new life. Reports from the farms he was placed on spoke of a difficult young man who became increasingly unwilling to work and was sent back from one farm for suspected arson.


First in Sheffield New Brunswick and then at North Sidney in Nova Scotia and finally Inverness, Nova Scotia. His stay with each was short and he ran away from the last placement just days after he arrived, enlisting in the Canadian army, having changed his name to Roger James and lied about his age.

In the early months of 1916 he was back in England and ironically the holding camp where he stayed before transit to the Western Front was just an hour away from where his father lived. Like most families of the period he was not alone in taking the King’s shilling.


Two of my uncles, my grandfather, great grandfather and another great uncle were also in uniform and I can count relatives of my German grandmother in the Imperial Armed Forces of Germany. So you see both World Wars were really our own family’s civil war. I noticed on a Canadian gravestone of a veteran of CEF that the 1914-18 was described as the “Great European War” which is an interesting perspective for what we rather arrogantly call the First World War.


Still all survived although in the case of great uncle Roger not before he had faced four court martial’s. His unit participated in the great battles of the last two years of the war including Passchendaele.


After the war the paper trail becomes thinner. We know he was in British Columbia and there is a James Rogers who was granted a land grant in 1928 beyond the 5th meridian. He had for a long time been trying to persuade my great aunt to join him. It was she who had been born in the Derby workhouse and she crossed the Atlantic in the November of 1925 but got no further than Ontario where she married and raised large family who are still there.