During the First World War, soldiers were a common sight in the Canso area. Two militia regiments—78th (Pictou Highlanders) and 94th Victoria (Argyll Highlanders)—established detachments in the town and guarded several local strategic locations. Their presence caught the attention of Canso’s young men, particularly those who were not yet old enough to enlist for overseas service.
The two elder Fogarty brothers—Ambrose and Vincent—joined the 94th’s ranks in October 1917. Two months later, their younger brother, Martin—one month shy of his 16th birthday—joined them in uniform. The trio served in the Canso area until late June 1918, at which time they attested for overseas service. While they were assigned to the 6th Battalion, Canadian Garrison Regiment shortly afterward, the brothers remained in the Canso area for the time being.
Within weeks of his attestation, Vincent fell ill and was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis. Discharged as medically unfit in mid-September, he was admitted to the Nova Scotia Sanatorium, Kentville, before month’s end. Meanwhile, Ambrose and Martin continued their military service. In mid-December, the brothers were transferred to “F” Company, 6th Battalion, Canadian Garrison Regiment, and made their way to Halifax for duty.
Within days of arriving in the city, Martin became sick and was admitted to Cogswell St. Military Hospital on December 22 for treatment of influenza and pneumonia. Medical records stated that Martin was “almost unconscious” at the time of his admission and was immediately “placed on [the] danger list on sight.”
Diagnosed with bronchopneumonia, Martin’s health rapidly declined. Private Martin Joseph Fogarty died in hospital on December 25, 1918. His remains were transported to Canso, where Martin was laid to rest in Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Cemetery. One month after Martin’s passing, Ambrose became ill and was admitted to hospital with influenza. While he remained under medical care for almost three months, Ambrose gradually recovered and was discharged from hospital in mid-April 1919.