Francis Edward Llewellyn Coombs was born on September 25, 1876, in Aylmer,
While a teenager, Francis joined the 39th Norfolk Cadet/Band Corps as a
At the age of 17, Francis joined the military in Ontario.
5th Royal Scots
At the age of 19, Francis joined the 5th Battalion"Royal Scots of Canada" in
2nd Canadian Regiment - South African (Boer) War
At the age of 23, on December 20, 1899,
Francis was activated in The Royal Canadian Artillery. He was then attached to
the 2nd Canadian Regiment and served in the South African (Boer) War until 1901
when he was discharged. After the South African Boer War, Francis's main
occupation was Canadian Press Telegrapher. He also took a course in journalism
at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and studied Philosophy at University
of Toronto. He spent 18 years working for the
Associated Press as a writer.
Above is a photo of Francis E.L. Coombs
listening to his radio set. This is the set he would have used in 1912 to pick
up radio signals from RMS Carpathia during and after the sinking of RMS Titanic.
During World War 1, Francis worked as a
Telegraph operator and was employed by the US Army as an Instructor/Examiner teaching Morse Code, Basic
Radio and Signaling. After the First World War, Francis returned to Ottawa
to work for what is now Scouts Canada. He was the Founder and Editor of the
Leader Scout magazine, founded in November 1923. He was also the author of many
Scouting publications and the
original Director of the Maritime Gilwell Summer Camp. He served in that
position for 12 years, beginning in 1922.
Above is the Rotary Portrait of Francis E.L. Coombs taken by Photographer Yousuf
Karsh. Negatives housed by Library and Archives Canada (Portrait Portal)