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James Freeman Doane
France, September 8, 1918 Dear Mr. and Mrs. Doane I am writing this note to extend to you my deepest sympathy in the death of your son Private J. F. Doane killed in action September 2, 1918 and to express my appreciation of his qualities as a soldier. We shall miss him in the Company. He did his duty well and the day he was killed was advancing gallantly against the foe. He died like a brave soldier likes to die ... on the battlefield fighting a winning battle. He was killed instantly and after the battle was over he was laid to rest along with the rest of his comrades who fell with him that day. Your heart will be sad and lonely but you have the consolation your boy did his duty in the supreme testing hour and he was not found wanting. His sacrifice will not be in vain. We shall carry on until victory is ours and peace again reigns amongst us. Yours very sincerely R.C. Jackson, Capt. O C “D” Co’y 85th Batt Canadians B E F France
France, September 13, 1918 Dear Mr and Mrs. Doane I regret to have to perform such a painful duty as presents itself to me now. I happen to be an officer in command of the platoon in which your dear son was killed in action on Sept. 2 and feel it is my duty to try and write a consoling word. I do not hesitate in saying I feel sure he has gone to a more peaceful land. He was a boy who did all he was commanded to do and inn a cheerful way, whatever the circumstances, realizing it was a duty he owed God, his King and his Country. It is sad, no doubt, but the great honor he has won by making the supreme sacrifice for his country will live forever and will earn him an eternal reward of joy and happiness. I assure you have the sincere sympathy of his many friends here in this, your bereavement. Yours truly Raymond Sampson 85th Canadian Battalion, France
(Official Notice from Ottawa) “Deeply regret to inform you that 282673 Pte James Freeman Doane, Infantry, officially reported killed in action Sept 2, 1918.” Minister’s Office, Ottawa Oct 8, 1918
In the Field, France September 14, 1918 Dear Mr. Doane Long before this letter reaches you word will have come informing you officially that your son has been killed in action. He came to this battalion on the 4th of August 1917 from the N.S. Reserve Battalion in England. During the operation at Passchendaele on the 30th October he was wounded in action and consequently invalided to England for a period of convalescence and rest. He rejoined the battalion from Blighty on the 31st August this year. As an original member of the Nova Scotia Highland Brigade he carried on at all times in true Nova Scotia fashion with the welfare of his battalion and the successful prosecution of our big task always at heart. He could be depended upon to conduct himself, whether in or out of the line, in a manner reflecting credit upon himself and his associates. The circumstances surrounding his death have, no doubt, been written you by his Company or his Platoon Commander. Briefly, they are as follows: at about 5;10 am on the 2nd September while advancing with his company, “D” co’y towards enemy positions during the recent successful operations by the Canadian Corps, he was hit in the breast by a machine gun bullet causing his death instantly. The sympathy of all the officers, NCO’s and men of the battalion is extended to you in your loss which I hope will be somewhat lightened by the knowledge of his commendable life, his heroic death and the cause for which the sacrifice was made. Sincerely yours, J. L. Ralston. Lieut. Colonel Commanding 85th Canadian Infantry Battalion Nova Scotia Highlanders
85th Can Inf Batt France Sept 18, 1918 Mr Edward Doane Yarmouth North, N. S. Dear Mr. Doane I wish to convey to you my sincere sympathy in the loss of your heroic and noble son during this last big offensive. Your boy was advancing when he received his fatal wound but not before he had done his duty magnificently. Your son was a splendid soldier, fearless and brave in doing his appointed task. He is very highly spoken of by both officers and men and we all feel we have sustained a big loss in the decease of such a fine gentlemanly fellow. I buried his body at Visc-en-Artois Cemetery along with many of his comrades. A suitable cross marks the grave of one of Canada’s finest soldiers and men. May God bless and sustain you in this hour of trial. Sincerely, Bruce Hunter Captain and Chaplain
The following battle information is taken from “THE EIGHTY-FIFTH in FRANCE and FLANDERS” By LT. COL. JOSEPH HAYES. D. S. O., C A. M. C. September 1st and 2nd 1918 (85th Battalion - Scarpe Operation) (Private James Freeman Doane was with the 85th Battalion, “D” Company) The Drocourt-Queant line was a part of the Hindenburg line of defence, and consisted, usually, of three lines of trenches and a support line, all provided with heavy belts of barbed wire. These trenches were well supplied with machine guns and other weapons, located in carefully selected and prepared positions so as to be most effective in defence, the whole supported by artillery thoroughly familiar with the ground and registered on every target. The system of dugouts was very elaborate, and the extensive use of concrete made the job of wresting it from the Hun a task of great magnitude. The Germans attached great importance to keeping this prepared defensive system intact, and a desperate stand was expected. Several days were spent in preparations in the way of organization and equipment, with bombs, ammunition, rations and water. On the 31st orders were received that the attack would be on Monday morning Sept 2. The Battalion at once moved into the line, taking over from the Duke of Wellington's Regiment, Imperials, and from the 5th and 18th Battalion Canadians. “B” Company went into the front line with “C" in close support and “A" and “D" in reserve. The intervening ground held by the German forces had strong machine gun posts. About 10 am that Sunday morning, September 1st, a strong German counter-attack developed from the direction of the Hendecourt-Dury road. The weight of it was not felt on the 85th Battalion frontage, but the 72nd and the right half of the 38th stood the brunt of it and completely repulsed three determined efforts by the Germans to break through the 12th Brigade line, during which over a hundred German prisoners were taken. “C" Company was moved up closer for the purpose of counter-attacking if necessary, but they did not have to be used. An attempt was made on the night of the 1st and 2nd September by two platoons of “C" Company to advance the line. It was partially successful, though Captain Hallett was wounded and several severe casualties were suffered. Efforts were made to have the barrage line altered but this was not practicable on account of the situation on the right and left. The Battalion had therefore to take on the additional task of cleaning up this intermediate area in the attack. The plan was that "A" and "D" Companies were to jump off first with "A" on the right, and take the first 3 trenches of the Drocourt-Queant system, the 3rd trench being across the Hendecourt- Dury road. "B" Company was to follow, leap- frogging "A" and “D", and taking the Drocourt-Queant support line on the western edge of Mt. Dury. “C" Company, less one platoon, was then to leap-frog "B" and make good the sunken road leading from the factory near Villers to Dury and running past the windmill on top of Mt. Dury. The remaining platoon of “C" Company was detailed to mop up the enemy posts in the area not covered by the barrage, after which they were to follow on and join their company. The orders were that there should be mutual support between the companies and that those detailed for the intermediate objective should, if the situation demanded, press on to assist the other companies in making good the final objective, the sunken road. "A" Company was commanded by Capt. R. D. Graham, “B” by Capt. H. A. Love, and “C” by Capt. E. J. Hallett and “D” by Capt. R. C. Jackson. Zero hour was fixed at 4.20 am on Monday the 2nd of September. The assembly was completed immediately behind our advance line of outposts an hour before that time. At zero hour the Battalion jumped off and met, as had been expected, with very severe resistance from the enemy line of machine gun emplacements immediately in front of “C" Company's advance posts. Very severe hand-to-hand fighting was encountered and some 30 heavy machine guns captured before the line laid down for the original jump-off was reached. The German machine gunners exhibited courage of a high order and persisted in working their guns to the end, and could only be silenced by the bullet or bayonet. In advancing the first 300 yards the casualties were about half those suffered during the whole action. Lieut. Holland together with 22 other ranks was killed and numerous severe casualties sustained in the gallant charges against these Hun posts. The advancing waves of the 85th caught up with the main line of advance before the Drocourt-Queant line was reached and attained their objectives at 6.15 am after considerable resistance. This was the breaking of the much-vaunted and so-called impregnable Hindenburg line, the final German system of organized defences. Owing to the severe machine gun fire encountered during the advance it was found necessary to reinforce “B” Company in order to enable it to continue forward to the intermediate objective, the Drocourt-Queant support line. "C" Company had also met with severe casualties, and a platoon of “A” and one of “D" Companies was attached to “C" for the assault on the final objective. In the face of withering machine gun and artillery fire the final wave went forward over the summit of Mt. Dury. The enemy laid down a very severe barrage of heavy artillery on this position and between this and the rain of bullets the attacking waves were decimated. The remnants of the attacking party took up a position in the Drocourt-Queant support line for the purpose of reorganization. Here they were reinforced by the troops in that line, these being made up from all three other companies of the 85 battalion. Capt. Love of “B” Company became a casualty at a critical juncture in this final advance and Lieut. W. B. Ross took command. He and Lieut. J. A. MacKinnon organized a party of rifle grenadiers and immediately put on a smoke barrage, under cover of which the attacking wave again dashed forward under Capt. Jackson, driving the enemy from the sunken road and establishing a line of outposts 150 yards in front, in the camouflaged machine gun positions which a few moments before had been working havoc with our troops. The final objective was thus won at 8.40 am.
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Name: Service No: Rank: Battalion/Service: Date of Birth: Place of Birth: Date of Enlistment: Place of Enlistment: Address at Enlistment: Age at Enlistment: Height: Complexion: Hair Colour: Eye Colour: Previous Military: Martial Status: Trade: Religion: Next of Kin: Date of Death: Age at Death: Cemetery: Grave Reference
James Freeman Doane 282673 Private 219th Battalion; “D” Company, 85th Battalion January 23, 1897 Yarmouth, NS March 13, 1916 Yarmouth, NS Yarmouth, NS 19 5 feet, 3½ inches medium brown brown 29th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, Yarmouth (Recruit) Single Plumber Baptist Edward Doane (Father) Yarmouth, NS September 2, 1918 21 Vis-En-Artois British Cemetery Haucourt, Pas de Calais, France I. E. 3. Commemorated on Page 398 of the First World War Book of Remembrance Displayed in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa on August 28 Yarmouth Memorial, Yarmouth, NS James Doane was the son of Edward and Ella Doane, of Dayton, Yarmouth Co., NS. Prior to his enlistment he was employed at J. K. Fleet (plumbing and sanitary engineering). He enlisted at Yarmouth with the 219th Battalion and embarked Canada at Halifax (SS Olympic) on October 12, 1916 and arrived in England on October 18, 1916. He was transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion at Bramshott on January 22, 1917 and to the 85th Battalion for service in France on July 1, 1917 and joined the Battalion in the field on August 4, 1917. He was admitted to No 8 Canadian Field Hospital on October 30, 1917 having suffered a gun shot wound to his ankle at Passchendaele. He was transferred to No 56 General Hospital at Etaples on November 1, 1917. He was invalided to England on November 9, 1917 and posted to the Nova Scotia Regimental Depot at Bramshott and attached to No. 2 Canadian Convalescent Depot. He was taken on strength with the 17th Reserve Battalion on April 5, 1918. Private Doane rejoined the 85th Battalion in the trenches in France on August 21, 1918. During military operations in the vicinity of Dury about 5:10 am on the morning of September 2, 1918, he was hit in the breast by an enemy machine gun bullet and instantly killed. He was buried in Vis-En-Artois British Cemetery, Haucourt, Pas de Calais, France. Phil Porter, great-nephew of James Doane, visited the grave in 2012 and placed the small wooden cross.
Private James Doane
Sources: Library and Archives Canada Canadian Virtual War Memorial “A Monument Speaks” Arthur Thurston (1989) pp. 131-135