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Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Remembering Private Louis John Burns: Died of Sickness March 1, 1917

Louis John Burns was born at Sonora, Guysborough County, NS on June 2, 1896. The oldest of Helen “Nellie” (Cass) and John Penney Burns’s four children, Louis enlisted with the 246th Battalion at Halifax on January 23, 1917.

Authorized in August 1916 as a “reserve” unit for the Nova Scotia Highland Brigade, the 246th’s initial members consisted of personnel deemed “unfit for service at the Front” after the Brigade’s four units finalized their nominal rolls. Military authorities planned to provide the soldiers with additional training, and recruit sufficient personnel during the winter of 1916-17 to bring the unit to full strength.

Louis Burns was one of the 246th’s “winter recruits.” Unfortunately, response to the unit’s appeals fell short of expectations. Officials therefore decided to send the battalion’s soldiers overseas in two “reinforcement drafts.” Louis never departed for England. While his medical examination failed to detect any health concerns, he was admitted to Rockhead Military Hospital, Halifax, on February 27, 1917 for treatment of “acute nephritis” (inflammation of the kidneys).

On March 1, 1917, Private Louis John Burns died of kidney failure and pulmonary oedema (fluid on the lungs). Military authorities transported his remains to Guysborough County, where Louis was laid to rest in St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Wine Harbour.

Private Louis John Burns’ story is one of 72 detailed profiles contained in First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume I: 1915 - 1917, available at Bantry Publishing.

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