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Saturday, 25 November 2017

Remembering Private Howard Lewis Fogarty—Died of Wounds November 25, 1917

Howard Lewis Fogarty was born at Crow Harbour (Fox Island), Guysborough County on September 30, 1895, the second-oldest of Johanna (Richard) and Edward Fogarty’s 15 children. Some time after 1911, Howard relocated to the Sydney area, where he worked as a labourer. On October 15, 1915, he enlisted with the 85th Battalion at Sydney.

Pte. Howard Lewis Fogarty.
Howard spent the winter of 1915-16 in Halifax, where the 85th established its Headquarters at the Armouries and trained on the adjacent Halifax Common. The formation of the Nova Scotia Highland Brigade in January 1916 delayed the unit’s departure until mid-October. Six weeks after its overseas arrival, military authorities selected a draft of 800 soldiers from the Brigade’s ranks, 200 from each of its four infantry battalions. Howard was among the 85th soldiers chosen for immediate service at the front and was assigned to the 13th Battalion on December 5, 1916. The following day, he crossed the English Channel to the Canadian Base Depot, Le Havre, France.

The 13th Battalion was the first of three units recruited by the Royal Highlanders of Canada, a Montreal-based militia unit with connections to Scotland’s “Black Watch.” The 13th travelled to England with the First Canadian Contingent in the autumn of 1914 and deployed at the front in April 1915 with the 1st Canadian Division’s 3rd Brigade. The 14th (Royal Montreal Regiment), 15th (48th Highlanders of Canada) and 16th (Canadian Scottish) Battalions rounded out the “Highland” Brigade’s personnel.

The 13th served in Belgium’s Ypres Salient for 16 months before relocating to the Somme region of France in late August 1916. The unit saw action at Courcelette (September 1916) and Ancre Heights (October 1916), and followed the Canadian Corps northward to sectors near Arras shortly afterward. On December 12, 1916, the battalion was encamped at Cambligneul when Howard and a group of 85th reinforcements joined its ranks. The unit returned to the line shortly afterward, serving in the area throughout the winter months.

On the morning of April 9, 1917, Howard and his 13th Battalion mates occupied support positions while their 3rd Brigade comrades attacked the German front line at Vimy Ridge. Following the successful assault, its soldiers proceeded across the battlefield and assisted in establishing new defensive positions along the captured ridge. After several months’ service in the Vimy area, the 13th participated in the Canadian Corps’ successful August 15 attack on Hill 70, near Lens.

Howard came through both engagements without injury and served with the 13th until mid-October, at which time, for unspecified reasons, he returned to the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp as the unit prepared to depart for Belgium. He returned to the unit following its Passchendaele deployment, where the unit served a regular rotation but did not directly participate in combat.

On November 14, Howard rejoined the 13th as it made its way from Ypres, Belgium to sectors near Lens, France. Two days later, he returned to the Avion sector’s front trenches as the battalion occupied positions along the Lens - Arras road, near La Coulotte, France. The tour’s early days were relatively quiet, muddy conditions presenting the greatest challenge. As a result, the soldiers worked steadily to repair collapsing trench walls.

German fire intensified on November 24, when one trench mortar landed in the midst of a “C” Company work party. Eight “other ranks” (OR) died instantly, while three OR died of wounds before day’s end and three OR were severely wounded. A second trench mortar struck a “D” Company work party, killing three OR and wounding one.

Howard was one of the four soldiers wounded in the two incidents. Evacuated to field ambulance for medical treatment, he was transported to No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station on November 25. Medical record described his condition as “dangerously ill,” due to severe shrapnel wounds to his legs. Before day’s end, Private Howard Lewis Fogarty “died of wounds received in the field.” He was laid to rest in Barlin Communal Cemetery, three miles north of Houdain, France.

Barlin Communal Cemetery (April 2015).
Bantry Publishing’s “First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume I: 1915 - 1917” contains a detailed description of Howard’s family background and military service, along with profiles of 71 other individuals with connections to Guysborough County, all of whom died during the first three years of Canadian overseas service.

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