In the Jewish cemetery in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, there is the grave of Joseph Vince RCR. The headstone informs us that he died on the 2nd April 1915, and that he was the son of the late Louis and Sarah Vince of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.
But who was Joseph L. Vince?
A genealogical search tells us something about his family background. Joseph Vince was born in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, in 1871, the 9th of 10 children, all born in Ballarat like their parents. The father, Louis Vince was born in 1827, the son of Nathan and Rosa Vince. The mother, Sarah Goldsmid was born in 1832 the daughter of Samuel and Fanny Goldsmid. Sarah died in Ballarat in 1904, there is no known record when Louis Vince died.
A check of the British Columbia provincial archives discovers a newspaper report on his death, stating that he was a veteran of South Africa and India. India of course indicates the British army, South African service could have been with the Australian, Canadian, or New Zealand's armies, as well as the British army. A check of the Canadian army records reveals no information. The Australian army records details the service of a 2126 Private Louis Vince of the 3rd Battalion Australian Commonwealth Horse. However, this Louis Vince was too young, born about 1880, and was Church of England.
The next search of the British army records has a positive identification of 6425 Private Joseph Vince of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry. Joseph Vince enlisted in London England on the 3rd August 1900, joining the Oxfordshire Light Infantry. Here are some of the questions and answers on his attestation papers:
|Parish or town where born?||Ballarat Australia.|
|What age?||24 years 6 months|
|Trade or calling?||Salesman.|
|Have you been an Apprentice?||No.|
|Sentenced to Imprisonment||No.|
|Ever been rejected as unfit for service?||No.|
|Willing to be vaccinated?||Yes.|
|Willing to serve for 12 years?||Yes.|
He took 5 years off his real age.
On the next attestment record his height is given as 5 feet 7.5 inches; weight 135 pounds. Chest measurements 34 inches in, 36 inches out. Complexion Fresh. Eyes Blue. Hair Dark Brown Religion: Jew? Yes, (but it is crossed out). Then Church of England. is indicated:-- Yes. One can only speculate as to why this change was made, most likely he was advised to do so.
As stated, that all took place on the 3rd August in London. On the 9th August, 6425 Private Joseph Vince reported to his regiment in Oxford. After a year undergoing recruit training, Private J L Vince was posted on the 3rd August 1901 to the a Battalion of the Oxfordshire Light Infantry in South Africa.
Here are extracts from correspondence with the Research and Archives Section of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Museum.
When Joseph Vince enlisted in 1900, 1st Battalion Oxfordshire Light Infantry (the old 43rd Light Infantry of the Peninsular War fame) had been in South Africa since December 1899, The 2nd Battalion (the old 52nd Light Infantry also of the Famous Light Division in the Peninsular) were then in India (posted there in 1894). It would seem, from his short time in South Africa, that Joseph Vince must have been posted directly to the 2nd Battalion who were then stationed at Colaba Barracks, Bombay. It would seem from the record of this Battalion that in 1901 and 1902 it was receiving large numbers of Boer prisoners to India and it is possible the Private Vince was part of a contingent acting as guard.
The 1st Battalion returned to England in 1902 but at the end of 1903 virtually changed postings with the 2nd Battalion. My guess is that Joseph Vince would have been one of thirteen men who remained in India and voluntarily transferred to 1st Battalion at this time. The Battalion was based at Umballa until 7th February 1905 when it moved to Lucknow. It was posted to Burma on 8th December 1908 and based at Thayetmyo until 29th September 1910. It returned to India on 29th September 1910, Stationed at Wellington, and then moved to Kirkee on 1 April 1913.
I have given the place names where Regimental Headquarters was established but, as with nearly every regiment in the army then serving abroad, it also provided detachments of Company strength at three or four places at the same time. It is therefore impossible to state where Joseph Vince was serving at any precise date.
Joseph Vince obtained a 2nd class certificate of education on the 26th January 1903; he got his first promotion on the 22nd August 1904 as Unpaid Lance Corporal. He was granted Lance Corporal pay on the 4th May 1906, but reverted to unpaid status on the 12 June 1907. On the 10th February 1911 he was employed as a military staff in Lucknow and promoted sergeant. However, on the 1st October 1911 he is back to Private, but the next day is again unpaid Lance Corporal. His service with the Oxfordshire and Buckingham shire Light infantry ends with his honourable discharge, with the rank of Lance Corporal on the 5th December 1912. He was awarded the QueenÕs South African medal with 5 bars. South Africa 1901; South Africa 1902; Cape Colony; Orange Free State; and Transvaal.
In 1913 he goes to Canada and joins the Royal Canada Regiment, being assigned to F Company in Esquimault British Columbia, on Vancouver Island. Up until the formation of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in August 1914, personnel service records were the responsibility of the regiments. So far, The Royal Canadian Regiment has not been able to locate the records of 15041 Private Joseph L Vince. His service number indicates that he did enlist in 1913, and obviously he proclaimed his religion as Jewish. There is much more research needed to fill the gaps, and some glaring questions cry out for answers.
- Was Joseph the child of a mixed marriage?
- Was his father Louis Vince Church of England?
- Was Louis Vince of the 3rd Battalion Commonwealth Horse Tasmanian contingent in South Africa his cousin? It would be interesting to know if this Louis VinceÕs grandfather was Nathan Vince.
- What kind of salesman was Joseph Vince?
- Why did he change his religion from Jewish to Church of England? Bigotry? perhaps.
- On joining the British army, Joseph Vince did not tell the truth about his age, but there is nothing unusual about, indeed it was quite common.
- But 29 is late for starting a military career.
- What were his motives for enlisting. economic, or running away from a relationship?
- On his attestation papers he declared himself to be unmarried, but was he?
- In India he had the right to return to Britain with his 2nd Battalion,
- but volunteered to stay on, why?
- As soon as he did return to the UK for discharge, he left for Canada, why?
- Did he serve along side Canadians in South Africa?
- If he did, and he liked their out look on life, which had much in common the Australian contempt for authority, and nothing in common with the British class system? Then his reason for going to Canada is understandable.
Joseph had 5 brothers, and 4 sisters. One sister Rose Vince married Joseph Davis, another, Fanny, married Aaron Edward Goldstein. Is it possible that the Vince, Davis, and Goldstein families are still residing in the State of Victoria? Throughout the year, flowers are placed on Joseph Vince's grave. On remembrance day a poppy wreath. If his Australian relations can be traced, and they would like a photograph of that grave, it is theirs for the asking.
Last modified 23 May 2003