An Alien at War

Regimental Quarter-Master Sergeant Joseph Fairley MSM
(b. 1884 in Barnsley d. 1952 Edmonton, Canada)

Written and researched by David Bohl, with the kind help World War 1 historians world wide.

Founder Member Fred Applebee recalls in 1971 - Looking back sometimes it seems only a very short time since, at tea time in our diggings at 9 Huntly Road, off Sheil Road, I looked across the table and said to my pal Joe Fairley,
“Well ! If I start a new club will you be the first to join ?”
That is exactly how the club came into being.

Joe was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire in 1884 and came to Liverpool for teacher training around 1907. The census of 1911 states he was a Schoolmaster and was lodging with Fred Applebee in Elm Park, Fairfield.

In early 1914 Joe decided on adventure and followed his younger brother to Canada, Barker Fairley had taken up a post at the University of Alberta teaching German literature and became a renowned painter.

            By August of 1914 war had broken out in Europe and Joe was quickly into action with the 31st Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

[Library and Archives of Canada]

In May 1915, the battalion sailed for England on the Cunard liner RMS Carpathia {Titanic's rescue ship) with a complement of 36 officers and 1033 other ranks. After initial training in England, the battalion fought in Belgium and France, and was often at the forefront of the fighting at Ypres Salient, Vimy Ridge, Fresnoy, the Somme, Passchendaele, the Battle of Amiens, the Battle of Arras and the occupation of the Rhine.

Joe was "mentioned in despatches" in 1917.

The bulk of the battalion returned to Canada on the SS Cedric on 27 May 1919, and to Calgary on 1 June 1919.
Joe returned to an address in Toronto, 21 McMaster Ave.

[Library and Archives of Canada]

[Library and Archives of Canada]

Meritorious Service Medal Citation
From 22nd September 1917 to 24th February 1918 in the field and for consistent good work and devotion to duty. This man enlisted with the 31st Battalion in November 1914 and has risen to the rank of RQMS during an unbroken period of service. He has proved an invaluable assett to the Battalion on account of his keeness at all times to carry out his duties which have been carried out with an exceptional display of thoroughness and ability.
[Thanks to for his military records and citation]

                            Joe passed away in 1952 and is buried at Beechmount Cemetery, Edmonton.

RQMS Joseph Fairley MSM


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