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The Mystery of “Thomas D. Crowell”
When researching the Yarmouth casualties of World War I as listed on the Yarmouth Town and County War Memorial, the primary source of information on an individual soldier is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Other sources include the Canadian Great War Project, the Library and Archives - Canada, the Canadian Virtual War Memorial, Canadian and American databases and previously completed research material. In the attempt to find information on each of the one hundred and seventy three names of Yarmouth’s First World War casualties a few have posed a challenge. Such is the case of Thomas D. Crowell. Who was this Yarmouth soldier who fought and died for his country? He is not listed in any database of casualties and there is no record of his service, his battalion or regiment, his death, or his place of burial. In A Monument Speaks, Arthur Thurston writes: Thomas D. Crowell is the 34th name on the monument and Thorpe D. Crowell is the 35th name. The letter from Cicily Dale, who was the second in charge of the Bevin Military Hospital, refers to a death in June 1916, whereas Thorpe D. Crowell died March 17, 1918 at the 14th Canadian General Hospital in Eastbourne England of pneumonia having taken ill on the transport from Canada to England. With such a detailed account of the burial in the letter Thomas Crowell must be buried in the Shorncliffe Military Cemetery, Kent, England, and yet no record exists. Mrs. Joseph Watkins would have to be the starting point. Being the sister of Thomas, her maiden name, would likely have been Crowell and if one could determine her first name it might be possible to cross reference a census record. The 1911 census record lists “Joseph Watkins” (fisherman) and his wife “Abbie” of Yarmouth (page 18). With the name of Abbie (maybe Abbigal) Crowell a search of earlier census records of Shelburne and Yarmouth for her family, and hopefully her brother Thomas, proved futile. Perhaps if the names of her parents could be determined the son and brother could be located. The surprise came when the marriage record of Joseph and Abbigal was located. Abbie’s maiden name was not “Crowell” but was “Rose”. Her parents were James and Agnes Rose of Sand Point, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia. A further search of the 1891 census records listed James and Agnes and three sons, Robert, age 9, Richard, aged 3 and Fredrick, age 1. Was it possible that one of the three brothers was the soldier referred to in the letter of Cicile Dale and not Thomas Crowell. A search of the Canada Great War project solved the mystery. Frederick Howard Rose, son of James and Agnes Rose, of Sand Point, Shelburne Co., Nova Scotia died June 22, 1916, aged 27, and was buried in the Shorncliffe Military Cemetery, Kent, England. Frederick H Rose was a Private with the 64th Battalion, Canadian Infantry. A search of the War Monument in Shelburne, lists “Fred Rose”, as a casualty of the Great War. The conclusion is that the listing of Thomas D. Crowell was an error of the Monument Committee. Perhaps he was in fact confused with Thorpe D. Crowell at the time the list was prepared. If this is in fact the case it is the second double listing on the Yarmouth Monument. The other error is William A. d’Entremont is the same person as William R. d’Entremont of the 112th and 25th Battalions killed in action April 9, 1917. Private Frederick Howard Rose Date of Birth: June 13, 1893 Service Number: 469109 Age: 27 Division: 64th Battalion Died: June 22, 1916 Cemetery: Shorncliffe Military Cemetery, Kent, England Grave Reference: P. 415. Commemorated on Page 156 of the First World War Book of Remembrance. Son of James and Agnes Rose, of Sand Point, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia
The best evidence is to the effect he was the son of Capt. T. D. Crowell, a fishing skipper from Shag Harbor, a small village near the boundary of Yarmouth and Shelburne. He spent a very great deal of time in the County of Yarmouth and there appeared to be enough evidence at the time for his name to appear on the Yarmouth Monument. His name does not appear on the Shelburne stone listing ... It has not been possible to identity his unit or mode of death. The following letter was received in July 1916 by Mrs. Joseph Watkins, Yarmouth Bar, sister of Thomas D. Crowell dated at Bevin Military Hospital, England. Dear Mrs. Watkins, - We deeply regret to inform you of the sad news of your brother’s death but I felt I must write and tell you how very sorry we all were to lose him. We have had 1489 sick and wounded Canadian through here and your brother is the first we have lost. We was admitted here on June 11 and the doctor who sent him here from the lines thought he was going to have jaundice. There doctors here found that he was suffering from the fatal disease called “atrophy of the liver.” He did not suffer much but soon fell into a state of coma which comes before death. I went to his funeral yesterday with the staff sister and some of the nurses from here. He was buried with full military honors in the cemetery at Shorncliffe Camp Garrison Church. The procession started from the hospital; the coffin was drawn on a gun carriage. It was covered with the Union Jack and the crosses of white flowers which we sent from here. There was a large number of soldiers present from his own regt., the firing party, buglers, men from the Canadian Army Medical Corps with their officers, the Canadian Regimental band with muffled drums, and ourselves, The procession was so long we could hardly hear the band in the front. We mounted the hill to the Garrison Church where the first part of the service was held and then walked to the grave. It was down in a valley. After the service the firing party fired the last volleys over the grave and the buglers blew the Last Post and left him sleeping peacefully until he rises to meet you all again. May I say again before I close how very sorry we all are and how we sympathize with you in your loss. Yours faithfully, Cicily Dale Alternatively, a relative of Thorpe D. Crowell has suggested that Thomas D. Crowell and Thorpe D. Crowell were one and the same man, the unusual name “Thorpe” having served to confuse the committee.
Attestation paper (click to enlarge)