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Sunday, 30 November 2014

Private William Lewis Jamieson - A "Royal Highlanders of Canada" Soldier's Story

Date of Birth: April 27, 1893

Place of Birth: Queensport, Guysborough County

Mother's Name: Cynthia Feltmate (1870-1918)

Father's Name: Alexander Jamieson (1859-1942)

Date of Enlistment: April 4, 1916 at Guysborough, NS

Regimental Number: 901984

Rank: Private

Force: Canadian Expeditionary Force (Infantry)

Units: 193rd Battalion; 42nd Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada, Montreal)

Location of service: England, France & Belgium

Occupation at Enlistment: Fisherman

Marital Status at Enlistment: Single

Next of Kin: Mr. Alexander Jamieson (father)

Two of Will's younger brothers also served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.  Allan Alexander was conscripted on May 30, 1918, departed for England on August 2 and returned to Canada on January 2, 1919.  John Charles was conscripted on May 31, 1918 and traveled to England with his brother Allan. John Charles was assigned to the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) and served with the unit in France and Belgium during the later stages of the war.  He was discharged from military service on July 15, 1919.


William Lewis "Will" Jamieson was the third of nine children born to Alexander and Cynthia (Feltmate) Jamieson of Queensport, Guysborough County.  The second of the couple's four sons, Will went to work in the local fishery at a young age. 

Private William Lewis Jamieson at enlistment.
As the First World War entered its second year, the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) expanded its recruiting efforts in Nova Scotia.  Will was amongst the young men attracted by its appeals.  He began training with the 193rd Battalion at Guysborough on March 27, 1916 and attested for overseas service with the unit on April 4, 1916.

Officially authorized on January 27, 1916, the 193rd Battalion established its headquarters at Truro, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel John Stanfield, former Member of Parliament for Colchester.  Within one month of its inception, the 193rd was assigned to the "Nova Scotia Highland Brigade", a military unit conceived by Lieutenant-Colonel Allison Hart Borden, Commanding Officer (CO) of the 85th Battalion, Nova Scotia Highlanders.

The 193rd was the first unit to visit the communities of northeastern Nova Scotia in search of recruits.  Representatives traveled to towns and villages in its designated region - Cumberland, Colchester, Hants, Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough Counties - throughout the early months of 1916.  After several months' training in their local communities, recruits made their way to Camp Aldershot, near Kentville, in late May 1916.  Will and his colleagues trained throughout the summer alongside soldiers from the Brigade's other three units - the 85th, 185th (Cape Breton Highlanders) and 219th (South Shore) Battalions.

The Highland Brigade departed Halifax for England aboard SS Olympic on October 13, 1916 and disembarked at Liverpool six days later.  The soldiers made their way to Witley Camp, Surrey, England and resumed training in anticipation of deployment at the front.  Initially slated for service with the yet to be organized 5th Canadian Division, the 193rd's fate was determined by the CEF's massive casualties during service at the Somme, France from September to November 1916.

By year's end, two of the Highland Brigade's four battalions - the 193rd and 219th - were dissolved and their members dispersed to other units.  Those deemed ready for service were transferred to battalions at the front.  Will was amongst a group of 193rd soldiers assigned to the 42nd Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada) on December 5, 1916.  He crossed the English Channel to France the following day and reported to the Canadian Base Depot (CBD) at Havre.  Will left CBD to join his new unit in the field on December 30, 1916, arriving in camp three days later.  Will was destined to spend his entire overseas service with the 42nd Battalion.


The 42nd Battalion was authorized on November 7, 1914.  The second of three overseas battalions recruited by the 5th Battalion Royal Highlanders of Canada, a Montreal militia unit, the 42nd departed for England on June 10, 1915 and crossed the English Channel to France on October 9, 1915.  One week later, its soldiers were deployed in the trenches of the Ypres Salient, Belgium, where personnel provided work parties for trench construction and repair.

Officially assigned to the 3rd Canadian Division's 7th Infantry Brigade on December 12, 1915, the 42nd served alongside the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR), Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) and the 49th Battalion (Edmonton, Alberta).  The battalion commenced its first front line rotation near Dranoutre, Belgium on January 7, 1916.  Its soldiers spent the spring and summer in the Ypres Salient, relocating to the Somme with the Canadian Corps in September 1916.

The 42nd saw its first major combat on September 15, 1916 at Courcelette, where its war diary reported one Officer and 73 "other ranks" (OR) killed, 6 Officers and 290 OR wounded, and 66 OR missing after a major attack on the German line.  The battalion remained on duty in this area throughout the autumn and winter of 1915-16.  Its January 3, 1917 war diary entry reported the arrival of 250 OR reinforcements from CBD Havre.  Amongst their number were Kendall Bright, a native of Sherbrooke, and Will Jamison of Peas Brook.

At the time of Will's arrival, the battalion was in Brigade Reserve at Neuville-St. Vaast, France.  Five days later, Will entered the front trenches for the first time as the 42nd relieved the PPCLI in the line.  The soldiers focused on repairing the significant damage inflicted on front line facilities by damp winter conditions.  Throughout the first three months of 1917, the 42nd followed a rotation of front line duty, brigade reserve, and brief periods of rest and training.  Its Brigade was amongst the units reviewed by Canadian Prime Minister, Sir Robert Borden, on March 9, 1917.

As Will and his comrades returned to the line on the night of March 22/23, 1917, German forces detonated a mine beneath their position, heavily damaging a 30-yard section of their front trench.  The 42nd's soldiers managed to secure the resulting crater under heavy fire, suffering only light casualties as they rebuilt new trenches and saps in the gap created by the explosion.  The unit was relieved on April 1, 1917 after a challenging ten-day tour.

Two of the battalion's Companies returned to front-line duty near Villers au Bois on the night of April 5/6, 1917.  The unit's war diary described the conditions at the time: "The weather was wretched cold and wet.  The men were put to work cleaning out assembly trenches, which had fallen in badly owing to the wet weather." The 42nd's two remaining Companies moved into the front line on the night of April 7/8, 1917 as the Canadian Corps made final preparations for its attack on German positions at Vimy Ridge. Will was about to receive his first combat experience since joining the battalion.

The 42nd spent the day prior to the battle "getting platoons into their proper places for moving into their assembly trenches and distributing material to be carried over with the attacking waves.  By Sunday midnight, final preparations were completed, and the men were waiting [sic] the order to move out."  Will and his comrades moved forward to the assembly trenches at 4:00 a.m. April 9, the PPCLI to their right and the 102nd Battalion - a Northern British Columbia unit - to their left.  The battalion's 722 "all ranks" were in position by 4:45 a.m., eagerly awaiting the opening barrage set for 5:30 a.m..

As supporting artillery opened fire, Will and the 42nd's soldiers clambered out of the trenches and followed the "creeping barrage" across "No Man's Land".  The war diary described the conditions as the attack commenced: "Visibility was very bad, the men had to advance in drizzling rain changing to sleet."  The unit reached its initial objective by 8:15 a.m., but German resistance held up the 102nd's advance, exposing the 42nd's soldiers to "sniping and rifle fire" on their left flank.  German soldiers also fired on the battalion's position from an uncaptured, elevated position known as Hill 145.

By 10:10 a.m., officers estimated a total of 200 casualties "all ranks" and reported great difficulty in evacuating the wounded: "After three different calls for stretchers none have arrived yet." Throughout the afternoon, personnel were subjected to heavy artillery fire, although the war diary identified only one direct hit on its location as the men spent the night on the battlefield.

The following morning, 25 wounded soldiers still awaited evacuation due to a "scarcity of stretchers".  By mid-day, the 42nd's Officers received confirmation that Canadian forces - including the 85th Battalion, Nova Scotia Highlanders - had captured Hill 145.  Throughout the day, personnel continued to consolidate their position, in addition to overcoming remaining points of resistance on their left flank.

At 5:45 a.m. April 11, "what was left" of the 42nd's "D" Company was relieved in the line, followed by the remaining three Companies by day's end.  The 42nd retired to billets at Villers au Bois after two days of fighting in which five of its Officers were killed or died of wounds and an additional six were wounded.  A total of 291 OR were killed or wounded during two days' combat on the Ridge. 

Pte. Will Jamieson was amongst the soldiers evacuated for medical treatment, having received a severe shrapnel wound to his right buttock, most likely during the grueling artillery bombardment on the afternoon of April 9.  He was admitted to No. 1 Canadian Field Ambulance (CFA) sometime on April 11.


Will was evacuated to No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) on the same day he was admitted to No. 1 CFA.  His medical records graphically describe his injury: "Large gaping wound laid nearly open, extending over whole of R. buttock and round to his pubis.  Clean."  Personnel also noted that Will was suffering from "trench feet", although there were "no wounds" on either limb.  Shortly after admission, doctors performed the first of two surgical procedures on his wound.

Once stabilized, Will was evacuated to No. 2 Canadian General Hospital, Boulogne on April 13, 1917.  One week later, he was invalided to England via the hospital ship Princess Elizabeth and admitted to Bradford War Hospital, where surgeons performed an "ether" operation on May 7.  Will's medical records provide a description of the procedure: "Large raw surface 9" x 6" at back of right buttock, scraped, and treated with 'Bipp' [bismuth iodoform paraffine paste].  Raw edges trimmed, undercut a little, and stretched together with deep silk."

Will remained at Bradford for several weeks as his wound healed.  On June 23, 1917, he was transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital, Woodcote Park, Epsom, where he spent several weeks recuperating.  Will was discharged from hospital on August 3, at which time he reported to 3rd Canadian Corps Depot (CCD) at Shoreham.  Three months later, Will was deemed fit for duty and was transferred to the 20th Reserve Battalion, the unit that provided reinforcements for Quebec infantry units in the field.

Pte. Will Jamieson in 193rd attire.
On January 26, 1918, Will was once again selected for service with the 42nd Battalion and reported to the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Centre (CCRC) at Havre, France three days later.  He remained at CCRC for five weeks, leaving to rejoin his "chums" in the field on March 9, 1918.  One week later, Will arrived in the 42nd's camp.

During his absence, the battalion fought with the Canadian Corps at Passchendaele, Belgium, sustaining 174 casualties during the November 1917 attack.  The unit subsequently returned to France, where personnel spent several weeks in reserve at Noeux Les Mines in January and February 1918 before entering the line near Vimy for their first tour of the year on the night of March 6/7, 1918.

Will's return to the "firing line" coincided with "Operation Michael", a major German spring offensive launched in the hope of winning the war.  On March 28, 1918, the 42nd received orders to "stand to" as German forces attacked positions south of its location, from Oppy to the Scrape River.  The battalion's light casualties for the month reflect the limited action in its sector - one Officer gassed, one OR killed and 16 OR wounded.

The battalion remained in the Vimy area throughout April 1918, once again sustaining only moderate losses - two Officers wounded, five OR killed, two OR died of wounds, 25 OR wounded to hospital, six OR wounded but remaining at duty, and ten OR missing.  At month's end, the 42nd completed "the longest continuous tour which the Battalion had ever done in the front line...[spending] 57 front of Vimy Ridge."

Will and his comrades retired to St. Hilaire for two months' training, sports and recreation, returning to the line at Neuville Vitasse on the night of June 28/29, 1918.  The unit served throughout the following month in this sector, relocating to Dury, south of Amiens, on the night of July 30/31.  The new location represented the battalion's furthest southerly location since arriving in France.  The war diary commented that its soldiers were quite a local curiosity: "Much interest was displayed by the French troops and civilians in the Highland dress of the Battalion."

Once again, monthly casualties were light - two OR killed, two OR died of wounds, one Officer and 10 OR wounded - as a result of limited fighting in the area.  The relative lull in action was destined to change dramatically the following month, however, when Allied forces launched a major counter-offensive in which the Canadian Corps played a prominent role.

The 42nd suffered a major blow on August 3, 1918, when its CO, Lieutenant-Colonel Bartlett McLennan, DSO, was "killed [by enemy shell fire] while making a personal reconnaissance of the country over which the Battalion was to attack some days later.".  McLennan had commanded the unit continually since its inception and his loss was deeply felt.  He was buried the following day, his funeral attended by Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie, Canadian Corps Commander, along with a cadre of military dignitaries, the 42nd's pipe band and a firing party of 40 OR.

Over the next several days, Will and his comrades once again readied themselves for combat.  Unbeknownst to the soldiers, the attack marked the beginning of Canada's "100 Days", a series of attacks spearheaded by Canadian Corps and Australian units.  The 42nd's soldiers assumed their assigned position at Gentilles Wood on the night of August 7/8, 1918, the war diary commenting on the beehive of pre-battle activity: "The tremendous amount of troops, transport, tanks, guns and other machinery of war which was passed on the road up [made] our progress very slow."

Allied forces launched the assault the following morning along approximately 20 miles of the front near Amiens.  The Canadian Corps' 1st, 2nd and 3rd Divisions occupying a central position in the line, with French troops to their right and the Australian Corps to their left.  The Canadian Corps was assigned the task of capturing a section of the main railroad between Amiens and Paris.  The 42nd was amongst the battalions participating in the initial assault, to be launched without preliminary artillery bombardment to preserve the element of surprise.

At precisely 4:20 a.m. August 8, the 3rd Division's 9th Brigade commenced the advance.  The 7th Brigade, to which the 42nd belonged, moved forward to their "jumping off" positions at 6:00 a.m. and went "over the top" at 8:20 a.m. despite a "heavy mist which hung over everything", obscuring the soldiers' visibility.  Personnel secured their first objective by 10:20 a.m., the 4th Canadian Division passing through its lines as scheduled at 2:00 p.m..  The 42nd's casualties for the day were light, considering the scale of the operation - 12 OR killed; two OR died of wounds; two Officers and 29 OR wounded.

The battalion rested at nearby Claude Wood the following day, advancing to the newly captured village of Folies in the evening.  German aircraft bombed their location on August 10, 1918, killing three OR and wounding 12 OR.  The following day, the 42nd moved into the newly established front line near Parvillers-le-Quesnoy, separated from the enemy by distances of 150 to 300 yards.  The war diary identified the unit's position as the old British line prior to the German Spring Offensive.

On the night of August 13/14, 1918, the 42nd participated in a ten-hour attack on the German line opposite its location, an action that involved significant "hand to hand fighting during which the attack was many times pressed home with the bayonet."  Two nights later, personnel were relieved and retired to Harmon Wood for several days' rest and training.  The toll during their ten-days in the line beginning at Amiens was considerable - two Officers and 30 OR killed; ten OR died of wounds; five Officers and 101 OR wounded.

Will and his comrades relocated to Manin on August 23, 1918 in preparation for the month's second major attack at Arras. On this occasion, the 42nd occupied reserve positions while its three 7th Brigade "sister" battalions launched the assault at 3:00 a.m. August 26.  The unit moved forward at 10:00 a.m., but its progress was held up by the RCR's inability to keep pace with the advance.  Heavy afternoon shelling inflicted several casualties as the fighting continued into the night.

The advance resumed the following day, the 42nd moving into positions on the newly established line on the night of August 27/28, 1918 and securing a salient that jutted approximately 500 yards into German positions.  Heavy fighting took place later that day as personnel captured another section of enemy trench.  Will and his comrades retired from the line on the night of August 28/29 and moved into billets near Arras.  Its Brigade had advanced an incredible 9000 yards (8.2 kilometers), expanded an initial 3000-yard front to 7000 yards, crossed five German lines of defense, and captured six French villages during a four-day tour.  During that time, three Officers and 60 OR were killed, 12 OR died of wounds, and 12 Officers and 225 OR were wounded.

There was little time to recover as the 42nd returned to the line west of Cagnicourt on the night of September 5/6, 1918, advancing to positions near Canal du Nord on September 9.  In the early hours of the following morning, parties of German soldiers twice attacked the unit's location, a reserve slope facing the canal.  The position made daytime movement impossible, as the men were exposed to direct enemy observation. 

The 42nd's soldiers were no doubt happy to be relieved from such precarious circumstances on the night of September 11/12, retiring to Divisional Reserve for a week's rest and training.  A group of 78 OR reinforcements arrived in camp during the break as the unit relocated to Dainville on September 19 for a second week of drill.  One week later, the 42nd returned to the line in preparation for an attack on the strategically important Canal du Nord.

The assault commenced at 5:20 a.m. September 27, 1918, the 3rd Canadian Division in support as the other three Canadian Divisions led the advance north of the village of Moeuvres.  The 7th Brigade was the first 3rd Division unit to move forward following the initial action, the 42nd in reserve as its three "sister" battalions led the way.  Will and his chums crossed the Canal in the early afternoon via an infantry bridge erected by engineers and spent the night in the open under a heavy bombardment of gas shells.  As a result, "the men were compelled to sleep with their Box Respirators adjusted."

At 7:00 a.m. September 28, 1918, the battalion assumed a position behind a railroad embankment east of Bourlon Wood, sheltered from a massive morning artillery bombardment.  Rain during the day ensured that "everybody got thoroughly wet", the 42nd remaining in reserve while its "sister" 7th Brigade battalions struggled to advance in the face of "heavy opposition".

That evening, the 42nd received orders to resume the attack in the early morning hours, with the objective of capturing the railroad embankment and establishing a bridgehead along the nearby St. Quentin Canal.  The war diary described the situation as its soldiers once again prepared for battle:  "The morning was fine with a heavy ground mist which prevented any visibility....  It was feared that direction might be difficult to maintain."

The morning advance was slowed by "a withering fire from Machine Guns at point blank range... [that] caused very severe casualties."  Four parties nevertheless succeeded in crossing the Douai-Cambrai Road and establishing a post.  Despite a supporting artillery bombardment at 12:30 p.m., heavy machine gun fire prevented personnel from any further advance, forcing the soldiers to dig in behind whatever shelter was available.

Pte. Will Jamieson - Royal Highlanders of Canada uniform.
The 42nd's soldiers once again encountered fierce resistance when the advance resumed on the morning of September 30 and were forced to repel a German counter-attack later in the day.  Personnel finally captured the high ground near the railroad embankment on October 1, retiring to a camp near Quarry Road later that night.  The battalion's war diary reported six Officers and 55 OR killed, 11 Officers and 221 OR wounded at Canal du Nord.

Following relief, Will and his comrades enjoyed a ten-day break from the line, although their circumstances were not particularly comfortable:  "The area contained little or no accommodation and much time was spent by the men in digging in and making themselves comfortable with the use of bivvies [canvas sheets stretched hung over poles]."  A group of 62 reinforcements joined the battalion several days into the rest period. 

On October 10, 1918, the entire 7th Brigade relocated to Queant.  Once again, the soldiers struggled to find comfortable quarters:

"This area had been very badly devastated.  There was no accommodation of any kind with the exception of an old and dilapidated system of trenches.  Here again it was necessary for the men to dig in and construct bivvies for themselves."

Personnel commenced a general training schedule, in addition to "specialist" classes.  The war diary specifically identified one shortcoming its Officers sought to address:  "Special attention was paid to reorganizing and bringing up to strength all the Lewis Gun crews of the Battalion which had suffered heavy casualties in the Cambrai [Canal du Nord] attack." Before month's end, this pressing need impacted Will's service with the 42nd.

His Royal Highness (HRH) Edward, Prince of Wales, made an "informal visit" to the battalion on October 17, observing the men on the parade grounds during the morning and meeting with several of its Officers in the afternoon.  Three days later, the entire Brigade relocated to the Auberchicourt area, where the 42nd entered billets at Somain.  On October 21, personnel marched to nearby Cataine, experiencing their first encounter with a local population: 

"[The] towns and villages [through which the battalion marched]... had only been liberated from the enemy within the preceeding [sic] forty-eight hours after four years of captivity, and the joy of the inhabitants was indescribable.  The entire route was thronged by them and every possible visible demonstration of their joy at their release was given."

In the early morning hours of October 22, 1918, the 42nd's Officers received instructions to "advance and leap-frog the 1st Brigade, the latter holding the general line on the railway."  The RCR assumed positions to its right as the two battalions attempted to establish a bridgehead in the villages of Vieux-Conde and Conde, across the Jard Canal.  The entire Brigade was ordered to "advance through and mop up the Foret de Raismes" as the units moved forward.

Personnel broke camp at 7:00 a.m. and succeeded in clearing the village of Mort des Briyeres of German soldiers by 10:30 a.m..  While Companies on the right side of the advance reached a local north-south road by midday with no opposition, soldiers on the left encountered resistance while moving through the forested area.  The RCR and 42nd continued to lead the advance toward the Canal the following day, but received specific instructions not to cross without specific orders.  The unit's war diary summarized the day's progress:  "After many interesting skirmishes between our Scouts and enemy machine guns and snipers during the day, our line was advanced to Lahte Ville road... and Le Bout de Trihix by the evening."

The attack resumed the following day, the war diary reporting that the railway area was "clear of the enemy" by noon October 25.  Further advance was rendered impossible by extensive flooding to the northeast of the railway line.  On the evening of October 26, the 8th Brigade relieved the 7th Brigade in the line, the 42nd's soldiers retiring to billets at Hanson.  Casualties for the tour were light in comparison to recent rotations - three OR killed, three OR died of wounds, and 16 OR wounded in an operation that advanced a total of 10,000 yards (nine kilometers) in six days.

Will was not amongst the personnel settling into billets at Hanson.  Shortly after the battalion withdrew from the line, he was selected to attend a Lewis Gun course.  His solid frame - five feet ten inches and 170 pounds - made him an ideal candidate for carrying the portable, 13-kilogram machine gun on the battlefield.  Upon completing his training, Will rejoined the 42nd on November 17, 1918.  During his absence, the battalion moved forward with the Allied advance, its Brigade liberating the Belgian city of Mons during the war's final hours.

The 42nd remained at Mons following the November 11, 1918 armistice, its personnel engaged in daily parades, a training syllabus, and the occasional route march.  With the cessation of hostilities, recreational activities helped pass the time, the battalion's football team defeating 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles, PPCLI and the 58th Battalion in a series of friendly matches.

On December 2, 1918, a jubilant King Albert of Belgium made an official visit to Mons.  The 3rd Canadian Division provided a Guard of Honor for the occasion, 100 of the 42nd's soldiers selected to represent the 7th Brigade.  The unit's casualties for November 1918 - the war diary's final such statistics - indicate the relatively light combat during the war's last days.  Four OR were killed, another four died of wounds, and one Officer and 22 OR were wounded in the battalion's final tour in the line.

The battalion's officers implemented a voluntary program of educational classes in early December 1918, providing its men with instruction in reading, writing, book-keeping, business training, elementary arithmetic, French, motor mechanics, electricity and agriculture.  HRH King George V and his sons Edward, Prince of Wales and Albert, passed through the city of Mons at 11:00 a.m. December 5.  While there was no official parade, the battalion joined the other Canadian units stationed in the vicinity, lining both sides of the "Grand Place" and giving the visitors "a rousing reception."

The day following the King's visit, Will wrote a letter to his younger sister, Leata:

"Well dear sister, just a few lines in answer to your kind and welcome letter which I received a few days ago....  I know poor Mother will feel a lot better to... have us [i.e., Will and his brother John Charles] come back home again and I hope it won't be long more before we get back....  We are having pretty warm weather over here now, but I don't know how long it will last.  I hope it will stay this way all winter as it will be a good thing....  I hope to see you all soon if everything goes good [sic] and I hope it will....  Christmas is getting handy.  I wish I could only be home to spend it with you but I hope I will spend my birthday [April 27] home with you."

The 42nd relocated to Bois d'Haine, about 35 kilometers distant, on December 11, ending a month-long stay in Mons.  The following day, personnel marched to nearby Neuville and resumed a schedule of training and educational classes.  On December 14, Will received some welcome news - he was granted two weeks' leave to the United Kingdom.  Six days later, he wrote his mother, Cynthia, from Edinburgh's King George & Green Mary Victoria League Club:

"Well, Mother, I am in Scotland.  I hope to spend my Christmas here as I have 14 days' leave.  I will be going back to France the last of the month.  This is a very nice place.  I am having quite a good time.  It is quite a treat to get away from France, but I hope before long I will be getting away for good and then home.  Hope you will all spend a good Christmas.  I wish I only could be home to spend mine with you, but I hope to spend the next one with you at home.  I expect there will be a lot of letters at the Battalion when I get back.  Send some parcels or I hope so as it is an awful place.  Any food is scarce so a nice box of cake goes good [sic] when we get one.  Well, Mother, this will only be a short letter this time....  Bye, bye with lots of love to you all from your son, William."

Will was unaware of the tragic circumstances in which both letters arrived in Queensport - his mother Cynthia had died of complications from influenza on November 27, 1918.

Will returned to the 42nd's camp on January 3, 1919.  By that time, the battalion had relocated to Nechin, Belgium, close to the French border.  The men continued their daily schedule of educational classes in a local convent, in addition to morning parades and afternoon hockey and football matches.  Personnel received day passes in small groups to visit nearby Lille, France.  One week after Will's return, the unit's Officers commenced medical and dental inspections in preparation for demobilization.

On February 1, 1919, the 3rd Canadian Division's soldiers began the journey home, the first units entraining at Basseux and making their way to Havre, France.  The 42nd's soldiers moved out on February 3, enduring a 48-hour train ride to the English Channel in boxcars.  Will and his comrades boarded ship two days later, landing at Weymouth, England "in the early morning of the 8th." The men departed for Bramshott at 11:00 a.m., arriving in camp late in the afternoon.

Military authorities commenced "medical boarding" the following day, a process that took the remainder of the month to complete.  During this time, personnel carried out two to three hours of morning training as weather permitted, although the war diary described conditions as "unfavorable" throughout most of the month.

Finally, on March 1, 1919, Will and the majority of the 42nd's soldiers boarded RMS Adriatic at Liverpool, England and departed for Canada.  While Will had served more than two years with the distinguished unit, the battalion had spent 40 months in France and Belgium.  During that time, a total of 206 Officers and 4649 OR passed through its ranks.  Twenty of its Officers were killed in action, six died of wounds, and 87 were wounded, a total of 113 casualties.  Statistics for its OR were even more tragic - 546 killed in action, 174 died of wounds and 2077 wounded, a total of 2797 casualties.

RMS Adriatic sailed into Halifax harbor on March 9, 1919.  Will remained in uniform for most of the month, and was formally discharged from military service on March 27, 1919.  At that time, his medical records identified an eight-inch-long "transverse scar" on his right buttock and described his overall condition as healthy.  After exactly three years of military service, Will Jamieson returned home to Queensport.


Will wasted little time settling into civilian life.  On October 13, 1919, he married Reta Reynolds, a native of Queensport, in a ceremony held at New Glasgow, NS.  The couple went on to raise a family of six children - three boys and three girls - in their home community, where Will was affectionately known as "Soldier Bill". 

Will supported his growing family by fishing with his older brother Aldrage on their "smack" and serving as keeper of the Queensport Light.  In later years, he developed an infection in one of his toes, a condition attributed to the "trench foot" described in his military medical records.  As a result, doctors amputated the lower part of the affected limb.

William Lewis Jamieson passed away at Queensport on June 27, 1973 and was laid to rest in St. James Church Cemetery, Half Way Cove, Guysborough County.  Will received the British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his First World War military service. 



Service file of Private William Lewis Jamieson, number 901984.  Library & Archives Canada, Ottawa: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 4787 - 6.  Attestation papers available online.

War Diary of the 42nd Infantry Battalion, CEF.  Library & Archives Canada, Ottawa: RG9, Militia & Defense, Series III-D-3, Volume 4938, Reels T-10743 & 10744, File: 433.  Available online.