Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Four Brothers

I wrote recently about the family of Nathaniel Owens and Henrietta McIlhagga who had nine children. No fewer than four brothers served in the First World War in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. John Hutchinson, born 8th July 1880 was granted land in Canada and married Mary Ellen, born 1882. On the 1911 Saskatchewan Census he and Mary are listed as McIllagga, so he must have married before this. He enlisted in the 46th Battalion Canadian Infantry, Saskatchewan Regiment with number 781528. When he enlisted he was living in Outlook, Saskatchewan and was employed as a Labourer. He had served previously in the 134th Company, the Imperial Yeomanry, Irish Horse, gaining the South African Ribbon. Perhaps his experience abroad encouraged him to emigrate, albeit in the opposite direction! According to his attestation paper he was 5'10" in height, had a 37.1/2" chest, fair complexion, gray (sic) eyes, black hair,and was a Presbyterian. His unit set sail for Europe on 15th October 1916. Tragically John was killed in action at Passchendale in France almost exactly a year later on 26th October, 1917. His memorial is at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanden, Belgium. A year later, on 31st October 1918 an In Memoriam 'advertisement' appeared in the North American Lumber & Supply Co. (Magazine?) which simply said, 'Pt. John H. McIlhagga by his wife Mary E. McIlhagga'. John's wife lived on in Canada and died on 16th January 1941 in Vancouver.

Archibald Duncan, born 17th June 1882 in Belfast had set sail from Londonderry to Halifax in 1902 when he was only 19 and had subsequently gone to Moose Jaw, Saskachewan in 1912. He He moved to Swift Current and then to Calgary. His address was 228, 13th Avenue, West Calgary. He both married Mary Isabel and joined up on the same day, 27th May 1915. On enlistment he was 5'9.1/4" tall, had a 43.1/2" chest, fair complexion, grey eyes, dark hair, and was a Presbyterian. He was given the Regimental Number 183956. He became a Corporal in the 89th Overseas Battalion, but sadly something went wrong. At a Court Martial on 30th October 1916 he was reduced to the ranks for desertion when under orders for embarkation and he had to undergo detention for 84 days. May be he deserted in order to see his wife for what could have been a last time. After all he had been married on the same day he had joined the army! However, on the 5th March 1917 he did indeed proceed overseas with the 10th Battalion, and he was eventually discharged on 21st February 1919, three months after the war ended. On a form he filled up on his voyage back to Canada he named Mary I. McIlhagga, his wife, c/o Mrs. Baxter, 440 14th Avenue East, Calgary, as the person to be notified on his arrival. He landed on 20th January 1919 on the ship Empress of Britain. At some date after his discharge he was granted land and he lived there until he was 82 years old. He died aged 85, on 20th December 1968 in West Vancouver. He is buried in Capilano View Cemetery, Vancouver, British Columbia.

The third brother to serve was George, born 14th June 1888. When he emigrated to Canada, as the 1911 Census tells us, he lodged with his brother John and his wife Mary. He also enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His attestation papers are difficult to read, but we can gather that his complexion was 'medium', his eyes hazel and his hair brown/grey. He apparently had become a Baptist. He was 27 years 6 months when he enlisted at Moose Jaw on 19th December 1915. His occupation was 'Carpenter'. He was given the Regimental Number 781419. He embarked ship at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 15th August 1916 and arrived at Liverpool nine days later. He had to spend some time in an Isolation Hospital at Aldershot before he was sent to the 'front line' in France. He was promoted Corporal on 3rd December 1917 and Sergeant on 6th May 1918 in the 128th Overseas Battalion. He was discharged on 17th April 1919. Clearly George did not marry as he made a Will bequeathing all his real estate to his brother James W. McIlhagga, back in Ireland, and all his personal estate to his mother Henrietta. He died in Nanaimo, Canada, aged 70, on 17th June 1959.

The fourth and youngest brother was Joseph, born 5th January 1892. He cannot have gone out to Canada until late 1912 at the earliest as he signed the Ulster Covenant in Belfast in that year. His fine signature is in a copper-plate hand, also recording his parents' address at Loughview, Old Cavehill Road, Belfast. When he signed his attestation papers on 15th December 1915 at Outlook, Saskatchewan, he also said he was a Carpenter. He too claimed he was a Baptist. He was single when he joined up, his description including height 5'11.1/2", chest 39", complexion dark, eyes blue and hair dark brown. On discharge he went to Winnipeg. Later he married Catherine (born 1903) known as Kate, Ross, and lived also in Calgary. The photograph at the head of this blog entry is of Joe, Kate and their three children, Jack, Bob and J. Alan. From this photo we can see from the crown on his arm that Joseph became a Colour Sergeant. I found this photo on the Internet but failed to find the name of the person who put it there. I do hope they won't mind my including it here, and it would be great if they were to get in touch and tell us how they relate to the family. At the moment I know Joseph died in 1974 and Catherine in 1975. I also know that J. Alan, born in 1938, died in 1962, and that they all lived in Calgary, Alberta. Joseph and Catherine are buried in Mountain View Memorial Gardens in that city.

1 comment:

  1. Please contact me in relation to a medal which belonged to Mrs Mary E McIlhagga, widow of 781528 Pte H McIlhagga, 46 Bn KIA Paschendale, 1917.

    Please use an open email as follows: