Monday, July 11, 2011

B.C. Bantams - Allan Bruce Powley

Alan Bruce Powley

The leadership for the battalion was established early on.  Major Alan Bruce Powley was asked to be the commanding officer of the battalion on December 7, 1915.[1]  He was confirmed in this position by General Sam Hughes on or about the 15th of December.[2] 

Unfortunately, I don't have permission yet to use the photographs, so you'll have to live without them - even though they are the best part of the whole thing.

Figure 3:  Lieutenant Colonel Alan Bruce Powley (B.C. Archives 198011-011, Box 27, File 8)

 Powley was born on September 25, 1876 in Drayton, Ontario to Canadian-born father, John Brooks Powley, and Irish-born mother Eliza Jane Bruce.[3]  He married Eva Constance Cameron on September 5, 1900, in Brandon, Manitoba.  According to the 1901 census, he was a jeweller in Brandon earning $900 per year, and he was a Methodist.  Sometime between the census of 1901 and May 2, 1904 (when the paper announced the death of his mother-in-law at his residence),[4] the Powleys had moved to Edmonton and bought a jewellery “stand” on Jasper Avenue East.[5]  Powley received the appointment as Issuer of Marriage Licences on or before April 15, 1907, and on September 21, 1910, the Edmonton Daily Bulletin (page 10) announced that Mr. A. Bruce Powley would be moving to the coast to go into business.[6]

 Powley’s business activities in Victoria are less obvious, although real estate seems to have been his focus.  He is listed both as a “broker” and “agent” on military records, and the newspaper noted that he was “…interested in local real estate for some time prior to leaving for the front.”[7] 

 His military service is summarized nicely in the Daily Colonist:

Lieut.-Col. Bruce Powley, O.C.  His first military service was with the 14th P.W.O.R., Kingston, Ont.  He entered this regiment as a private and served for four years, rising from the ranks to the N.C.O. rank of sergeant.  He next was with the 101st regiment, Edmonton Fusiliers, which he entered with a lieutenant’s commission.  While here he qualified for a captain’s rank at the Osborne School of Instruction, near Winnipeg.  Coming to Victoria, he joined the 88th Regiment, Victoria Fusiliers, when that establishment was launched.  He was a company commander with the rank of captain.  He served through the coal miners’ strike at Nanaimo and in other Island districts.  When the war broke out he was detailed to guard the Bamfield station with a detachment of 56 men.  Entering the 30th Battalion, C.E.F., he was placed in command of No. 1 Company and left for England with that unit on February 14, 1915.  In the Old Country he was granted his majority.  With that rank he was drafted into the 7th Battalion, C.E.F., in May, and on the 24th of that month was wounded at Festubert, being invalided to England.  He returned to the 7th again early in July and remained on duty until October 6, when his name again appeared in the casualty list.  After treatment, he was granted two months’ leave of absence with permission to visit Canada.  Later he was granted three months more leave, but while enjoying this respite from active service at his home here, he was appointed to command the bantam battalion, with the organization of which he now is engaged.[8]

As a follow up to this article, I had the whole thing published the summer of 2014 in BC Studies.  If you would like to read it, you can order the volume through  Number 182, Summer 2014.

[1] The Daily Colonist Dec. 8, 1915:5
[2] Allinson 1982:183; TDC Dec. 17, 1915:5
[3] Canada Census 1901, from
[5] Edmonton Daily Bulletin Sept. 13, 1910
[7] The Daily Colonist, June 23, 1915:7 on
[8] The Daily Colonist, January 25, 1916, p.5

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