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Rolls of the Depot Battalion

By May 24, 2021November 15th, 2021No Comments

The CPRI contains a number of unique materials that shed light on the history of Poles in Canada. One of these sources are Nominal Rolls of the Depot Battalion, Polish Army proceeding from the Niagara Camp. A nominal roll is a list of officers, soldiers, etc., who served in an army unit. The rolls that are found in the Institute’s holdings provide a list of men from the USA and from Canada who wanted to enlist in the Polish Army. Some of these men were too old, others would end up joining the Polish Army in France, and others still would join the Canadian Expeditionary Forces. One of these individuals was Frank Letersky—born in Renfrew, Ontario in 1896, to Mary and John Jacob Letersky. He was drafted into the army in 1917, joining the East Ontario Regiment First Depot Battalion, followed by the Second Depot Battalion, holding the rank of Private. The War would come to an end before he could reenlist in the Polish Army in France. His service record reveals some interesting information. First, Letersky was a “Druggist Clerk”. So, he was a man who had received some formal education—something that was not common amongst Poles at that time. Moreover, his dental records reveal, that upon examination by the military dentist, Letersky had both amalgam and gold fillings. Again, this is a unique fact, and lets us know that he was a man of a particular class and level of education. Essentially, one would not find fillings in a poor, uneducated man. Letersky was also a victim of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. His medical records reveal that he had a constant fever between 102 and 103˚F for 5 days. While many died, he would end up surviving. We don’t know what happened to Letersky after the War. He is not listed in the 1921 Canada Census—though his mother is. He may have suffered from PTSD, as was common amongst World War I soldiers, changed his name, or was misidentified in the Census.

GMK

GMK