David Robertson Sadler

Military Information

  • Date of enlistment: 17.04.1915
  • Place of enlistment: Winnipeg, Manitoba.
  • Service no: VR/229
  • Rank: Signalman
  • Awards:
  • Regiment/Service: His Majesty's Canadian Ship Niobe
  • Unit/Ship: Royal Canadian Navy
  • Place of Death: Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Age at Death: 31
  • Date of Death: 06.12.1917 or 09.12.1917
  • Burial Country: Canada
  • Cemetery: Fairview Cemetery Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Grave/Mem Ref no:

Personal Information

  • Date of Birth: 31.10.1886
  • Place of Birth: Dundee
  • Address: 1370 Barrington St, Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Occupation: Book Binder
  • Mother:

    Mrs Jeanie Sadler, Logieside, Coupar St, Lochee, Dundee

  • Father:

    David Sadler

  • Siblings:

    Sturrock Millar Sadler, Wilfred Sadler and Miss Jeanie M. Sadler 15 Coupar St, Lochee

  • Spouse:

    Jemima Sadler (nee Powers)

  • Children:

    Janet Powers Sadler

More about David Robertson Sadler

David’s date of death is recorded as 6th December on one C.W.G.C. online document and the 9th December on another C.W.G.C online document. It is believed that David survived the initial explosion that killed his wife and child but succumbed to his injuries on the 9th.

David died from injuries received following the Halifax explosion that occurred on 6 December 1917, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  He had just returned to the family home at 1370 Barrington St, Halifax, when the massive explosion occurred, sadly the explosion instantly killed his wife Jemima Sadler and their 14 month old daughter Janet Powers Sadler. The family are all buried in Fairview Cemetery, Halifax.

The Halifax explosion was a maritime disaster that occurred in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 6 December 1917, when the Norwegian Steamer “Imo” collided with the French Steamer “Mont Blanc” carrying a cargo of explosives. A fire started after the collision which ignited the “Mont Blanc”s cargo causing a massive explosion that devastated the Richmond District of Halifax. It was the largest man made explosion before the nuclear era.

Approximately 2,000 people were killed by debris, fires and collapsed buildings, and an estimated 9,000 were injured.

David emigrated to Canada aboard the S.S. “Ionian” from Glasgow to Montreal, landing November 14, 1911. He and his two brothers Sturrock and Wilfred, settled in Winnipeg. Prior to the war David served as a Signaller with the 79th Regiment, Cameron Highlanders of Canada, but did not enlist with the C.E.F, (or at least was not accepted). He married his wife Jemima Powers at 120 Spence St, Winnipeg on April 16, 1915, the day before he enlisted in the RCNVR. Together they had one daughter, Janet.

He joined H.M.C.S. “Diana” at Halifax on April 26, 1915. On September 06 he transferred to H.M.C.S. “Niobe”, at that time a depot ship at Halifax. From March 31 to December 31, 1916 he was attached to CG Ships Speedy, Premier and Constance, serving as a signalman on inspection duty out of Halifax. From January 01, 1917, he was assigned to CGS “Petrel”.

On the morning of December 06, he had just arrived home to 1370 Barrington Rd when the explosion hit, instantly killing his wife and baby daughter with David receiving terrible injuries from which he would die a short while later. According to the Halifax Explosion Death Registration Book, the family were buried at Fairview Cemetery, Halifax. Sadlers mother was asked post war, to provide any details as to the location of her son’s grave, she never replied. David’s Circumstances of Casualty card noted that no memorial register was to be sent to his mother at her specific request. The Canadian Virtual War memorial has him recorded as having no known grave, but remembered on the Halifax Memorial.

According to letters from his sister within his service file, his sister states that she was a school teacher.

David is also remembered on the Halifax Memorial (Panel 1), and also here David’s Memorial and David’s Ship H.M.C.S. Niobe

David’s older brother also served with the Canadians during the Great War, he was  Pte Sturrock Miller Saddler 71095, of the 27th Battalion, Canadian Infantry, Sturrock survived the war, and died 23.07.1959.

There are several references to David in the local Dundee Newspapers available in Dundee Central Library

Advertiser 18/12/1917 page 3, Courier 18/12/1917 page 4, and Peoples Journal 22/12/1917 page 5.


Information researched and supplied by Gary Thomson & Jim Busby (Canada). Additional photo’s kindly supplied by Jim Busby.

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