Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Frederick Williams 14th Btn CEF


Recommended Posts

Hi All,

I recently acquired Pte. Williams Victory Medal (121762 F. Williams 14 Can Inf.) I was unable to get his attestation papers online, he is listed as Williams but no image is available, but I did find him on the Canadian Virtual Memorial (he was killed in action 8/8/18).

When I searched for him in the CWGC under additional information it says Served as Caplan. Now Caplan is a French-sounding name and the 14th were a Quebec unit but would he serve under an assumed name and if so why would his medal read Williams?

Or does Caplan mean something I am unaware of? ;)

Thanks for any help,

Neil

Frederick Williams CWGC

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thousands of men served under assumed names for many different reasons. Often the military only discovered the true names after they died.

They could have been avoiding the police, creditors, females, their family or other responsibilities. They could have been wanting to lose a dodgy past or hide a previous military career. They may have been trying to disguise their age or origins. They may not have liked their own surname (too foreign sounding or easy to poke fun at).

CWGC try to record both their true name and their 'alias' if possible.

Often the assumed name is from another family member (ie mother's maiden name etc). There is probably a story behind your man's choice to serve under Caplan but it could involve a lifetime's research to find it!

Link to post
Share on other sites
David_Bluestein

Neil,

Even though Williams attestation papers are not available on-line, his entire service file is available through the NA. It may shed some light on your mans history?

I was researching a similar case, a soldier serving with an alias name. My man was running from a prison sentence; he was given the choice of joining the CEF or going to jail for six months (charges unknown).

Regards

David

Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Pete Wood
They may not have liked their own surname (too foreign sounding or easy to poke fun at).

I joined the military using an assumed name. This was on the advice of the recruiting Sergeant who said, "people with double-barreled names won't last five minutes unless they join up as an officer - and you are not officer material....!!"

The sergeant thought it would be amusing to call me after his favourite BBC news anchor man, so I lost my real christian name as well :o

I remember that my papers were put in a green folder marked "staff in confidence." After a two year apprenticeship, I was sent to my first unit. The chief clerk looked me up and down and said, "You must be the guy with the long name, that's meant to be kept quiet." I nodded, had my interview with my new OC and walked out of the office.

Two minutes later, the chief clerk says, on the tannoy (set at its loudest volume) will Craftsman blah-deblah-Fotesque-Smyth-Staff-In-Confidence-cos-he's-got-a-Rupert's-name come back to the office and sign for his dog tags. Thank you." :unsure:

So, like Terry says, there could be lots of reasons for joining up with an alias.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Caplan is a French-sounding name and the 14th were a Quebec unit

Actually, Caplan or Kaplan would be a Jewish name. (We have a good deli here in Vancouver called Kaplan's :) )

If you look up Caplan or Kaplan in the NAC database, most of the first names are common Jewish names.

As David probably knows, there was and is still a strong Jewish community in Montreal. Maybe Frederick was a friend of a Caplan? Also as David says, ordering his service papers will tell you a lot about him.

Peter

Link to post
Share on other sites

HI,

Thanks to everyone for your assistance. I think I'll have to order this gentleman's full records and try to shed a little more light on the matter.

Thanks again and take care,

Neil

Link to post
Share on other sites
David_Bluestein
Caplan is a French-sounding name and the 14th were a Quebec unit

Actually, Caplan or Kaplan would be a Jewish name. (We have a good deli here in Vancouver called Kaplan's :) )

If you look up Caplan or Kaplan in the NAC database, most of the first names are common Jewish names.

As David probably knows, there was and is still a strong Jewish community in Montreal. Maybe Frederick was a friend of a Caplan? Also as David says, ordering his service papers will tell you a lot about him.

Peter

Because Caplan can be seen as a Jewish name, I would have expected this man to use the name Williams as his alias rather then other way round?

When I joined the Police service eleven years ago, I was one of a minority with odd sounding names. I never dreamed of changing it. My great uncle served with the name in Flanders during the Great War, and my grandfather fought through France and Germany in the next war with the name too.

However few people never call me Bluestein....I'am mostly known as 'Blue'.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 9 months later...

I just received his service record today, my apologies for the delay.

He enlisted February 9, 1916 papers have Frderick Williams typed then alias Capland, hand written, present address and next of kin information is also corrected by hand.

Arrives in England April 29,1916

July 13, 1916 TOS 23rd Btn

August 17, 1916 to France 14th Btn

October 10, 1916 In hospital with minor skin condition.

October 17, 1916 before medical board found to be underage.

October 24, 1916 SOS 14th Btn transferred to Administrative Staff

Serves on the Administrative staff in Englanduntil TOS 14th Btn October 24, 1917.

Dies of Wounds August 8, 1918 Shrapnel wound to shoulder.

Would this be common practice with an underage soldier, to move him to a non-combattant position until he was felt to be of age?

Take care,

Neil

Link to post
Share on other sites

Neil

Depending on his age but he was either shipped to England and served there untill he was old enough. The other possibility was if he was far to young he could have been sent back to Canada and discharged. I researched a guy in the 85th battalion C.E.F. (I have his brothers medals) he was sent back as a minor. He spent 4 months in the line made cpl. before he was found out and sent back maybe his brother turned him in being in the same battalion. I have always wondered if the ones sent back and discharged received their medals. There was of course the ones that were never caught.

Best Regards

N.S.Regt.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...