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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Guysborough County Enlistments—May 1917

Ten individuals with connections to Guysborough County, Nova Scotia enlisted with Canadian Expeditionary Force units during the month of May 1917:

1. William Reynold Harris was born at Whitehead, Guysborough County on April 2, 1891. Reynold, as he was known to family, was the third of five children and the elder of two sons in the family of William Steven Teed and Mary Elizabeth (Conway) Harris.

On May 1, 1917, Reynold enlisted for military service with the 1st Regiment, Canadian Garrison Artillery at Halifax, NS. At the time, he was working as a book-keeper and living in Halifax. Reynold also held the commissioned rank of Lieutenant. He subsequently attested for overseas service with the Canadian Field Artillery at Halifax on January 23, 1918.

Reynold arrived in England on June 21, 1918 and was attached to the Reserve Artillery Depot, Witley, Surrey as a “Conducting Officer.” The following month, he was “attached pending instructions” to the Composite Brigade, Canadian Reserve Artillery. With the exception of five days Reynold spent in France in mid-August, he served in England for the duration of the war.

On December 10, Reynold was assigned to Borden Regimental Group for duty, returning to Camp Witley at the end of January 1919. He was dispatched to Ripon for return to Canada on March 29 and departed for Halifax aboard SS Empress of Britain on July 3. Eight days later, Reynold arrived at Halifax and was discharged from military service on July 16, 1919.

On September 12, 1922, Reynold married Gertrude Eleanor Journey in a ceremony held at Weymouth, Digby County. He worked as an accountant during the post-war years. Reynold Harris passed away at the Victoria General Hospital, Halifax on May 19, 1948 and was laid to rest in Weymouth, NS.

2. Joseph Ernest Worth was born at Ogden, Guysborough County on October 29, 1897, the second child and second son of Edward King and Catherine Ann “Kellie” (McCallum) Worth. “Ernie,” as he was identified in the 1901 and 1911 censuses, enlisted with No. 3 Company, Canadian Forestry Corps (CFC), at Truro, NS on May 9, 1917. He departed from Halifax aboard SS Justicia on June 25 and 10 days later arrived at Liverpool, England.

Ernie spent five weeks at the CFC Base Depot at Sunningdale, after which time he was assigned to the newly organized No. 72 Company, CFC on August 11. The following day, he crossed the English Channel with his new unit and made his way to Bordeaux District of France, where No. 72 CFC commenced operations in the nearby “Landes de Gascogne,” a large pine forest southwest of Bordeaux. One month later, Ernie was admitted to hospital for treatment of bronchitis. He returned to duty on November 9 and served without further incident for the remainder of No. 72 CFC’s time in France.

Pte. J. E. Worth's headstone, Seaford Cemetery, Sussex, England.
Ernie returned to England on January 18, 1919 and prepared to return home. Before month’s end, however, health issues surfaced. He was admitted to No. 14 Canadian General Hospital, Eastbourne on January 29, 1919 for treatment of influenza and pneumonia. Ernie’s condition rapidly deteriorated and he died at 3:00 a.m. February 4, 1919. He was laid to rest in Seaford Cemetery, Sussex, England.

3. Gertrude White Paget was born at Hazel Hill, Guysborough County on July 23, 1891, the third of Frederick William and Eliza Maude (White) Paget’s six children. Frederick, a native of Leeds, England, was employed at the Commercial Cable Company as a telegraphist, while Eliza was born at Sherbrooke, Guysborough County. Frederick passed away at Canso on May 10, 1910, leaving Eliza to care for several young children.

Gertrude, a graduate nurse, enlisted with the Canadian Army Medical Corps at Montreal, QC on May 9, 1917. No further details are currently available on her military service. Following the war, Gertrude relocated to San Francisco, California, where her younger brother, Hilton—also a First World War veteran—resided. she spent several years in Hawaii before returning to San Francisco in 1930. Gertrude never married. She passed away in Siskiyou County, California on May 24, 1941.

4. William “Willie” Croft was born at Gegogan, Guysborough County on January 2, 1896 and spent most of his childhood years in the home of his grandparents, Henry and Hannah (Melman) Croft, Sonora. Willie enlisted with the Howitzer Brigade Ammunition Column at Halifax on May 21, 1917, at which time he listed his mother, Alice (Croft) Swaine, Duncan St., Halifax as his next of kin.

Willie departed Halifax on November 26, 1917 aboard SS Megantic and landed at Liverpool, England 11 days later. He remained in England for ten months, finally crossing the English Channel to France on October 8, 1918. Four days later, Willie reported to the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp, where he awaited further orders. On December 26, 1918, Willie was attached to the 3rd Canadian Divisional Ammunition Column as a driver.

Willie returned to England on February 20, 1919 and departed for Canada aboard SS Olympic one month later. He was formally discharged from military service on March 31, 1919. Following his return to Canada, Willie worked as a “fish handler” in Halifax. On March 1, 1935, he married Mary Kathleen Elizabeth Woods, a native of Charlottetown, PEI. No further information is available on his later life.

5. Mary Lillian Cameron was born on December 8 1894 to Frederick A. and Laura (Condon) Cameron, Canso, Guysborough County. Mary Lillian enlisted with No. 4 Canadian General Hospital, CAMC at Montreal, QC on May 22, 1917. A detailed summary of her war service and later life is available on this blog.

Lt. Mary Lillian, Cameron, CAMC.

6. James Leo McDonald was born on October 29, 1893 to John Neil and Catherine (O’Brien) McDonald, Auld’s Cove. Jimmy, as he was known to family, spent his childhood years in Mulgrave, Guysborough County and enlisted with No. 3 Nova Scotia Forestry Company at Truro, NS on May 25, 1917. A detailed summary of his war service and later life is available on this blog.

Pte. James Leo McDonald, CFC.

7. John Henry MacKinnon was born on July 29, 1878 to Patrick and Bridget McKinnon, East Erinville, Guysborough County. John was living at Riske Creek, Chilcoten, BC when he enlisted with the Revelstoke Forestry Company, CEF at Revelstoke, BC on May 25, 1917. Almost 39 years old at the time, John was six feet tall and weighed 170 pounds. While his attestation stated his occupation as “farmer,” other documents in his file state that he was a “rancher.”

On June 25, John departed Halifax aboard SS Justicia and arrived in England 10 days later. He spent two months at the Canadian Forestry Corps’ Sunningdale Headquarters before being assigned to No. 73 Company on September 6. One week later, John’s Company crossed the English Channel to France and commenced work in the CFC’s Bordeaux District.

Within months of his overseas arrival, John began to experience soreness in his knees and ankles. He was admitted to hospital at Marseilles on January 14, 1918 and transferred to No. 57 Canadian General Hospital, Boulogne one week later. Medical staff identified the problem as osteoarthritis and John was invalided to England at month’s end. Following his admission to King George Hospital, Stamford St., London, John developed a severe case of nephritis (kidney inflammation).

On March 19, John was transferred to No. 16 Canadian General Hospital, Orpington, Kent, where medical staff determined that John’s health issues made it continued military service impossible. On June 3, he departed for Canada aboard HMHS Neuralia and returned by train to British Columbia, where he was admitted to a Vancouver military hospital on June 9. John was discharged from military service as “medically unfit” at Victoria, BC on August 13, 1918.

John returned to the Riske Creek area and resumed his civilian employment. According to the 1921 Canadian census, he was living in a Cranbrook, BC boarding house and working as a “teamster.” John married sometime afterward, although the date, location and bride’s full name are currently unknown. John Henry McKinnon passed away prior to May 8, 1932, the date on which Canadian officials shipped his British War and Victory service medals to his widow, Myrtle, who was living at 15118 Braile St., Detroit, Michigan at the time.

8. James Emmett Strachan was born on May 13, 1896 to James A. and Bridget Ann “Annie” (Ryan) Strachan, Auld’s Cove, Antigonish County. James enlisted with No. 3 Forestry Company at Truro, NS on May 26, 1917. He listed his occupation as “lumberman (scaler)” at the time of his enlistment. No further information is currently available on James’ military service.

Following the war, James established residence at Mulgrave, Guysborough County, where he worked on the Intercolonial Railway. On November 23, 1923, he married Mary Frances Kennedy, a native of Mulgrave. Several years later, the couple departed for the United States and settled at Detroit, Michigan, where they raised a family of six children. James passed away in Michigan in March 1979.

9. Edward Edmund Bearse [Barss] was born on January 1, 1893 to Harris and Mary Bearse, Guysborough, NS. Edward enlisted with the Canadian Army Medical Corps at Edmonton, AB on May 31, 1917. Edward departed from Halifax aboard SS Scotian on November 26, 1917 and arrived at Liverpool, England 11 days later.

Edward Edmund Bearse in civilian life.
On February 9, 1918, Edward was transferred to the 185th Battalion (Cape Breton Highlanders), but was subsequently re-assigned to the 17th Reserve Battalion on February 23, following the 185th’s dissolution. On March 25, Edward was assigned to the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) and immediately departed for France. He joined the RCR in the field before month’s end.

Edward served with the RCR for the duration of the war. On November 19, he was admitted to No 57 Casualty Clearing Station with a case of “ICT” [inflammation of connected tissue] in his right toe. Two days later, he arrived at No. 18 General Hospital, Camiers and on December 6 was invalided to England, where he spent one month in hospital before being discharged on January 8, 1919. On May 2, Edward was “struck off strength” to Canada and was formally discharged from military service at Halifax on May 17, 1919.

Following his overseas service, Edward spent several years in Detroit, Michigan, where he met Irene Olive Van Horn, a native of Kingston, MI. They married in Michigan in 1923 and the following year returned to Guysborough, where Edward operated a trucking business. The couple had no children. Edward passed away at Guysborough Memorial Hospital on September 9, 1964. His widow, Olive, entered the Milford Home for Special Care in 1993 and passed away there on June 4, 2007 at 101 years of age.

10. William Vernon Langley was born at Isaac’s Harbour, Guysborough County on June 13, 1898, the second to Harvey and Florence (Cook) Langley’s four children. Florence died of tuberculosis on February 29, 1910, while Harvey was accidentally “killed in the Lumber Wood at Upper Caledonia by a falling limb” on January 12, 1912.

Vernon, as he was known to family, subsequently relocated to Pictou County, where his older sister, Vera, resided. On May 31, 1917, he enlisted with the 105th Battalion Draft at Halifax, listing Vera as his next of kin. He had logged 16 months’ service with the Halifax Composite Battalion prior to his attestation with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Vernon departed Halifax aboard SS Olympic on June 2, 1917 and arrived in England one week later. On November 15, 1917, Vernon was transferred to the 26th Battalion (New Brunswick) and immediately departed for France. He served with the 26th throughout the winter and spring of 1918, and saw action at Amiens and Arras (August 1918) during the beginning of the final push that eventually brought fighting to an end.

On the evening of September 19, the 26th returned to the trenches near Bullecourt, France. Sometime within the next 24 hours in the trenches, Vernon received shrapnel wounds to his right leg and elbow and was evacuated for medical treatment. He was admitted to No. 54 General Hospital, Aubengue, Wimereux, France on September 21 and spent six weeks recovering from his injuries.

Luckily, his wounds were not serious and Vernon was discharged to No. 7 Convalescent Depot, Boulogne on November 2. Released from medical care two weeks later, he reported to the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp but never rejoined the 26th’s ranks, as fighting had ended by that time. Vernon proceeded to England on March 28, 1919 and departed for Canada aboard SS Celtic on May 7. He was discharged from military service at Halifax on May 22, 1919.

Several years after returning to Canada, Vernon departed for the United States, where he became a “naturalized citizen” at Chelsea, MA in 1939. His sister, Vera, later married Orris Cooke, another Isaac’s Harbour First World War veteran. No further information is available on Vernon’s later life and passing.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Remembering Private Arthur MacKenzie—Died of Sickness May 13, 1917

Arthur MacKenzie was born at Canso, Guysborough County on November 12, 1897, the eldest of David and Maria (Uloth) MacKenzie’s six children. Following the First World War, soldiers became a regular sight in and around the community, as personnel from two militia regiments—the 94th Victoria Regiment (Argyll Highlanders) and 78th Pictou Highlanders—guarded the Commercial Cable Company offices at Hazel Hill and several other strategic sites in Canso town and vicinity.

Pte. Arthur MacKenzie
On April 4, 1916, Arthur enlisted for service with the 94th Victoria Regiment. Authorized on October 13, 1871, the militia regiment was based at Baddeck, Victoria County, but had established eight Companies throughout western Cape Breton prior to the outbreak of the First World War. In the aftermath of Britain’s August 4, 1914 declaration of war on Germany, the 94th mobilized its 377 soldiers and commenced protective duties at strategic locations along the Cape Breton and Canso coastlines.

Upon enlistment, Arthur was assigned to “G” Company and immediately placed on the unit’s payroll, receiving a wage of $1.00 and a field allowance of 10⍧ for each day’s service. According to the 94th’s records, Arthur became a full-time soldier throughout the following year, setting aside his previous occupation as a fisherman for regular militia duty. As spring approached, however, health problems interrupted his military service.

Pte. Arthur MacKenzie's headstone.
On March 15, 1917, Arthur was hospitalized for treatment of diphtheria, a highly contagious disease transmitted through respiratory droplets. Military barracks’ damp, crowded conditions meant that illness frequently spread from soldier to soldier. While Arthur initially showed signs of improvement, he developed “symptoms of myocarditis” in late April. His health rapidly declined and Arthur died of heart failure on May 13, 1917. Private Arthur MacKenzie was laid to rest in Fourth Hill Cemetery, Canso, dressed in his “Uniform, Serge [and] drab.”

Bantry Publishing's First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume I: 1915 - 17 contains a detailed description of Arthur's story, along with profiles of 71 other Guysborough soldiers who died in uniform during the war's first three years. Copies are available for purchase online at .

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Remembering Sergeant Alexander Hugh Cameron, MM—Killed in Action May 7, 1917

Alexander Hugh Cameron was born at Caledonia, Guysborough County, NS on February 28, 1891, the fifth of Daniel Angus and Margaret A. Cameron’s nine children. Sometime after 1911, Alexander relocated to Alberta, where his older brother, John Angus, was employed as a school teacher.

Alexander enlisted with the 56th Battalion (Calgary Highlanders) at Calgary, AB on June 15, 1915, while John Angus joined the 63rd Battalion (Loyal Edmonton Regiment) two weeks later. Before year’s end, the brothers reunited when Alexander obtained a transfer to John Angus’s unit. Following a winter’s training in Western Canada, the 63rd traveled by train to Saint John, NB and departed for overseas aboard SS Metagama on April 22, 1916.

Upon arriving at Liverpool, England on May 5, the Cameron brothers traveled with their comrades to Shorncliffe Military Camp. Within two months of its overseas arrival, the 63rd was disbanded and its personnel dispersed to existing units. John Angus, a commissioned Lieutenant, remained in England until late June 1917, when he was transferred to the 31st Battalion. Alexander, however, made his way to the forward area shortly after the 63rd’s dissolution. On June 29, 1916,  he was assigned to the 29th Battalion (BC)—part of the 2nd Canadian Division’s 6th Brigade—and immediately departed for France. He joined his new unit at Albert Camp, near St. Eloi, Belgium, on July 30.

Alexander served in Belgium with the 29th for six weeks, at which time the unit relocated to the Somme region of France with the Canadian Corps. While the battalion did not participate in the Corps’ September 15 attack on Courcelette, France, personnel provided “carrying parties” for front line units throughout the operation.

While its soldiers subsequently took part in the initial attacks on German defences in front of Regina Trench in late September and early October, Alexander was not part of the attacks. A solid lad who was five feet, eleven inches tall and weighed 185 pounds, Alexander completed a Lewis Gun course during that time and rejoined his comrades on October 4.

The 29th departed the Somme region following Alexander’s return and moved northward to sectors near Arras, France. During his winter service, Alexander was promoted to Lance Corporal and soon advanced to the full rank of Corporal. On February 20, 1917, he was appointed Lance Sergeant—a Corporal acting in the rank of Sergeant.

The 29th participated in the Canadian Corps’ historic April 9, 1917 attack on Vimy Ridge, its soldiers initially playing a support role while the 4th and 5th Brigades spearheaded the attack in the 2nd Division’s sector. Shortly after mid-day. the 29th’s soldiers entered the battle as the 6th Brigade carried out the attack’s second phase. Personnel succeeded in securing their objectives on the outskirts of Farbus by mid-afternoon.

Alexander’s actions at Vimy Ridge earned him the Military Medal for bravery:

“This N.C.O.[,] after completing consolidation under heavy fire and great difficulties, showed much skill in handling his Lewis Guns. In spite of heavy shell, fire, he harassed the enemy’s gunners and did splendid work in causing them to retire, leaving their guns.”

Throughout the remainder of the month, the 29th served on rotation in sectors in front of the newly captured ridge. On the night of May 3/4, its soldiers occupied a section of a newly established line beyond the village of Fresnoy and endured “heavy artillery fire” as they set about consolidating the position. By May 6, “[the] men [were} beginning to show [the] strain of continual bombardment,” although casualties were light.

Conditions were “cloudy” on the morning of May 7, but the weather improved as the day progressed. During the evening hours, 19th Battalion arrived to relief the 29th’s soldiers. As they were retiring from the line, their location “came under heavy enemy shelling during [an enemy] attack to recapture Fresnoy.” Three of “B” Company’s Lewis Gun crews remained in the line with the 19th’s soldiers and assisted in defending the position. During the fighting, “two guns were put out of action, and of the third crew, all but No. 1 were killed or wounded.”

Sergeant Alexander Cameron was one of six “other ranks” (OR) killed during the evening attack. His remains were never recovered from the battlefield where he fell. His name is inscribed on the Canadian War Memorial, Vimy Ridge, one of 11,285 Canadian soldiers “missing, presumed dead” somewhere beneath the battlefields of northern France.

Memorial Stone—Bethel Presbyterian Cemetery, Caledonia, NS
Bantry Publishing’s First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume I: 1915 - 1917 contains a detailed description of Alexander’s story, along with profiles of 71 other soldiers and sailors with connections to Guysborough County, all of whom died during the first three years of Canadian service on the Western Front. The book is available for purchase online at .

Monday, 1 May 2017

Remembering Private James Arthur Hayne—Killed in Action May 1, 1917

James Arthur Hayne was born at Country Harbour, Guysborough County on August 18, 1892, the third of Viola (McNeil) and William Hayne’s seven children. Viola passed away sometime before 1911, leaving William to care for his three youngest children. By that time, Arthur—as he was known to family—was living in Red Deer, Alberta, where he was working as a miner.

James Arthur Hayne (c. 1915)
Arthur later travelled further west to British Columbia, where he found employment in a fishing camp. There, he met Lily Alice Fisk, a native of Norwich, England, a camp cook and sister of its owner. The couple married on September 12, 1914 and established residence in Steveston, south of Vancouver. Their first child, Gordon, arrived shortly afterward, followed by a daughter, Mary Frances.

The outbreak of the First World War soon disrupted Arthur’s civilian and family life. He initially enlisted with the 104th Regiment (Westminster Fusiliers of Canada), a local militia unit that provided basic instruction to soldiers interested in overseas service. On March 24, 1916, Arthur attested for overseas service with the 131st Battalion, the second overseas unit recruited, organized and trained by the 104th Regiment.

Mary Frances, Lilly Alice & Gordon Hayne.
Following seven months of training in British Columbia, Arthur and his fellow recruits made their way to Halifax by train and departed for overseas aboard SS Caronia on November 1, 1916. Ten days later, the unit arrived in England, only to be disbanded within days. The 131st’s personnel dispersed among existing British Columbia battalions. On November 27, Private James Arthur Hayne, attestation number 790031, was transferred to the 47th Battalion, the first of the 104th Regiment’s overseas units.

The day following his transfer, Arthur crossed the English Channel to France and joined the 47th in the field on December 11, 1916. He served with the unit in sectors near Lens, France throughout the winter of 1916 - 17. The battalion was part of the Canadian Corps’ planned assault on Vimy Ridge, France. As one of the 4th Division’s 10th Brigade units, its personnel were located on the left flank and played a support role in the initial April 9, 1917 attack, advancing as required to maintain contact with Canadian units on their right flank.

On the morning of April 12, the 47th’s Company “C” assisted the 44th and 50th Battalions—two of their Brigade mates—in capturing “The Pimple,” an area of high ground to the left of Hill 145 and the last location under German control, in the aftermath of the Corps’ attack on Vimy Ridge. The following day, the entire 47th Battalion occupied trenches atop the newly captured location.

For the remainder of the month, the 47th served on rotation in sectors near Vimy Ridge. On the evening of April 30, Arthur and his mates returned to the front line, in relief of the 44th Battalion. The following day—May 1, 1917—the unit’s war diary described “very active” machine gun fire as work parties improved the front and support trenches.

While the situation was “fairly quiet throughout the day,” the diary entry reported one casualty: “790031 killed in action.” Neither the war diary nor Arthur’s “circumstances of casualty” record provide any details as to the events leading to his death in “trenches south west of La Coulotte.” Arthur was laid to rest in La Chaudière British Cemetery, three miles south-southwest of Lens.

Pte. J. A. Hayne's headstone, La Chaudière Military Cemetery.
Tragically, Arthur’s widow, Lilly Alice, fell victim to the 1919 influenza epidemic that swept across Canada in the months following the war’s end. A Vancouver family subsequently adopted the couple’s two children, Gordon and Mary Frances. In 1922, when the city of Richmond, BC erected a cenotaph in honour of the community’s fallen First World War soldiers, Gordon and Mary Frances Hayne unveiled the monument whose plaque bore their deceased father’s name.

Bantry Publishing’s “First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume I: 1915 - 1917,” contains a detailed version of James Arthur Hayne’s story, along with profiles of 71 other Guysborough County natives who lost their lives during the first three years of the “Great War.” The book is available for purchase online at .