10220 Major and former Regimental Sergeant Major Alfred Blake Blake-Forster was born in July 1867 [or 1872] in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England the son of Henry White Blake-Forster and Mary Anna Blake-Forster (nee Clarke). He came to Canada with a brother Frederick sometime between 1881 and 1891.
Blake-Forster joined the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) circa 1893 and went to South Africa in 1902 with the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles although hostilities had ceased by the time he arrived. In 1908 he applies for the land-grant for veterans which was signed at Stanley Barracks Toronto while serving again with the Royal Canadian Regiment of the Permanent Force. He was RSM of the Queen’s Own 1912-1913 after which time he appears to have transferred or been posted back to the RCR.
When war breaks out in 1914 he immediately volunteers for active service enlisting in the Third (Toronto) Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force at Valcartier on the 22 September 1914 and is appointed Sergeant Major. The Battalion embarks for England by October and by February 1915 they are in France. Blake-Forster is wounded in June 1915 but returns to duty. By 22 October he is promoted to Lieutenant.
In April 1916 he returns to Canada on leave but is retained in Canada as an instructor and Adjutant of Military District No 2 where he is promoted to the rank of Major. He is discharged from active service in May 1920 and returns to the RCR.
He had two daughters, Cecilia Mary (b.c. 1911) and Elizabeth Anne (b. 28 May 1912.) Cecilia was a 3rd Officer, Women’s Royal Naval Service, HMS Cormorant, who is recorded as missing and presumed dead 19 August 1941 [Commonwealth War Graves Commission.] She was lost on passage aboard SS Aguila to HMS Cormorant, the Royal Navy base at Gibraltar. Elizabeth was also commissioned as a 3rd Officer, WRNS in June 1940.
Born: July 1867, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England per census records but WWI Attestation paper says 4th July 1872.
Former Svc: 4th CMR, RCR, QOR, 3rd Bn CEF
Religion: Church of England
Married: 9 Aug 1909 to Jane Alice Lucy Cunnington
Date of attestation: 22 Sep 1914 (3rd Toronto Battalion)
Date of death: 1938, 21 Apr, Chichester, Sussex, England
Timeline of service:
- c1893, joins the Royal Canadian Regiment as part of the permanent force
- 1897, 31 March – as a Lance Corporal earns a Military Qualification Certificate (subject unknown) in London, Ontario.
- 1902, appears to have served in South Africa as part of 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles (4 CMR);
- 1908, applies for land grant as a veteran of South Africa, application signed at Stanley Barracks (Toronto), while serving with the Royal Canadian Regiment (Permanent Force);
- 1912, 12 October – Promoted to Sergeant Major Instructor with the Royal Canadian Regiment
- 1912, appears as RSM in photo of Queen’s Own Sgts’ Mess;
- 1913, appears as RSM in photo of Queen’s Own Sgts’ Mess;
- 1913 or 14, returns to Royal Canadian Regiment;
- 1914, 8-12 June, listed as Sergeant Major (attached) RCR as staff to QOR at Camp Niagara;
- 1914, 22 Sep enlisted, 3rd Bn CEF, Valcartier as Sergeant Major;
- 1914, 2 Oct, embarked for England;
- 1915, 9 Feb, proceeded to France;
- 1915, 17 June, wounded and returned to duty;
- 1915, 12 Oct, commissioned Lieutenant;
- 1915, 26 Nov, returned to England;
- 1916, 1 Apr, returned to Canada on leave but retained in Canada as an instructor and Adjutant of Military District No 2;
- 1920, 21 May, returned to Permanent Force;
- 1921, 7 March, listed as Captain and Adjutant, Queen’s Own Rifles
For further info see his military records here.
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In May 1898, Blake-Forster volunteered with the Yukon Field Force and assigned to No. 2 Company. Once arriving at Fort Selkirk after a long arduous trek, he was stationed at “B” Company at the fort. He was promoted to Cpl and then Sgt. When half of the YFF left in September 1898, he transferred to Dawson with the Yukon Garrison. The unit remained there until June 1900 when there was no longer a need for the military force in the territory. Blake-Forster was posted to RCR No. 1 Company in London, Ontario.
His other daughter Elizabeth enlisted with the RN the same time as Cecilia, 26th June 1940. She too held the rank of 3rd Officer.