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Ernest Lakey (1895-1975)

Hebburn born 'Tobin's TIger' one of two brothers who served in Canadian Forestry Corp

Born in Hebburn on 23rd June 1895, Ernest was the third child of gas fitter and plumber Edward Lakey from Newcastle and his Felling born wife Mary Jane. They also had an adopted daughter, Eleanor Watt. Ernest’s older siblings were all born in Felling, and Sidney the youngest in North Shields, where the family had moved in 1897, and by 1901 they were living in Cramlington.

At the end of September 1910 the family arrived in Quebec City having sailed from Liverpool on board the SS Empress of Ireland with the intention of making for British Columbia (BC). The 1911 census records that they settled in Kootenay, where father and eldest son William had both found work.

In January 1916 the three brothers mobilised with the 102nd (Rocky Mountain Rangers) Regiment and seven months later on 17th August 1916 they enlisted with the 242nd (Forestry) Battalion at Kamloops, BC. 21 year old Ernest became Private 1048235 and along with William and Sidney moved to camp at Montreal. They sailed on the SS Mauretania from Nova Scotia to Liverpool and arrived on 30th November 1916.

Posted to Witley Camp, Surrey, the battalion system proved too cumbersome to administer, and the forestry battalions were broken up into companies. The brothers wound up in the 19th Company, Central Group, Canadian Forestry Corps and in January 1917 were posted to France. They commenced logging operations at Conches in Normandy and moved to Dreux in July.

In October 1918 Ernest answered a call for men to transfer to the Infantry, which was facing desperate manpower shortages. He was posted to 29th (Tobin’s Tigers) Battalion, 6th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Canadian Division. He didn’t actually join the 29th Battalion until 27th December and was sent on leave soon after. Returning to France for three months the Battalion then returned to England on 13th April 1919 and then travelled on to Canada aboard the SS Olympic. They arrived in Nova Scotia on 16th May and then travelled onwards to Revelstoke, British Columbia for demobilisation six days later.

Ernest moved to live in Nanaimo and on 16th June 1928 he married widow Alice Findley Cameron in Vancouver, thereafter living in North Vancouver. His father, Edward died in 1934 and his mother, Mary died after falling down stairs at her home in Nanaimo in 1941.
Ernest died in Lyons Gate Hospital, North Vancouver on 5th May 1975 having suffered a heart attack, and was buried four days later in North Vancouver Cemetery.

Civil Parish: Hebburn

Birth date: 23-Jun-1895

Death date: 05-May-1975

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Hebburn (birthplace)
24 Double Junction Road, Cramlington, Northumberland (1901 census)
Kootenay, British Columbia, Canada (1911 Canadian census)
648 Nichol Street, Nanaimo, British Columbia (marriage certificate)
Box 153, Merritt, British Columbia (enlistment papers)
1070 Lynn Valley Road, North Vancouver, British Columbia (death certificate)

Religion: Methodist

Employment: Student (1911 Canadian census), Labourer (enlistment papers), Industrial plumber (death certificate)

Family: Parents: Edward Lakey, Mary Jane Lakey (nee Watt)
Siblings: Priscilla Lakey, William Lakey, Eleanor Watt, Sidney Lakey
Wife: Alice Findley Lakey (nee Cameron)

Military service:

Pre-war Service: 102nd (Rocky Mountain Rangers) Regiment
Private 242nd (Forestry) Battalion
Canadian Forestry Company
29th (Tobin’s Tigers) Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force

Medal(s): British War Medal
Victory Medal

Gender: Male

Contributed by Jean Longstaff, Durham | Jim Busby, Canada

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