Story provided by Robert Taylor, War Memorial Education and Conservation Services
In amongst my mother’s papers and photos I found a Great War Church Memorial unveiling service pamphlet for the Bloor Street Presbyterian Church Toronto. It was kept as my Mom’s mother (my Maternal Grandmother; Margaret Francis Kirkpatrick). At the age of 15 or 16 she had a crush on a lawyer turned soldier, Major James Miles Langstaff of the 75th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force.
James Miles Langstaff (1883-1917), of Richmond Hill, graduated from Osgoode Hall in 1912. He was a partner with the firm Lowell, Reid, Wood & Wright when the war broke out. The Law Society of Upper Canada encouraged lawyers and law students to enlist for service. Recruits were offered a remittance of fees and allowing students to advance one year or be called to the Bar without examination. The number of willing lawyer recruits was surprisingly high: 30% of the profession (around 500). Shortly afterward signing up, Langstaff joined the 75th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. There he rose rapidly to major, and was recommended for the military cross.
At some point during this time, Langstaff was based at the Bramshott Camp, on the Hampshire/Surrey border. He sent postcards back to Margaret Kirkpatrick from the Surrey town of Shottermill, showing that he and his fellow Canadian soldiers enjoyed exploring the Surrey countryside.
He was eventually killed 1 March 1917 at Vimy Ridge, at the age of 33. and is buried at the CWGC – Villers Station Cemetry, Villers-Au-Bois (grave Marker ref VII D.2). As Major Langstaff was from a prominent family in Toronto, there was a Memorial Book written about him. Two copies are held by the family of Margaret Kirkpatrick and her father Frank H. Kirkpatrick. He was a Professor of Public Speaking at the Toronto School of Expression and included a Personal Tribute in the Memorial Book (pg.30). He had taught Miles Langstaff and knew the family.
Memorial Book https://archive.org/details/majorjmlangstaff00languoft/page/n0