Soldier Spotlight: Private Mervin Simmons

Image: An excerpt from Private Simmons’ military service file (Library & Archives Canada). Note the lines near the middle where he was “officially reported escaped & proceeding to England” and “T.O.S. [taken on strength] having escaped from enemy” in September of 1916.

Regimental Number: 23445
Rank: Private
Branch: 7th Battalion

Mervin was born in Verschoyle, Ontario on October 27, 1886. He was working as a carpenter at the time of his enlistment in the Canadian Army in 1914. Mervin was wounded and captured by the Germans in June of 1915 at Ypres. He wrote a book about his experiences as a prisoner of war as well as his attempts to escape; Three Times & Out is available to read online at no charge at the link below. Mervin’s third attempt at escape was successful and he was discharged from the Canadian Army on January 6, 1917. He filed on a homestead at NE 3-79-13-W6 in 1918. While en route to the South Peace, he met Nellie McClung and asked her to help write his story. Mervin’s first wife, Catherine May, died in 1949. He later remarried to Honor Jessie Ellis. Mervin died in Dawson Creek in 1964.

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

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