The Multiple Grave Markers of Charles A. Bracey

By Tom Craven

*Tom was on our September Union Cemetery Tour and was as curious about the two grave markers on the plot for Charles A. Bracey as we were! Thank you to Tom for taking the time to research this soldier and sharing your research with us.

Two flat laying grave markers. One is long and rectangular, while the other is smaller. They are both for a man named Charles A Bracey
Grave markers for Charles A Bracey in Union Cemetery

After looking at the military records for Charles A. Bracey I can only conclude that the reason for the smaller marker directly below the large grave marker is possibly to attempt to correct an error that appears in the larger marker, although I’m not sure it accomplishes this goal if, in fact, that was the goal. 

According to the military records, Bracey has two military numbers.  The first was 220072, and in that document, he has stated a Date of Birth of September 21, 1871.  He is deemed fit to serve on September 29, 1915 and his attestation papers were signed on September 27, 1915.  In the papers he acknowledges having served for 11 years in the Middlesex Regiment.  His age is listed as 44 years which, based on his acknowledged date of birth, would be correct.

A Casualty Form for Active Service appears under the 220072 military number dated November 5, 1915 in which he is deemed medically unfit to serve.

Bracey’s second attestation paper has a military number of 814065.  This is the number that appears on the larger grave marker.  His date of declaration is November 8, 1915, three days after his initial Casualty Form was created.  On these attestation papers he does not list the 11 years of service with the Middlesex Regiment that he had mentioned in the previous attestation document (under military number 220072).  His date of birth is once again listed as September 21, 1871, and his age is now recorded as 44 years and 2 months. He was certified as medically fit on November 8, 1915.  He lists a wife, Frances, and four children, Frances (age 9), Muriel (age 6) Lily (age 2), and Benjamin (9 months). 

He is eventually assigned to the 139th Battalion and stationed at Valcartier, Quebec.  On August 25, 1916, he is, again, deemed medically unfit as he is diagnosed with mitral regurgitation (aka a heart murmur). He is also diagnosed with Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).  He is described as looking much older that the age of 46 and then 48 that he admits to being (when, in fact he is only 44, a month from his 45th birthday).

So, he is discharged having never left Canada and never serves again.  The large grave marker states that he died in 1933 at the age of 66 however, being born in 1871 this would make him only 62 years of age.  The smaller marker may be an attempt to correct this error however, it states that he was born in 1872 which, according to the two sets of attestation papers is also incorrect.

There was another C. A. Bracey (Cecil A. Bracey) that enlisted however he was much younger than Charles and was from Toronto with no ties to Oshawa.  He claimed to be born September 24, 1898 and enlisted on January 12, 1917 however, it was later discovered that he lied about his date of birth and was actually underage when he enlisted and therefore discharged.

Thank you Tom for sharing your research! On our September tour, we were asked why some plots had more than one grave marker, like Bracey’s did. In the following weeks, we will follow up on the story of Bracey, sharing about his life before the First World War and what steps we took to learn about this man.

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