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Friday, 29 July 2016

Guysborough County CEF Enlistments - July 29, 1916

Two Guysborough County natives enlisted with Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) units on July 29, 1916:

1. Frederick Benoit (Benight) was born on February 10, 1896 to Lemuel and Annie (Boggs) Benoit of Wine Harbour, Guysborough County. Fred served with the Royal Canadian Engineers unit at Halifax, NS from July 3, 1915 to July 25, 1916, at which time he was discharged for medical reasons. Determined to serve overseas, four days later, Fred enlisted with the 237th Battalion (American Legion) at Halifax, NS.

One of several controversial units recruited mainly in the United States, the battalion had been recruited in the Toronto area and was encamped at Aldershot, NS at the time of Fred’s enlistment. The 237th never left Canada, its ranks absorbed into the 97th Battalion—another “American Legion” unit—in mid-September 1916. Fred arrived in England with his new unit, only to be transferred to the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) on October 21, following the 97th’s dissolution.

Fred crossed the English Channel to France the day following his transfer, serving in the line with the RCR until late December 1916, when he was hospitalized with pneumonia. He was subsequently invalided to England and spent the next ten months recovering, returning to the RCR’s ranks on October 26, 1917.

Fred served the remainder of the war in France and Belgium with the RCR, returning to England on February 11, 1919 and departing for Canada on March 1. Two weeks later, he was discharged from military service and returned to his parents’ Wine Harbour home.

Fred married Esther May Shields, a native of Shelburne, at Halifax on April 17, 1924. The couple subsequently raised a family of ten children—one son and nine daughters. Two other sons died in infancy.

2. Charles Edwin “Charlie” Smith was born on December 9, 1895 to Robert and Janet (McKenzie) Smith of Upper Springfield, Guysborough County. He enlisted with the Headquarters Company, 4th Divisional Train at Halifax. His occupation at the time—Charlie had worked as a teamster—would be to good use, hauling supplies to the front lines.

Pte. Charles Edwin "Charlie" Smith.
Charlie departed Canada on June 28, 1916, but health issues interrupted his journey to France shortly after his arrival in England. Charlie was first hospitalized with a case of mumps and later contracted the measles. As a result, he did not cross the English Channel to the front lines until January 14, 1917.

Pte. Charlie Smith.
Charlie was assigned to 3rd Canadian Divisional Train, where his teamster skills were put to good use. On June 22, 1917, he was attached to No. 10 Canadian Field Ambulance (CFA), remaining with this unit for the remainder of the war. Charlie received 14 days’ leave to the United Kingdom on November 16, 1917, rejoining No. 10 CFA upon his return.

At some point during his time in England—perhaps his first months overseas, while recuperating in hospital—Charlie met Agnes Jane Sharp. Less than three weeks after the Armistice ended the fighting at the front, Charlie received another 14 days leave to the United Kingdom, with permission to marry. He and Agnes were wed at Kirkdale, West Derby, England on December 9, 1918. Officials granted Charlie four additional days’ leave in light of his recent wedding, allowing him to rejoin No. 10 CFA in France on December 20.

Agnes Jane Sharp

Charlie subsequently returned to England on February 23, 1919, departing for Canada with his new bride on September 6, 1919. The couple travelled west, destined for Edmonton, AB. The couple also resided in Saskatchewan for a number of years, raising a family of seven children. Charlie also enlisted with the Veterans’ Home Guard during the Second World War. He passed away at Edmonton, AB on May 19, 1989 and was laid to rest at Lloydminster, SK.

Charlie Smith in Second World War uniform.
Charlie’s older brother, John Robert “Jack” Smith, also enlisted for service during the First World War, serving in France and Belgium with two pioneer battalions and 3rd Canadian Divisional Train. Jack’s detailed story is available elsewhere on this blog.

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