Wednesday 17 November 2010

Lieutenant John Edward McGarity, MM and Bar

Born on 20 March 1896 in Walkerton, Ontario - son of Patrick and Bridget McGarity, Walkerton, Ontario - at the time of his enlistment in 1915: trade as clerk; single; no current or previous military service; Roman Catholic; height of 5 feet 10 inches; chest of 38.5 inches fully expanded; fair complexion; brown eyes; black hair.

Joined the 59th Battalion, CEF, in Lindsay, Ontario, on 21 May 1915 - transferred to the 38th Battalion, CEF, on 22 June 1915 (number 410832) - served with the 38th Battalion during its period of garrison duty in Bermuda - landed in France with the 38th Battalion on 13 August 1916 - invalided sick to England on 9 December 1917 - commissioned and promoted to Lieutenant with the 6th Reserve Battalion, CEF, on 5 November 1918 - rejoined the 38th Battalion on 12 December 1918 - struck off the strength of the 38th Battalion on 16 June 1919.

Awarded the Military Medal - no official citation - unit recommendation dated 21 November 1916: "In attack on Desire Trench, Nov. 18/16, these N.C.O's and men did valuable work in maintaining communication throughout the Battn, all the time being under heavy shell fire. They also assisted, in bringing in the wounded."

Awarded the Bar to the Military Medal - no official citation - unit recommendation dated 17 April 1917: "For gallant conduct during operation on Apr. 9/17."

(sources: Library and Archives Canada (, online attestation papers; Canadian War Museum, 19740281-001, Manu 58F 2 3, 207th Canadian Infantry Battalion and 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion, Nominal Roll; The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Regimental Museum, A400-0007, Master Personnel List for the 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force; Canadian War Museum, 19680229-001, Manu 58C 1 2.18, Honours and Awards, 38th Battalion (Records of recommendations for honours and awards and mentioned in dispatches 19161121 19190117))


Michael McGarrity said...

Thank you to the author of the blog for your time spent researching and creating this wonderful testament to the many brave men who served in the 38th Ottawa Battalion in World War 1.
It was especially pleasing for me to find this record for a member of my own family, John Edward “Jack” McGarity, who was my father’s cousin.
I had the pleasure and the privilege of meeting John McGarity in the 1960s. At the time, he was a retired Roman Catholic priest and missionary. “Father Jack” impressed me as being very kind and intelligent and as I learned, he had lived an extremely full and interesting life (some of which is recounted in the posts I have added below).

Michael McGarrity, Orleans, Ontario

Michael McGarrity said...

Additional Information from Award Citation Card
Source: Database
Canada, Military Honours and Awards Citation Cards, 1900-1961
Record for John Edward McGarity
Name: McGarity, J. E.
Rank: Pte.
Number: 410832
Unit: 38th Cdn. Inf. Bn.
Honour or Award: Military Medal
17-12-16 (Military Medal)
19-4-17 (Bar to Military Medal - Details Below)
Details: For conspicuous gallantry during the Operations on Vimy Ridge from 9th to 13th April, 1917. Owing to a report that the right flank of his Battn. had been held up during the assault, this man volunteered to investigate the circumstances.
In order to accomplish this task he had to cross the entire front of the Battn. under heavy enemy artillery and rifle fire. He returned quickly with a very satisfactory report which afterwards proved correct. The information which he gained was of utmost importance. It is considered that the N.C.O. is fully deserving of an immediate award. He already holds the Military Medal for service performed on the SOMME. (A.F.W. 3121-26-4-17)

Michael McGarrity said...

Additional Information on Life of John E. McGarity
The History of the Township of Brant 1854-1979
Edited by Laura M. Gateman
Published in 1979 by the Brant Township Historical Society

Father John McGarrity
John McGarrity was born on a farm at Lot 15 Concession 8, Brant Township on March 20, 1897 and baptized seven days later in the Sacred Heart Church in Walkerton. He received his early education at S.S. #5, Baird's School, Brant and at Sacred Heart Separate School at Walkerton. Later he attended St. Jerome's College in Berlin (Kitchener) and De La Salle Collegiate in Toronto.
In 1915 John enlisted in the 38th Ottawa Battalion as a private. He saw action in Belgium and France. He was twice decorated by King George V and the Prince of Wales for bravery. He was injured at Paschendaele and also fought at Ypres where his brother was killed in action. In June 1919, John won his commission as lieutenant.
The following September, Lieutenant John McGarrity returned to his studies at the University of Toronto. In 1920 he entered the Catholic University in Washington D.C. and received his BA and MA degrees. He was ordained in 1926 to the priesthood as a Paulist Father.
As a parish priest and missionary, Father John travelled from coast to coast in Canada and the United States.
In 1933, John McGarrity returned to Brant Township for the Golden Jubilee Service of St. Michael's Parish of North Brant. He was one of the guest speakers and his Jubilee Sermon was called "A Tribute to the Pioneers of North Brant".
In 1939, Father John was sent to Johannesburg, South Africa. Here he became Chief Catholic Brigade Chaplain of the South African forces and served as Lieut. Colonel in that capacity.
When the U.S.A. joined the allied forces in the war, John McGarrity transferred to a U.S. Bomber Group, where he saw action in North Africa, Egypt, Sicily, Italy and Germany.
From 1946 to 1954 he served in Japan, Korea and the Philippine Islands. With two Protestant Pastors, he worked to make sure that each soldier and airman was able to attend worship at least once a week. Their duties also included personal counselling and a carrying service for delivering such things as books, papers, decoration, and personal requests.
In 1954 Father John returned to civilian life and served in parishes in Canada and the United States.
In 1960, Father John McGarrity was invited to Alaska where he stayed for one year and became very friendly with the native Eskimos.
In 1968, Father John retired. On December 10, 1974, Father John McGarrity passed away in the city of Toronto. He was buried in a Paulist Cemetery in that city.

Ken said...


Thank you so very much for all of the additional information about your father's cousin. I will incorporate it into his blog entry when I can. I also have the name and e-mail address of a gentleman who would like to get into contact with someone from Lt McGarity's family. Please send me an e-mail at if you are interested.

Thanks again,


Patrick C said...

Hello Michael:

My name is Patrick J. Coughlin. Father Jack Mcgarity was a close friend of my uncle, Father William A. Michell. My Uncle Billy, or Billy as he was known to his friends, was the Superior General of the Paulist Fathers from 1952 to 1964....and my mothers older brother. Father Jack was often at our home in Pasadena California and was a great favorite of mine. I was taken with his military tales and admired him as being a "real man". He was very manly, yet kind, loving, very congenial and great fun. He would gather around the piano with his priest buddies and they would sing while my mother played.
Father Jack was a hero to me. He gave me his Air Force uniform after he retired. I used it in a school play. Although I was good size in the 4th grade, I was swimming in it. I was super proud to wear it though, I assure you. He was a very special guy. He took the whole family to Disneyland when it first opened in 1955. What fond memories I have of a great guy.

Michael McGarrity said...

Hello Patrick,

I’m sorry for taking so long to respond to your message. I come back to this site regularly but somehow, until now, I missed seeing your message.

Thank you very much for sharing your memories of Father Jack. In my post above I described the impression he made on me, the one time I met him during a visit to my parent’s home in the 1960’s. During his visit he was much like you described in your message. I too was very taken with his stories and he was great fun and quick to find things of mutual interest to talk about.

I’m retired now and as a hobby genealogist I spend a lot of my time looking into our family history. Though my research I’ve learned a lot more about Father Jack and his accomplishments during his remarkable life, and just like you he has become a hero of mine.

Michael McGarrity