Lloyd Clement


The army made Lloyd Clemett a bugle boy when he enlisted in January, 1916, but being more musician than munitions expert wouldn't have kept him out of the line of fire. When the Armistice was declared, he was destined for the front.

"After people were killed, they . . . sent us into the trenches to take their place," he says, sitting at the kitchen table of his neat, brick home in midtown Toronto. "You never knew where you were going when you went to France."

The intervening years have robbed him of much of his hearing and left him with a stoop. At first, he isn't keen to recount his war-time experiences, saying there isn't much to tell. But at 102, he still takes pride in the boy whose need for adventure took him across the Atlantic.

"Like thousands of others," he enlisted at the age of 16, a year after leaving home because "I knew too much," he says. "That's what 99 per cent of the young lads feel - they know it all."

He was too young, but says the army took almost anyone. "We were all hepped up on the war, to go and fight the Germans. You just signed up because it was the thing to do. And they were paying a dollar a day and your board, which was more than you could make in civilian jobs."

He joined the 93rd Battalion in Peterborough, Ont., as a private, but soon transferred to the 109th in nearby Lindsay because its colonel was a farm boy from Omemee, his hometown.

There was a whirlwind training period, and "I wound up as a bugler. . . . I signed up in January and I was in England in July and by the following July I was in France," stationed in Aubin St. Vast until called to battle. "There must have been 100 other men waiting in that small village. By Nov. 11, I was still waiting to go into the front line and the Armistice was signed, and that's all there was to it."

He didn't leave Europe until the following July because of a strike by British longshoremen. Once home, he took courses arranged by the army that helped him to land work as a railway agent, but he lost the job when the Depression hit. Eventually, he was hired by the old Village of Leaside, now part of Toronto, and "I stayed there until I retired."

At 36, he married his wife, Catherine, and they had two boys. Al-though he got through the war unscathed, the same was not true of all of his kin - though longevity does seem to run in his family.

"I had one brother shot through the head, but he survived and lived until he was 96."

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