Dennis Joseph Perdue

Dennis Joseph Perdue of Ennismore, Ontario was born on November 15, 1897 to a farmer named Thomas and his wife Catherine. The seventh of ten children, his family was of Irish Catholic descent. Perdue enlisted in the Canadian militia on November 25, 1914 in Edmonton, shortly after Canada entered the war. Upon attestation, he lied about his year of birth, listing November 15th, 1893 as is birth date, making himself 21 instead of 17 years of age. He enlisted only ten days after his 17th birthday. There are conflicting years of birth for Perdue: 1893, 1897, and 1898. 1893 only appears on his attestation papers, and so it is most likely that this date is only given so he could serve, as he was not yet 18. 1897 appears on the 1901 census, as well as on his birth registration. 1898 appears on the 1911 and 1921 censuses, as well as his tombstone. However, his birth was registered with the Government of Ontario in 1897, thus ruling out the possibility of Perdue being born in 1898.

(L) Perdue’ first attestation paper from his enlistment in Edmonton, Alberta, signed ten days after his seventeenth birthday. Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada, Item# 564014, page 1.

(R) Perdue’ second attestation paper, following his discharge in January. He travelled to Kingston to re-enlist, again lying about his age. Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada, Item #564014, page 3.

At the time of his attestation, he was placed with the 31st Alberta Battalion. After thirty-nine days of service training, Perdue was discovered to have been underage, resulting in his discharge on the 2nd of January 1915. His service is described as being, “good” for his short amount of time served. Perdue then returned to Ontario and enlisted again on the 15th of March, 1915 in Kingston, Ontario. Once again, listing November 15th, 1893 as his birthdate, as he was still a few months shy of his eighteenth birthday. His attestation papers list his father, Thomas Perdue as his next of kin. During his service to the British Commonwealth, Perdue was paid $20 a month payable to his mother, Catherine Perdue in Ennismore, Ontario. Perdue’ older brother Michael, also enlisted in the Canadian militia, returning to Ontario from El Paso, Texas where he had been working as a school teacher. On January 29th, 1917, Michael Perdue enlisted in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Forces in Vancouver, British Columbia. Gunner Michael Perdue died of wounds he received in action on the 1st of September, 1918, whilst overseas. His mother, Mrs. Thomas Perdue received a memorial cross for the loss of her son. A third Perdue son enlisted, Thomas Simon Perdue enlisted on December 14th, 1916 in Toronto, Ontario. However, he was discharged in January of 1917, for being “medically unfit” due to rheumatism.

Private Dennis Joseph Perdue, service number 89625, was sent to England in July of 1915. In October of that year, Perdue was admitted to the Shorncliffe Military Hospital for infected corns. He was discharged for light duty on the 11th of November. However, on the 24th of November he was admitted to the Moore Barracks Military Hospital for an infected small toe as a result of his infected corns. He was discharged shortly after that. Pvt. Perdue’s service record indicates he suffered from recurrent flare-ups due to his contracting gonorrhea whilst stationed in England. This was a common issue which plagued armies during the war, with over four hundred thousand cases of venereal diseases being treated by the Canadian Expeditionary Force alone, with syphilis being contracted in unprecedented numbers. According to one source, the CEF suffered from the highest rates of venereal disease of all Commonwealth forces. Perdue spent quite a bit of time being treated for such while he was overseas. While being treated for gonorrhea at Etchinghill Military Hospital, Pvt. Perdue contracted the mumps in February, 1917 and was subsequently quarantined for twenty-six days. In June of 1918, Perdue was part of a relay race that resulted in his hand being trampled by a horse, fracturing his third finger of his left hand. This did result in a hospital stay and an inability to fight for quite some time while his hand recovered. He did however, make a full recovery from this injury and continued serving until the end of the war in 1919.

During March of 1917, Perdue’s Expeditionary Force was sent to France with the 2nd Canadian Divisional Ammunition Column. On the 6th of April 1917, the 2nd CDAC was ordered by Brigadier General H. A. Panet to take the Vimy Ridge. The 2nd CDAC fought alongside the 4th and 5th Infantry Brigades in the first line at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Soon after the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Perdue was transferred to the 4th Canadian Divisional Ammunition Column, during which time, was awarded the Good Conduct Badge on October 8th of 1917. A Good Conduct Badge was awarded to soldiers with the rank of private for every two years of good service to the British Commonwealth. Upon receiving a Good Conduct Badge, soldiers were awarded a single chevron for the left sleeve of their uniform. Following the end of the war, Perdue returned to England on the 25th of April, 1919, and returned to Canada on the 18th of May, 1919.

The marriage announcement of Dennis Joseph Perdue and Mary Gertrude Thompson, in Peterborough in the Evening Examiner on August 29th, 1923, page 10. Courtesy of The Evening Examiner.

Following his discharge in April 1919, Perdue returned to Canada in May and moved to Stirling, Alberta, working briefly as a labourer for Frederick C. De Pass. Between 1921 and 1923, Perdue returned to Ennismore and became a government inspector. On the 28th of August 1923, Perdue married Mary Gertrude Thompson of Tweed, five years his junior. The couple were married in Peterborough at the Sacred Heart Church. Following their wedding, the couple moved to Toronto and had two children: John Denis and Norma. Perdue continued to work as a government inspector. The couple resided in the York Region of Toronto, at 315 Manor Road East, at least until Perdue’ death. Dennis Joseph Perdue passed away on December 4, 1973 in Toronto, at the age of 76. Mary survived him until 1993, at the age of 91 when she passed away. The couple are buried together in the Victoria Cemetery in Tweed, Hastings County with Mary’s parents. There are many Perdues still residing in the Peterborough area, whether or not they are relatives of Dennis Joseph, or his children, is unclear.

Research by Kyle Pugh and Erin Murray

Archives of Ontario. Registrations of Births and Stillbirths – 1869-1913. MS 929, reel 139. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Archives of Ontario.

Canadian Great War Project. Canadian War Diaries, Divisional Train and Ammunition Columns. 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column, April 1917.

Herring, D. Ann. “Damage Control: The Untold Story of Venereal Disease in Hamilton.” Hamilton: Macsphere.
Library and Archives Canada. Census of Canada, 1911. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Library and Archives Canada, 2007. Series RG31-C-1. Statistics Canada Fonds. Microfilm reels T-20326 to T-20460.
Library and Archives Canada, Digitized Service File, Dennis Joseph Perdue. RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 7731 – 37, item 564014 (CEF).
Library and Archives Canada, Digitized Service File, Michael Perdue. RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 7731 - 50, Item# 564027 (CEF).
Library and Archives Canada, Digitized Service File, Thomas Simon Perdue. RG 150, Accession 1992-93, Box 7731 - 54, Item #564031 (CEF).
Library and Archives Canada. Sixth Census of Canada, 1921. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Library and Archives Canada, 2013. Series RG31. Statistics Canada Fonds.

Library and Archives Canada. Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935–1980. R1003-6-3-E (RG113-B). Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Trent University Archives, Canada Census 1901, Peterborough County, District No. 107 - West Peterborough (Ennismore). Accession Number 93-024, Set Number 45, Reel Number 6 (LAC Film Number T06492).
Trent University Library, Toronto Star Newspaper Microfilm. December 6, 1973.
Trent University Library, Evening Examiner Newspaper Microfilm. August 29, 1923.