Colonel John Everett Lyle Streight, MC was born in Islington, Ontario on 15 August 1880, son of David Lyle Streight and Elizabeth Augusta McKeown.
He joined the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada aged 18, before volunteering for service in the South African Constabulary on 18 February 1901, his declaration made before his father D. L. Streight, Justice of the Peace. He left Halifax aboard the S.S. Montford on 29 March 1901 and landed in South Africa on 24 April of that year. He served in ‘E’ Division located in the Orange River Colony during the Boer War, and after six years of service in South Africa he returned to Canada (as a condition of enlistment with the South African Constabulary men had been encouraged to remain and settle in South Africa).
On his Great War attestation papers he states that he had served during the Natal Native Rebellion and had qualified for the medal and clasp 1906, but there is no proof of this claim and he is not on the medal roll.
On the outbreak of the Great War he was commissioned into the Canadian Infantry, and served with the 3rd Battalion on the Western Front. As Company Commander of ‘C’ Company at St. Julien on 23 April 1915, he led his Company, along with Captain Morton’s ‘D’ Company, into the gap in the line caused by the German’s first use of poison gas in warfare. He suffered multiple shrapnel wounds on his right side and chest on 23 April, and was gassed on the following day, when he was captured that afternoon.
Taken Prisoner of War, he was initially interred in Bishofswerda P.O.W. camp from 1915 to 1917, but during his transfer to another camp in Crefeldlager, Westphalia in March 1917 he jumped from the train and made a dash for freedom, which lasted until reaching the Dutch border where he was recaptured. Upon recapture he was beaten and clubbed by the guards and remained unconscious for two days. He remained in solitary confinement until May 1917. He was transferred to Strohenlager, near Hannover, and remained incarcerated there until November 1917 when he was repatriated to Switzerland, having spent in total two years and eight months as a Prisoner.
In his subsequent Prisoner of War debrief it states:
“The claimant was a Captain in the 3rd Battalion. He enlisted in August, 1914, at the age of 34 years. He was taken prisoner April 24, 1915, at the second battle of Ypres, suffering from wounds in the chest and gas. He was released to Switzerland on November 28, 1917, and was repatriated to England, March 24, 1918.
He alleges that while a prisoner of war he was subjected to maltreatment which has resulted in pecuniary damage to him. He complains of having been in different camps and that every means was taken to make life disagreeable. In attempting to escape to Holland he was captured, and, at the time of capture, received a blow in the face, smashing his forehead, breaking his nose and fracturing his jaw. He had to do four months solitary confinement as a reprisal for German U Boat prisoners in England. In his medical history sheet his disease is described as ozoena caused by infection plus unhygienic surroundings in prison camp in Germany.”
After the war Streight served in the Canadian Militia, rising to serve as the Commanding Officer of the Governor General’s Body Guard from 1927-31, and as Colonel commanding the 1st Mounted Brigade from 1931-37. In 1930 he was appointed Aide-de-Camp to His Excellency the Governor General of Canada, and in 1932 was appointed an extra Aide-de-Camp to H.M. King George V.
Streight was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the 1935 general election. In 1937 he was the Officer Commanding of the 323 strong Canadian Contingent that went to London for the Coronation of King George VI. Later that year, he turned down an invitation from Adolf Hitler to speak to German youth on the need to establish an equivalent to the Canadian Legion.
He retired from politics in 1940. Colonel Streight died in Toronto on 2 June 1955 and is buried in Park Lawn Cemetery Section E Tier 17 Lot 3.