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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Remembering Private Harry Lee Sutherland—Died of Sickness May 22, 1918

Harry Lee Sutherland was born at Country Harbour, Guysborough County on February 20, 1897, the youngest of Robert Henry and Elizabeth Jane “Libby” (McKeen) Sutherland’s 12 children. Robert died of pulmonary tuberculosis on July 19, 1913, leaving Libby to provide for Harry and four older siblings.

Harry Lee Sutherland (pre-war portrait)

Sometime after the outbreak of the First World War, Harry relocated to Millinocket, ME, where an older sister, Mary, and her husband, William Joseph Boddy, resided. For two years, Harry trained with the Maine State Guard while working in the local community. In spring of 1918, Harry made his way to Saint John, NB and attested for overseas service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force on April 4, 1918.

Harry immediately commenced training with the 1st Depot Battalion, New Brunswick Regiment. On May 16, however, he was admitted to hospital with a case of measles. Two days later, he began experiencing severe pain in his left side. While his sister, Mary, rushed to his bedside, Harry’s health rapidly deteriorated and he passed away at Saint John Military Hospital on May 22, 1918.

Medical officials identified the cause of Harry’s death as pneumonia. His remains were transported to Nova Scotia, where Private Harry Lee Sutherland was laid to rest in Evergreen Cemetery, Country Harbour Crossroads, Guysborough County.

Harry’s story is one of 64 profiles contained in Bantry Publishing’s First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume II: 1918 - 1937, available for purchase online at bantrypublishing.ca .

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Remembering Sergeant Horace Goddard MacMillan—Died of Wounds May 19, 1918

Horace Goddard MacMillan was born at Isaac’s Harbour, Guysborough County, on December 22, 1892, the youngest of Stephen and Jane (Buckley) MacMillan’s six children. Stephen owned and operated a store, warehouse and wharf in the local community. Following his father’s death on June 17, 1914, Horace assumed operation of the family business, as his two older brothers had left home to pursue careers elsewhere.

Sgt. Horace Goddard MacMillan (seated) & Captain J. J. McRitchie

The outbreak of the First World War, however, soon impacted Horace’s life. During the winter of 1915-16, recruitment efforts reach fever pitch as military officials canvassed the province, in search of soldiers for three recently established Nova Scotia Highland Brigade battalions. At the same time, the Canadian government authorized the formation of two Canadian Army Medical Corps (CAMC) units—No. 7 Stationary Hospital (Dalhousie University) and No. Stationary Hospital (St. Francis Xavier University).

On March 3, 1916, Horace attested for service with No. 9 Stationary Hospital at Antigonish, NS. The unit initially organized and trained on the StFX campus before relocating to Halifax in early May 1916. After six weeks’ training at local military hospitals, No. 9 Stationary departed for overseas aboard SS Missanabie on June 19.

Upon arriving in England, its Nursing Sisters were assigned to London area hospitals for further training, while male personnel made their way to military camps in southern England. Horace was initially assigned to Moore Barracks Hospital, Shorncliffe, but was transferred to Bramshott Military Hospital on September 15. No. 9 Stationary assumed operation of the Bramshott facility in late November 1916, its personnel servicing the medical needs of the soldiers stationed at nearby military camps.

Horace’s service at Bramshott over the subsequent months earned him a promotion to the rank of “Acting Sergeant” on October 1, 1916. He advanced to the rank of Sergeant on December 5, the same day that No. 9 Stationary departed England for France. Upon landing on the continent, the unit’s personnel proceeded to the village of Longuenesse, near Saint-Omer, France, where personnel commenced establishment of a working hospital.

Within less than a month, the facility—located approximately 50 kilometres west of the forward area near Armentières, France—received its first patients. While the hospital initially helped ease “overflow” problems at other hospitals, it was ready to accept combat casualties by March 1918. The timing coincided with the anticipated resumption of combat as weather conditions improved. Within weeks, in fact, German forces launched a major spring offensive, called “Operation Michael,” in sectors to the south of No. 9 Stationary’s location.

By early April, the facility was processing “a steady stream of casualties,” many of them soldiers suffering from exposure to poison gas. Within days, however, the launch of a second offensive near Armentières placed the unit’s personnel and patients in jeopardy, as German forces advanced to within artillery range of Saint-Omer. In response, on April 12, military authorities ordered No. 9 Stationary to commence the process of evacuating its patients and dismantling the facility. Within a week, its personnel retreated to Étaples, on the French coast.

While No. 9 Stationary’s male staff immediately commenced work on a new facility at nearby Le Faux, its Nursing Sisters were temporarily assigned to nearby hospitals. Work at the new location proceeded steadily and by mid-May the hospital anticipated the arrival of its first patients within a week. Nobody anticipated the events about to unfold in a location previously untouched by the perils of the forward area.

In the aftermath of its failed “Spring Offensive,” German military authorities launched a new strategy, designed to hinder Allied forces’ operation in the forward area. Utilizing its newly developed Gotta bomber, Germany commenced a series of bombing raids on strategic locations well behind the front lines. The plan was to disrupt the flow of supplies to units in the line by targeting supply depots and railway facilities located along the French coast.

While Étaples was home to numerous medical facilities, it was also an important port of entry for supplies destined for the forward area. On the night of May 19, German aircraft launched the first of several night-time raids on locations in and around Étaples. While supply depots and rail facilities were targeted, numerous bombs also struck British and Canadian medical facilities in the area, despite that fact that they were clearly marked as non-military locations.

A total of seven bombs landed on the the No. 9 Stationary facility, striking personnel tents and hospital buildings. Thankfully, no patients had been admitted to the hospital. However, several staff members were wounded in the attack. Horace was amongst the injured, struck in the head by debris when a bomb landed nearby. He was rushed to a nearby hospital but died of wounds shortly after admission. Sgt, Horace Goddard MacMillan was laid to rest in Étaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.

Horace’s story is one of 64 profiles contained in Bantry Publishing’s First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume II: 1918 - 1937, available for purchase online at bantrypublishing.ca .

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Remembering William Henry Carrigan—Died of Sickness May 16, 1918

William Henry Carrigan was born at Sand Point, Guysborough County on September 7, 1889 to parents  Edward and Rachel (Laurie) Carrigan. As a young man, William went to work in the local fishery. On November 12, 1917, he married Elizabeth Maud “Eliza” Ryan, a native of nearby Middle Melford.

On April 24, 1918, William enlisted for military service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force at Halifax, NS. While he signed the standard Military Service Act (MSA) form completed by young men conscripted into service, the words “Not Applicable” are stamped on the line provided for his MSA registration number, suggesting that William volunteered for duty. Four days after her husband’s enlistment, Eliza gave birth to a son, William Henry, at Middle Melford.

William’s days in uniform were short-lived. On May 6, he developed “a severe cold with pain in back.” Two days later, he was admitted to the Cogswell Street Military Hospital, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Within days, sputum tests detected signs of tuberculosis and William began to experience severe pain in his left side.

Private William Henry Carrigan passed away in hospital at 6:05 a.m. May 16, 1918. Medical records attributed the cause of his death to “acute lobar pneumonia.” William’s remains were transported to Middle Melford, where he was laid to rest in St. Patrick’s Cemetery. His widow, Eliza, remained in  the community, where she resided next door to her parents, Philip and Anna Ryan. On January 7, 1924, Eliza married William James Kavanaugh, a First World War veteran and native of St. Francis Harbour.

Pte. William Carrigan's CEF headstone, St. Patrick's Cemetery
William James Carrigan Jr. eventually served overseas during the Second World War and returned to the Melford area, where he married and settled down. Tragically, William drowned on May 15, 1962, when his “boat overturned while fishing” on a lake near Sand Point. Struggling with poor health at the time of her first child’s death, Eliza passed away at St. Martha’s Hospital, Antigonish, on October 15, 1963.

William’s story is one of 64 profiles contained in Bantry Publishing’s First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume II: 1918 - 1937, available for purchase online at bantrypublishing.ca .

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia—An Update

Since the publication of First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume II: 1918 - 1937 in November 2017, I have identified two more Guysborough County natives who died in service during the war’s final months and were not included in the second volume:

1. Henderson, John Howard: Born at Stormont on March 1, 1897, son of James Shier and Pamela (Latham) Henderson. Died of sickness at Camp Hill Hospital, Halifax, NS on May 29, 1918.

2. MacPherson, Leslie Reuben: Born at Guysborough Intervale on December 12, 1895, son of James and Maria (Nocton) MacPherson. Killed in action in the St. Mihiel Salient, France. on September 16, 1918.

I have added both names to the updated Honour Roll posted on this blog in November 2017. I will post a brief summary of John Howard Henderson's and Leslie Reuben MacPherson's stories on the 100th anniversary of their deaths, and add a detailed account of their family background and military service to the digital version of First World War Honour Roll of Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, Volume II in the near future.