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Thursday, 31 March 2016

Guysborough County CEF Enlistments - March 31, 1916

For the past two years, I have been "tweeting" Guysborough County enlistments, in addition to events related to Nova Scotia's First World War battalions, one hundred years to the day after their occurrence. The tweets are available on my Twitter feed @brucefmacdonald and also appear in a window to the right of this blog column. If you have a Twitter account, you are invited to "follow" me.

Due to the large number of enlistments in late March and early April 1916, I am posting information for March 31 on this blog. Similar posts will follow, covering enlistments from April 1 to 5 inclusive. Enlistment tweets will resume on April 6, when numbers become more manageable. You may wonder why were there so many enlistments during this six-day period. Here is a brief explanation.

In March and April 1916, military recruiters visited Nova Scotia's smaller communities for the first time since the First World War's commencement. Their goal was to raise personnel for three recently authorized battalions—the 193rd, 185th and 291th—who, along with the 85th Battalion (Nova Scotia Highlanders), formed the Nova Scotia Highland Brigade.

Each of the new battalions focused its recruiting efforts on a specific geographic area. The 185th raised its complement on Cape Breton Island, hence the name "Cape Breton Highlanders." The 219th recruited in Halifax County, South Shore and Annapolis Valley districts. The 193rd ("Blue Feather Battalion") campaigned throughout northeastern Nova Scotia—Cumberland, Colchester, Pictou, Antigonish, Guysborough and Hants counties.

Recruiters visited Canso, Guysborough and Sherbrooke, attracting a considerable number of volunteers in each community. Today's post lists the names and background information for 14 Guysborough County natives who attested for overseas service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force on March 31, 1916. All but one enlisted with the 193rd Battalion.


Armsworthy, Arthur Borden:

Born at Canso on August 1, 1898, son of Joseph & Mary (George) Armsworthy.

Enlistment: 193rd Battalion at Canso; transferred to 42nd Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada on December 5, 1916.

Hospitalized with inflammation of right knee June 9, 1917, rejoined the 42nd on December 12, 1917. Slightly wounded March 10, 1918, rejoined unit April 18, 1918. Wounded in right foot at Cambrai, France on September 28, 1918 and invalided to England.

Post-war: married Sadie Ethel Leslie, Eagle Head, Queens Co., NS, and settled at North River, Colchester County. Passed away on August 29, 1946 and laid to rest in Canso, NS.

Carter, Elisha William:

Born at Half Island Cove on December 20, 1887, son of Thomas & Meahalah Carter. Married (wife’s name Christina) at time of enlistment.

Enlistment: 193rd Battalion at Canso. Discharged as “no longer physically fit for War Service” (problems with sciatic nerve) at Halifax on September 30, 1916.

Dort, George Louis:

Born at Peas Brook on November 25, 1897, son of George L. & Martha Jane (George) Dort.

Enlistment: 193rd Battalion at Canso. Transferred to 85th Battalion on February 24, 1917, George was killed in action at Vimy Ridge, France on April 9, 1917.

Eustace, Robert Michael “Bob”:

Born at Canso on November 29, 1898, son of Robert Richard & Sarah (Flaherty) Eustace.

Enlistment: 193rd Battalion at Canso. Transferred to the 85th Battalion on February 5, 1918. Wounded in right shoulder at Amiens, France on August 9, 1918, Robert was invalided to England.

Post-war: Robert returned to Canso, where he was employed as a lighthouse keeper. He never married, passing away at Canso in 1975.

Fanning, Louis Joseph:

Born at Canso on June 19, 1897, son of William S. & Catherine (Hanlon) Fanning.

Enlistment: 193rd Battalion at Canso. Transferred to 85th Battalion on February 24, 1917. Hospitalized with appendicitis in May 1917, Louis was invalided to England. He returned to service with the 85th in January 1918 and remained in France for the duration of the war.

Post-war: No information available.

Jack, Hugh Ellsworth:

Born at Caribou Mines, Halifax Co. on January 30, 1898, son of Daniel and Margaret “Maggie” (Taylor) Jack.

Enlistment: 224th Canadian Forestry Battalion at Antigonish.

Hugh’s family was living at Melrose, Guysborough County at the time of his enlistment. Hugh served with the Canadian Forestry Corps in Scotland. Before returning to Canada, Hugh married Catherine Brown Hislop at Edinburgh, Scotland.

Post-war: Hugh worked in the Northern Ontario mines following the war, moving further west to Ponoka, AB after Catherine’s death. A lover of horses, Hugh worked with local rodeos in his new community, passing away there on February 12, 1982.

MacDonald, Donald Frank:

Born at Canso on April 9, 1894, son of Angus D. & Margaret “Maggie” MacDonald.

Enlistment: 193rd Battalion at Canso. Joined 85th Battalion on March 4, 1918, wounded at Oppy, France on March 30 but remained at duty. Promoted to Corporal on October 10, 1918 and Sergeant on January 9, 1919.

Post-war: No additional information available.

MacIsaac, Arthur Vincent: 

Born at Fox Island on October 20, 1897, grandson of Daniel & Jane (Watkin) MacIsaac, son of Sarah “Sadie” MacIsaac.

Enlistment: 193rd Battalion at Canso. No additional service information available.

Post-war: Arthur married Ella Elizabeth Fitzgerald at Canso on August 18, 1925 and raised a family of five children. He passed away at Canso on December 19, 1969.

McNeil, Ambrose:

Born at Canso on October 19, 1897, son of James Murdock & Bridget (Eaton) Mc Neil.

Enlistment: 193rd Battalion at Canso. No additional service or post-war information available.

Munroe, Willoughby Knowles:

Born at Canso on September 9, 1894, son of Lewis William & Henrietta (Carrigan) Munroe.

Enlistment: 193rd Battalion at Canso. No additional service or post-war information available.

Myers, Fred Russell:

Born at Canso on August 1, 1891, son of George W. & Jane (Barss) Myers.

Enlistment: 193rd Battalion at Canso. No additional service or post-war information available.

Rhynold, John Scott:

Born at Canso on August 5, 1885, son of William D. & Mary M. (Hurst) Rhynold.

Enlistment: 193rd Battalion at Canso, NS. Married at enlistment, John Scott was transferred to the 85th Battalion on July 21, 1918 and was wounded in the right arm at Cambrai, France on September 29, 1918. Invalided to England, doctors amputated John’s right arm and he was discharged as medically unfit for service.

Post-war: Father of four children, John Scott died of tuberculosis attributed to his military service at Camp Hill Hospital, Halifax, on October 13, 1920.

Swaine, Benjamin Wallace:

Born at Canso on December 11,1897, son of Samuel Isaiah & Emily Myra “Emma” (McLellan) Swaine.

Enlistment: 193rd Battalion at Canso, NS. Transferred to the 85th Battalion on March 5, 1917, Ben was gassed in June and invalided to England. Returning to the 85th on November 23, he served at the front throughout the winter of 1917-18. On March 23, 1918, Ben died in the cellar of a billet at Cité St. Pierre, France, when a comrade’s firearm accidentally discharged, the bullet striking him in the head.

Swaine, Wilfred Laurier “Fred”:

Born at Canso on April 13, 1897, son of Rupert & Eunice Jane (Talbot) Swaine.

Enlistment: 193rd Battalion at Canso. Transferred to the 85th Battalion on February 2, 1917, Fred was wounded at Lens on June 28, rejoining the battalion on September 26. Wounded a second time at Passchendaele on October 30, 1917, Fred never returned to the front.

Post-war: Fred married Mary Evelyn Burns, a Canso native, on November 9, 1929 and subsequently raised a family of two children while working as a fisheries officer in the Canso area. Relocating to Central Canada in his later years, Fred passed away at Frankford, Ontario on February 1, 1987.


  1. Thanks for this post. The two Swaine photos are new to me.

  2. You're welcome, Betty. I will send you copies by e-mail.