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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Mystery Great-Grandfather??


HeatherCr

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This is my first post, sorry if it put it in the wrong place. I've been trying to track down my great-grandfathers military records from Archives Canada and had no luck for months and months, eventually they produced the documents for me but it turns out that my great-grandfather went by an entirely different last name while enlisted. His name was John Frederic Biss (we knew him as John Frederick Graham...) and from what I can tell from his file he enlisted late in the war, and came back and joined the permanent force in Victoria, BC. Anyways, we aren't even sure if J.F Biss is my great-grandfather, we've never heard that name ever so I've been trying to do some investigating on where he was serving to see if it matches up with the stories he told my grandfather & his brothers, but I'm having trouble with all the military terminology. Specifically, I'm looking to find out where he was injured, it says "Gassed" on Oct 1st, 1918 but I can't seem to figure out where the heck he was when it happened. Also, I was looking to see if anyone has any leads on where we may be able to locate photos of his regiment, a photo would certainly prove or disprove that this guy is our family but I can't find anything. I've attached his records (link to archive Canada below & PDF attached). If anyone can give me some insight into what this man was up to I would appreciate it!

 

http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/personnel-records/Pages/item.aspx?IdNumber=45357
 

Bac.Numerisationverscourriel-ScanToEmail.Lac@canada.ca_20180517_112224.pdf

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Do you have birth evidence for John Frederick Graham? Free BMD shows  a John Frederick Biss  registered in Shoreditch  September 1899 quarter.

 

Cheers

Maureen

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there are 4 records for J F Biss on Ancestry along with possible john Biss census returns, you need world access from Canada, I don't have.

there are also J F Graham records also pictures of him

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Hi HeatherCr,

 

Welcome to the forum.

 

8 hours ago, HeatherCr said:

Specifically, I'm looking to find out where he was injured, it says "Gassed" on Oct 1st, 1918 but I can't seem to figure out where the heck he was when it happened. 

 

From his service record it looks like he was transferred from the 12th (Reserve) Battalion to the 75th Battalion on 30th November 1917. Skipping forward to August 1918 he appears to have received medical care for pyrexia of unknown origin, before working his way back through the system, until he "rejoined unit" on the 20th September 1918. He appears to have been wounded/gassed on 30th September 1918.

image.png.fa3d4c7c5ec589467796f1fbe74183f8.png

 

The Battalion war diary has a report on operations in it covering the period 27th September to 2nd October 1918.

 

September 1918, p. 42 (item 42)September 1918, p. 43 (item 43)September 1918, p. 44 (item 44)

Images sourced from the Library and Archives Canada

 

 

Regards

Chris

Edited by clk
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Hello and welcome

I was wondering why the archives thought this is your Grandfather?  I have had a quick look on Ancestry and GRO and it is fairly easy to put his family together.  Father George, Mother Margaret Oakley. 7 siblings including four brothers.  However oldest brother George James died in 1919,  Charles John b 1893 died in France 1916,  Henry William b1895  died in Egypt 1916. James b 1908 would therefore have been the only probable surviving brother. I note that you mention John Frederick had brothers plural, do any of these names match what you know of the family.

By the way there is also an emigration record for J F Biss aged 14 sailing to Canada in 1914.

 

Good Luck with your searches

Regards

Peter

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How well researched is your family tree?

Always start with what you know, and work back.

Yourself, your parents, your grandparents.

Have you seen their birth certificates?

One of your grandparents' (I assume your grandfather) father is this man. What does that Birth Certificate say about the name of his father?

 

Before you start looking for any military details regarding this man, you need to establish beyond doubt you are dealing with the right person.

 

How much do you actually know about John Frederick Graham?

Where was he born? Where did he live and what did he do?

Is there a service record in that name, if so, do you recognise any of the details?

 

Establish identity first, everything else is secondary.

 

 

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Yes, you have to have all the family info research before you can untangle this

 

Certainly the Canadians believe there was a change of name - its on his Canadian file

 

name.jpg.23cf7244a1bb63989d5c30c2c11ae5cf.jpg

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But when you look at his Enlistment form you see he gave a London address of 44 Duncan St for his father

 

biss2.JPG.c43dcdcba0fe3a8033271d9b3757b3cf.JPG

 

biss2.JPG.c43dcdcba0fe3a8033271d9b3757b3cf.JPG

 

And the 1911 UK census gives at 42 Duncan st

 

biss-1911.jpg.cb73008b0228a1867c2af716860c56e4.jpg

 

It is, shall we say unlikely, that he was unrelated to the Biss family, or if not related, lived near them

 

There are no Graham family in Duncan St in 1911

Edited by corisande
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Quote

By the way there is also an emigration record for J F Biss aged 14 sailing to Canada in 1914.

 

Is it possible he's the John Biss born 1900 and he had lied about his age on the enlistment forms ?

 

 

This is the only John Frederick Biss in the period of 1898-1900
image.png.55f8cafbc61d0b5643afbeaad2e158da.png

This appears to indicate that John Biss and John Frederick Biss are probably the same person

image.png.b341b4293a7e43752a7f246fa2974cff.png


Craig

Edited by ss002d6252
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JF Biss assigned $15 monthly to his "father"

 

assigned.jpg.b90431303e28b4f8b338c7dc1318f110.jpg

 

Elsewhere in his papers he has his mother as Emily

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This is J F Biss baptism. This is in Brougham Rd

 

bapt.jpg.5df7d061f669bf96b1404107fd27f4da.jpg

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So far my feeling is that he was actually John Fredrick Biss, and that he changed his name to John Frederick Graham (rather than the other way round)

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The document attached in the first post gives:

image.png.0dcb20860e49bfcbc6ee4ce4540ea878.png

 

Hence a calculated birth date of 15 July 1899

 

Peter

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Is this him on the Megantic?  I'm not clear what the hand written note says; is it "In charge of Sal[vation] army".

 

image.png.35456e2b959c08f6f6233ad746f63079.png

 

image.png.a57c036bd22b6a9fe2647440431ea4e9.png

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Looking across the pond I think care has to be taken to make sure that a John F Bliss, born 1898, with parents George and Margaret, from Nebraska is not mixed up with man along the way.

Craig

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Wow! So many great responses! Thank you so much! We don’t know much about J.F, he split up with my great-grandmother when my grandfather & his brothers were young & little information & fewer documents have survived in the family. Here’s what we do know. 

 

We think his dads name was George, his mom was Emily. He married my great grandmother (Mary Wilkes) in 1926 & their marriage certificate said his name was Graham...& they had 5 sons. We have no official birthday or death day, his gravestone says 1974 & has some other military info on it. Below are the three photos that still exist of him & a photo of his gravestone. In the group photo he is the last man on the right in the middle row. And he’s the man in uninform laying a wreath in the other photo.

919374D2-1A6D-4C1A-B5C9-C7AC476A2404.jpeg

015E3FCD-4D0B-402B-86C1-7F25D8784897.jpeg

26FC418F-BABC-4052-BC83-CBF4B7D6A68F.jpeg

B79312D7-FBC8-4143-A90F-8C3BCD5A81BE.jpeg

AFBF7A03-7BD4-4570-8F82-E504FDF4881A.jpeg

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If that is him in post #15 and he was sent across under the care of the Salvation Army then perhaps Graham was his 'foster family' and he later chose to revert to Bliss ?

Craig

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This is the parents marriage of the John Frederick Biss that I think is the man in question. Certainly his mother was Margaret, not Emily.

 

george-margaret-marriage.jpg.a7e1d326d7cd9ea8f9c93d3d4e75aa21.jpg

The OPs John Graham marries in 1926 in Canada. Cites his father as George Biss and mother Emily Chappel. I cannot find an appropriate marriage in UK for that pair

 

graham-marriage-1917.jpg.a1d67f08fb3f2d477b9312566a5aceac.jpg

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This is the Graham/Wilkes certificate is the correct marriage certificate for my great grandparents 100%. More and more I am unsure if J.F Biss is J.F Graham but the military seems to think it is. He did list his mothers name as Emily on some of his WWI documents though. Its a real mystery!

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 8.54.32 AM.png

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1 hour ago, ss002d6252 said:

If that is him in post #15 and he was sent across under the care of the Salvation Army then perhaps Graham was his 'foster family' and he later chose to revert to Bliss ?

Craig

 

Thats a great point! I never would have thought of that. 

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1 hour ago, petwes said:

These are the CWGC entries for his two older brothers.

 

image.png.fa1b333bbbc07548f99ec5ee76d19e62.pngimage.png.4e9e743e1763ef644c1bb03f910d410e.png

 

Peter

 

Wow. That family really had a rough time. Poor guys. Thank you for finding this.

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As far as I can see J F Biss disappears around 1919 and never re-appears.

 

J f Graham appears around 1919 and has nothing before that

 

Ergo, he changed his name and perhaps his past as well

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I think we can certainly link the George Biss at 42 and 42 Duncan Street.

Looking at the electoral list
1912, 1913 George Biss was 42 Duncan Street.
1914, 1915 George Biss was 44 Duncan Street.
From the 1920's onwards he's at 24 Brougham Road.

In 1924 he's shown as resident with Margaret and again in 1929 so that shows they were both still alive at the time of the marriage and had not remarried etc.

 

Craig

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2 hours ago, corisande said:

Yes, you have to have all the family info research before you can untangle this

 

Certainly the Canadians believe there was a change of name - its on his Canadian file

 

name.jpg.23cf7244a1bb63989d5c30c2c11ae5cf.jpg

 

I had done some research on ancestry and honestly i thought i had it all pegged down until the archives sent me this mystery file. I still have someone at the archives trying to unearth more documents, specifically about his interwar & WWII service, and also how they came to know Mr. Biss as Mr. Graham.

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