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Thursday, 18 August 2016

Guysborough Enlistments - August 18, 1916

Two Guysborough County natives enlisted for overseas service with CEF units on August 18, 1916.

1. James Desmond was born on August 1, 1897 at Guysborough, the son of Samuel Desmond. Both of James’ parents were deceased at the time of his enlistment with No. 2 Construction Battalion at Pictou, NS on August 18, 1916. A teamster by trade, he listed his grandmother, Mrs. Sarah Desmond, Guysborough, as his next of kin.

James departed Nova Scotia with No. 2 Construction Battalion on March 28, 1917 aboard SS Southland and arrived in England on April 7. Six weeks later, he crossed the English Channel to France with No. 2 Construction and followed the unit to the Canadian Forestry Corps’ operations in Jura District, near the Swiss border, where its personnel commenced work in the CFC’s forest and lumber mill operations. James was part of a detachment transferred in December 1917 to No. 1 Canadian Forestry Corps District, Alençon, where he and his comrades assisted in logging the Normandy forests.

Following the November 11, 1918 Armistice, No. 2 Construction returned to England on December 14 and departed for Canada early in the New Year aboard SS Empress of Britain. The unit arrived in Halifax on January 22, 1919 and James was discharged from military service on February 15, 1919. James’ post-military life was cut short by illness. Stricken with pulmonary tuberculosis within months of his discharge, he passed away at Pictou, NS on August 12, 1919 and was laid to rest at Truro, NS.

2. Austin Kiley was born at Hazel Hill, Guysborough County on January 1, 1892, son of William and Mary Ann (Boudreau) Kiley. A steel worker by occupation, Austin enlisted with the 193rd Battalion at New Glasgow, NS on August 18, 1916. Austin has served for an unspecified period of time with the 94th Victoria Regiment (Argyll Highlanders), a local militia unit whose soldiers guarded key facilities in and around Canso following the outbreak of the war.

Austin was transferred to the 85th Battalion prior to departing for England with the Nova Scotia Highland Brigade on October 13, 1916. Shortly after arriving overseas, however, he was transferred to the 11th Canadian Training Brigade, Hastings, for permanent base duty. Admitted to Bramshott Military Hospital for treatment of appendicitis on March 21, 1917, Austin was transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion—the unit servicing Nova Scotia battalions at the front lines—on May 25, 1917.

Several months later, medical issues eliminated any possibility of Austin serving at the front. He suffered from myalgia, particularly in his back and right side, and developed significant sores on his feet from marching in military boots. A pre-war injury—he severely fractured his index finger when his right hand was caught in a rock crusher—also affected his dexterity.

While in England, Austin met Isabella Forbes and received permission to marry on January 21, 1918. In early March, Austin was transferred to the Canadian Base at Buxton, where he awaited transport to Canada. He departed on April 9, 1918 and spent two months with the 6th Battalion, Canadian Garrison Regiment, before receiving a medical discharge from military service on June 18, 1918.

Austin’s young bride followed him home to Canada, the couple initially settling in Sydney, NS. They relocated to the United States shortly afterward, taking up residence at Hillside, Union, New Jersey, where Austin initially worked as a railway brakeman and later as a pipe fitter. He and Isabella raised four children—three sons and one daughter—in their family home. Austin Kiley passed away in New Jersey on September 23, 1956.

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