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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Remembering Sergeant Joseph Charles Morgan—Died of Sickness September 19, 1917

Joseph Charles Morgan (222955) was born at Guysborough, Guysborough County on January 5, 1879, the second of Elizabeth Ann (Hadley) and Joseph Christopher Morgan’s four children. Joseph Christopher passed away in 1905, while Elizabeth died three years later. Joseph Charles remained at Guysborough, where he earned a living as a farmer and carpenter during the pre-war years.

Joseph commenced training with the 85th Battalion at Halifax, NS on September 29, 1915. Considerably older than the majority of the unit’s recruits—he was 36 years of age at the time—he formally attested with the unit on November 1. Joseph spent the winter of 1915-16 training with the 85th at Halifax. The January 1916 formation of the Nova Scotia Highland Brigade delayed its overseas departure for several months. Joseph’s promotion to the rank of Sergeant on April 2, 1916 suggests that his superiors were impressed with his character and leadership skills. Two months later, the 85th’s personnel relocating to Camp Aldershot for a summer of drill alongside the Brigade’s three newly formed Brigade units.

Joseph was not aboard SS Olympic as the Highland Brigade departed for England on October 12. At the first of the month, health concerns led to his transfer to No. 6 Military District Depot, Halifax. A formal medical report, completed at Camp Aldershot two days prior to the Brigade’s departure, concluded that Joseph was suffering from “chronic bronchitis” and “phthisis pulmonis [sic - pulmonalis, aka tuberculosis].” The document also stated that Joseph’s health had been “aggravated by service” and as a result he was plagued with several “chronic” conditions. The report recommended admission to a sanatorium and formal discharge as “medically unfit.”

On October 23, Joseph was admitted to military hospital, where he remained in care for one month. Officially discharged from military service on December 23, 1916, he returned to Guysborough, where Dr. G. E. Buckley monitored his health. In an April 18, 1917 report to military authorities, Dr. Buckley confirmed the military’s preliminary diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis.

Joseph’s family apparently had a history of the disease, which the physician attributed in Joseph’s case to bronchitis contracted due to “exposure during camp life.” The prognosis was not promising: “He is losing some flesh and, unless [his] temperature subsides, must fail rapidly.” Dr. Buckley recommended “treatment in a Sanatorium under medical supervision,” if Joseph “recovers sufficiently to travel.”

Unfortunately, Joseph’s health continued to decline as the months passed. Sergeant Joseph Charles Morgan passed away at Guysborough on September 19, 1917 and was laid to rest in the local Methodist Cemetery. His younger brother and next of kin, William Henry Morgan, Guysborough, later received a Memorial Plaque and Scroll engraved with his name.

Bantry Publishing's First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume I: 1915 - 1917 contains a detailed summary of Joseph Charles Morgan's military service.

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