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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Remembering William Henry Carrigan—Died of Sickness May 16, 1918

William Henry Carrigan was born at Sand Point, Guysborough County on September 7, 1889 to parents  Edward and Rachel (Laurie) Carrigan. As a young man, William went to work in the local fishery. On November 12, 1917, he married Elizabeth Maud “Eliza” Ryan, a native of nearby Middle Melford.

On April 24, 1918, William enlisted for military service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force at Halifax, NS. While he signed the standard Military Service Act (MSA) form completed by young men conscripted into service, the words “Not Applicable” are stamped on the line provided for his MSA registration number, suggesting that William volunteered for duty. Four days after her husband’s enlistment, Eliza gave birth to a son, William Henry, at Middle Melford.

William’s days in uniform were short-lived. On May 6, he developed “a severe cold with pain in back.” Two days later, he was admitted to the Cogswell Street Military Hospital, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Within days, sputum tests detected signs of tuberculosis and William began to experience severe pain in his left side.

Private William Henry Carrigan passed away in hospital at 6:05 a.m. May 16, 1918. Medical records attributed the cause of his death to “acute lobar pneumonia.” William’s remains were transported to Middle Melford, where he was laid to rest in St. Patrick’s Cemetery. His widow, Eliza, remained in  the community, where she resided next door to her parents, Philip and Anna Ryan. On January 7, 1924, Eliza married William James Kavanaugh, a First World War veteran and native of St. Francis Harbour.

Pte. William Carrigan's CEF headstone, St. Patrick's Cemetery
William James Carrigan Jr. eventually served overseas during the Second World War and returned to the Melford area, where he married and settled down. Tragically, William drowned on May 15, 1962, when his “boat overturned while fishing” on a lake near Sand Point. Struggling with poor health at the time of her first child’s death, Eliza passed away at St. Martha’s Hospital, Antigonish, on October 15, 1963.

William’s story is one of 64 profiles contained in Bantry Publishing’s First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume II: 1918 - 1937, available for purchase online at .

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