Married and lived at 119 Market Place, Brantford, Ontario, Canada.
Constable in the Brantford Police Department.
Brantford November 23, 1914
Brantford Reservist Among the Wounded Constable John L. Cobden Hit Twice
Constable John William Blanchard and Private Arthur Frederick Barnes, Who
Also Went from This City, Are Missing and it is Feared They are Among the
Indications point to Private Arthur F. Barnes and Constable John
Blanchard, late of the Brantford police force as the first Brantford men
to give their lives for King and Country, after having answered to duty’s
call, while residents of this city.
Mrs. J.L. Cobden, wife of Constable John L. Cobden, Saturday night
received a letter from her husband, who is in a base hospital, though
which one was not given because the censor had blotted it out. He had been
wounded in the head and fingers, the first wound almost duplicating that
received by him from a revolver in the hands of Murray, the local colored
man who ran amuck last Christmas. Blanchard, he stated, was missing after
a big battle, presumably that of the Aisne, while Barnes, as had been
previously reported, was very seriously wounded, and according to his
knowledge, had passed away in the hospital after the fight.
Constable Blanchard was very well known in this city, having been on the
force for nearly three years. He resided at 119 Market Street, being
married, with one young child. When the call came and Blanchard as a
reservist answered it, Mrs. Blanchard gave up housekeeping, selling out,
and with her child, left for her home in the old land. The Coldstreams
were in the first expeditionary force sent abroad, being severely handled
during the retreat from Mons, the reservists filling up the gaps thus
caused. They took part in very heavy fighting, to such an extent, that,
according to Cobden, there was not an officer left and so few men that the
battalion could hardly be formed up again. Blanchard was a South African
Brantford November 27, 1914
Cobden Says Blanchard is Likely Dead – First Brantford Man to Lose His
Life in Present War – No Particulars – Letter Received Last Evening Does
Not Go into Details
There are indications which point to the fact that ex-Constable John
William Blanchard, of the local police force, reservist who rejoined his
colors in the Coldstream Guards, was killed. He had previously been
reported as missing.
Mrs. J.L. Cobden, wife of ex-Constable John Ladyman Cobden, also of the
local police force, received another letter last evening from her husband,
who is in a base hospital stating that he had only had one piece of cake
in nine weeks. “This piece was from a cake sent by Mrs. Blanchard to her
husband. I had it a week before he died,” said Cobden in his letter. This
would indicate that Blanchard has indeed given up his life for his King
Cobden in his letter states that he is getting along nicely, “I am
apparently possessed of an iron head, as a German bullet which hit me
merely grazed the skull,” he commented. The wounds in his head and his
fingers have practically healed, but his back was severely strained. It
will be remembered that Cobden was buried alive by earth scattered by a
German shell. He was hurriedly dug out by two Scots Guards men, or he
would have been suffocated. As it was, the falling earth which injured his
back and it is this which is keeping him in the hospital.
Brantford November 30, 1914
May Still Be Alive – If Ex-Constable Blanchard is Dead His Wife Knows
Nothing about It
Contradictory to the news received here from his fellow soldier, Corp. J.L.
Cobden, Pte. J. Blanchard late of the local police force, who was reported
killed, may yet be alive and well.
This morning a letter was received by Secretary Treasurer A.K. Bunnell,
thanking him for the cheque sent to Mrs. J. Blanchard, wife of the
constable, who when war broke out went back to her home at Chippenham,
“My husband is safe and well,” said the letter, this being the only
telegram to him. As the letter was posted on Nov. 17 it would seem that
either Blanchard, who was missing, managed to make his way back to
friendly lines, or else Mrs. Blanchard had not been notified of the fact
that he was missing after a hard fight.
Brantford December 26, 1914
Private Blanchard is Still Alive – Former Policeman is Still Busy Mowing
Constable John Blanchard reported probably killed by Constable Cobden, a
fellow soldier in the First Battalion of the Coldstream Guards, is not
dead, but is at present fighting in France or Belgium, without even having
received a wound.
That was the pleasing word received here yesterday by Ernest Dobson, an
employee of the Massey-Harris Company, and a brother of Mrs. Blanchard’s.
The letter stated that Blanchard was at the front, and had not yet
received a wound, even in the battle of the Aisne, when the British losses
were so heavy.
It will be remembered that Cobden reported that Blanchard when last seen
by him was fighting against a horde of Germans, nine lying at his feet,
and as he was not reported that night, Cobden gave him up for lost, with
the probability that he had been killed. Apparently Blanchard got away,
and managed to hide; rejoining his regiment later, after Cobden had been
taken to the hospital after having received his wounds, which have forced
him to stay in a hospital in England.
The news that John William Blanchard was not killed will be received with
great pleasure in this city where he has very many friends. He formerly
resided on South Market Street.
Brantford January 22, 1915
Constable Blanchard a Prisoner – Captured by the Germans According to Word
Received Today From His Wife
Word has been received in the city by local friends of Constable
Blanchard, that he is now a prisoner in the hands of the Germans. The name
of the place where he is confined was not stated.
The word came to the local police through Mrs. Blanchard, who stated that
she had heard from her husband, that he was well, but that he had been
captured by the Germans.
It is evident that at the time Constable Cobden, who was with Blanchard in
the Coldstream Guards, saw him last fighting with his bayonet when the
Germans charged, and was the last seen of him by his friends. After that
time he was posted as missing and possibly dead, but the latest word gives
assurance that he is living, though in the hands of the Huns.
Brantford February 23, 1915
Have No Word of Blanchard – Relatives are Trying to Trace Him Through
Constable Cobden – Chief Slemin Gets Another Interesting Letter
Two letters from Constables Cobden and Blanchard, late of the local police
force, who went to the front as reservists of the Coldstream Guards, were
received by Chief of Police Slemin this morning.
The first was from Mrs. W. Blanchard, sister of Constable Blanchard asking
to be put into touch with Constable Cobden, as relatives had been unable
to secure any information respecting the whereabouts of Constable
Blanchard. They had applied to the war office, but there it was reported
that his name was not on any casualty list and that they had no word of
him at all. The war office promised to notify them when such word was
received, as Constable Cobden was with Blanchard in the fighting. Mrs.
Blanchard, who resides in Chippenham, Wilts, desires to get into touch
The last word received here about Constable Blanchard was that he was
taken prisoner by the Germans.
Now Able To Walk
A letter was received in the same mail from Constable J.L. Cobden, who is
still in the Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth, London. He states
that he is now able to walk about a little, though his legs are still very
weak under him. He is shortly to undergo treatment in electric baths for
his back, which was injured when a German shell blew up in the trench he
was in, burying him in it.
Cobden noted that in the same hospital, on the next floor, was a chum of
his in the Coldstream Guards, who was brought to the hospital the same
time as Cobden was, but neither knew until very recently that the other
was there. The other man told Cobden that he was unconscious for two hours
after being dug out of the trench by the Scots Guards.
Cobden remarked in his letter that during the fighting in Flanders and
France they had lost track of the dates, as they had been fighting so
regularly, having no men to relieve them that they were all tired out. He
is getting along very nicely now, and expects that he will again go to the
front with the troops.
Brantford May 3, 1915
Word From Blanchard?
The Expositor was informed this morning that Pte. James Hastings, a
Brantford man with the 36th Battalion at Hamilton, had been informed by a
Hamilton friend of John Blanchard, reservist, who left Brantford when the
war broke out, that he had received a letter from Blanchard, who is a
prisoner of the Germans. The news could not be verified here.
Brantford August 3, 1915
Blanchard is War Victim – Definite Word Received that Brantford Police
Following many long months of the most trying anxiety, during which the
fate of her husband was unknown, Mrs. Blanchard, wife of Private John
Blanchard, formerly of this city has at last received the unwelcome
tidings from the war office that her husband died on the field of battle.
A letter to this effect was received this morning by Chief of Police
Slemin from Mrs. Blanchard, who left for England shortly after the
outbreak of hostilities, and who has for many months made every endeavor
to obtain some definite news regarding the condition of her husband. The
letter which was received by Chief Slemin this morning is as follows:
I am writing just to tell you my dear husband is killed. I have just
received the news from the war office, and the King’s sympathy, I am
sending you the letter, which I received from Lord Kitchener, so you can
see it. Would you please send the letter back to me when you have read it:
Sir, I thank you very kindly for all you have done for me.
Enclosed in the envelope was a small piece of paper, which will be dearly
prized by Mrs. Blanchard throughout the rest of her life. It read as
The King commands me to assure you of the true sympathy of His Majesty and
the Queen in your sorrow.
It will be recalled that in November last, Chief Slemin received a letter
from Pte. John Cobden, who also left Brantford at the outbreak of war to
re-join his regiment, the Coldstream Guards, in which the former Brantford
constable, who was a fellow soldier with Blanchard, stated that “poor Jack
Blanchard with several others, was cut off from us, and was either killed
or taken prisoner. That was on October 31, 1914, and we have seen or heard
nothing of him since.” Since that time several communications, in
reference to Private Blanchard has passed between Mrs. Blanchard and Chief
Slemin, the latter volunteering several months ago to seek information
through the war office. A blank form was sent in return to him, on which a
description of Pte. Blanchard was asked the advice being offered that it
would probably be some weeks before any trace of him would be found, since
steps would be taken to communicate with the prisoners of war camps in
Germany. The answer which Mrs. Blanchard has so recently received is the
result of the efforts of the war office.
Ex-Constable John Blanchard was a valued member of the local police force
and enjoyed the respect of a large circle of friends in all walks of life
in this city. When war was declared one year ago, he was among the first
to leave this city, he having received his summons to re-join his regiment
the Coldstream Guards. In the fighting at the Battle of Ypres, the popular
police officer received the wound which caused his death, he being last
seen by his comrades fighting heroically with bayonets drawn against
several swarthy Germans, who must have succeeded in overcoming him.
Newspaper details from http://www.doingourbit.ca/profile/john-Blanchard