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Sunday, 10 July 2016

Guysborough County Enlistments - July 10, 1916

Two Guysborough County natives attested for service with Canadian Expeditionary Force units on July 10, 1916. Neither return from the battlefields of the Western Front.

Roland “Rollie” Ash was born at Guysborough on September 6, 1894, the oldest of James Stanley and Esther (Parris) Ash’s 11 chlidren. Several years after Rollie’s birth, the family relocated to Antigonish, where Rollie married Reta Jackson, a native of Boston, MA, on May 27, 1915. A little more than one year later, Rollie attested for overseas service with the 106th Battalion (Nova Scotia Rifles) at Truro, NS. His younger brother, Norman, had joined the same unit four days previously.

One of a handful of infantry units to accept African Canadian soldiers into its ranks, the 106th departed Halifax for England on July 15, 1916 but was disbanded several months after its overseas arrival. Rollie and Norman were amongst a group of 106th soldiers transferred to the 26th Battalion (New Brunswick), “brigade mates” to the 15th (Nova Scotia), on September 27, 1916.

The reinforcements arrived in the 26th’s camp in early October 1916, as the unit rebuilt its decimated ranks following combat at both Courcelette and Regina Trench in the previous weeks. In mid-October, the battalion relocated to the Lens Sector, where Rollie served a regular trench rotation throughout the autumn and winter of 1916.

Private Rollie Ash was killed on January 16, 1917, while participating in a trench raid near Angres, France. His younger brother, Norman, was later killed at Hill 70, near Lens, on August 15, 1917. Neither brother’s remains were recovered from the battlefield.

The Ash brothers' names on the Antigonish Cenotaph.
Albyn R. Smith was born at St. Francis Harbour, Guysborough County on August 10, 1894. His family background remains a mystery, as Albyn was adopted by Jeffrey and Charlotte Parker, Larry’s River, sometime before 1901.

Albany enlisted with the Halifax Composite Battalion at Halifax on July 10, 1916. He was transferred to the 60th Battalion (Victoria Rifles of Canada) after arriving in England, serving with the unit in France from November 1916 until its dissolution in late April 1917.

Albyn was subsequently transferred to 5th Battalion Canadian Mounted Rifles (CMR). He served with his new unit throughout the summer of 1917, and was killed in action at Passchendaele, Belgium on October 30, 1917. His remains were never recovered from the battlefield.

Albyn Smith's name (488357) on the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium.
 Rollie’s and Albyn’s stories are among the 72 detailed profiles included in Bantry Publishing’s “First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume I: 1915 - 1917.”

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