|Date of Birth||September 18, 1888|
|Place of Birth||Clinton, Huron County, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Janet Rance (mother), 25 Wells Street, Toronto, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Forestry Engineer|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||No. 56 District, No. 124 Company|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Forestry Corps|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Toronto, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||25 Wells Street, Toronto, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||July 5, 1917|
|Age at Enlistment||28|
|Theatre of Service||Great Britain|
|Prisoner of War||No|
Acting Sergeant Thomas Francis Rance was the oldest son of Charles Carmichael Rance and Jennet Fair Jackson of Clinton, Huron County, Ontario. Charles was a merchant tailor and he and his wife were both born in Huron County, They were married in Clinton in 1887 and Thomas was born there on 18 September 1888. He was followed by a daughter, Bessie, in 1890. Not long after that the family moved to the town of Rat Portage in northwestern Ontario. A son, Charles Clarence, was born in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in 1892. By the time the 1901 census was taken the family had returned to Clinton.
Thomas and his brother attended the University of Toronto and they both graduated in 1915, Thomas with a science degree in forestry and Charles with a degree in civil engineering. Thomas enlisted two years later, on 5 July 1917. He was 28 years old, his occupation was forestry engineer and he was living in Toronto at the time. His father had passed away in October 1915 and next of kin was his widowed mother. Thomas joined the No. 2 Railway Construction and Forestry Draft in Toronto and just a month after enlisting he was on his way overseas. He embarked on the SS Missanabie on 11 August and arrived in Liverpool about two weeks later.
Thomas was briefly posted to the Railway Troops Depot and in early September he was transferred to the Canadian Forestry Corps. For the next twenty months he served with the Canadian Forestry Corps in England. At first he worked in No. 53 District which was headquartered at Egham, southwest of the city of London. There were eight companies in the district and Thomas was assigned to No. 140 Company and appointed Acting Sergeant. The men cut timber in the nearby forest, laid railway track as needed, hauled the logs to the saw mill, operated the mill and transported lumber to the nearest railway. In the company camp were sleeping huts, a dining room, a recreation hut, canteens, various officers’ quarters and messes, a workshop and garage, bath houses, stables and a hospital.
In May 1918 Thomas returned to the base depot at Sunningdale. The following month he was transferred to No. 124 Company, which became part of No. 54 District (Southampton). Sometimes called the Flying Corps Company, No. 124 was employed in the construction of aerodromes in southern England. In August the company was transferred to the newly-organized No. 56 District, based at East Sheen, Surrey. Three months later the Armistice ended hostilities on the Western Front. By the following spring forestry operations were winding down and Thomas returned to the base depot in April 1919. He embarked from Liverpool on the SS Regina on 20 May, arriving at Halifax eight days later. He was discharged on demobilization on 31 May in Toronto.
Thomas was married in Toronto on 27 October 1920. His wife, Adela Holderness Mossop, was born in Toronto on 16 October 1888. Her parents were Frederick William Mossop, a hotel keeper, and Mary Jane Holderness. When the 1921 census was taken Thomas and Adela were living in Toronto with Adela’s parents. Nothing further is known about Thomas’ life and his date of death and place of burial have not been found. His mother died in 1941 and she’s interred along with her husband at Clinton Cemetery in Clinton, Ontario. Thomas’s brother Charles died in 1978 and he’s buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto.
Thomas is commemorated on the University of Toronto Roll of Service 1914-1918.
By Becky Johnson