|Date of Birth||June 2, 1898|
|Place of Birth||London|
|Next of Kin||Emily Field, mother, 515 Home St, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Trade / Calling||Despatcher, T Eaton Company|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||515 Home Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||November 6, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||17|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||July 28, 1975|
|Age at Death||77|
|Buried At||Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, British Columbia|
Ralph Archibald Field was born on 2 June 1898 in the Vauxhall area of London, England. His father Joseph William Henry Field was from St Helena Island while his mother Emily Edith Pierce was from Islington, London. Joseph was a French polisher, a labour intensive trade that involved applying many thin coats of shellac dissolved in alcohol using a rubbing pad lubricated with oil to wood surfaces. The end result was a very high gloss surface that brought out the colours of the wood, creating a 3D effect. Joseph and Emily were living in Gibraltar when they gave birth to their first child in 1889, daughter Frances Louise (Fanny). Their next two children were born in the Parkhurst area on the Isle of Wight, Joseph (aka Judson) in 1893 and Emily Edith in 1894. By the time of Ralph’s birth the family had moved to London where children Winnifred Alice (1903) and Reginald (1904) were born.
The Field family immigrated to Canada in 1907, arriving on the 7th of May on the SS Dominion. Although their destination was given as Winnipeg, for a while they lived in Carberrry, Manitoba where Ernest (aka Leslie) was born in 1908 and where Fanny married William Leslie the same year. For the 1911 census Joseph and Judson were living in Winnipeg where Joseph was working for the TE Eaton Company as a furniture polisher while Emily and the rest of the children were staying with Fanny and her husband in the registration district of Portage la Prairie. In September of 1913 Emily and Joseph gave birth to daughter Josephine Hazel in Winnipeg.
Ralph was working as a despatcher for Eatons in Winnipeg when he signed his attestation papers on 6 November 1915. His year of birth was recorded as 1888 but it was likely a typo as elsewhere in his service record the date of birth is correct. Age 17, at the time Ralph was thin and stood just barely over 5 feet tall. He gave his mother Emily on Home Street in Winnipeg as next of kin. As a Private with the 90th Battalion, Ralph embarked from Halifax aboard the SS Olympic on 2 June 1916.
Once in England the battalion was absorbed by the 11th Reserve Battalion where Ralph was to serve until June of 1917 when he was transferred to the 27th Battalion, taken on strength in the field in late August. That October/November the battalion was to take part in the Battle of Passchendaele. Life in the trenches was to take its toll on Ralph and he was admitted to the No 6 Canadian Field Ambulance on November 20 suffering from PUO, fever of unknown origin. He was transferred to the No 22 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station on the 28th and then on to the 22nd General Hospital in Camiers two days later. Now diagnosed as trench fever, Ralph was invalided to the 2nd Western General Hospital in Manchester in mid December. Transmitted by lice, symptoms of trench fever include high fever, severe headache, pain on moving eyes, soreness of the muscles of the legs and back. In late January of 1918 Ralph was transferred to the Manor County of London War Hospital in Epsom and in early February to the Military Convalescent Woodcote Park Hospital, discharged on the 5th. He was posted to the 11th Reserve Battalion and awarded a Good Conduct Stripe on May 1st. In early September Ralph proceeded overseas to rejoin the 27th Battalion in the field, to become involved in what became to be known as the 100 Days Offensive, the final period of the war that ended in the armistice. He arrived back in England in April of 1919, embarking for Canada on May 13th aboard the HMT Northland and discharged from service on the 26th in Winnipeg.
Ralph’s brother Judson enlisted in Valcartier in September of 1914 and served overseas with the 16th Battalion. Sustaining a gunshot wound to the shoulder at Ypres in April of 1915 he returned to Canada in January of 1916 and was discharged from service as medically unfit that October. He signed his second set of attestation papers in Victoria, British Columbia in June of 1918 with the 2nd Depot Battalion British Columbia Regiment, serving with the 1st Reserve Battalion in England.
On 2 April 1921, in Winnipeg, Ralph married Amy Lorene Adams. Born on 18 June 1902 in the Whitney Pier area of Sydney in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Amy was the daughter of William and Catherine (née Reid) Adams. Her father was born in Scotland while her mother was from Jamaica. The family had moved to Winnipeg around 1905 where William found work as a clerk/weighmaster in the grain exchange.
The next fall Ralph and Amy gave birth to son Ernest Gordon Field in St Boniface, Winnipeg. They later moved to Keewatin in northwestern Ontario where Ralph worked as a government weighmaster, joining the Masonic Lodge No 417 and the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion. In November of 1944, in Keewatin, Ernest married Irene Sarah Harkins, daughter of WW1 veteran John Jerry Harkins and his wife Emma LaBelle. Ernest and Irene moved to the States, living in Iowa, Nebraska, and Eureka Springs, Arkansas where Irene died in 1997.
Ralph and Amy eventually moved to Vancouver where Ralph was listed as the manager/caretaker of an apartment complex on Laburnum Street in the 1962 Voters List. They later moved to North Vancouver where Ralph died on 28 July 1975 in the Lions Gate Hospital. A memorial service was held on July 30th at the Burrard Funeral Chapel and his cremains were later interred in the Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver. Amy lived to the age of 109, entering the Dufferin Care Centre in Coquitlam just before her 99th birthday, still enjoying her daily walks. She passed away on 5 July 2011, survived by son Ernest and wife Jeannie, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
by Judy Stockham
Ralph’s obituary courtesy of Mike Melen.