This blog post is the seventh in a series, summarizing the
information available on the life and First World War service of
Guysborough County's 28 No. 2 Construction Battalion enlistments.
Readers are asked to notify the blog author if there are any errors, or
if a reader has additional information on any of the men profiled in
19. Private Joseph Alexander "Joe" Parris:
According to the 1901 Canadian census, Joseph Alexander “Joe” Parris was born at Sand Point, Guysborough County, on March 20, 1899, the son of Charles Levi and Annie Elizabeth Parris. Charles was the son of Isaac and Caroline (William) Parris, while Annie was the daughter of Richard and Anne (Borden) Reddick.
|Pte. Joe Parris (center) with brother Bill (far right)|
At the time of the 1901 census, Joe’s older brother, William Winslow “Bill,” and younger sister Maria were also part of the household. By 1911, a fourth child, Rita, had joined the Parris family. Census records assembled that year list Joe’s birth date as March 1898.
Joe enlisted with No. 2 Construction Battalion at New Glasgow, NS, on July 25, 1916. His attestation papers record his year of birth as 1897, one or two years earlier than census records indicate. Joe was among the unit’s earliest recruits, as it was authorized only three weeks previously. If the 1901 census entry is accurate, he was only 17 years old at the time.
No. 2 Construction established its initial headquarters at Pictou, in a barracks on the waterfront formerly occupied by the 106th Infantry Battalion. In early September, the unit relocated to Truro, in the hope that the more central location would assist with its recruitment efforts. Joe’s older brother Bill enlisted there on October 10, 1916.
No. 2 Construction Battalion officially mobilized on March 17, 1917, and departed from Halifax aboard SS Southland 11 days later. Joe and Bill were among the approximately 600 men who arrived with the unit at Liverpool, United Kingdom (UK), on April 7 and made their way to Bramshott Camp. Shortly afterward, the unit was reduced to “Company” status, as it was short of the required number of men for “battalion” designation.
On May 17, 1917, Joe and Bill were part of a detachment of 495 “other ranks” (OR) that crossed the English Channel to France for service in the Canadian Forestry Corps’ (CFC) Jura District, near the Swiss border. Here, the men worked alongside several CFC companies, processing, harvesting and shipping timber in the mountainous area.
On December 12, 1917, Joe was part of a group of 180 No. 2 members dispatched to Central Group, No. 1 District, Alençon. The majority were men from the Caribbean Islands or southern United States, and Jura’s CFC medical officer was concerned that the harsh winter conditions might affect their health. His brother Bill accompanied him to Alençon.
For the remainder of his time in France, Joe worked alongside the men of No. 54 Company, harvesting timber in the Normandy forests. The Alençon camp was more diverse than the Jura district, its work parties including a number of Russians, as well as German prisoners of war.
In mid-September 1918, Joe received the standard two weeks’ leave to the UK granted to soldiers after 15 months’ service in the line. In the aftermath of the November 11, 1918 Armistice, the men at Alençon enjoyed a day-long holiday before returning to work. While harvesting operations ceased, personnel processed the remaining harvested timber before beginning the process of dismantling the lumber camp and sawmill.
No. 2 Construction’s personnel were the first to depart France, returning to the UK on December 14, 1918, and reporting to the Nova Scotia Regimental Depot, Bramshott. One month later, the men boarded the Empress of Britain for the return trip to Canada. The vessel docked at Halifax on January 22, 1919. Joe was discharged from military service on February 12 and returned to Mulgrave.
On December 1, 1924 Joe married Annie Jane Jarvis, daughter of George and Margaret (Mombourquette) Jarvis, Tracadie. The couple established residence in Mulgrave, where Joe joined the local Royal Canadian Legion branch in 1929. Tragically, Annie Jane died at Mulgrave on November 12, 1936. In her late 20s at the time, her death was attributed to a heart condition and lobar pneumonia.
Two years later, Joe married Viola Jane Borden, daughter of Stanley and Lottie (Williams) Borden, Tracadie, in a ceremony that took place in Mulgrave on July 11, 1938. Over the ensuing years, the couple raised a large family in Mulgrave. Joseph Alexander Parris died on April 19, 1972, and was laid to rest in St. Lawrence Roman Catholic Cemetery, Mulgrave.
A more detailed story of Joe Parris’s story, intertwined with an overview of No. Construction Battalion, was posted to this blog on January 30, 2014.
20. Lance Corporal William Winslow "Bill" Parris:
William Winslow “Bill” Parris was born at Sand Point, Guysborough County, on September 2, 1897, the oldest of Charles Levi and Annie Elizabeth Parris’s children. Bill was employed as a “railwayman” when he enlisted with No. 2 Construction Battalion at Truro, NS, on October 10, 1916. His younger brother Joe had joined the same unit in late July.
On March 28, 1917, Bill departed for overseas aboard SS Southland. The vessel arrived at Liverpool, UK, 10 days later. No. 2 Construction Battalion’s personnel then made their way by train to Camp Bramshott. Shortly after their overseas arrival, a shortage of personnel—less than 700 men “all ranks”—led officials to reduce the unit to the status of a “Company.”
On May 16, Bill was promoted to the rank of Acting Lance Corporal without pay. The following day, he crossed the English Channel with a large detachment of No. 2 Construction men. The group travelled to the Canadian Forestry Corps’ (CFC) Jura District, where the men commenced work alongside several CFC Companies, participating in all aspects of the lumber camp’s operation.
The first entry in No. 2 Construction Company’s July 1917 war diary mentioned a “General Sports Day” held at Jura to celebrate the “50th Anniversary of Confederation of [the] Dominion of Canada.” The unit’s men did particularly well, the diary commenting: “Our Track team carried off the honours and won the day.”
The No. 5 District CFC war diary provided further details:
"Dominion Day celebrated by the 11 Forestry Companies and No. 2 Construction Company in this District (No. 5). Field sports held at Chapois…. During the day, the [No. 2 Construction] Band… by their excellent music... greatly assisted in entertaining the crowd and making the holiday a success."
Private Davis, an American No. 2 Construction recruit, placed first in the 100 yard-dash and second in the running broad jump, while Private Whims, one of two brothers from Saltsprings Island, BC, placed first in the sack race "by a big margin". Bill Parris, the only Nova Scotian listed in the results, placed second in the 440-yard dash. No. 2 Construction Company earned a total of 17 points in the day's events, placing third overall among the 14 French, American and Canadian participating teams.
Three days after the Dominion Day festivities, Bill was “deprived of [his] L[ance Corporal] stripe” for “malingering” (feigning illness). He served at Jura until late December, when he was part of a group of 180 No. 2 Construction personnel transferred to No. 1 District CFC, Alençon. During the ensuing months, the men worked alongside CFC Companies, harvesting timber from the Normandy forests.
The CFC ceased its forest operations shortly after the November 11, 1918 Armistice. Its personnel processed harvested logs before commencing the task of dismantling operations. No. 2 Construction’s men were the first to leave France, crossing the English Channel on December 14, 1918, and reporting to the Nova Scotia Regimental Depot, Bramshott.
Bill and his No. 2 Construction comrades departed for Canada aboard the Empress of Britain on January 12, 1919. The vessel arrived at Halifax after a 10-day voyage. Bill was formally discharged from military service on February 14, 1919, and returned to Mulgrave, where he resumed work as a railwayman.
On July 7, 1920, Bill married Mary Jane Ash, daughter of Charles and Sarah Jane (Desmond) Ash, Monastery, in a ceremony that took place at Tracadie. Over the ensuing years, the couple had nine children, five of whom died in infancy or childhood. A sixth child, Duncan Collins Parris, was killed in a car - pedestrian accident at Point Tupper in 1953. William Winslow Parris died at St. Martha’s Hospital, Antigonish, on October 3, 1968, and was laid to rest in Mulgrave. His wife Mary Jane passed away at Mulgrave in 1977.
21. Private George William Reddick:
According to his attestation papers, George William Reddick was born at Mulgrave, Guysborough County, on April 28, 1892. George’s father Walter was the son of Moses and Caroline (Sheppard) Reddick, Pirates Cove, while his mother Margaret was the daughter of Joseph and Catherine Izzard, Boylston. The couple were married at Mulgrave on May 1, 1884.
|Lance Cpl. Bill Parris (left) & Pte. George Reddick|
At the time of the 1901 census, the Reddick family included parents Walter, age 41 (DOB March 12, 1860), and Margaret, age 37 (DOB May 2, 1864), and their children: Martha, age 13 (DOB February 27, 1888); Joseph, age 10 (DOB September 10, 1890); Walter Havelock, age 10 (DOB March 9, 1891); George, age seven (DOB April 28, 1893); Rist, age six (DOB October 10, 1895); Margaret, age five (DOB March 18, 1896); and Druscella, age one (DOB April 29, 1900). Adjacent to the Reddick residence was the household of Charles and Annie Parris, which included their sons William Winslow “Bill” and Joseph Alexander “Joe.”
George Reddick attested with No. 2 Construction Battalion at New Glasgow, NS, on July 25, 1916, the same day as Joe Parris. In fact, their consecutive service numbers indicate that they stood together in line. The pair were together during their time in uniform and were later joined by Joe’s brother Bill.
George departed for overseas with No. 2 Construction on March 28, 1917, and proceeded to France with a large detachment of its personnel on May 17, 1917. He served in the Canadian Forestry Corps’ (CFC) Jura District with his comrades for the remainder of the year and was transferred to No. 1 DIstrict, Alençon, on December 30, 1917. Joe and Bill accompanied George to Alençon, where No, 2 Construction men worked alongside No. 38 and No. 42 CFC Companies, harvesting and processing timber from the Normandy forests.
With the exception of a 14-day leave to the United Kingdom in early September 1918, George spent the remainder of his overseas service at Alençon. On December 14, 1918, he crossed the English Channel and reported to the Nova Scotia Regimental Depot, Bramshott, with his No. 2 comrades. One month later, the unit departed for Canada aboard the Empress of Britain.
George was discharged from military service at Halifax, NS, on February 12, 1919. At the time, he gave his proposed address at Marsh St., New Glasgow, as his parents had moved to the Pictou County community while he was overseas.
By 1921, George had relocated to River Hebert, Cumberland County, where he worked as a miner. On July 18, 1921, he married Mary Evelyn Bowles, a native of Brooklyn, Hants County, at the Presbyterian Manse, River Hebert. Mary was the daughter of William Bowles, Amherst, and Eliza Jane Banes. Military authorities dispatched George’s British War and Victory service medals to Joggins Mines in November 1921.
George’s parents spent their remaining days at New Glasgow. His father Walter passed away there on December 16, 1922, while mother Margaret died at the same location on January 16, 1940. Both were laid to rest in a New Glasgow cemetery.
By the early 1940s, George had returned to Guysborough County, where he established residence in Lincolnville. A later obituary makes no mention of children. Mary Reddick passed away at Lincolnville on October 5, 1942, and was buried in Sunnyview Cemetery. George later married Victoria Jordan, a widow. He passed away at Lincolnville on April 11, 1978, and was laid to rest in St, Monica’s Church parish cemetery.