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AGG, Joseph Foster (1872-1953) – Canadian Expeditionary Force

Sergeant Joseph Foster Agg (1871-1953) was born in Wickhamford in November 1871, the son of Decimus and Mary Agg.  He spent his childhood years in Wickhamford and then moved to Badsey with his family in the late 1880s. 

Joseph married Emma Wilkes at Badsey in 1898; they had three sons and two daughters.  Joseph, who in 1891 had been an agricultural labourer, was described in the 1901 census as a market gardener and shopkeeper living at the newly-built 1 Belmont Terrace, Badsey.  A few years later they moved across the road to Cotswold View.  Joseph was choirmaster at St James’ Church, Badsey, for many years.  He emigrated with his family to Canada in 1913.

Joseph enlisted when he lived in Whitby, Ontario, on 27th March 1916, at 44 years of age.  (He lied about his age on enlistment, giving a birth date of 19th November 1876.)  He joined the 132nd O. S. Battalion (No 868071) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He had initially been asked to join the band but returned to the ranks when he was ordered overseas. He arrived in England in mid-1917, after being with the first Canadian troops to travel through the USA.  The June 1917 issue of the Parish Magazine said:  “We are glad to learn that Private J F Agg and Private W Agg have arrived in England and we hope soon to welcome them to Badsey.”  (W Agg was Joseph’s nephew, William Decimus Agg, who had also emigrated to Canada in 1914.)  The following month’s magazine said:

The Vicar has received a long and interesting letter from Sergeant J F Agg, the following personal details from which will be of interest to his many friends:  “There were about 20 in the Battalion when I joined up, but within three months of the start we had sent out two drafts to the front.  I was asked to join the Band and held the rank of Senior Corporal, part of the time being Band Sergeant in the absence of the regular Sergeant.  Our Band became a good one and we were in great demand for Recruiting Meetings, Garden Parties, etc.  We made four tours and had a very fine time, sometimes marching and sometimes being conveyed in Band-wagons.  Our Band consisted of 40 at its strongest, but on being ordered overseas the band was broken up and we all returned to the ranks.  We had a most interesting trip to our embarkation port, being the first Canadian troops to travel through USA ….  I was appointed to the police on the ship, and since I arrived in England I have been promoted Sergeant and am in charge of all the police in the area of the camp.

The August 1917 issue of the magazine revealed that Joseph and William Agg had been able to pay a flying visit to Badsey and both looked remarkably fit.

Joseph was later employed at the Canadian Hospital at Taplow.  In February 1919 it was reported in the Parish Magazine:

Our old organist, Mr J F Agg, played at Evensong at Badsey on Sunday January 19th.  He is official organist at the chapel of the Canadian Hospital, Taplow, and is, for the present, being retained in England solely on account of his services in that capacity which are much appreciated by both staff and patients. 

After the war, Joseph returned to Canada.  He died at Whitby, Ontario, in 1953.