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Canadian Corps Sports In France

Canadian Corps Sports In France

By  Geo. C. Machum

July 1951

The 1st of July, 1918, will long be remembered by many veterans of the First World War. That was the day of the famous Canadian Corps Sports at Tincques, France, which had no less than 720 individual entries and were seen by nearly 30,000 troops.

Your sports editor recently reread the story of the Corps Sports written by “The Orderly Sergeant,” which appeared in THE LEGIONARY of July 1939.

It seemed a good idea to try to locate some of the lads who figured in these games thirty-three years ago. Possibly, the two most outstanding performers in that meet were Fritz Schaefer of Halifax and Joe Keeper of Winnipeg. Schaefer won both the 100 and the 200-yard dashes, while Keeper, the Indian star, won the half-mile, the mile and the three mile.

So your editor wrote a letter to Fritz Schaefer at Halifax. It brought a quick reply from this former great athlete, who disclosed that he is living at Bedford, N.S., just outside Halifax, in semi-retirement, after having served for many years as postmaster of Bedford until illness forced him to give up this work. He wishes to be remembered to all his old pals of the C.E.F. days. Fritz went overseas with the 64th Infantry Battalion of Nova Scotia, and served in France with the fighting 25th in the 5th Brigade.

All attempts to find out the present whereabouts of Joe Keeper have so far failed. He returned to Winnipeg in 1919, but has apparently moved on from there.

*          *          *

A Great Soldier-Athlete

This page wishes to bring back to present-day readers the stories of great men of other days. In 1914, many of Canada’s greatest athletes were the first to rally to the colours.

Prominent among them was Capt. Percival Molson of Montreal. At High School, at McGill University, and later with the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, he was outstanding in many sports, especially track and field, football, and hockey, besides being a better than average player in golf, cricket, tennis and rackets. In track and field he was an all-round performer, starring at 100, 220 and 440 yards, the half-mile, and in the running broad jump. In football, he played in the backfield, where he showed exceptional speed, strong kicking power and sure hands. He won the Military Cross with the P.P.C.L.I. at Sanctuary Wood in June 1916 and was severely wounded, enough to warrant taking a staff job in the rear, but he chose to return to his unit in the firing line, and was killed near Avion in July, 1917, at the age of 37.

“Legion Sports” pays tribute to a great soldier-athlete, whose example of sportsmanship and courage is one which cannot help but inspire us today.

He played not for the fleeting prize

But for the satisfying thrill

Of tackling any job his size

And bending trouble to his will.





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