Ullock, Family of heros

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                                         THE ULLOCK FAMILY
                                       Is heroism hereditary?
                                      By Thelma (Ullock) Trent


The family of a First World War amputee proves that heroism must be hereditary. Frank Ullock of Upper Water Street, Chatham, went overseas with the 26th Battalion, First World War in 1914. He was severely wounded which eventually resulted in the loss of a leg and an early demise.

The older generation will recall with pride the New Brunswick 26th Battalion, one of Canada’s finest fighting units to be sent overseas. Frank Ullock’s bravery carried through to his family. Among other children, he had three sons, John, Frank and Harry, and a daughter, Thelma, who all served overseas in the Second World War.

Continuing down memory lane to the 27th of August, 1924, one of his daughters, Frances, then at age 14, was credited and honoured for saving the lives of three potential drowning victims from the Miramichi River: Wenona Shields, Bert Brett, and Blair Benson. She was honoured for her bravery by the Canadian Government and received a bronze medal. She also received the Carnegie Medal from the United States government plus $1,600 from the Carnegie Fund.

From the Town of Chatham she received a purse of gold and when the new ferry boat to Chatham was launched in 1925, it was named “The Frances Ullock” in recognition. The naming of the new ferry was a result of a competition held by the town. Mrs. Arthur McKenzie was the successful contender in the competition submitting the name of Chatham’s most recent heroine. The prize to Mrs. McKenzie from the town was a $5 gold piece.

Second rescue tragic

Then it was in July 18, 1953 that Frances’ brother, Burton Ullock age 15 lost his life by drowning after rescuing two young people, Anita Savage and Marven Springer, from practically the same area as Frances’ heroic actions in 1924. On that day in July there could have been another fatality in the Ullock family had it not been for the quick reaction of Mrs. Blanche Maher, mother of Chatham Mayor Edward Maher, who had given Frank (Burton’s brother) artificial respiration, after another brother, Dan, had dragged him from the swirling waters of the Miramichi as he tried in vain to rescue their brother, Burton. In recognition of Dan’s efforts, he was recommended for the Carnegie Medal.

Then in 1948 another brother, Vincent Ullock, with co-worker Howard Geikie, rescued Jo Edna Traer and Paul Donahue from the Snowball’s water fountain. Again, just a few short years ago, he and Leo Flieger, a Chatham police constable, rescued a potential drowning victim from the Miramichi River.

Last, but not least, Alexander Ullock (“Sa”), in August 1981, was credited with saving the live of Peter Breau from a burning truck.

Who says heroism doesn’t run in families!

By Charles Whitty (With special thanks to Chatham Gazette and the late Mrs. Ralph MacDonald)

One of the saddest tragedies that has ever cast a gloom over the community occurred on Upper Water Street, in the west end of the Town of Chatham on Wednesday evening August 27, 1924 near the old McCulley wharf when Roland McG. Roberts, 25 of Moncton, gave his life saving Miss Wenona Shields, his wife’s sister, from drowning. But for the heroism of a 14-year-old girl, Frances Ullock, his noble sacrifice of life and self might all have been in vain and the community might be mourning today the loss of four or five other lives snuffed out in the brightness of hope and youth.

There were four or five people in the water after tea time Wednesday and it seems instead of keeping in the cove near the McCulley wharf as the bathers there generally did, they went in off the point of the sand bar above the cove, the site of the old Coulson slip. The every vestige of the wharf there has long since been washed away.

Going in at this point brought them very close to the channel, where a most unnaturally violent current was running. Rivermen said they never saw the current swirl into such eddies as occurred this time, as the down tide was nearly over its ebb. But there was a top of freshet after the heavy rain and it mare the heaviest and most dangerous current ever noticed at the point and the worst period coincided exactly with the time the bathers were in.

First hint of trouble

The first hint of trouble was when Wenona Shields was caught by the current in the channel and swept into the eddy that circled round and round between Coulson’s point and the McCulley wharf. She could swim well but her efforts could not get her clear of the circling eddy and she began to lose strength as she battled against it. Hearing her cries and seeing her predicament, Roland Roberts, with his wife and other members of the Shields family who were on the shore or just about to go into the water, rushed to her and succeeded in reaching and holding her up.

He attempted to get her out of danger by making the effort to swim with her to shore, but he could not make any headway against the current and exhausted himself in a vain effort to break out of the eddy. In the meantime Mrs. Roberts and Kitty Shields raised the alarm by shrieking at the top of their voices and soon help was on its way.

Little Frances Ullock was talking with her mother in their home near the scene of the tragedy. When the alarm cry reached her, she jumped to her feet and looking out saw four or five figures struggling in the water, for by this time other bathers had attempted to go to the help of the two making a hopeless struggle against the strong current. They, too, had been swept along and around in the same eddy, which seemingly had a circumference of 30 feet.

“Mother,’ Frances cried. “There are some people drowning, shall I go help them?” Without a moment’s hesitation, Mrs. Molly Ullock, who should also be reckoned among the North Shore heroines exclaimed “Yes, go!”

Frances flew across the road and track down to the shore, kicking off her shoes as she ran, but plunging into the dangerous channel with all her clothes still encumbering her as there was no time to waste. Young Roberts was plainly exhausted and the others had all “lost their heads” and were yelling for help.

In fact just as Miss Ullock reached the two most in peril, Robert’s strength was spent. “I can do no more,” he breathed out as his grasp relaxed on the drowning girl. As he floated a little to one side Frances caught Wenona and kept her afloat with one arm as she kept treading water, while with the other arm she grasped young Blair Benson. Mr. Roberts had just enough strength to grasp her skirts as this heroic girl started toward the shore with the three, but his strength now went entirely and with a cry he threw up his arms and was gone. Hampered as she was Miss Ullock could do nothing to help him, though it is said he appeared above the surface or close to it again as the current swung his body this way and that in the vortex.

Getting her two carrges to shore, the rescuer again went out and kept the other two left in the eddy from going under until Mr. Roy, who lived nearby, launched his boat with the aid of his boy and the cook off the J. O’B. Mr. Roy sped to the rescue and, as his boat was small, had to make several trips to get all three in danger safely on shore. In the meantime young Roberts had disappeared and in a short time grappling parties were out. There were two of them, but for their knowledge of the tide and river conditions, the body could not have been recovered as speedily as it was.

Everything was done

One boat contained Mr. Roy, Pat Whalen, Charles Quann and the Foundry scow manned by Will Walsh, Jim Springer, Jim Mills and Jack Murphy. The body was recovered in one hour and a half after the accident and was taken to Mr. Sadler’s grounds, where everything was done in an effort to revive life. Dr. Maven was present and took charge of the work, but in spite of the best endeavours and the best skill available the spark of life could not be recalled. Mr. Sadler also rushed his car to the scene and as soon as Wenona was brought out she was taken by car to her home on Cunard Street. She received medical attention there.

Roland Roberts was born in Parsboro, N.S., survivors include his wife, one son James Robert, 9 months; his parents in long beach, Calif, three sisters, (Mrs. A.H. Bird, Mrs. F.D. Smith, both of Moncton and Mrs. C.L. McCoy, Montreal). One brother, C.M. Roberts, Moncton. He served with the 85th Battalion and was employed at T. Eaton Co., Moncton, manager of the shoe department. The funeral was held from James Shields’s residence on Saturday afternoon, Mr. Anderson, Presbyterian minister conducted the service and interment was in Riverside Cemetery. The pallbearers were: J. Murray Tweedie, G. Perley Stewart, Daniel Desmond, Arthur Leggatt, Ernest Jack and William A. Skidd.

Miss Ullock was publicly honored for her heroism and the Chatham Ferry named after her. She is now Mrs. Saland and resides in state of Washington with her son.


Source: Miramichi Leader – November 27, 1981

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