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REMEMBERING CALEB GOODWIN HIS STORY by Gwen Guiou Trask, CG (C) My    father   Gerald   W.   Guiou   was   a   tall   man but   Caleb   Goodwin   was   taller   –head   and   shoulders taller.   Thus   the   origin   of   the   name   he   was   known by   in   the   First   World   War   when   he   was   serving   in France   with   the   Princess   Patricias   Canadian   Light Infantry   (PPCLI)   –“Sky”   Goodwin.   In   fact   it   was   only recently   with   the   help   of   Society   members   Ken   and Doris   Peters   that   I   learned   Sky   Goodwin’s   proper name    –    Caleb.   After    that,    tracing    his    life    story became possible – challenging – but possible. That   these   two   soldiers   would   cross   paths   at all    seems    highly    unlikely.    Jerry    Guiou,    born    in Ottawa,   joined   the   army   at   age   21,   in   1915.   (3rd University   Company   CEF)   after   a   year   at   McMaster University.    Sky    Goodwin,    born    at    Pubnico    Head, Nova    Scotia,    “joined    up”    at    age    25    years,    8 months, in 1916, fisherman/carpenter. By   the   time   Sky   landed   in   France   and   joined the   PPCLI   in   the   field   in   January   1917,   Jerry   had been   with   the   Regiment   since   November   1915   and in   August   1916   had   been   granted   a   commission   in the   field.   Sky   served   in   Jerry’s   platoon   when   Jerry was   platoon   commander.   He   described   Sky   as,   “A   fine   chap   at   heart,   a   wonder   in   action   but   in   trouble   most   of   his   time   out   of   the   line.”   Official records of his various misdemeanors detail why this was just not acceptable behavior for a PPCLI. It   fell   to   my   Dad   to   solve   the   problem   by   taking   measures   to   get   Sky   on   the   right   track.   So   in   June   1918   Sky   was   working   for   Captain   Guiou, “other   than   the   parades   he   detested.”   Every   officer   in   the   Regiment   knew   him   and   watched   to   see   if   he   would,   “stay   with   it   as   this   work   required a   very   sober   man.   It   was   not   a   job   one   could   safely   play   on.”   This   was   related   to   the   responsibilities   of   the   Bombing   Officer   and   Sky   reportedly measured up and became, “The cleanest, smartest man in the Regiment, and doing fine.” In   any   case,   these   two   hit   it   off   -   possibly   because   of   a   strong   Maritime   connection   –   Jerry   having   spent   every   summer   on   his   grandfather’s farm   in   New   Brunswick   –   but   more   likely   because   they   both   had   red   hair!   This   relationship   certainly   survived   the   weeks   of   late   summer   1918   when history   tells   us   the   Patricias,   as   part   of   the   3rd   Division,   were   fighting   constantly   and   preparing   for   yet   heavier   blows   to   the   German   army.   Jerry’s letters   home   tell   of   the   level   of   mutual   support   among   the   men,   particularly   mentioning   Sky   Goodwin   –   “He   is   good   as   gold   at   heart   –   a   Nova   Scotia fisherman and as faithful as a man can be.” Stephen   K.   Newman’s,   ”With   the   Patricias   1914-18”   recalls   the   events   of   September   28,   1918   and   the   Battle   of   the   Canal   du   Nord.   “On   the outskirts   of   Cambrai   the   Patricias   suffered   grievous   casualties   –   8   officers   and   58   men   killed,   9   officers   and   284   men   wounded.   My   father   was   one of   the   9   officers   wounded.   That   he   lived   to   recount   the   events   of   that   day,   he   maintained,   was   entirely   due   to   his   man   Sky   Goodwin.   A   severe gunshot   wound   to   his   left   thigh   and   another   to   his   right   hand   meant   that   to   survive   he   had   to   get   to   a   forward   Dressing   Station   immediately.   Sky got him there under shell fire, all the way carrying his battle equipment. Sky Goodwin was one of the 58 men killed that same day. POSTSCRIPT But that is not the end of the story. In   1940   my   father,   by   then   Rev.   G.W.   Guiou,   accepted   a   call   to   the   ministry   at   Zion   United   Baptist   Church   in   Yarmouth,   Nova   Scotia. As   such he   was   guest   speaker   at   the   Baptist   Church   in   nearby   Pubnico,   Sky’s   home   town.   Here   he   saw   the   brass   plaque   in   memory   of   his   fellow   Patricia, and   told   his   remarkable   story   from   the   pulpit.   In   attendance   were   some   of   Sky’s   relatives   who   until   that   time   had   not   heard   of   his   final   days   with the PPCLI and the high regard he had earned in the Regiment. Unfortunately,   despite   many   queries,   no   family   members   have   been   located   in   the   Pubnico   area,   apparently   most   having   moved   to   the   U.S. Records   show   only   that   Mrs.   H.L.   Simpson   (sister)   living   in   Massachusetts   was   notified   of   his   death,   his   mother   Rebecca   Goodwin   having   died   3   July 1918.   His   medals   were   sent   to   his   brother Arthur   in   Little   Deer   Isle,   Maine   in   1922.   With   the   amalgamation   of   Baptist   congregations   in   the   Pubnico area   the   memorial   plaque   was   mounted   prominently   in   the   new   Argyle   Centre   Baptist   Church   along   with   the   handwritten   record   of   service   men found in all churches. His name tops the list. BIOGRAPHY Caleb   Goodwin   was   born   17   November   1890,   the   son   of   James   Melvin   Goodwin   and   his   second   wife   Rebecca   Divine   Goodwin,   at   Pubnico Head,   now   Pubnico,   Yarmouth   County,   Nova   Scotia.   The   1901   census   reveals   that   he   was   the   sixth   of   their   ten   children   and   had   an   older   half brother, Clarence. Listed   are   brothers   Arthur   age   22,   Clifford   age   20,   sister   Lena   age   17,   brothers   George   age   15,   and   William   (or   Wilbur)   age   13,   next   Caleb age 11, then sister Annis age 10, brothers Gordon age 9, Melvin age 5, and sister Evie age 3. Rebecca   and   James   Melvin   Goodwin   are   buried   in   Pubnico’s   Laurel   Hill   Cemetery.   Also   listed   on   their   gravestone   is   Gordon,   son   of   Rebecca and   James   M.   drowned   1   December   1916   age   22.   Disappointingly,   records   of   remaining   siblings   have   not   been   found   locally,   but   in   1918   one   sister, Mrs.   H.L.   Simpson   ,   living   at   8   Rogers Ave.,   Lynn,   Massachusetts,   is   named   next   of   kin,   Rebecca   having   died,   and   brother Arthur   in   1919   is   living   at Little Deer Isle, Maine. By   July   1916,   having   passed   his   medical   by   Dr.   S.W.   Williamson   at   Yarmouth,   Sky   is   described   as   “fit   for   the   Canadian   Expeditionary   Force, 6ft.   1   in.   tall,   light   complexion,   blue   eyes,   hair   –   light   (later   described   as   “red”)   weight   175   lbs   –   and   a   Baptist.   He   signed   attestation   papers   and took the oath at Digby, Nova Scotia 20 July 1916, before Lt. Col. Charles S. Bullock, Magistrate. So   he   sailed   from   Halifax,   Nova   Scotia,   18   September   1916,   on   the   S.S.   Olympic,   arriving   in   Liverpool,   England,   25   September   1916.   He   was taken   on   strength   from   the   97th   Battalion   at   the   RCR   and   PPCLI   Depot   31   October   1916   and   proceded   to   France.   From   13   December   1916   on   he remained with the PPCLI, the famous Canadian regiment. He joined the unit in the field 19 January 1917, thus becoming a Patricia. From   that   date   the   PPCLI   fought   in   major   battles   including   the   Passchendale   Sector   when   Sky   sustained   shrapnel   wounds   during   the   assault on   Meetcheele   Ridge,   30   October   1917.   He   was   treated   by   No.   8   Canadian   Field   Ambulance   and   transferred   to   No.   26   General   Hospital,   Etaples   1 November 1917, then to No. 6 Convalescent Hospital 18 November 1917, discharged 20 November 1917. On   checking   his   regimental   records   before   June   1918   it   becomes   apparent   that   Sky   really   didn’t   take   to   army   constraints.   He   was   almost constantly   “on   charge”   until   he   was   given   other   duties   under   the   wing   of   my   father   who   at   that   time   was   serving   as   Bombing   Officer   in   anticipation of   the   heavy   combat   that   certainly   followed.   It   seems   that   gaining   respect   and   responsibility   when   “out   of   the   line”   turned   things   around completely for Sky who was described as “the smartest man in the regiment and came to know a newer happier life.” Sky   was   killed   in   action   28   September   1918   and   is   buried   along   with   87   other   Canadians   in   Crest   Cemetery,   Fontaine   –   Notre   Dame,   Nord, France.   Information   courtesy   of   the   Commonwealth   War   Graves   Commission   indicates   Fontaine   –   Notre   Dame   is   a   village   approximately   three kilometers   southwest   of   Cambrai.   The   cemetery   there   designed   by   W.C.   VonBerg,   is   walled   with   attractive   plantings   and   the   usual   Great   Cross common to all the Canadian cemeteries in France.   His   name   appears   on   the   south   side   of   the   War   Memorial   in   front   of   the   Library   in   Yarmouth,   Nova   Scotia,   the   county   seat   of   his   home   area. As   well,   it   was   projected   on   the   National   War   Memorial   in   Ottawa   during   VIGIL   1914-1918   on   10   November   2009   at   2:12am   EST   and   appears   on   page 146 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in the Peace Tower at Ottawa. SOURCES: The Patricias. David J. Bercuson With the Patricias in Flanders 1914-1918. Stephen K. Newman Fighting Birth of the Princess Pats G.R. Stevens. Montreal Star Weekend December 26, 1964. Soldiers of the First World War CEF. Library and Archives Canada. Quotations are from letters home from France 1918. G.W. Guiou. In the author’s collection. Canada Remembers. http://www.vac-ac.gc.ca/ (This story was published in The Argus Vol.23 No.1 - Spring 2011; reprinted here with the permission of the author)
The Caleb Goodwin plaque as found in the Argyle-Pubnico United Baptist Church at Central Argyle, NS. Digital photo by Stuart Trask.
REMEMBERING CALEB GOODWIN