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Monday, 31 July 2017

Guysborough County Enlistments—July 1917

Four Guysborough County natives enlisted for service with Canadian Expeditionary Force units during the month of July 1917:

1. Whitfield Raymond Strople (1031140) was born at North Intervale, Guysborough County on September 20, 1894, the eighth of James Robert and Mary Eliza (Lipsett) Strople’s 11 children and the sixth of the couple’s seven sons. In March 1915, Whitfield departed for the United States, where he joined his oldest brother, Ralph, who was living at Cambridge, MA.

When the United States entered the war in early April 1917 and implemented a military draft shortly afterward, Whitfield completed his draft registration card at Cambridge but decided to serve with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Returning to Canada, he attested with the 236th Battalion (New Brunswick Kilties) at Fredericton, NB on July 2, 1917. No further information is presently available on his military service.

Two of Whitfield’s older brothers also enlisted during the First World War. Howard Nightingale Strople (DOB July 4, 1887) attested with the 5th Regiment, Royal Highlanders of Canada at Montreal, QC on June 14, 1917, while his older brother, Chester Alvin (DOB December 28, 1883), joined the same unit on August 6, 1917. The Royal Highlanders of Canada recruited three infantry battalions for service on the Western Front—the 13th, 42nd and 73rd Battalions.

Following the war, Whitfield returned to the Boston area, where he worked as a “servant” in the household of Herbert Nelson, Sharon, MA. Available documents suggest that he spent some time in Seattle, WA in 1923. Whitfield passed away at Montreal, QC on May 4, 1929. Online genealogical sources claim that he died “from the effects of poison gas,” but provide no documentary evidence to support the assertion. Commonwealth War Graves Commission files contain no record of his death, indicating that his passing was never officially connected to his military service.

2. Hugh Everett Bingley (2303811) was born on May 6, 1886 at Fisherman’s Harbour, Guysborough County. Hugh was the sixth child in a family of nine and the fifth of Nicholas and Mary Ann (Potter) Bingley’s six sons. On July 3, 1917, Hugh enlisted with the New Brunswick Forestry Draft at Inverness, NS. His time in uniform was brief. He was discharged as “medically unfit” at Camp Aldershot, NS on August 8, when a thorough medical examination discovered that Hugh had severely defective vision in his right eye. He eventually settled at Halifax, and appears to have remained single throughout his life. Hugh Everett Bingley passed away at Camp Hill Hospital on January 4, 1970.

3. Nathaniel “Neil” Morrison (2330457) was born at Melford, Guysborough County on October 20, 1879, the fifth of Roderick and Euphemia (McIsaac) Morrison’s six children and the third of their four sons. An experienced lumberman, Neil enlisted with the Nova Scotia Forestry Draft at Camp Aldershot, NS on July 16, 1917. He departed Halifax aboard SS Canada on November 6. Upon landing at Liverpool, England two weeks later, Neil reported to the Canadian Forestry Corps (CFC) Headquarters at Sunningdale.

On February 28, 1918, Neil was assigned to No. 139 Company, CFC and shortly afterward departed for No. 52 District operations near Jedburgh, Scotland with his new unit. Recognizing Neil’s expertise and leadership skills, authorities promoted him to the rank of Acting Sergeant the day after his transfer. In March 1918, No. 139 Company established operations in forests near Jedburgh, where its personnel harvested and milled timber throughout the spring and summer months.

On the morning of Thursday, October 10, Neil was overseeing operations at No. 139 Company’s harvesting site. A strong wind was blowing as he stood beside a load of logs being readied for transport to the mill. Without warning, a tree about 75 feet away teetered and fell, striking Neil and one of the horses hitched to the load. Neil was immediately rendered unconscious, but had recovered somewhat by the time the unit’s Medical Sergeant arrived on the scene.

Neil was immediately transported to a nearby doctor’s residence and subsequently taken to a local hospital. He died later that evening, the blow from the tree having fractured his spine in two places. A subsequent investigation determined that the tree had fallen as the result of the windy conditions and had not been touched by CFC personnel. Sergeant Neil Morrison was laid to rest in Castlewood Cemetery, Jedburgh, Scotland.

4. John William Ryan (67300) was born at Mulgrave, Guysborough County on October 14, 1885. The second of five children child and second of three sons in the family of John and Isabel (McKeough) Ryan, John attested for service with the Canadian Army Medical Corps at Halifax on July 24, 1917.

It was John’s second attestation of the war. On November 15, 1914, he joined the 25th Battalion at Halifax and logged 13 months’ service with the unit. Discharged as medically unfit on April 30, 1917—the result of gunshot and shrapnel wounds to his left shoulder and hand—John spent less than three months out of uniform before re-enlisting.

No further details are currently available on John’s military service, but it appears that he may not have remained in uniform for the war’s duration. On February 4, 1918, John married Johanna “Hannah” Boutilier, a native of Glace Bay, at Halifax. At the time, he was working as an “oiler” aboard SS Scotia, the ferry that carried automobiles and train cars between Mulgrave and Point Tupper. John and Hannah took up residence in Mulgrave, where John continued to work aboard the ferry. He died of coronary heart disease at Mulgrave on January 18, 1935.

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