A Postcard from Sandling
William James Sargent
William (Bill) Sargent had emigrated with his family from London to Ontario in 1908.
He left Montreal with the 20th Battalion on May the 15th 1915 on the SS Megantic (which five years earlier had repatriated Dr Crippen and his lady friend to Liverpool for their murder trial), disembarking in Plymouth on May the 24th 1915. They boarded trains to West Sandling Camp, with 1142 men of all ranks allotted hutments.
The 20th Battalion remained in training there until September the 24th 1915, when they left Sandling at 7 in the evening to march in pouring rain to catch the 10.15 ferry, the Duchess of Argyle, to Boulogne.
When he volunteered in November 1914, he gave his age as 21, although he was actually 16. By 1919 he was a Sgt Sargent, having been wounded in action twice and having suffered numerous illnesses and infections. At one point he was seriously ill with what may have been Spanish Flu.
He never returned to Canada. He was married in Bermondsey in April 1919 and was demobbed on London two months later.
Bill had already been in France when he sent the postcard from Sandling, so it was probably sent at some time between late 1915 and June 1916, when his Canadian hometown, Berlin, changed its name to Kitchener.
Thanks to Kay Barham who supplied the postcard and this information. Bill Sargent was her husband’s paternal grandfather.