Rob Forsyth

Frank Jarrett (1885-1916)  Sergeant. 2nd Canadian Pioneer Battalion, Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. 


Died 5 March 1916 at Oxford


(click on thumbnails throughout
for larger or full page images)



Frank's story first came to my attention in November 2015. I was emailed by a Bicester based Relic Hunter, Dan Mackay, who had found the dog tag and other army metal insignia shown in the photograph above. Preliminary research on-line indicated that Frank had served in the Canadian Army whose records listed him as having been born in 1885 in Chipping Norton and that his parents were called William and Sarah. The records also provided details of his Commonwealth War Grave Commission headstone in the churchyard of SS Mary & John, Cowley. However, among the records was an Attestation that Frank had signed on joining in which he said he was born in Deddington. At this point Dan wanted to know if we knew anything about Frank from our research for A Parish at War.

A quick check of the 1891 census information for Deddington Parish on DOL confirmed beyond doubt that he had been born in Deddington in 1885 and that his parents were William and Sophia née Hiorns. This is confirmed by a Family Tree on the Ancestry website (subscription may be required) compiled by William Hiorns . Why the errors? Frank's parents had moved to Chippie by the time of the 1901 census and his father had died there in 1904. When asked where he lived he therefore probably gave his last address which was Chippie and that got incorrectly recorded as his place of birth. The mistake over his mother's name is less easily explainable. (Ed's note: As a consequence of our research Canadian records have now been corrected).

This was, of course, well after the publication of A Parish at War, its Supplement and the subsequent dedication of the new War Memorial which contained many names not previously listed on the existing War Memorial. Potentially, here was one more name to be added to a memorial which was now very firmly fixed to the north wall of the church! But clearly he should be on it if preliminary research is proved to be correct. Assisted by Dan, and with some expert research pointers from Michael Allbrook (co-author of A Parish at War), this is Frank's story so far as we know it.

Frank was born in Deddington as the youngest of four children of William (1849-1904) and Sophia (née Hiorns 1843-1913) Jarrett. There is no record of any baptisms for any of them in the Parish Church Register but, as Frank listed his religion as Presbyterian on his service papers, this probably was the family religion and so they would not have been baptised in the Parish Church.

The 1891 Census lists the whole family as living on Philcock Street (a former spelling) with relatives living on Grove Lane. Frank is 6, Arthur is 10, Alice is 14 and Clara is 15 apprenticed to a dressmaker.

The 1901 Census lists him as a boarder, aged 17, living with a family called Neighbour at 24 Cowley Road, Oxford. He is a butcher - probably an apprentice at his age.

1909.The Headington Marriage Register, Oxford District, lists Frank as marrying in the last quarter of the year. The same register for the same quarter also lists Ada Florence Irons.

The 1911 Census lists him as living at 30 Millbrook Road, Bedford, aged 27, with his wife Ada, aged 24, who was born in Summertown, Oxford. He is still a butcher.This photograph must have been taken at about this time.

Louisa Gertrude Irons is a 19 year old visitor who was also born in Summertown so is possibly a younger sibling.


1913. Emigration to Canada  The passenger list for the SS Arabic sailing from Liverpool to arrive Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 3 May 1913 includes Frank. As the extract below shows, his destination is listed as Montreal. At the time of writing, I can find no record of Ada as a passenger on the same ship or any other until, as you will see, after Frank's death. The family tree also indicates that Ada's mother, Sophia Margaret, died on 2 June 1913, aged 70,  in Kent, Ontario, Canada. It is likely that Sophia had traveled out with her daughter.


Army service. At some stage in the next year he joined the Canadian Army where he served for three months in 7th Canadian Mounted Rifles Machine-Gun Section as a Corporal followed by 12 months in the 24th Canadian Regiment where he was promoted Sergeant. This information is contained on Frank's Attestation Paper  which he signed when he rejoined the army on 28 September 1915 to serve in the Pioneer Corps; the wording of Question 10 of this document suggests that he had left the army after the 13 months service above only to rejoin, no doubt out of patriotism, to fight in WWI.

This document also confirms his place and date of birth as Deddington in 1885 and shows that he and Ada had moved from Montreal and were now living at 6 Anderson Street, Toronto. It also tells us that he was quite tall at 6'1".

A page in the Pioneer Corps, 2nd Battalion's War Diary records its movements over the next few months. This extract covers the period Frank was in England:


From this we can see that they trained at Hazeley Down Camp (Twyford, near Winchester).

A poem on a Post Card provides an amusing 'squaddies' view of life in this camp.

Death. At some time during this phase Frank caught pneumonia and was sent to one of the many hospitals in Oxford at that time. He died on 5 March 1916 two days before his unit embarked for France.

He is buried in St Mary & St John's churchyard in Cowley, Oxford

The Commonwealth War Grave
Commission erected a grave stone
at a later date - see pic at the head
of this article


His death was later recorded by the Oxford Diocese along with
the many other servicemen who are buried in Oxfordshire parishes.


The information about his mother and place of birth was
taken from incorrect Canadian Army records. It also indicates
that Ada had moved to a new address in Toronto


Ada returns to Canada

We know a little more about Ada. In 1920 her name appears on a passenger list for the SS France(typing error says 'Farance') a Canadian Pacific ship which departed Liverpool on 23 March bound for St John, New Brunswick arriving 6 April. Her Passenger Declaration Form tells us that she is 'returning home' to stay with a friend (name unreadable) at a former address of 90 Alexander Street, Toronto as the Declaration Form and Instructions to Pursers  indicate that, following Frank's death, she had returned to Canada between 18 September 1917 and 17 August 1919 but so far we have not found her name on any other passenger lists.

Ada may have remarried. A  licence was issued for an Ada Florence Jarrett to marry George Richard Greenham in Toronto on 5 June 1922.

Family information from Catherine McFarlane

During the search for members of the Jarrett family Catherine McFarlane, huis G Neice, got in touch with me and kindly provided some further information.

Frank Jarrett is remembered in:

Gallery album

All of the images in this article and any more that are received can be seen in Frank's album on our Gallery