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Name: Gilbert Franklin Cann Rank: Lieutenant Regimental Number: 222814 Regiment: Canadian Infantry Battalion: 85th Overseas Battalion, Nova Scotia Highlanders Date of Birth: December 5, 1895 Place of Birth: Brenton, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia Date of Enlistment: October 28, 1915 Place of Enlistment: Halifax, Nova Scotia Address at Enlistment: South Ohio, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia Age at Enlistment: 19 Height: 5 feet, 9 ½ inches Prior Military Experience: Sergeant, 29th Field Battalion, Yarmouth NS Trade: Farmer Marital Status: Married Religion: Baptist Next of Kin: Mrs. Matilda Cann (Wife) South Ohio, Yarmouth Co., NS Date of Death: January 16, 1918 Cause of Death: Died of Wounds (wounded at Lens January 14, 1918) Age at Death: 22 Cemetery: Anzin-St Aubin British Cemetery, France Grave Reference: III. A. 7. Commemorated on Page 380 of the First World War Book of Remembrance Displayed in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa on August 18 and 19. Listed on the Nominal Roll of the 85th Battalion as a Sergeant Listed on the Yarmouth War Memorial Gilbert Franklin (Frank) Cann was the son of Jessie S. and Mary H. Cann, and husband of Matilda Perry (Patten) Cann of South Ohio, Yarmouth Co., NS. He was married on June 30, 1913 at South Ohio. His sister, Jessie, was a Red Cross Nurse at the front and who had been in Red Cross work in Salonika and on the Italian front. At the time of his enlistment, his father had died and his mother was remarried to Nathaniel Forbes. He enlisted with the 85th Battalion in Halifax; however, trained during the winter months of 1915-16 at the exhibition Grounds in Yarmouth with the 219th Battalion. He was made a Sergeant (his Militia rank with the 29th Battery, Yarmouth) and held recruiting meetings in various places in the County. On one occasion, he was a speaker at the Peoples’ Theatre and his urgent appeal to those of military age together with his six foot stocky build excited the admiration of those attending the meeting. Other meetings were held in South Ohio, Tusket, and Middle East Pubnico. Between November 1, 1915 and March 31, 1916, some 375 men from Yarmouth enlisted. Gilbert left Yarmouth for Halifax on April 3, 1916. He went overseas with the 85th battalion arriving in England on the SS Olympic on October 18, 1916. Once overseas he reverted to the ranks and went to France as a Private. He was reinstated as a Sergeant and was returned to England to take the course for a Lieutenancy. “He was one of the best cadets of about twenty- five in the class and made a first class officer” (Captain Harvey Crowell). Lieutenant Cann was among the first to join the 85th Battalion. He was seriously wounded on January 15, 1918. The Commanding Officer of the 85th Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel A. H. Borden would write: “About two months after the Battalion came to France, just at the conclusion of the Battle of Vimy Ridge he left for England to qualify for his commission. I remember very well indeed his gallantry in the action at Vimy Ridge when he supervised the Lewis Guns. On his return to France as an officer he was even a greater help to the Battalion, first as Lewis Gun officer and then when the position of Intelligence and Scout Officer became vacant he expressed a desire for this position which you will understand, is a very important one in the Battalion and could only be given to an officer of exceptional courage/ He was so eminently qualified for the position that I gladly appointed him as such. He went into the line and the first night he went out in No Man’s Land with a patrol. He received a very serious wound by rifle or machine gun bullets in the vicinity of the stomach. A stretcher party was rushed out of the line and brought him in and he was rushed out of the line as quickly as possible. Our Medical Officer, whom I consulted at the time, said that the wound was very serious but that he was putting up a game struggle, was so strong physically and had lived such a clean life that possibly he had a slight chance. His death was a great loss to me personally and to his brother officers and to the men who knew him so well.” Sergeant S. F. Williams, Medical Orderly wrote: “As Frank was one of my valued friends I will miss him greatly. … I was probably the last person to clasp Frank’s hand and say ‘goodbye’ as the medical officer, Captain Brown and I dressed his wound and rushed him out of the trenches to the hospital. It was nearly midnight on the 14th-15th when word came to the dressing station that Lieutenant Cann had been wounded while out on a patrol and the stretcher bearers could not get through the trench on account of the narrowness. So Captain Brown and I immediately left with our dressings accompanied by two runners. When we reached the dugout to which place they had taken Frank he was comfortable on a stretcher. We immediately dressed the wound and placed a clean dry blanket under and over him. The medical officer gave him a hypodermic injection to relieve his pain. He was quite cheerful and spoke to us and was resting nicely. However, the stretcher bearers were right there and we placed an emergency ticket on him and he was rushed right out. On account of the snow on the ground many of the officers and men were dressed in all-white and I must tell you that Frank was awfully pale. I readily noticed that as he always had such a high colour. We held very little hope for his recovery as the wound was severe, two machine gun bullets having gone right through the abdomen. Indeed we all felt bad that Lieutenant Cann had passed away at No 57 Casualty Cleaning Station (C C S) on the 15th. On the morning of the 17th I left the dressing station at 9:30 to proceed on leave and when I reached the transport lines at about 11:30, Lieutenant Curry our paymaster was just leaving to attend the funeral of our departed comrade which was to take place at 2 o’clock from No. 57 C C S. He was very glad to have me go with him, and indeed, I felt it was my Christian privilege and duty. On arriving at the C C S Lieutenant Curry was talking with the matron who said that Lieutenant Cann was unconscious and therefore left no message when he died. They had operated on him and he lived about 12 hours, Everything possible was done that loving hands could do to save the life of this young husband and dear friend. … The Chaplain spoke beautiful words at the grave amid the little group of about ten sorrowing friends. I shall never forget that little service, Mrs. Cann. ….”
Gilbert Franklin Cann
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