November 11, 2018Royal Canadian Legion Branch 155, Wedgeport George Egan – Guest Speaker On this day, one hundred years ago, one of the bloodiest conflicts in history ended. Our history books tell us of battles, of officers, of numbers dead and wounded; but more often than not they tell us little of the enlisted soldier, the farmer, or fisherman, or labourer, store clerk, or bank clerk.War memorials, list the names of those who died and in some cases those who served; hundreds of names. If we walk the cemeteries of our communities we find the gravestones of WW1 Veterans that give a name, perhaps a battalion, a date of birth and a date of death. But after 100 years, our knowledge of those who served, beyond a name, is fading away, lost to time. The research of Wartime Heritage has identified some 1,578 men and women that served between 1914 and 1918 with connection to the Town of Yarmouth, the villages and the communities of the county. Two hundred and seventy-four (274) men and women were born or living within the geographical area of the Wedgeport Legion; 31 including the six casualties from Carleton, would not return to their families. In 1914 some 53% of the Canadian population was under the age of 25. Our communities were rural, farming and fishing the major occupations. There were few, if any telephones in the rural areas. Communication was slow and news of world events would be found in newspapers weeks after they occurred. Many from our area went to the United States to find work. 132 from the area of this Legion are listed among the 722 men that we can identify, born in the Town and County, who registered for the United States Draft in 1917.From this Legion area, many served in the trenches in France and Belgium, others served with the Railway Construction Battalion and the Canadian Forestry Corps; some served only in Canada. One (1), Bennie Muise of Springhaven served in the British West Indies. Four (4) served with the Siberian Expeditionary Force, Lindsay Boudreau of Little River Harbour, John Boudreau of Melbourne, Henry Surette and Melbourne Burke of Eel Brook. Three served in the US Army including Elmer Lloyd Smith born in Little River Harbour, Elie Joseph Moulaison and Ernest Bourque from Wedgeport. Two served as nurses. Annie Maud Killam with connection to Tusket, served in the US Army Nurse Corps. From our area of Nova Scotia some 90 were between the ages of 14 and 17 at enlistment; 17 were from the geographical area of this Legion. When Britain declared war on August 4, 1914 Canada was also at war. It was in Bremen, Germany that the first consequence of the declaration of war would connect to our small part of the world. George Purdy of Plymouth was a Merchant Seaman, Master of the SS Pandosia, registered out of St. John, New Brunswick. The ship was ceased on August 4, 1914 by German authorities and Captain Purdy aged 48 was taken as a civilian Prisoner of War. In 1918, the ship was returned to its owners and Captain Purdy returned home. He died in 1923, aged 57 and is buried in the Plymouth Cemetery.While one nation after another became involved and their armies began to clash across the globe, in our part of Nova Scotia the first enlistments were slow. Some 50 miles off the coast of Chile, an 18 year old Malcolm Cann of Yarmouth, would be one of the first four Canadians killed in the war when HMS Good Hope was sunk by a German destroyer on November 1, 1914. On November 7, the Yarmouth Light published a War Extra listing the death of Midshipman Cann.The news “galvanized our area into wartime activity.” In the weeks following , some 50 enlisted, including Manning Muise born in Surette’s Island, George Nicol born in Pleasant Lake, Edward Hubbard of Tusket and William Nadeau, born in Wedgeport. They enlisted with the 25th Battalion; a shoemaker, a clerk, a fisherman, and a cook.Manning enlisted at 26, a Sergeant, served in France, survived the enemy bullets and shells but he was bitten by an enemy dog in 1918, serious enough that he was hospitalized. George was 19 at enlistment, served in France. He suffered a gunshot wound in 1916, and when his wounds healed he returned to the trenches.Edward was 18, he served in France; he returned home and would die in 1922 from Tuberculosis, his death attributed to his war service. William was 41 at enlistment; served in France where he became ill and was hospitalized with pleurisy. Rene Doucette and Walter Pothier from Wedgeport both enlisted on September 3, 1915. They were both fisherman and 18 years old. Their birthdays were one day apart. Rene served with the 24th Battalion in France. Walter served with the 26th Battalion. Rene was killed in action in 1916. He has no grave; his name is listed on the Vimy Memorial in France. Walter died in August, 1916 killed in action in the trenches south west of St. Eloi. He is buried in the Ridge Wood Military Cemetery, Belgium.Frank Gus Hubbard, from Tusket, enlisted at 15, with the 112th Battalion in March, 1916. He claimed he was 18. He served with the Royal Canadian Regiment in France and was gassed in August, 1917 and hospitalized for six months. Three months after returning to France, his actual age was discovered by the military, and he was transferred to England as a minor and posted to the Young Soldiers Battalion. Frank Muise was from Quinan. He was 16 when he enlisted, but, while in England he contracted mumps and the military discovered his actual age. He served in England not permitted to fight in the trenches in France. He was discharged on demobilization in 1919. Bernard Jerome Cottreau, from Wedgeport was 16 when he enlisted. He served in France with the Canadian Forestry Corps. Because he was not injured or hospitalized his true age was not discovered. On discharge in 1919, he was 19 years of age.George Warren Hatfield was born in Tusket. He enlisted at 17. While moving forward to reinforce the front lines during an enemy counter attack on August 26, 1918, he was struck in the head and instantly killed by a bullet from an enemy sniper’s rifle. On March 10th, 1916 a recruiting meeting was held in Kemptville. Trueman Moore Allen was born in Forest Glen, aged 18. He was the eldest of nine children. … worked on the farm and for a time worked with Graham and Nicholl who operated a lumber business in Carleton. He attended the meeting and found himself caught up in the patriotic fervor of the time. Two days later, he enlisted and served with the 85th Battalion in France. He suffered a gunshot wound to the face while on a salvage party, was evacuated to a Field Ambulance Station where he died from his wounds. Initial military records indicate that the reported location of his grave was in the Domart Military Cemetery; however, no known grave exists and his name is listed on the Vimy Memorial … One of the many mysteries of WWI. For some fifty years a fading postcard picture of Trueman in his uniform, hung on the wall in the home of a childhood friend, until after her death in 1966, a reminder of the young man who had been a neighbour so many years before. Simon Doucette of Tusket enlisted after the recruiting rally in the Tusket Court House, on March 18, 1916. Simon served with the 85th Battalion in France and was killed in action at Passchendaele.Throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s his mother placed flowers at the base of the Tusket Memorial at the Service held on the third Sunday of August each year. The school master at Tusket, himself a wounded veteran, Robert Thornton Mack, at those same services would lay flowers in memory of George Hatfield, who had no longer had relatives living in this area. As the war continued through 1917 and 18 enlistments from our area increased. The 165th French Acadian Battalion, based in Moncton, New Brunswick, began recruiting in late 1915 throughout the Maritime Provinces. The Battalion embarked Canada at Halifax on March 25, 1917 and disembarked in England at Liverpool on April 4. In England, the Battalion was absorbed into the 13th Reserve Battalion. While many hoped they would serve in the regular battle Battalions, such was not to be the case. The soldiers from Yarmouth County were transferred to various Companies of the Canadian Forestry Corps and served throughout England and France. Somewhat unique is the story of Albert Pothier of Wedgeport and his three sons, Luc aged 28, Charles aged 26, and Cyrille aged 19. Albert, enlisted at the age of 53, although he claimed he was 45. He had represented Yarmouth County in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly from 1894 to 1897. He enlisted in the 165th Battalion in June of 1916 and served with the Canadian Forestry Corps in England. The three boys would also join the 165th Battalion. Cyrille was the first to enlisted in April 1916, Luc and Charles in May of the same year. Luc and Charles each served in France with the Canadian Forestry Corps. Cyrille was transferred to the 22nd Battalion. He was wounded in action in June, 1918 suffering gunshot wounds to the leg, left arm, and back. He was admitted to hospital in France and transferred to England. He returned to Canada and was admitted to Camp Hill Hospital in December, 1918. He was released and discharged in April, 1919, aged 22. Adrian, Bernard, and Mark Cottreau, three brothers, the sons of Mary Cottreau from Wedgeport also served. Bernard, known as Burney, was 16 years old, and 5 foot, I inch in height. He was the first of the brothers to enlist and served as a bugler in the 165th Battalion. Zacharie Muise was the fourth of thirteen children, the son of Thomas (Athanase) and Jane (Geneviève) Muise of Quinan. Being only five feet in height, he was known in the community as "le p'tit Carie" and called by the name “Carie”. His official military attestation paper records his name as “Harry”. Being unable to read or write, like so many of the WWI recruits, one can imagine him, on November 3, 1916, standing before the recruiting officer who would have completed the attestation form. Asked his name, Zacharie would say his name was “Carie”, after-all, that is how he was known. The recruiting officer wrote “Harry” and so Zacharie became “Harry Muise”. Harry signed his attestation paper with his mark “x”. On November 11, 1917 he crossed to France for service with the 85th Battalion. Ten months later, while in the field near Arras, he was severely wounded when struck by shrapnel to his right shoulder and right forearm, his right leg, arm and face losing his sight in his left eye. He was first taken to a Field Ambulance Station and then evacuated to a Military Hospital in England where he remained until April of 1919. He was returned to Canada for continued medical treatment at Camp Hill. On July 24, 1919, having served in Canada, England, and France, he was medically discharged, aged 24, at Halifax. While his wounds healed he had various body scars, partial loss of function to his right hand and the loss of his left eye. He returned to Quinan where he continued to farm. He never married. On September 30, 1934 at the aged of 37 years he died of tuberculous. He was buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery in Quinan. His grave has no marker. But today he is remembered. His picture is in the showcase. Walter John Doucette was also from Quinan. He served with the 13th Battalion and was twice wounded in action. Hospitalized in Birmingham, England he met, fell in love, and obtained permission to marry Gladys Godfrey in England. At the end of the war she joined him in Canada, a WWI war bride, and they remained for several months before returning to England. They again returned to Canada in 1924 and Walter worked with Canada Customs in Winnipeg. In 1938 they returned to England where Gladys died in December 1943. Walter wanted to return home but was unable to take his savings out of the county because of the war. He remained in England and on October 7, 1944 married Agnes Parry. In the 1960’s following the death of his second wife, Walter returned to Canada after forty-four (44) years. And on August 5, 1969 Walter married Frances Muise of Yarmouth. He died on May 12, 1986 at the age of 91.Some who served in WWI also served in WWII. Bennie (Meuse) Muise of Springhaven served with No 6. Company, St. Lucia, British West Indies in WWI and with the 13th Company, Canadian Forestry Corps during WWII. John Wallace served with the 26th Battalion in WWI and re-enlisted in WWII serving with the RCAF. Frank Alex Cottreau of Wedgeport, served with 1st Depot Battalion Nova Scotia in WWI and the 17th Reserve Battalion in England. Joseph Freeman Fitzgerald of Comeau’s Hill, served with the Canadian Forestry Corps. Both served in WWI with the Veterans Guard of Canada. Louis Morris, of Springhaven served in Canada with the 1st Depot Battalion NS in WWI and in the RCAF in WWII. Joseph Edmond Doucette served with the 2nd Battalion Canadian Railway Troops in WWI and in the Merchant Navy in WWII. During WWII, he was killed when his ship the SS Maplecourt was torpedo by a German U-boat on February 6, 1941.There are so many stories that could be told; of prisoners of war; of nursing sisters; the 18 that died and others wounded in the Vimy Ridge Battles; or of Clarence Sholds who enlisted at Yarmouth in 1916 and died of wounds on November 11, 1918 at 5:30 am, 30 minutes after the official signing of the Armistice. In our modern world, it is perhaps difficult to imagine the tragedy of WWI, the conditions and the horror of trench warfare, the maimed, the injured among those who returned and the loss of those who did not, of officers ordering men into no man’s land to face the onslaught of gas, bullets, and artillery from the enemy, or of how thousands could be wounded or killed in less than an hour along the western front … and on the home front the worry of parents, of small children missing their older brothers, of mothers, fathers and wives awaiting news from overseas. Edwin Woollard was 23, when he enlisted. After the battle at Passchendaele on October 30, 1917 his wife, Elsie, received word that he was missing in action. She lived in hope but heard nothing further until a letter arrived dated March 27, 1918 written in a dug out in a trench in France by Private Mills, a stretcher bearer; in part it read. “I was going to wait until we got out of the line but we never know when that will be, so I will try and tell you what little I know about your husband. He was a man we all knew and all liked.Well I do remember the morning of the 30th October and never will I forget it as long as I live. At 9:40 our big guns spoke and we were away in that hell of bursting shells and flying shrapnel. We were only able to advance a few hundred yards. I saw your husband lying in a shell hole and when he saw me he waved his hand for me to hurry up and come to him, but I had a good many cases to look after before I could get to where he was. When I finally got there I found him lying in the side of a shell hole in water up to his knees and helpless. The first thing I did was to get him out of the hole with the help of a German Red Cross prisoner, who by the way, helped me to dress his wounds and stayed with me for over a half hour. I found that he was wounded in two places in the left leg close up to the body and in the back. That was the worst one, if not fatal. It took us some time but your husband took it all fine. The only thing he said was, “I am all in”. I told him not to worry and he would make “Blighty”all right. After dressing his wounds I covered him up with his greatcoat and told him that the stretcher parties would soon pick him up. I had lots of work to do so I had to leave him and that was the last I saw of him. It was some time before our stretcher bearers were able to get on that hillside to pick up the wounded and in that time the German artillery had got busy and were pounding that side of the hill all to pieces. I really think that hill or ridge changed its face of nature about ten times in the next twenty-four hours and should your husband have lived I am afraid that another shell would have finished its deadly work I think we will have to resign ourselves to the fact that your husband has gone to a better front where all is peace and quiet.” Today, 100 years after the end of WWI, we remember … for none of these men and women who served should ever be forgotten. Thank you for inviting me and giving me this opportunity to share with you but a few of the many stories that could be told of those who served in the service of Canada from this Legion area.
Throughout October and early November, the Wartime Heritage Association has assisted the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 155 Wedgeport in preparing a WW1 display. On November 11, George Egan, the Chairman of the Association was the guest speaker at the Legion Dinner. Video Link
Wedgeport LegionNovember 11, 2018Talk by George EganChairman of Wartime Heritage
WWI Casualties from the Wedgeport Legion area
WWII Uniform donated for display by the Wartime heritage Association
Photos of some who served from the Wedgeport Legion area
World War 1 by George Egan Wedgeport LegionVideo LinkCyrille LeBlancPublished on Nov 12, 2018Guest speaker at the banquet was George Egan of Dayton, Yarmouth County. His talk was on World War One in general, Canada's participation and the Wedgeport Legion’s area participation in that war. Mr. Egan is a retired teacher who devotes many hours every week to the Wartime Heritage Association, with research and writing on WW1, WW2 and Korean War history and heritage for the association website. He was essential to the Wedgeport Branch 155 compiling of WW1 and WW2 casualties and the displays in the new showcase mentioned above. In 2005, he was honoured with a NS Award for teaching excellence for exceptional contributions to the theme "History: Look in Your Own Backyard