Home Page

B-411117 Corporal
Royal Canadian Engineers
(formerly B-50021 Corps of Military Staff Clerks)
Edward De Santis, 1999. All Rights Reserved.

Early Militia Service

James Bertram Noakes started his military service on the 3rd of October 1939 when he joined the Algonquin Regiment, a unit of the Canadian Non-Permanent Active Militia. Noakes served with The Algonquins for about 9 months and rose to the rank of Lance Corporal. When it became more evident that Canada would become involved in the war in Europe, Noakes took his discharge from The Algonquins on the 18th of June 1940 and enlisted on the 22nd of June as a Private in the Grey and Simcoe Foresters at North Bay, Ontario.

Service During World War 2

Service in Canada

Having demonstrated an aptitude for military service as a result of his prior service, Private Noakes was appointed to the rank of Acting Corporal, with pay, on the 15th of July 1940. He was transferred to Camp Borden, Ontario where, on the 28th of November 1940 he was awarded Tradesmen’s Pay as a Clerk, Group "C". As the year 1940 came to an end, Corporal Noakes was granted a furlough on the 21st of December to enable him to enjoy the Christmas and New Years holidays with his family. He returned to duty at Camp Borden on the 4th of January 1941 and on the 24th of March 1941 he reverted to his permanent rank of Private at his own request. The reason for this request is unknown.

Private Noakes was transferred from The Grey and Simcoe Foresters to No. 2 District Depot in Toronto on the 10th of May 1941. He remained in Toronto until the 10th of May 1941 when he was reassigned to the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals Training Center at Barriefield, Ontario. The day after his assignment to Barriefield, he was attached to the Canadian Signals Training Center at Kingston, Ontario for all purposes including pay. Noakes was in training at Kingston for almost two months when, having completed his course, he was reassigned to Camp Borden on the 7th of November 1941. On the following day he was taken on the strength of Headquarters Squadron, 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade. As he was now with a "mounted" unit, his rank was changed from Private to Trooper.

The headquarters of 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade had been raised at Camp Borden on the 13th of August 1940 for the purpose of training and administering armoured units in Canada. These units consisted of the following tank and cavalry regiments that had been previously mobilized prior to the formation of the brigade headquarters:

1st Mechanized Cavalry Regiment (1st Hussars)

The Fort Garry Horse

The Ontario Regiment (Tank)

The Three Rivers Regiment (Tank)

The Royal Canadian Dragoons (Armoured Cars)

Lord Strathcona’s Horse

Trooper Noakes made immediate preparations for embarkation and was attached to the 10th Armoured Regiment for pay purposes while aboard ship. He departed Canada for the United Kingdom on the 11th of November 1941.

Service in the U.K.

Noakes disembarked in England on the 24th of November 1941 and immediately proceeded to Aldershot in Hampshire with his unit. On the 28th of November he qualified as a Clerk, Group "C" and again was granted the trade pay associated with that qualification. Noakes was granted landing leave on the 17th of December 1941, but was required to return to duty before Christmas, reporting in to his unit on the 21st of December.

On the 4th of February 1942 Noakes was appointed to the rank of Acting Lance Corporal while still assigned to Headquarters Squadron of the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade at Aldershot. During this period his regiment was still The Grey and Simcoe Foresters. He was granted seven days leave on the 8th of April 1942 and returned to his unit on the 15th.

Lance Corporal Noakes was transferred from The Grey and Simcoe Foresters to the Corps of Military Staff Clerks (C.M.S.C.) on the 1st of May 1942. His service from this point, until his deployment to Italy in October of 1943, consisted essentially of staff work within the Canadian headquarters at Aldershot interspersed with periods of private leave as shown in Table 1 below:

Table 1. Periods of Leave Taken by Lance Corporal Noakes While Serving in England.

Date Leave Granted

Date Returned from Leave

28 May 1942

4 June 1942

31 August 1942

7 September 1942

30 December 1942

8 January 1943

During this same period Noakes received additional recognition for his good work. He was awarded a Good Conduct Badge on the 18th of June 1942 and was appointed to the rank of Acting Corporal, with pay, on the 24th of August. On the 24th of November 1942 he was confirmed in the rank of Corporal; that is, he was given a permanent promotion to this rank.

On the 30th of January 1943 Corporal Noakes was transferred to the headquarters of the 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade as a Clerk, Group "C". At the time of Noakes’ assignment to the unit, the 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade consisted of the following units:

The Lake Superior Regiment

The Irish Regiment of Canada

The Elgin Regiment

11th Canadian Infantry Brigade Anti-Tank Company

Noakes served with this brigade for just under 10 months when, on the 19th of October 1943, he was transferred to the 1st Canadian General Reinforcement Unit (1 C.G.R.U.) as a Clerk, Group "C". On the 21st of October he reverted to his regimental rate of pay. On the 22nd of October he was transferred to I Canadian Corps, Canadian Mediterranean Force (C.M.F.) as a Clerk, Group "C". The following day his trade pay as a Clerk, Group "C" was restored to him. At the time that Noakes joined his new unit, I Canadian Corps was in England making preparations to deploy to the Mediterranean.

Service in Italy

Corporal Noakes reported in to the headquarters of the Allied Armies Italy (A.A.I.) and on the 24th of October 1943 was in Algiers with I Canadian Corps headquarters. From Algiers the headquarters proceeded to Augusta, Sicily, and in November of 1943 Noakes was assigned to Headquarters, Canadian Forces Mobile Command (C.F.M.C.), I Canadian Corps.

By the 11th of January 1944, Headquarters I Canadian Corps was established on the mainland of Italy, north of Altamura. On the 25th of March 1944, while serving in Italy, Noakes was temporarily placed on the "X3" List of the Corps of Military Staff Clerks. He qualified as a Clerk, Group "B" on the 27th of April 1944 and was granted the trade pay for that qualification on the same day.

Now began the long march of I Canadian Corps northward up the boot of Italy, along the Adriatic coast. Corporal Noakes movements during this period are summarized in Table 2 below:

Table 2. Movements of Headquarters, I Canadian Corps in Italy During 1944-1945.



15 May 1944


16 August 1944

Iesi [Jesi]

26 September 1944


29 November 1944

Castiglione di Ravenna

3 December 1944


19 January 1945


Following the defeat of the German forces in Italy, I Canadian Corps was sent to France and then on to Holland. Noakes continued to serve with I Canadian Corps headquarters during this period. Shortly after his arrival in France, Noakes was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

Service in France and Holland

Noakes arrived in France on the 12th of March 1945 and, with I Canadian Corps headquarters, was assigned to Field Marshal Montgomery’s 21st Army Group. The headquarters proceeded immediately to Nijmegen as the Corps prepared to take part in the final advance against the Germans. Sergeant Noakes movements during this period are summarized in Table 3 below:

Table 3. Movements of Headquarters, I Canadian Corps in Holland During 1945.



12 March 1945


11 April 1945

Through Emmerich to Doetinchem in preparation for the attack on Arnhem

13 April 1945


17 April 1945


8 May 1945


Following the German surrender, headquarters I Canadian Corps was disbanded on the 17th of July 1945 and Sergeant Noakes returned to the United Kingdom.

Return Home

Noakes embarked for the trip home to Canada on the 20th of August 1945. Upon embarkation he was taken on the strength of No. 2 Repatriation Depot. He arrived in Toronto on the 30th of August 1945 and was taken on the strength of No. 2 District Depot. He was immediately granted disembarkation leave.

On the 22nd of September 1945, Noakes received a mention in despatches (m.i.d.) for his services in the European Theatre of the war. The award was published while he was on leave. He returned to No. 2 District Depot from leave on the 28th of September 1945 and on the following day he was transferred to No. 23 Basic Training Center (B.T.C.) at Newmarket. After only a few days at Newmarket, he was transferred back to No. 2 District Depot in Toronto on the 4th of October 1945 for discharge from the Army.

Second World War Medals and Awards

Sergeant Noakes was discharged on the 10th of October 1945 at Toronto. On the 8th of January 1946 his mention in despatches was published in the London Gazette. His service records indicate that he received the oak leaf emblem for his mention in despatches on the 8th of February 1949. The certificate for his mention in despatches was subsequently mailed to him on the 3rd of March 1949.

 For his service in World War 2 Sergeant Noakes was awarded the following medals:

1939-45 Star

Italy Star

France & Germany Star

Defence Medal

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with clasp

War Medal with mention in despatches

The qualification criteria for each of these medals are provided in the Appendix.

His war service was reckoned at 4 years and 284 days; 1 year and 142 days at home and 3 years and 242 days overseas.

Post War Service

James Bertram Noakes returned to civilian life after his discharge in 1945. On the 3rd of February 1950 Noakes was called up from the Reserve Force to serve with the Royal Canadian Engineers at North Bay, Ontario with the rank of Sapper. Although not stated in his service records, this call up may have resulted from the increasing tensions in the Far East, specifically in Korea. There is no indication, however, that he was ever deployed with the Royal Canadian Engineer forces serving in Korea.

On the 7th of July 1952 Noakes was assigned to the 8th Field Squadron, Royal Canadian Engineers, Canadian Army (Militia) with the rank of Sergeant. This unit was stationed at Chippewa Barracks in North Bay, Ontario and was part of the 2nd Engineer Field Regiment, RCE. The squadron was commanded by Captain C.L. Curtis, RCE who was replaced by Major M.E. Dickerson, RCE later in the year.

On the same date that he joined the unit, Sergeant Noakes proceeded with the unit on temporary duty to Petawawa Summer Camp. He was subsequently released from special duty with the 8th Field Squadron at Toronto on the 21st of August 1952.

On the 15th of October 1954 Hurricane Hazel hit southwest Ontario and caused severe flooding and the destruction of 20 bridges in the metropolitan Toronto area. The 8th Field Squadron was placed in a standby status to assist in damage repair, but the unit was not called up to participate in Operation "Hazel."

Sergeant Noakes re-engaged for a period of three years at North Bay on the 1st of February 1955. On the 19th of November 1955 he attended a change of command ceremony parade with the 8th Field Squadron at Fort York in Toronto. On the 31st of December he completed seven days of additional administrative training at North Bay.

Noakes service records show that he re-engaged for an additional period of three years at North Bay on the 3rd of February 1956. During the early part of this year he was also awarded five service chevrons and the Maple Leaf for his Canadian Volunteer Service Medal. On the 30th of June 1956 he proceeded on annual training to Petawawa Camp with the 8th Field Squadron, which at this time was commanded by Major R.J. Broad, RCE. On the 7th of July 1956 he returned from annual training at Petawawa and completed an additional eight days of camp training. Sergeant Noakes reverted to the rank of Corporal on the 1st of November 1956. On the 31st of December he completed eight days of additional administrative training at North Bay.

Sergeant Noakes submitted his application for the award of the Canadian Forces’ Decoration on the 21st of February 1957. His service was verified by his commanding officer, Major R.J. Broad, of the 8th Field Squadron, RCE(M). Approval of the award was recommended by Brigadier M.S. Dunn, Commander, Central Ontario Area, on the 29th of March 1957.

In 1957 Noakes proceeded on annual training at Petawawa Summer Camp on the 29th of June 1957 and completed the training on the 6th of July. On the 7th of July he was attached, for all purposes, to Headquarters, 11th Field Engineer Regiment at Petawawa. His attachment to the 11th Field Engineer Regiment ended on the 13th of July 1957.

On the 23rd of July 1957 Corporal Noakes was struck off the strength of the 8th Field Squadron and was transferred to the Canadian Army (Special Reserve) (Royal Canadian Engineers) for training. He completed two and a half days of additional training time on the 1st of September 1957 when he completed the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Course, Part I. On the 28th of November 1957 he completed an additional five days of administrative training at North Bay.

Noakes was transferred to the Canadian Army (Militia), on the 1st of September 1959, for a period of three years and was allocated to the Royal Canadian Engineers. He remained in this status until the 19th of January 1962 when he was transferred to the Canadian Army (Special Reserve)(Royal Canadian Engineers). This is the last entry to be found in his military service papers. It must be assumed that his military service ended in 1962. His total service, including active and reserve time, amounted to 22 years and 108 days.

Personal Data

Little is known about James Bertram Noakes personal life or civilian work. The personal data in his service papers has, for the most part, been redacted for privacy reasons. What is known is that during his war service, his next of kin changed addresses four times. The only address legible on the papers is 34 Sydney Street, Toronto, Ontario.

It appears that Noakes may have joined The Canadian Corps of Commissionaires based on the presence of a service medal from this organization being included with his military medals. A bar with the Roman numerals "XV" is attached to the medal ribbon and the reverse of the medal is engraved as follows:



The initial "R" is somewhat puzzling on this medal because nowhere in Noakes’ service records does it indicate that his given names were anything but James Bertram. Furthermore, his Canadian Forces Decoration is named to him as J.B. NOAKES. Three possibilities come to mind to explain this discrepancy: 1) The Corps of Commissionaires medal may be erroneously named, 2) Noakes may have started using an unofficial first name after his discharge from the Army, or 3) the medal may belong to a relative, perhaps a son, and may not be the medal of J.B. Noakes.



1. GORDON, L.L. British Battles and Medals. Spink & Son, Ltd., London, 1971.
2. KERRY, A.J. and Mc DILL, W.A. The History of the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, 1936-1946. Volume II. The Military Engineers Association of Canada, Ottawa, 1966.
3. HOLMES, K.J. The History of the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, 1946-1971. Volume III. The Military Engineers Association of Canada, Ottawa, 1997.
4. LITHERLAND, A.R. and SIMPKIN, B.T. Spink’s Standard Catalogue of British Orders, Decorations & Medals.
5. STEWART, C.H. The Concise Lineages of the Canadian Army, 1855 to Date. National Museums of Canada, Ottawa, 1971.


National Personnel Records Centre, Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. Service Papers of James Bertram Noakes, including the following:

a. Record of Service, Form CFA 373.
b. Statement of Services, Form M.F.M. 1 & 2.
c. Statement of Services, Form M.F.M. 1 & 2(a).
d. Service and Casualty Form, M.F.M.4 (a) (Part II).
e. Decorations - C.A.S.F., Form 25M-5-40.
f. Awards - Canadian Army (Active).
g. Congratulatory Letter on the Award of Mention in Despatches Certificate.
h. Application for the Award of the Canadian Forces’ Decoration, Form C.N.S.
i. Canadian Ordnance Catalogue, Issue No. 544, 20 May 1957.
j. Canadian Army (Active) Discharge Certificate, Form M.F.M. 7.


Toronto and Area Street Atlas. MapArt Corporation, Oshawa, Ontario, 1995.


1. Canadian Gazette 38, dated 22 September 1945.
2. London Gazette, 8 January 1946.


1. Canadian Corps of Commissionaires: http://www.commissionaires.ca/snared/history.htm
2. MICROSOFT EXPEDIA MAPS. http:\www.expediamaps.com
3. MILLS, T. The Canadian Active Service Force Raised in 1940. "Land Forces of the British Commonwealth" web site, 1999.