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Monday, 25 July 2016

Guysborough County's First No. 2 Construction Battalion Enlistments

On July 25, 1916, six African Nova Scotian men with connections to Guysborough County enlisted for overseas service with No. 2 Construction Battalion at New Glasgow, NS. Authorized on July 5, 1916 and headquartered at Pictou, NS, the unit was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel H. Sutherland, River John, Pictou County. While No. 2 Construction mounted a nation-wide recruitment campaign, expanding into the United States during the winter of 1916-17, the vast majority of its approximately 700 recruits came from Nova Scotia.

No. 2 Construction Battalion Soldiers, November 1916.
At least 25 individuals with connections to Guysborough County enlisted for service with No. 2 Construction Battalion. The first six completed their attestation papers at New Glasgow, NS on July 25, 1916:

1. Howard Desmond was born on March 7, 1896 at Guysborough, NS to Cranswick and Annie Desmond. In the years following the war, Howard married Lillian May Clark (1920) and worked as a coal miner in the Pictou County area. He passed away at Tony River, Pictou County on December 25, 1951, the result of accidental drowning.

2. Joseph Alexander “Joe” Parris was born at Sand Point, near Mulgrave, Guysborough County, on March 20, 1899. Joe’s parents were Charles Levi and Annie (Izzard) Parris. His older brother, William Winslow "Bill", later enlisted with No 2 Construction. Following his return to Canada, Joe worked in the Mulgrave railway yard. In 1924, He married Annie Jane Jarvis, who passed away in 1936. Joe subsequently married Viola Jane Borden and raised a large family in their Mulgrave home. A member of the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, Joe passed away at Mulgrave on April 19, 1972. A detailed story of Joe’s war service is available on this blog.

Pte. Joseph Alexander "Joe" Parris (center).
3. George William Reddick was born on April 28, 1892 at Mulgrave, the son of Walter Havelock and Margaret (Izzard) Reddick. George married Mary Evelyn Bowles at River Hebert in 1921, and worked as a coal miner in the Amherst area for a number of years. A well-known fiddle maker, George returned to the Guysborough area in his later years. He passed away at Guysborough Memorial Hospital Hospital on April 12, 1978 and was laid to rest in St. Monica’s Cemetery, Lincolnville.

Pte. George William Reddick (right) & Pte. William Winslow "Bill" Parris.
4. James Alexander Talbot (Tarbot) was born at Mulgrave in 1892 to Edward and Elizabeth “Lizzie” (Bennett) Talbot. Following his return to Canada, James married Margaret LeBlanc in 1924. He subsequently married Josephine Jarvis in 1936, following his first wife’s passing.

5. Wallace Talbot was born at Sand Point, near Mulgrave, on May 2, 1889 to Edward and Elizabeth “Lizzie” (Bennett) Talbot. A brother to James Alexander, Wallace was married to Elizabeth Margaret Blackney at the time of his enlistment. He worked as a coal miner and cement worker following his return to Canada, passing away at Camp Hill Hospital, Halifax on July 9, 1949. Wallace was laid to rest at New Glasgow, NS.

6. William John Talbot, brother of James Alexander and Wallace, was born at Mulgrave on September 2, 1896. He lived in the Sydney area following the war, marrying Agnes McKinnon in 1924. William worked as a foreman in the general yard of a local steel company. He passed away from tuberculosis at Sydney on February 9, 1945.


  1. James Alexander Talbot was my grandfather. thank you for your research I have been searching my dads family history for many years and war documents have helped me greatly

  2. Hello, Troy - it's a pleasure to hear from you! I assume that you've accessed your grandfather's service file. There were two other Talbots from the Mulgrave area who also served with No. 2 Construction Battalion - Wallace Talbot (931048) and Wallace John Talbot (931021). Was James a relative of theirs? Wallace John was a nephew of Wallace Talbot, if that helps. I have some information on their service. Contact me by e-mail if you are interested in further details on their stories: I also suggest that you check out Joseph Parris's story on my blog. It outlines the story of No. 2 Construction Battalion's overseas service: