Lance Corporal Edgar Francis Medley,
883217, 31st Battalion Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment) died aged 39 on 27 May 1918 of war wounds.
One name that crops up on a CWGC search under the name ‘Devoran’ is Edgar Francis Medley but his connection appears at the moment quite slim but interesting – involving family connections of forgotten Canadian war graves, emigration, Red Cross Orderly Reverends and Conscientious Objection by the “conchie” brother of a British prime minister.
Born May 4th 1879 in Toxteth, Liverpool, he is the only CWGC burial in Innisfail Bowden Chalak Farm Cemetery, Alberta, Canada. Intriguingly the CWGC website records that ‘recent research shows he is buried here.’
He graduated from Oxford Wadham College and his Oxford memorial records that he died in Canada of wounds received in France and Belgium in 1917.
He married in 1905 in Banff, Canada where he seems to have spent most of his life working as a farmer in the Red Deer District, Innisfail, Alberta, Canada having emigrated in 1903 or 1905.
He is listed as the husband of Louise Maude Medley, living in Innisfail, Alberta, who was also British born. They had two daughters Catherine (Kitty) and Eileen.
He enlisted in the 31st Battalion (Alberta) Canadian Expeditionary Force Through the course of the First World War, the 31st Battalion suffered losses of 941 dead, and an additional 2,312 non-fatal casualties.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/31st_Battalion_(Alberta),_CEF
He was remembered at Remembrance commemorations in 2014 in Innisfail, Canada by his community and descendants.
This Newspaper article suggest that he has a refurbished or CWGC headstone, and that his once forgotten grave is now on private land.
“In 2014, a Veterans headstone marker was placed on land just east of Innisfail in memory of Lance Cpl. Edgar Medley who died in 1918 as a result from his war wounds. After nearly 100 years, a permanent memorial was dedicated to his memory. Funded by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission, this was achieved through many hours of devoted work by locals David Hoar, Don Chalack and Johnnie Bachusky.” .
Even more clues to this forgotten British born hero of Alberta is given here:
Last weekend, hours before the season’s first big snowstorm hit, I took a small road trip southeast of Innisfail to look at a once abandoned gravesite, one that had been largely forgotten for nine decades.
This tranquil spot, in a small forest overlooking a creek valley, is the final resting place of Lance-Cpl. Edgar Medley. Once a prominent citizen who was a vice-president of the Innisfail Agriculture Society, Medley joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s 31st Battalion in the First World War. He was a decorated soldier and badly wounded in combat while serving with the army in France. Medley came home but died from his wounds on May 27, 1918. He left behind his wife Maude and daughters Catherine and Eileen.
His gravesite, the only one at the isolated location, is commemorated with a huge ornate headstone. Maude died in 1970 and her ashes were spread at the site. The property, meanwhile, changed hands many times. It is possible some of the owners over the years never knew about the gravesite. Certainly, the Canadian government did not know, nor did the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, an organization created by Royal Charter after the First World War to ensure worthy veterans were and still are properly commemorated.
But three years ago both organizations received a tip about Lance-Cpl. Medley and his gravesite. He has since been properly commemorated as a war casualty in the Canadian Book of Remembrance and the Canadian Virtual War Museum. He is the last Alberta soldier from the First World War to receive this honour. He is certainly a true hero.”
What is Edgar Francis Medley’s Connection to Devoran?
The slim but very interesting Devoran connection on the CWGC website appears to be his mother Mrs Gifford Johnson of Devoran.
Although he was born in Britain, her son Edgar’s name is not recorded on the Devoran memorial as he has his own burial headstone in Canada. He is also remembered on the Oxford University Roll of Honour.
Edgar’s mother was born Katherine Frances Sinclair Scott in Malta, daughter of Robert C. Scott, an RN Naval Surgeon.
The possible Devoran connection may lie here.
Edgar Francis Medley had a sister Katherine Mary Ida Medley, who later married architect and WW1 Conscientious objector T.S. (Thomas Simons) Attlee, the brother of British Prime Minister Clement Attlee.
Tom Attlee (1880-1960) moved to the relative obscurity of Perranwell, Cornwall in 1919 on discharge from jail as a “conchie” or C.O, living at Tullimaar and Leory Croft Perranwell near Devoran. Katherine’s decision (after her husbands Gifford’s death in 1921) to move to Devoran appears to be linked to her daughter and son-in-law living there.
More about Tom and Kathleen Attlee (Edgar’s sister) and a WEA connection to Winston Graham and that most Cornish of things, Poldark here:
This site mentions the shame that Kathleen Attlee suffered with a conchie Husband and decorated military uncles like Alexander
As a widow of F.W. Medley (Edgar’s father) Mrs Gifford Johnson had remarried in 1898, the Reverend Gifford Henry Johnson (1859-1921). They had a son around 1900, Raymond Sinclair Johnson who enlisted in the Indian / British Army and became a Brigadier General and MBE, dying in 1988.
The Gifford Johnsons lived variously in Richmond, Worthing (1901) and Waltham Essex (1911 Census), still as lodgers no doubt as a Reverend of clerk in holy orders.
Edgar’s stepfather, Reverend Gifford Henry Johnson served as a Red Cross Orderly in France 19/4/15 to 16/1/16, Salonica from 17/1/16 to 15/12/16 and France agin from 5/2/17 to 3/4/18. He appears to have received an MBE at some point. He died in Croydon in 1921.
Edgar Frances Medley and family – Remembered 100 years on, Canada and Devoran.
Blogposted by Mark Norris, Devoran War Memorial Project, Cornwall