The Reverend George Middleton
George Hodgson Middleton
During his time in Canada, Newfoundland and the United States, George worked on such projects as the Nova Scotian railways, the Inter-Colonial Railway, as well as the Canadian Pacific and the Newfoundland Railways. He married Nannie Esther Hazelwood, the daughter of Samuel Hazlewood and Elizabeth Bryan in Toronto on 18th August 1886. Their eldest son James Russell Middleton (2), named after his uncle, was born in Toronto in January 1888, their second Alexander Samuel Middleton also in Toronto in 1890.
In 1893 George left Canada for Natal in South Africa where he would spend the following ten years in railway construction in the Transvaal and Zululand. Their third son George (Hilton) Middleton was born on the 1 August the same year. During their time in Natal, George and his wife Nannie would experience their first loss, that of their infant daughter Elizabeth Hazelwood Middleton in 1898 followed by the the birth of their fourth son Donald Stewart Middleton in September 1899.
They all acquitted themselves admirably , the eldest son James Russell followed in his father’s footsteps as a civil engineer in Canada and the youngest two George Hilton and Donald Stewart both graduated from the University of Edinburgh as surgeons. The second eldest Alexander Samuel Middleton, a student of science, also at Edinburgh was the first of the brothers to perish in the Great War.
The Middleton Brothers and War
Alexander Samuel Middleton
Alexander Samuel Middleton enlisted with 1st Cameron Highlanders in 1914 and was promoted the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in March 1915. He died on 30th September 1915 at Rouen from wounds sustained at the Battle of Loos, the largest British offensive staged on the Western front that had commenced just five days earlier. He was 25 years old.
James Russell Middleton
His elder brother James Russell Middleton (2) who had followed in his father’s vocation as a civil engineer enlisted on the 22nd September 1914 with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force of Lord Strathconas Horse. He transferred to the 7th Battalion Cameron Highlanders and achieved his wings as part of the Royal Flying Corps at Thetford Military School on August 20th 1916 in a Maurice Farman Bi-plane.
The third brother to enlist was George Hilton Middleton, who had graduated as a surgeon from the University of Edinburgh in 1918, he enlisted with the Royal Army Medical Corps on the 24th October 1918. Surely with the end of conflict in Europe less than a month away his life at least would be spared. Tragically this was not to be. Following a brief period of service in Egypt and the end of the war in Europe, Hilton and his unit were deployed to the Russian front in the futile and controversial allied attempt to quell the Russian Bolshevik uprising. By the late summer early autumn of 1919 the respective governments had begun the withdrawal of troops from the region. Too late for Hilton, who was killed in action at the hands of the Red Army on the 10th August 1919 at Kuznechikha, Archangel. George Hilton Middleton was 25 years old.
Nannie Esther Middleton, Their Mother
Equally it may be a blessing she did not live to witness the tragedy that befell her fourth son Donald Stewart Middleton in 1942. Recently promoted to the rank of Brigadier he too was tragically killed in an air crash in Buckinghamshire while on active service on 30th October. Below I quote an excerpt from his biography as published by the Royal College of Surgeons:-
Donald Stewart Middleton
Middleton, Donald Stewart (1899 - 1942)
MRCS and FRCS 10 June 1926; MB ChB Edinburgh 1921; FRCS Edinburgh 1925.
30 September 1899
Natal, South Africa
30 October 1942
Much interested in public affairs and realizing the approach of war he joined the RAMC Territorial Force in 1936, and in October 1938 was appointed colonel, Army Medical Service, and Assistant Director of Medical Services for the newly-formed anti-aircraft defences of Scotland. Here he proved himself a brilliant administrator, and was promoted brigadier. He received the Efficiency Decoration in October 1942, but died on active service the same month, on 30 October 1942, aged 43. He was buried at Strathmiglo under the Lomonds, and a memorial service was held at St Giles's Cathedral.
Middleton married in 1930 Sheila, only daughter of John Ronald Currie, MD, FRCP Edinburgh, at that time professor of public health at Glasgow University. Mrs Middleton survived him with a son and a daughter. Middleton was of striking figure and personality, with a beautiful voice. By the age of forty he had already taken a prominent place in the profession. He was widely and familiarly known as "Sam".
It is interesting to note that the three brothers lost in WW1 appear in the lists of the fallen of South Africa, with James Russell Middleton additionally being remembered amongst the fallen of Canada. In their home village of Strathmiglo, where as well as plaques on the War Memorial, there is a beautiful stained glass window within the Church dedicated to their memory. See link below for image
“It was no sacrifice, Ma’am. I did not give them willingly".
It was not until WWII that measures were taken to protect families from losses such as these. The lead came from the US following the loss of the five Sullivan brothers who perished on the USS Juneau in 1942. It was this story that inspired Stephen Spielberg’s multi award winning film “Saving Private Ryan”.
Tales of the intrepid railway pioneers are told most eloquently in the book “When the Steel Went Through”, the memoirs of another Scottish civil engineer P. Turner Bone. Alexander Middleton features frequently in Chapter 11,
http://www.electricscotland.com/history/canada/steel12.htm when in charge of the eastern most section of the Canadian Pacific Railway at Mattawamkeag.
I have not delved into the extended Middleton family and their various, and I have to say numerous connections to the extended Smith family, as quite frankly this blog post would be the length of Tolstoy’s “War & Peace”. However I am happy to answer any questions other researchers may have concerning these connections.