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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 “GaspĂ©, 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.

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