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Arthur Haddow, M.M.: A Quiet Hero by Patricia Anne Elford

November 11, 2012

More than 10,000 home children fought for Canada in two world wars. Patricia Anne Elford, Canadian writer and poet tells the story of her uncle, Arthur Haddow, another home child hero

Arthur, with sister Anne, father George

Arthur Haddow was born in Biggleswade, Befordshire, England  on July 1, 1910. His mother, Emily Eliza (Daisy) Foster Haddow and father, George Haddow, sailed from Liverpool for Halifax, Canada in November,  1910,  with infant Arthur (when he was approximately four months  old) from Liverpool, England, probably the port closest to their home in Biggleswade.

 Arthur’s sister, Anne, was born at home at 11 Eccles Street in Ottawa (June 26, 1912) when the family was living with Daisy’s mother, Priscilla Foster. (5th Census of Canada, 1911).

On July 2, 1914 , Emily Eliza (Daisy) (Foster) Haddow, died of cancer, one day after Arthur’s fourth  birthday.  Anne was barely three years old. At that time, George Haddow, Art’s grandfather, was still living on Hitchen St., in Biggleswade,

After Daisy’s death, their father, George Haddow, had to call upon a few housekeepers to assist while he working for a firm as a house decorator. 

 In 1918, according to the Biggleswade newspaper, both Anne and Art suffered from  influenza for a few days.

On October 19, 1918, their father, George Haddow, died of flu complications in the hospital after approximately a week of being ill at their lodgings at 21 Raymond Street.

Arthur Haddow, by then aged eight, and the little sister Anne whom the teacher had allowed him to take to Borden school when his father couldn’t find care for her, were now the subject of a family discussion among the older members of the family.

Arthur Haddow and group of boys going west

It was decided that Arthur would be sent to England to be raised  by their father’s relatives – Bert and Olive Haddow, along with Bert’s own children.

Anne was to be raised by the oldest of her mother’s sisters, a childless Aunt Cicely (Ciss) and her husband, George Smith. So it was that Anne, who had barely known her mother, had lost her father to death and her brother to “across the pond” by the time she was six years old. Arthur, having lost both his parents, now was also deprived of his school friends and of his little sister, the only other member of his nuclear family who remained.

However, on March 4, 1926, fifteen- year-old Arthur, a “scholar”  from 88 Hitchin Street, became one of a group of boys on a Cunard Line SS Ausania ship bound for Halifax . They then travelled on the Canadian National Special to Winnipeg. He is one of the crowd in a newspaper photograph. According to the clipping, they were the second party of boys to come out that spring under the Army Church Settlement Association scheme, assigned to various points in Western Canada. The boys were “under the care of” Association officials.

Like many home boys, Arthur did farm work. He found some people difficult and others he quite enjoyed.

At some point, Arthur traded a horse for a tank when he joined the 29th Armoured Regiment (South Alberta Regiment) as a radio operator. This interest in radios continued after the war, when he was a ham operator.

They moved  to Debert in January 1942, then, to England in August 1942.The Regiment landed in France on 24 July 1944 as part of the 4th Canadian Armoured Division. The Regiment had a very good reputation and Arthur Haddow contributed to that reputation. 

In 1944/5 Arthur was awarded a military medal for the actions referenced in the citation excerpt below

 

 

In the newspaper clipping on the left, Cpl Arthur Haddow is claimed as a former Ottawan possibly indicates the pride in his accomplishment. Both the spelling of Mrs. Annie Wilson’s name and the indication of her address as a place from which she, her husband and first child had moved two years before seems to underline the difference in the relationship between the two siblings, separated when they were so young.

Unfortunately, the Military Medal was not the most powerful war souvenir Arthur received.

As recounted by an English relative, “During Arthur’s Military Medal activities he got the people back to friendly lines – but then he went into action again with a new tank crew. 

Arthur Haddow’s citation for bravery

It was during this second period that he was dive-bombed by a Stuka.  The whole tank went up in flames and I seem to remember he was the only survivor.  He told me that his helmet was red hot and it was then he received the dreadful burns – hair and eyelids gone and badly burned also on his hands.” 

A younger English relative  remembers meeting Arthur when he was visiting the Haddows at 88 Hitchin. How horribly scarred Arthur was!

“After he had recovered sufficiently Arthur worked for the rest of the time behind the scenes at the Toronto Post Office.”

I didn’t know until within the past two years that my uncle had won any medals, nor why, nor that he had been a home boy. There were two Arthurs in our family about whom I knew little. One, Great Uncle Art Foster, was legally blind, yet taught woodworking. Both of them wore dark glasses. Both seemed old to me. I think I confused them.

Although he wasn’t blind, the rims of Uncle Art’s eyes were always red, his face still somewhat scarred in the 1960s.. He and his wife visited Renfrew once, and Mom kept in touch by mail with his wife periodically. 

Once I’d grown up, I visited the Arthur and his wife Dorothy at their home in Toronto, I remember him as quietly introverted.  He shared with his wife a love of their amiable fat cat. On June 5, 1983 Arthur, the quiet hero, passed.

What troubles me most at the moment, is that I’ve discovered that the name of Cpl Arthur Haddow, MM, does not appear in the Legion’s Last Post. I hope to rectify that.

—Patricia Anne Elford is Anne Haddow’s daughter and proud niece of Arthur

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