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Friday, 30 June 2017

Guysborough County Enlistments—June 1917

Seven individuals with connections to Guysborough County enlisted for military service during the month of June 1917.

1. Harry Edward Hart was born at Middle Manchester, Guysborough County on October 21, 1887, the second son and third child of Walter Havelock and Emma Louise (Morris) Hart. Harry’s older brother, Levi “Lee,” immigrated to the United States in 1904 and Harry followed him there several years later. In 1910, the brothers were residing in a Boston, MA boarding house, Lee employed as a teamster on an ice wagon, with Harry as his “helper.”

Harry appears to have returned to Nova Scotia shortly afterward, as he was living at Manchester at the time of the 1911 Canadian census. However, he subsequently returned to Springfield, MA, where he worked as an “elevator constructor” and married Odessa R. Peart on November 16, 1916. Harry’s parents also relocated to Springfield, MA and appear to have been living with him at the time of his military enlistment.

On June 5, 1917, Harry was drafted into the United States Army. No further details are available on his military service or life immediately after the war. Sometime in his later years, Harry returned to the Boylston area with his wife Odessa. Harry passed away on December 2, 1968 and was laid to rest in Boylston United Church Cemetery. Odessa lived in the Boylston area until her passing in 1990 at age 98.

Harry Hart's headstone, Boylston United Church Cemetery.
2. Rufus Eugene Hines (1258229) was born on September 17, 1893 to Benjamin and Elizabeth “Bessie” (Giffin) Hines, Isaac’s Harbour, Guysborough County. Rufus was working as a machinist in Pictou County when he enlisted with No. 10 Siege Battery at New Glasgow, NS on June 6, 1917. He departed Halifax aboard SS Megantic on September 15 and landed at Liverpool, England 10 days later.

On November 17, Rufus was assigned to the Reserve Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery. He crossed the English Channel to the Canadian Garrison Artillery’s Reserve Depot in France on January 23, 1918. Four days later, Rufus proceeded to the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Centre.

Rufus was assigned to the 2nd Brigade, Canadian Garrison Artillery on May 21, 1918 and served in the forward area with the unit for the remainder of the war. He returned to England on March 31, 1919 and departed for Canada aboard HMT Mauritania on May 3, 1919. Rufus was formally discharged from military service at Halifax on May 14, 1919.

Following his discharge, Rufus worked as a machinist at Sydney, NS, where his mother had resided throughout his military service. On March 14, 1922, he married Mabel Frances MacMillan in a ceremony held at Sydney. Shortly afterward, the newlyweds departed for the United States, where they established residence in Chicago, Illinois. Rufus became an American citizen in 1931, by which time he and Mabel had a family of four children—sons Edward and Gordon, and daughters Ruth and Jean. Rufus passed away at Chicago, Illinois on April 12, 1957.

3. George Wesley Fanning (1258239) was born on August 11, 1896 to Isaac Henry and Emma (MacMillan) Fanning, Isaac’s Harbour, Guysborough County. George was working as a clerk in New Glasgow, NS when he enlisted with No. 10 Siege Battery at Halifax, NS on June 11, 1917. He departed Halifax aboard SS Megantic on September 15 and arrived at Liverpool, England after a 10-day voyage.

On November 17, George was transferred to the Reserve Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery. He remained in England throughout the winter and spring of 1917-18, finally receiving a transfer to the Reserve Battalion, Canadian Garrison Artillery on May 6, 1918. Exactly one month later, he proceeded to France. On July 14, George was assigned to the 6th Siege Battery, 2nd Canadian Garrison Artillery, where he served as a “signaller.”

On November 10, George was admitted to No. 22 General Hospital, Camiers with influenza and spent several months under medical care. “Invalided sick” to England on February 28, 1919, he was discharged two weeks later and departed for Canada aboard SS Orduna on May 15, 1919. One  week later, George was formally discharged from military service at Halifax.

Sometime after the war, George married Lillian Vaneta Silver, a native of Goldboro, Guysborough County. The couple eventually made their home in Halifax, where George worked as a longshoreman. Lillian passed away unexpectedly at Victoria General Hospital, Halifax on June 24, 1939, the result of a pulmonary embolism. George died at Camp Hill Hospital, Halifax on May 28, 1948.

4. Edward Burns (1030709) was born on May 8, 1897 to Robert and Ellen (Long) Burns, Salmon River Lake, Guysborough County. Edward was working as a “machinist lathe hand” at Falls Church Machinery, Boston, MA when he registered for the United States military draft on June 5, 1917. Rather than serve with the United States Army, Edward reported to the Canadian Expeditionary Force office at Boston, MA and enlisted for service with the 236th Battalion (“New Brunswick Kilties”) on June 14, 1917.

Pte. Edward Burns, Camp Valcartier, QC.
Edward made his way to Fredericton, NB shortly afterward and trained with his unit at Camp Valcartier, QC throughout the summer months. The 236th departed from Montreal aboard SS Canada on October 31 and landed in England 19 days later. On March 13, 1918, Edward was transferred to the 20th Reserve Battalion, where he remained for almost two months.

On May 7, 1918, Edward was assigned to the 42nd Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada) and two weeks later joined the unit’s ranks in France. Edward served with the 42nd through its tours in the line at Amiens, Arras, the Scarpe and Cambrai during “Canada’s 100 Days.” Hospitalized with a fever on November 2, he returned to the unit’s ranks five days later and remained on the continent until the 42nd crossed the channel to England on February 7,1919. Edward departed for Canada aboard SS Adriatic on March 1 and was formally discharged from military service at Halifax on March 15, 1919.

Pte. Edward Burns' CEF Pay Book.
While Edward briefly returned to his Salmon River Lake family home, he soon departed for the United States, settling in Jamaica Plain, MA. He later relocated to The Forks, north of Skowhegan, Maine, where he worked as a hunting and fishing guide. There, he met  Alphonsine “Fonzie” Nadeau, a native of Jackman, Maine. The couple married on October 8, 1929 and raised two sons, Carroll and Clarence. Edward Burns passed away at Skowhegan, Maine on March 10, 1967 and was laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery, Skowhegan, ME.

5. Howard Nightingale Strople (2075445) was born on July 4, 1887 to James Robert and Mary Eliza (Lipsett) Strople, North Intervale, Guysborough County. Sometime prior to 1911, Howard relocated to Boston, MA, where he worked as an “electric lineman.” On September 21, 1914, he married Laura E. Stanley, a 23-year-old Quebec native, at Newburyport, MA.

 On June 24, 1917, Howard attested with the 5th Regiment, Royal Highlanders of Canada, at Montreal, QC. At the time, he was living at Montreal and still employed as a “lineman.” Howard listed his wife, Laura, as his next of kin, giving her address at the time as “Gaspé, Quebec.” No further information is available on Howard’s military service. However, border crossing documents indicate that he was in Canada in the spring of 1918, suggesting that he may have been discharged as “medically unfit.” In any case, his time in uniform appears to have been brief.

Following the war, Howard and Laura relocated to Massachusetts, but eventually returned to Canada, settling in the Toronto area. Howard Strople passed away at Sunnybrook Military Hospital, Toronto, ON on May 9, 1943.

6. John Parker MacDonald was born at Sunny Brae, Pictou County on October 14, 1879, the son of Henry Cumminger and Emily M. (Smith) McDonald. Several sources suggest that he may have been born at Sherbrooke, where he spent his childhood years. Henry worked as a “lumberman” and Parker followed his father into the occupation. On February 27, 1906, Parker married Melissa Katherine “Katie” Cumming,” a native of Sunny Brae. By 1911, the couple were living at Hopewell, Pictou County, with a young son Gerald and a daughter Maxine. A third child—a son, John—joined the family in the spring of 1916.

Parker attested with the Nova Scotia Forestry Draft at Camp Aldershot, NS on June 16, 1917. At enlistment, he received the commissioned rank of Lieutenant. Nine days later, Parker departed from Halifax aboard SS Justicia and landed at Liverpool, England on July 4. John was assigned to No. 104 Company, Canadian Foresty Corps (CFC) on September 4, 1917 and served with his unit in No. 54 District, near Exeter, England, for the remainder of the year.

On January 14, 1918, Parker returned to No. 54 Base Depot, Southampton, where he was “struck off strength” on February 23 and returned to Canada, “being surplus to requirements.” He was formally discharged from military service at Halifax, NS on March 23, 1918.

Parker returned home to Hopewell, Pictou County, where he resumed work as a lumberman. In the spring of 1926, perhaps in a work-related incident, Parker suffered a ruptured bladder, which led to the development of peritonitis. Despite an operation to repair his bladder, Parker passed away at the Aberdeen Hospital, New Glasgow on April 29, 1926 and was laid to rest at Sunny Brae, Pictou County.

7. Wilfred Whitman (1031029) was born at Manchester, Guysborough County on March 29, 1897, the only child from his father Rufus’s second marriage to Nellie Gavin McDonald. Following Rufus’s death in April 1907, for unknown reasons, Wilfred’s uncle, James Whitman, took him into his home. Around 1915, Wilfred relocated to Revere, MA, where he took up residence with his half-sister, Ida, a nurse who operated a home for the sick.

By mid-1917, Wilfred and thousands of other young men faced the prospect of being drafted into the United States military. On June 16, 1917, Wilfred decided to follow a different path and enlisted with the 236th Battalion at the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s Boston, MA recruitment office. Several days later, he made his way to Fredericton, NB. Shortly after his arrival, he married Philomela “Phyllis” Ghilo, a Boston native, in a ceremony held at Fredericton on July 4.

Within days, Wilfred departed for Camp Valcartier, QC, where the 236th spent the summer and early autumn training. Meanwhile, Phyllis returned to the Boston area, where she gave birth to a son, Wilfred George, on December 8, 1917. The 236th departed from Quebec on October 31 and arrived in England after a 19-day voyage.

Phyllis and Wilfred George Whitman.
While the unit remained at Camp Bramshott throughout the winter of 1917-18 at Camp Bramshott, military officials ordered its dissolution in March 1918. Its personnel were offered a choice—a transfer to the 26th (New Brunswick) Battalion or to the 20th Reserve Battalion, which serviced the 13th and 42nd Battalions (Royal Highlanders of Canada) in France. Wilfred chose the second option and was assigned to the 20th Reserve Battalion on March 13, 1918.

One month later, Wilfred was transferred to the 13th Battalion and crossed the English Channel to France on April 19. Throughout the remainder of the month, Wilfred served in the line with the 13th, which retired to Corps Reserve in early May for an extensive period of rest and training. Two and a half months later, its personnel returned to the Arras area for a two-week rotation before relocating southward to Amiens in early August.

On the morning of August 8, the 13th participated in the first wave of the Canadian Corps’ attack on the German line, east of Amiens. Having secured its objective, its soldiers occupied support positions throughout the following week, advancing to the front trenches on the night of August 15/16. Following a day’s preparation, the unit attacked the village of La Chavatte in the early hours of August 17. Wilfred was wounded sometime during the advance and evacuated to No. 48 Casualty Clearing Station. He died of wounds before day’s end and was laid to rest in Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Somme France.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Remembering Private John William Swaine—KIA June 28, 1917

John William Swaine was born at Canso, Guysborough County on August 19, 1891, the second of Rupert and Jennie (Talbot) Swaine’s nine children and their oldest son. John enlisted with the 193rd Battalion at Canso on April 1, 1916 and departed for England aboard SS Olympic on October 12, 1916.

Private John William Swaine.
Shortly after arriving overseas, the 193rd was disbanded and its soldiers dispersed to other units. On December 3, John was transferred to the 42nd Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada) and crossed the English Channel to France three days later. He was temporarily assigned to duty with 3rd Entrenching Battalion in late December and served with the unit in the forward area throughout the month of January 1917.

On February 6, John reported to No. 10 Canadian Field Ambulance for treatment of an ulcerated foot, likely the result of working in cold, muddy conditions. Subsequently transferred to No. 16 General Hospital, Le Tréport, John spent two months in hospital and was discharged to the Canadian Base Depot at Le Havre on March 9. Two weeks prior to his discharge, John was transferred to the 85th Battalion and joined the unit’s ranks on April 13 as its personnel withdrew from their Vimy Ridge tour.

Throughout the next two months, John served routine tours with the 85th in sectors near Vimy. On the night of June 25/26, the unit returned to trenches near Avion and prepared for its first combat assignment since its Vimy Ridge tour—an assault on German positions opposite their line.

At 7:00 a. m. June 26, the 85th’s “A” and “C” Companies launched the first phase of a three-stage plan to remove German forces from an area opposite their line, capturing their initial objective with minimal losses. Personnel spent the remainder of the day consolidating the position, and awaited orders to resume the offensive.

At 2:30 a.m. June 28, the 85th’s “C” and “D” Companies commenced the second phase—an attack on the village of Éleu-dit-Leauwette, north of Avion. Once again, personnel captured their objective and prepared for the operation’s final phase, an attack on a series of “horse shoe shaped trenches” southeast of the village.

At 7:10 p.m. that evening, “C” and “D” Companies resumed the advance, one Company sustaining significant casualties from “hostile machine gun fire.” Personnel nevertheless captured and consolidated the final objective, marking “a total advance of one mile” since the offensive’s commencement.

While the 85th secured all objectives by nightfall, its successes came at a price. As the unit retired from the line on the night of July 1/2, its war diary reported a total of 24 “other ranks” (OR) killed during the tour, while eight Officers and 118 OR were wounded and nine OR were missing.

Private John William Swaine was killed in action sometime during the July 28 advance. His remains were never recovered from the battlefield. John’s name is inscribed on the Canadian War Memorial at Vimy Ridge, France, one of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who died on the battlefields of northern France and who have no known final resting place.
Canadian War Memorial, Vimy Ridge, France.
Bantry Publishing’s “First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume I: 1915—1917” contains a detailed description of John’s family background and war service, along with profiles of 71 other Guysborough County military personnel who died during the first three years of the war.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Remembering Gunner Charles Hugh Fraser—KIA June 25, 1917

Charles Hugh “Charlie” Fraser was born at Guysborough Intervale, Guysborough County on October 19, 1890, the oldest of Clara Ann “Annie” (McPherson) and Daniel Joseph Fraser’s 10 children. Around 1908, the family relocated to Taber, AB, where Charlie worked as a cook.

Sixteen months after the outbreak of the First World War, Charlie enlisted with the 39th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, at Lethbridge, AB on December 8, 1915. The unit—the second of four batteries recruited in the area during the war—became part of the 10th Brigade CFA in January 1916 and made its way to Saint John, NB the following month. Personnel departed for overseas aboard SS Missinabie on March 2 and arrived at Portsmouth, England 10 days later.

10th Brigade CFA was attached to the 3rd Canadian Division and crossed the English Channel to France on July 13. Three days later, the Brigade departed by train for Belgium’s Ypres Salient, where its personnel entered the forward area before month’s end. Charlie’s battery served with the 10th Brigade in the Ypres Salient’s trenches for two months, relocating to the Somme region of France in early October. The units provided artillery fire in support of Canadian Corps attacks on Regina Trench, a fortified German position located on Thiepval Ridge. Following its capture in early November, the 10th Brigade CFA moved northward to the Arras area, where personnel served in the line throughout the winter of 1916-17.

While Charlie’s unit was in the line on April 9, 1917, its guns played no direct role in the Canadian Corps’ attack on Vimy Ridge. Personnel moved forward several days later as Canadian artillery units established operations in several towns below the newly captured  ridge. During the ensuing weeks, German artillery targeted No. 39 Battery’s position on several occasions, one “other rank” (OR) killed and five OR wounded during the late May tour. Throughout their time in the line, artillery crews targeted specific locations in the German forward area. On June 13, 10th Brigade batteries commenced a week-long “special programme of night, harassing fire,” and responded to calls for retaliatory shelling when requested.

Fatalities continued as both sides targeted their opponents’ artillery units. Major A. B. Stafford, the 39th Battery’s Commanding Officer, was struck by enemy fire on June 24 and died of wounds before day’s end. The following day—June 25, 1917—as Major Stafford was laid to rest at Noeux-les-Mines, the 10th Brigade’s war diary reported one OR killed by artillery fire. Gunner Charles Hugh Fraser was the day’s lone fatality. Charlie was laid to rest in Écoivres Military Cemetery, France.

Gunner Charlie Fraser's headstone, Écoivres Military Cemetery.
Bantry Publishing’s “First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume I: 1915 - 1917” contains a detailed summary of Charlie’s family background and war service, along with 71 other profiles of personnel who died in uniform during the first three years of the war.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Remembering Private Charles Burton Langille—KIA June 22, 1917

Charles Burton Langille was born at Liscomb, Guysborough County on November 15, 1894, the second son and youngest child of David and Margaret Ann (Lang) Langille. Margaret passed away sometime after Charles’ birth, and as David worked as a sea captain in the local fishery, the children were dispersed to several local homes.

Sometime prior to 1914, Charles ventured west, finding work as a cook in British Columbia. He also enlisted with the 5th Canadian Garrison Artillery, a Victoria militia unit. Following the outbreak of the First World War, Charles commenced training with the 11th Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles at Vancouver, BC on February 25, 1915. One month later, he attested for overseas service with the unit, but was discharged as “medically unfit” on August 2.

Determined to serve overseas, Charles travelled to Calgary, AB and eight days later enlisted with the 50th Battalion. In mid-October, the unit travelled to Halifax and shortly afterwards boarded SS Orduna for the trans-Atlantic voyage. Upon landing at Plymouth, England on November 4, the 50th made its way to Camp Bramshott. One month after arriving in England, Charles was hospitalized for treatment of influenza and pneumonia. He remained under medical care for more than two months, finally rejoining the 50th’s ranks in early February 1916.

Following its overseas arrival, the 50th Battalion was assigned to the 4th Division’s 10th Brigade. The unit crossed the English Channel to France on August 9 and commenced regular rotations in Belgium’s Ypres Salient before month’s end.

In early October, the 4th Division relocated to the Somme region of France, where the 50th’s personnel participated in a series of attacks on Regina Trench, a German stronghold located along Thiepval Ridge. In late November, Charles was hospitalized a second time, on this occasion for treatment of enteritis. He spent two months recovering before rejoining the 50th's ranks near Carency, France in mid-January 1917.

On the morning of April 9, 1917, the 50th and its 10th Brigade comrades occupied support positions behind the 11th and 12th Brigade units as the Canadian Corps launched their historic attack on Vimy Ridge. The two Brigades faced the day’s most difficult assignment—removing opposing forces from Hill 145, the ridge’s highest location. While German soldiers withstood the early morning barrage and inflicted significant casualties on two 11th Brigade units, an early evening attack by two Companies of the 85th Battalion succeeded in securing the hill’s western slopes.

The following afternoon, the 50th’s personnel assisted in clearing German soldiers from the remnants of Hill 145, as the unit sustained the first significant casualties since its Somme engagements. On April 12, the battalion took part in a successful attack on “the Pimple,” an elevated location adjacent to Hill 145 and the final section of the ridge still in German hands.

Charles came through both engagements without injury, only to be hospitalized with a case of mumps on April 13. He returned to the 50th’s ranks at Château de la Haie on June 7 and five days later entered support positions with his mates. On June 19, the 50th relieved the 85th Battalion (Nova Scotia Highlanders) in front trenches near Liévin. Two days later, Allied forces fired a combination of gas canisters and “Stokes shells” at a section of the German line opposite the 50th’s location. German forces responded with trench mortar and artillery fire, inflicting a total of 33 casualties on the battalion.

While Charles came through the exchange of fire without injury, he was not so fortunate the following day. While the 50th’s war diary described June 21 as “fairly quiet,” with “occasional shelling of front line and support areas,” the unit nevertheless suffered 20 more casualties, two of which were fatalities. Private Charles Burton Langille was one of the two “other ranks” killed in action during the day’s exchange of fire. He was laid to rest in Cabaret-Rouge Cemetery, Souchez France.

Pte. Charles Burton Langille's headstone.

Bantry Publishing’s “First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume I: 1915 - 1917” contains a detailed summary of Charles’ family background and military service, along with 71 other profiles of Guysborough County’s fallen First World War personnel.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Remembering Private Philip Sydney Beals & Private John Rhynold—KIA & DOW June 19, 1917

On June 19, 1917, two First World War soldiers with connections to Guysborough County were killed or died of wounds while serving with two separate units.

Philip Sydney Beals was born at Billtown, Kings County on July 4, 1889, the oldest of three children in the family of Reverend Frank H. and Annie (Smith) Beals. Several years after Philip’s birth, Rev. Beals became Pastor of the Baptist congregation at Canso, Guysborough County, where Philip’s two siblings, Helen and Carlyle, joined the family.

Private Philip Sydney Beals.
By 1901, the family had relocated to Digby, Annapolis County, where Phillip completed his grammar school education and went on to complete a Bachelor of Science degree at Acadia University. On June 30, 1914, he married Mabel Bateaux Easson, a native of Factorydale—near Berwick—Kings County. The couple settled at Morristown, near Mabel’s home, where Philip took up farming.

Following the outbreak of the First World War, Philip initially enlisted with the 14th Independent Field Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery, Halifax. In early 1916, military recruiters canvassed the province, in search of soldiers for the Nova Scotia Highland Brigade. Philip enlisted with the 219th Battalion at Berwick, NS on March 2, 1916 and departed Halifax aboard SS Olympic on October 12.

Before year’s end, significant Canadian Corps casualties incurred at the Somme during the autumn of 1916 led military officials to dissolve two of the Highland Brigade’s four battalions. Philip’s 219th was one of the two units whose soldiers were dispersed to other battalions. On December 28, he was transferred to the 85th Battalion (Nova Scotia Highlanders), the Brigade’s senior unit. On February 10, 1917, he crossed the English Channel to France with his new unit and commenced preparations to enter the line.

Due to its lack of combat experience, in the weeks prior to the Canadian Corps’ historic attack on Vimy Ridge, the 85th was attached to the 4th Division’s 11th Brigade as a “working unit.” When the 11th Brigade’s soldiers failed to capture Hill 145 during the initial assault on the morning of April 9, two of the 85th’s companies entered the line late in the day and succeeded in dislodging German forces from the hill’s western slopes in an early evening attack. While Philip’s “A” Company was not part of the action, the following morning, he and his comrades joined their 85th colleagues atop the ridge.

Shortly its Vimy debut, military officials assigned the 85th to the 4th Division’s 12th Brigade, where it commenced a regular rotation in the line. On the night of June 15, “A” and “B” Companies relieved their “C” and “D” counterparts in the Liévin Sector’s front trenches. Four days later, “A” Company participated in an operation to clear German forces from a “triangle of trenches” adjacent to its line, in conjunction with an Imperial regiment to its left.

The soldiers vacated their position prior to a massive artillery barrage, which commenced at 2:30 p.m.. Four minutes later, the Company re-occupied the front trenches and dispatched a small party into the triangle, to ensure that German forces had been removed from the targeted area. While there were no casualties during the operation, German retaliatory artillery fire commenced at 2:40 p.m. and continued into the early evening. Private Philip Sydney Beals was one of five “other rank” (OR) fatalities inflicted in the bombardment, “instantly killed by a high explosive shell.”

Philip was laid to rest in Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France. His bereaved widow, Mabel, never re-remarried and spent her remaining years at Morristown, Kings County, where she passed away on June 23, 1962.


Private John Reynolds [Rhynold] was born at Canso, Guysborough County on January 5, 1883, the third of Margaret Louise (Haines) and Anthony Reynolds’ five children and the couple’s second son. John was married with four children when he enlisted for service with the 40th Battalion at Camp Valcartier, Quebec on July 13, 1915. The unit departed for overseas on October 18, 1915 and arrived at Plymouth, England nine days later.

Within weeks of his overseas arrival, John was transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion (Nova Scotia). He remained with the 17th for six months, finally receiving a transfer to the Canadian Machine Gun Corps (CMGC) on June 23, 1916. John immediately reported to the CMGC Depot at Crowborough, where he completed his training. In mid-December 1916, he crossed the English Channel to the CMGC Depot at Camiers, France. On January 22, 1917, John was assigned to the 9th Canadian Machine Gun Company (9th CMG) and joined his new unit in the field four days later.

John served with 9th CMG at Vimy Ridge, its guns providing barrage fire in support of the 7th Canadian Brigade’s attack. The unit’s three batteries fired an estimated 334,000 rounds during the day’s advance, suffering only two “other ranks” (OR) slightly wounded. The unit served in the Vimy area throughout the spring of 1917, returning to trenches near the ridge on the night of June 14/15 for a routine tour in the line.

As the tour progressed, German artillery subjected 9th CMG’s position to scattered daytime shelling that intensified after nightfall. On the night of June 18/19, the unit endured particularly heavy fire along its section of the line shortly after midnight. Two OR were killed, while three others were evacuated to No. 7 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) for treatment of their wounds.

Private John Reynolds was one of the three wounded OR. He “died of wounds (gun shot wounds, multiple)” at No. 7 CCS on June 19, 1917 and was laid to rest in Noeux-les-Mines Communal Cemetery, Noeux-les-Mines, France.

Philip’s and John’s stories are among the 72 profiles included in Bantry Publishing’s First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume I: 1915 - 1917, available for purchase online at .

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Remembering Private Arthur McCallum—Died of Wounds June 4, 1917

Arthur McCallum was born at Ogden, Guysborough County on April 20, 1895, the third of James and Bridget (Fitzgerald) McCallum’s seven children. Sometime after 1911, Arthur relocated to Pictou County, where he found employment as a blacksmith.

Pte. Arthur McCallum.
On February 26, 1916, Arthur enlisted with the 106th Battalion (Nova Scotia Rifles) at Pictou, NS and departed for England with the unit in mid-July. Following the 106th’s dissolution, Arthur was transferred to the 87th Battalion (Canadian Grenadier Guards) on December 10, 1916 and joined his new unit near Frévillers, France three days later.

Throughout the winter of 1916-17, Arthur served a regular rotation with the 87th, which was part of the 4th Canadian Division’s 11th Brigade. On the morning of April 9, 1917, Arthur was in the line as the 87th’s soldiers went “over the top” toward German positions atop Hill 145, the ridge’s highest elevation. The 87th and its Brigade mates, the 102nd Battalion, suffered heavy casualties throughout the morning as German forces atop the ridge held out against the assault. The intervention of two 85th Battalion companies later in the day turned the tide of battle and dislodged enemy forces from Hill 145’s western slopes.

Arthur was not injured in the fighting and remained in the line until the night of April 11, when the 87th’s remaining personnel retired to billets. The unit suffered seven Officers killed and one wounded, while 110 of its “other ranks” (OR) were killed, 157 wounded and 25 missing following three days’ fighting at Vimy Ridge.

Within weeks of his Vimy experience, health issues disrupted Arthur’s service. On April 30, he was evacuated “sick” and admitted to the 7th Convalescent Depot, Boulogne. Medical personnel initially determined that Arthur was suffering from myalgia in his legs and transferred him to the 7th Convalescent Depot, Écault. Arthur spent the remainder of the month recovering his strength and was discharged to No. 3 Rest Camp, Boulogne at month’s end.

A June 2 Medical Board determined that Arthur was “fit for duty.” Two days later, he began the journey back to the 87th’s camp, travelling by train to Étaples on the morning of June 4. Upon arriving at Étaples shortly after mid-day, Arthur began the march to No. 4 Canadian Base Depot, a distance of less than one mile. Within minutes, he felt weak and was unable to proceed any further. Taken into the kitchen of a nearby bakery, Arthur rested for several hours before several soldiers arrived to escort him to his quarters.

His companions later reported that Arthur complained of pains in his leg and nausea as he made his way toward camp. Upon arrival, an orderly assisted him up the steps and into the Orderly Room, where he collapsed. Arthur was immediately carried by stretcher to the medical tent, where a Medical Officer “failed to find any sign of life.” Private Arthur McCallum was pronounced dead at 10:00 p.m. June 4, 1917.

A subsequent inquiry failed to determine a specific cause of death, although its report emphatically stated that Arthur was “in no way to blame…. It would appear that he was in a debilitated condition on leaving the Details Camp, Boulogne, and was overcome on the journey from there to the 4th Canadian Base Depot, Étaples.” Private Arthur McCallum was laid to rest in Étaples Military Cemetery, Étaples, France.

A detailed account of Arthur's story is one of 72 profiles published in "First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume I: 1915 - 1917," available for purchase at Bantry Publishing's website.