Lambton at War

Oil Springs

The First World War

Thomas Gleeson

“My Grandfather, Thomas Gleeson was born outside the Petrolia and Oil Springs area in 1895. The corner that was adjacent to their farm was known locally as Killarny Corners as the owner of the store was from Killarny Ireland.  He had 12 brothers, however at the time he joined the army the family had moved to Sarnia at 330 Queen Street. He worked for Imperial Oil both before and after the war.

Thomas served with “B” company 1st Depot Battalion, Western Ontario Regiment of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.  He was 22 years 8 months old when he enlisted.  The brothers, in the army, all ended up in France.  Great Uncle Pat told me a story at my Grandfathers funeral and it went like this.

Great Uncle Pat’s group were sent to a staging area where many Canadian troops were billeted in tents of course, he said it was a huge tent city.  He was walking along the rows of tents when he stumbled on to his brother, my Grandfather.  They had not seen each other in many months so it was a joyous occasion. It was further enjoyed when my Great Uncle Pat informed my Grandfather that he knew where another brother was, so of course they went to see him. Well, as he told me, they got together at a cafe or something and there were a group of American soldiers basically harassing some local French women. The boys from Petrolia advised their American cousins that all women are ladies and should be treated as such.  Well, he said, “the fight was on and the Americans learned their lesson.”

That is the only story I ever heard of my Grandfather during the war.  He died in 1970.”

~ Story told by Gerry Bezaire of Grand Bend, Thomas’s great-grandson. With contributions from Thomas’s last living son Charles Gleason, Gerry’s uncle.