By Kathy Farquhar
Reverend Captain George Farquhar, known as Geordie as a boy in Scotland, was born in 1880, one of eight children. The Farquhar family immigrated to Canada sometime in the 1880s and Geordie was my great-uncle, brother to my paternal grandfather, Hiram.
Geordie Farquhar was a Presbyterian minister in Winnipeg at the time he entered the war in early 1917. He was part of the 44th Manitoba Battalion and served as a military chaplain in France, and thus witnessed the horrors of both the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the Battle of Passchendaele. Behind the lines, Geordie and members of his regiment would receive the wounded at what was called the communications trench. There, they would deliver first aid to the wounded and tend to the dying. Geordie’s main duty, however, was to preside over the burials of the soldiers who had been killed in action. One can only imagine that there would have been hundreds of such burials.
Wanting to escape the horrific experience of these battles, Geordie chose to join the Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force in August 1918. The force travelled to war-torn Russia where it reinforced an anti-Bolshevik garrison in Omsk. Apparently, few Canadians know about this part of our history, sometimes referred to as “Churchill’s Secret War with Lenin.”
Geordie was a prolific and eloquent letter writer, and my cousin’s family is in possession of several of these letters, which describe the Battles of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele in some detail. As well, my cousin, Alex Cameron, has written two books on the wartime experiences of my great-uncle.
A sweet and romantic part to the story is that Uncle George met his future wife, a nurse named Ruby, in a hospital in London while he was receiving treatment for an injured knee. They married, returned to Canada and settled near Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Here’s a link to information about the Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force: