WristWatch Magazine - Page 114

NAWCC BY NOEL POIRIER, TIMOTHY CARN, AND ADAM HARRIS S ponsored by Gallet Watch Group and hosted by the National Watch & Clock Museum, the 2012 Enlisting Time exhibit featured the personal timepieces of a number of American military veterans from the eighteenth century to the modern era. This article highlights a few of the timepieces. To see all items in the exhibit, visit the exhibit’s website: www.enlistingtime.nawcc.org. Timing is critical to the success of every military engagement. Although strategy, tactics, and technology have changed over time, the need for accurate timing has not. The kind of timepiece that military personnel carried was determined by the nature of the wartime and the technology of their day. Warfare tactics determined who needed a timepiece and the most useful form for that timepiece. War played a significant role in the growth and popularity of the wristwatch we wear today. Timepieces became essential items for military personnel in all branches of service. They were functional tools for the commander and soldier alike, and they also had great emotional and sentimental value to the men and women who carried or wore them. These watches may not represent great leaps in horological development, but they are significant reminders of the importance of timekeeping in the story of the fighting military personnel. They are tangible reminders of their service and sacrifice and aid in examining how people have “enlisted time” throughout history. 112 WRISTWATCH | 2016 George Henry Beamish enlisted in the 204th Battalion of the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force on March 15, 1916. The Toronto Beavers, based in Toronto, ON, had been recruiting at a rate of about 450 men a month. As World War I progressed and casualty rates were rising, the need for new replacement troops became urgent. New battalions formed and sent troops to England as fast as possible. In March 1917 the Toronto Beavers sailed to England and were absorbed into the 2nd Reserve Battalion. Beamish served in France with Canadian Corps Headquarters Sub-Staff and was discharged from service on June 16, 1919, because of injuries. After he was discharged, he moved to Detroit, MI, and worked as a Prudential retirement insurance agent. He died in Detroit on July 14, 1962, at the age of 70. Today, there is a plaque with 102 names in the lobby of Old City Hall in Toronto to honor the men in the former 204th Battalion who died during military service in World War I. Watch info: WWI, circa 1915, “Trench Wristwatch” fitted with a crystal–more commonly referred to as a “shrapnel” guard. Case is nickel plated, with fixed wire lugs. Manual winding, detached lever wristwatch. Round white enamel, Arabic (12 in red) dial with original luminous (radium) numerals and hands, sunk subseconds at 6 o’clock. Crown at 3 winds and sets hands, fitted with a nickel-plated guard to protect the glass and dial. This crystal or shrapnel cover was named “The Improved Mesh Guard”, patent number 11638/16.