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Tommy Ricketts and the CLB

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The Church Lad's Brigade was formed in England in 1891 by Walter Gee as an Anglican youth organization.

It was a year later in 1892 that the organization started a branch in Newfoundland and is considered the oldest and largest of its kind in Canada and famous for its Regimental Band.

Over its 130 year history there have been more than 20,000 members.

My father was a member as a kid in Eastport back in the early 40's as was I for about 7 years during my teens. 

The headquarters of the CLB was on Harvey Road in St. John's. I remember taking part in marching drills and shooting practice in the indoor range upstairs. This facility was a focal point for a lot of people for 100 years.

On December 21, 1992 the CLB armory caught fire and was completely destroyed.

No one was hurt but much was lost in the fire including surrounding houses, restaurants and other businesses.


Gone with the fire was the work of William Tilley, the member archivist who dedicated all of his free time to collecting 100 years of memorabilia and artifacts.


It took a great deal of work from a large group of dedicated people to rebuild the armory to its current glory.

Mr. Tilley, shown in the picture above went to work to rebuild the museum which bears his name.


Not thinking that there was a market for my "Symbols of Courage" painting of Tommy Ricketts' medals I decided to donate it to the William Tilley Museum.

During my research of Tommy Ricketts I learned that he was a member of the CLB prior to his volunteering to join the Newfoundland Regiment and fight in WW1.

It was during this time he was awarded his medals including the Victoria Cross or V.C. the highest and most prestigious decoration of the British honours system for valour "in the presence of the enemy".

As it turned out the CLB was a training ground for a large number of the "First 500" members of the Newfoundland Regiment as well as many more that followed.

It seemed obvious to me that this is where my painting belonged.

I had the pleasure at that time to meet Mr. Tilley who joined the CLB in April 1925, would at age 102 be honoured for 90 years of service and eventually pass at 103 just a few days before the 25th anniversary of the CLB fire.


A great man indeed.

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