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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Griffin and Charles Mulligan, from a Chapleau pioneer family served in CEF with 13th Canadian Mounted Rifles in World War I, both wounded, returned home and 'disappeared' in post war years as told by Michael McMullen

Griffin and Charles Mulligan, 1916
Griffin Mulligan, and his younger brother Charles, both born in Quyon, Quebec, came to Chapleau in the early years of the 20th century to work for the Canadian Pacific Railway, joining their mother and three sisters who were already living in the emerging important railway divisional point.

About 1900, their oldest sister, May came to Chapleau for the first time, and married William McMullen in 1906. About 1910, her mother Jennie and two sisters Lillian, my grandmother, who married Harry Morris in 1914, and Kathleen. At about the same time, Griffin and Charles arrived to work for the CPR.

Their uncle, Patrick A. Mulligan, was an early Chapleau pioneer, arriving in 1885 as the CPR was establishing Chapleau as a divisional point on its main line in Northern Ontario. By 1886, Patrick Mulligan had established one of the first stores in Chapleau called Murrays and Mulligan, General Merchants, located at the northwest corner of Birch and Young streets.

At this Remembrance Day, the following is the story of Griffin and Charles Mulligan, two men from a Chapleau pioneer family, both of whom served in our armed forces in World War I, both were wounded in action, returned home and in due course more or less just disappeared from their family and friends in the post World War I years.

Their story is told by my cousin Michael McMullen, the grandson of May (Mulligan) McMullen, about his great uncles, and mine. My grandmother and Michael's were sisters. Michael's story is an outstanding example of using Library and Archives Canada to obtain information about those who have served in Canada's armed forces by examining their service records which are available now.

By Michael McMullen

Charles Mulligan and his older brother, Griffin, were living and working in Chapleau, Ontario for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) when Charles went out to Alberta in 1915. He located in the Medicine Hat-Redcliff area to continue working as a brakeman for the CPR. He volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) 175th Battalion in January 31, 1916 in Medicine Hat and was discharged as medically unfit on March 7, 1916.

His service files indicate that he had a Lt. inguinal hernia operation in March 1916 and this is likely the reason that he was discharged. He enlisted again for the CEF on May 31, 1916 in Medicine Hat with the 13th Canadian Mounted Rifles (C.M.R) and this time was accepted. He was 5 feet, six inches, 150 lbs, fair complexion with blue eyes and light coloured hair.

Griffin was working as a Conductor (files also show that he was a switchman) for the CPR out of Chapleau, Ontario when he went to Medicine Hat to volunteer for the CEF in early 1916. He enlisted on February 24, 1916 also with the 13th C.M.R. He was five feet, three inches, medium complexion, with hazel eyes and brown hair. Both Griffin and Charles indicated their next-of-kin as their oldest sister, Mrs. William (May) McMullen, who lived in Chapleau.

They arrived with their Battalion in England on the S.S. Olympic on July 6, 1916 and on July 13th were transferred to the 11th Reserve, Shorncliffe, for training. They were taken on strength by the 11th Battalion on September 17th and then by the 27th Battalion (City of Winnipeg) on September 27th (overseas). Arriving in France on September 28th they were shown as being in the field with the 27th on October 10th.

On December 20, 1916, the service files indicate that Griffin was “buried” in a dug-out likely the result of a mortar shell or other type of explosion/incident. He carried on with full duty, but complained of back pain. While repairing trenches about a week later he experienced disabling back pain. In early February 1917, he fell, spraining his back and right ankle. He was bed-ridden for about 8 weeks at three hospital locations in France and subsequently transferred back to England on April 13th. He underwent treatment for the remainder of 1917 and early 1918.

He was returned to Canada, leaving Liverpool on December 23, 1917 on the S.S. Metagama arriving on March 1, 1918, in New Westminster, British Columbia. He had completed 16 months service with seven of these in France. He located in Los Angeles, California, and worked in the film industry as a cameraman and film technician. His service files indicate that he died on October 20, 1934 in California.

Charles, after some 22 months in the field, including at Vimy Ridge, was wounded on August 26, 1918 in the Arras region of France as the Allies were advancing to the east. The medical records indicate that he was hit on his left side (buttock, thigh and knee) with several gunshot wounds, likely machine gun fire as his group was advancing. He had his first operation the next day and a report indicated “ shrapnel ball and many bone fragments removed.”

He would subsequently have at least three more operations and be treated in various hospitals in France and England. By late 1918, he was in a hospital in England. As a result of his wounds, bullet fragments had penetrated to his groin area and he would deal with difficult healing and infections for nearly a year. As well, he had problems being on his feet for extended periods of time. He was sent back to Canada in mid-September 1919, and subsequently discharged in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on November 4th.

Charles had served for three years and 151 days with nearly two years in France. He indicated that he was going to relocate to Schreiber, Ontario (where his sister May had moved to in 1918) and rejoin the CPR, but that he would probably not be able to carry out the job of brakeman for another 12 months because of his wounds. He moved to the United States in the early to mid-1920s and to the Far East in the early 1930s. He was not heard from again.

NOTE: If by chance anyone reading this post about Charles Mulligan and/or Griffin Mulligan, has any information about them,  please email me at mj.morris@live.ca

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Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
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