Solving a mystery requires research and sometimes intuition

In late 2016, working with the Legions,the Town of Saugeen Shores and veterans’ families, we started the process that lead to the hanging of Commemorative Banners on Southampton’s High Street in recognition of those who gave their lives in past wars, for our freedom. Again, this coming October the Banners will hang on both sides of High Street from Victoria Street to Huron Street.

The first step in doing the project was to authenticate the 37 names on our cenotaph and then to start the search for pictures. This year, we will have banners for 24 of the 37 local men that died in WWI and WWII.

Of the total of 37 named, we now have 36 authenticated. This is the story of how we discovered the 36th. The name on the cenotaph is PTE. J. J. Campbell.

There were 661,000 people who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in WWI and I can ensure you that not one was J. J. Campbell from Southampton or anywhere in our area. There were more than 100 named Campbell/Campell/Cambell etc. which were analyzed with no success.

As they say: “Then one day …”.

This August, I went to Tobermory with my sister and her husband. They wanted to go into a gallery, and I opted to sit on a bench outside. Across from me was the Tobermory cenotaph. I walked over and saw that they had 6 men who had died, 8 wounded and 23 others that had served in WWI. I am working on another project and decided to take pictures of those listed to see if any would be of value for the new project.

A few days later, I was checking them all to see if they may have met the criteria I needed for this new project and, when going through the 37, there was one named John McLeod. When I put “John McLeod” into the WWI search site up came about 12 with that name. I got to the third one and found the man from Tobermory but, just below him, was a John McLeod a.k.a. John Jacob Campbell.

Shocked, I immediately opened up his WWI Military History file and yes, he was born in Southampton. Oddly, he showed his next of kin as Miss Margaret Campbell (friend). The Commonwealth War Graves Commission had him as being the son of Donald and Mary Jane Campbell.

For larger view, Click on Image

But, why did he use the name John McLeod in his attestation document and give Margaret Campbell (friend) as his next of kin?

The answer to that lies in the website. Here, we find that Donald and Mary Jane (nee Richardson) Campbell had seven children including John Jacob and a daughter Margaret who was three years younger than son John.


John McLeod was 17 when he enlisted at Camp Hughes in Manitoba on August 29th, 1916.

So, here is my hypothesis of “Why the a.k.a. and why he listed his 14-year-old sister in Southampton as his friend and as his next of kin”.

Like many young men of that era, they “road the rails” to the west for the grain harvest. While there he decided to enlist, probably with others like him. Knowing that his parents would not approve of him enlisting at his young age he picked a common surname from Southampton, McLeod. Being close to his young sister, he gave her name as his next of kin so that, if anything did happen to him, his family would get the word.

John Jacob Campbell was killed in the Battle of Canal du Nord in France on September 29, 1918. This was a pivotal battle in the 100 Days Offensive that lead to the end of WWI. He is buried in the Haynecourt British cemetery in France close to where he died. His gravestone reads “Private John Jacob Campbell Canadian Infantry, 8th Battalion, 19 yrs. old”.

After his death, it was found that he had also enlisted in Galt, Ontario in late 1915 using his John Jacob Campbell name and had been discharged.

There is a grave marker in the Southampton Cemetery that includes John’s 11-year-old brother William and gives remembrance to John, including words recognizing his being killed in France.

It would be wonderful if we could find a picture of John Jacob Campbell to produce a banner to hang along with the others on High Street.



This only leaves Pte. S. Jamieson to authenticate and the search goes on.

Researched and Written by G. William Streeter