The first World War Canadian War Diaries may be consulted by unit to get a better understanding of the experiences during the war in terms of day to day activities from training to military engagements. Individual soldiers are occasionally named in these diaries.
Researched by Marika I. Pirie (Revised 2014)
Lt. Gordon Moore Pirie, 690146, 116th Battalion C.E.F. Gordon was born September 3rd, 1897 in Hamilton, Ontario. In May 1915 his father, Robinson Pirie, was working as a buyer for W. E. Sanford Co. and took a business trip on the luxury Cunard liner RMS Lusitania. The ship was torpedoed on May 7th by a German U-boat, and sank, resulting in the death of 1,198 of the 1,959 passengers and crew. Robinson Pirie survived the sinking of the Lusitania. His dramatic account of the sinking and how he swam to the safety of a floating wooden box was published in the Hamilton newspapers.
Gordon Pirie arrived in England on November 20th, 1916. Initially an Acting Sergeant, he reverted to rank at his own request in August 1917. In England he was transferred to the 2nd Reserve Battalion, and transferred once more to the 116th Battalion C.E.F. He arrived in France by August 1917 with the 116th Battalion.
His file contains notes that he was at No. 3 Canadian General Hospital, Boulogne, France, on October 26th, 1917. He was later transferred on December 22nd, 1917, to a hospital at Woodcote Military Convalescent Hospital, Epsom. A note in his file states that he had trench fever from November 1917 to January 1918.
By March 22nd, 1918 he was an Acting Sergeant at the 8th Reserve Battalion, and was at CTS Bexhill in August 1918. Canadian Training School, Bexhill, Sussex, was a camp established in 1917 to train junior officers. On November 23rd, 1918, he became a Lieutenant for the 2nd Central Ontario Regiment. This circa 1917 Silent Film produced by the Canadian War Records Office shows the Canadian Training School at Bexhill - link to movie.
Gordon Pirie sailed home to Canada from England, departing on February 17th, 1919. Upon his arrival home, he convalesced at Brant Military Hospital, Burlington, Ontario. This hospital had originally been a luxury hotel on the lakeshore called Brant House, but was commandeered by the government for use as a military convalescent hospital. Pirie sent a card dated May 7th, 1920 to his cousin (Gunner Russell Fraser Pirie, 41st Battery C.F.A.) while he was at this hospital and wrote that he was suffering from a persistent fever. He added that he hoped that the treatment of fresh air and sunshine that was offered would make a difference to his health.
According to reports and a letter sent to his family, Paul was killed in action during a German advance at Sanctuary Wood on June 2nd, 1916. Clark was in charge of a machine gun section to the right of Sanctuary Wood. His gun crew (Trench 59) had survived the bombardment which began at 8:30 am, however around 12:30 pm, they mounted the gun as the enemy advanced. Clark was last seen firing his gun.
Corp. William Nicholson wrote to Paul's family in July 1916: "Time after time they fired on the Germans as they tried to advance. Man after man on the crew was killed or wounded. What men there were, from the 1st C.M.R., left in the trench, were without officers or N.C.O.s, so Paul took charge of the whole business. He directed everything and was the coolest man in the whole trench. McKenzie, one of those who was left with him, was hit in both legs. Paul dressed up his wounds and made him leave the trench and get down to the dressing station. He left about 2:30 in the afternoon and managed to get down, he could not explain how, so terrible was the shell fire. When he left, Paul was taking his ease on an ammunition box in what was left of the trench. One man, Bouthillier by name, was left with him. The Germans had tried unsuccessfully to advance and had been stopped by the fire of Paul's gun. They had to retreat, and the artillery shelled the place once more. They then advanced, and Paul jumped up on the parapet and fired the gun until he was hit through the head. Bouthillier says he threw the gun into the bottom of the trench, into the mud and managed to reach our next line. This is in short the story of how he met his death. What we will never know, is what has become of his body. His memory will live forever with all those who know of his heroism. - Letter from Corporal William Nicholson, sent from Bramshott Camp, England, July 11, 1916 (Letter Courtesy Walking family)Sgt. Paul S. Clark's name appears on the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium. Named on the Westmount Quebec War Memorial. A memorial stained glass window in honour of Sgt. Clark was unveiled at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in January 1921 by his overseas comrades Capt. Wm. Nicholson and Lt. Gordon Cuttle.
Lt.-Col. Alan Joseph McCausland, 74th Battalion. Alan Joseph McCausland was born in Toronto, Ontario, on June 9th, 1887. He was a son of Robert McCausland (1856-1923), who was Goldie Pirie's uncle, and Maud E. S. Patterson.
Prior to the first World War, Lt.-Col. McCausland was a member of the 2nd Queen's Own Rifles as a Private, N.C.O. and Sub Altern (1903-1909). He was Captain of the 36th Regiment 1910-1915. His Officer's Declaration paper for the 74th Battalion C.E.F. were signed July 23rd, 1915 in Toronto. As units were reassigned, he became an officer of the 75th Battalion C.E.F. serving with the unit in action. A war diary entry for the 75th Battalion C.E.F. for April 6th, 1917 stated that Lt.-Col McCausland ceased to be attached to the 4th Division school and took over duties as Town Major, Divion. Another war diary entry dated Sept. 10, 1917 at Petit Servins, stated that "Lieut. Col. McCausland, A. J., who had formerly commanded the battalion, for a short time, re-joined to-day as an attached officer."
On his return from the front (according to some reports he was gassed) he commanded 2nd Depot Battalion, 2nd Central Ontario Regiment (Toronto Star - Dec. 26, 1917). This was a new depot battalion for the draftees (conscripted men) of the Toronto Military District.
After the war, McCausland served with the 36th Peel Regiment and served as the first vice-president of the Army & Navy Veterans' Association (Toronto Star - July 26, 1919). He returned to managing R. McCausland Stained Glass in Toronto, taking on a number of important war memorial window commissions. The company was profiled in Maclean's magazine in the 1940s and McCausland was interviewed regarding commissions for war memorial stained glass windows which were placed in churches across Canada. During the Second World War he was acting second-in-command at No. 20 Canadian Army (Basic) Training Centre at Brantford, Ontario (Toronto Star - Jan. 30, 1942).
McCausland married twice: Ruth McKibbon (b. July 8, 1889, d. Apr 11, 1921) and Grace Langskill (b. May 12, 1893, d. Sept. 29, 1983). Died 20 October 1951 and buried at Toronto's Mount Pleasant Cemetery. I've added my research to his entry on the Canadian Great War Project. Additional information. - Compiled by M. I. Pirie
Sgt. Kenneth Leighton McCausland, 135022, 74th Battalion C.E.F. Born in Toronto on March 9th, 1899, Kenneth McCausland was Lt.-Col. A. J. McCausland's younger brother. McCausland enlisted underage at age 16 at Niagara Camp on July 31st, 1915 with the 74th Battalion C.E.F. His mother, Mrs. Maud McCausland, at 273 Russell Hill Road in Toronto, was named as his next-of-kin. His birthdate was entered as 1897 on his military attestation to make him appear to be two years older.
On May 11th, 1917, the Toronto Star published a list of former school cadets from the Ogden School. Kenneth McCausland was one of 27 students named on this list. McCausland was afterwards a student at Upper Canada College. This photo and a short bio appeared in the War Book of Upper Canada College (1923): McCAUSLAND, KENNETH LEIGHTON; 12 Oakwood Ave., Toronto; E[ntered] Prep. Sch., Nov. 11; aged 12; L. '15; son of R. McCausland, McCauslands Ltd., Toronto. Enlisted, June, 1915; 74th Bn., C.E.F., Pte.; Sergt.; discharged, owing to disability, December, 1916.
Kenneth McCausland's photograph in uniform appeared in the Toronto Star on December 27th, 1915. The photo was captioned "Platoon 3, "A" Co. 74th Battalion". He is identified as Pte. K. McCausland, 273 Russell Hill.
McCausland married Emily Adeline (or Adelene) Cornwall (1900-1956), daughter of George Cornwall and Ada McGaffin on July 11th, 1916 in Toronto, Ontario. McCausland was elected President and General Manager of Reed Canadian Engravers on February 26th, 1932. A son, Charles Donald McCausland, was born in 1918. I've posted further information on the Canadian Great War Project regarding McCausland's story. - Compiled by M. I. Pirie
Bugler Harold Laurence McCausland, 3039306, 1st Depot Battalion, 1st Central Ontario Regiment. Born September 14th, 1901 in Toronto. Son of Lieut.-Col. Harold McCausland, M.C., who served as a Chaplain during the war (see profile below), and Mabel McCausland. A cousin to Goldie Pirie. Volunteered for military service May 23rd, 1918 in Toronto. Next-of-kin address was Mrs. Mabel McCausland at 34 Earl Street in Toronto.
Harold McCausland Jr. was profiled in The War Book of Upper Canada College (1923):
McCAUSLAND, HAROLD LAURENCE: Pathescope Co. of Canada Ltd., Toronto; and 34 Earl St.; Entered Sept. 1915 from Lakefield Prep. School; aged 14; Left Easter 1918; son of the Rev. H. McCausland, Sutton W., Ont.; 2nd Q.O.R., Bugler. Enlisted, May, 1918; 1st Bn., 1st C.O.R., Bugler; 2nd Trg. Depot, C.A.M.C., Bugler, November; discharged January 16, 1919.H. L. McCausland was engaged to Edythe Hannah Ross, daughter of Robert Douglas Ross, of Toronto in 1928. Further information.
Pte. John Roy McKay, 736407, 113th Battalion Lethbridge Highlanders, C.E.F. Born Edengrove Ontario 25 November 1880. John Roy McKay was Pte. Goldie Pirie's cousin, as McKay's mother Margaret Pirie (1845-1923) was Goldie's paternal aunt. Margaret Pirie and Thomas McKay were early settlers of Pilot Mound, Alberta, running the first general store at the original site of Pilot Mound. Pte. J. R. McKay volunteered for military service at Lethbridge, Alberta, on January 31st, 1916, giving his current address as Barons P.O., Alberta, and next-of-kin address as Mrs. Margaret McKay, 227 Yale Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba. The 113th Battalion were subsequently broken up at the front for reinforcements with many men going to the 16th Battalion (The Canadian Scottish). Mckay was injured by mustard gas, and survived the war. Died 1950. Full military files to be uploaded online throughout 2014, which will reveal further details of McKay's military service. Married Agnes Burt. McKay's son, Pte. George Gregor Mckay, RCASC, died in the Second World War on April 2nd, 1944, and was buried in Moro River Cemetery in Italy.
Captain Harold Stuart Parsons. 58th Battalion C.E.F. Harold Stuart Parsons, born December 2nd, 1891, was the son of Miriam Eva McCausland and Charles Stuart Parsons. He was Goldie Pirie's cousin. Enlisted in April 1915 in Toronto, with next-of-kin contact as his mother at 22 Admiral Road. Previously served 7 years with the Queen's Own Rifles. The 58th Battalion War Diary entry for October 4, 1916 indicates that Capt. Parsons was wounded in action.
Transcription from Toronto Star - Nov. 20, 1916
Capt. Harold Parsons Home. When the 58th Battalion emerged from the battle of Courcelette, with the exception of the colonel, not a single officer had escaped unscathed, every one having been either killed or wounded. Lying on the field, wounded in the hip by a piece of shrapnel, Capt. Harold S. Parsons felt that at any moment a stray bullet or a flying shell would carry him into another world. Capt. Parsons, who is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Parsons, 23 Admiral road, returned to the city last night after being at the front for five months. Before enlisting he was employed with his father in the firm of Parsons, Brown & Co., wholesale grocers. He left Toronto as an officer with the 35th Battalion, but was later transferred to the 58th Battalion, under Col. Genet. When the officer commanding his company was killed, he was placed in command.Parsons is mentioned in the 2002 book "Second to None / The Fighting 58th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force" by Kevin R. Shackleton. Parsons transferred to the RFC on June 23rd, 1917, and was Adjutant, No. 42 Wing at Deseronto Ontario by 1918. He is listed on "Air Force Honours & Awards" for "Canadians serving with the British Flying Services during WWI". PARSONS, Captain Harold Stuart. * Commended for Valuable Services in Connection with the War* awarded as per London Gazette dated 22 January 1919; for services in Canada. More about training at Deseronto may be found in the book "Story of Aviation in Canada 1917 - 1918". Parsons' military career is profiled in detail on the Queen's Own Rifles online archives.
Capt. Parsons is a Model School Old Boy, and was formerly a member of the Queen's Own Rifles. He convalesced from his wound at King's College Hospital, London.
McCausland was mentioned in the book: "Padres in No Man's Land: Canadian Chaplains and the Great War" by Duff Crerar, 1995. He and another chaplain stayed on to help clear the battlefields of war dead after the battle of Passchendaele. "Padres In No Man's Land", pg. 128:
Brother-in-LawMajor Edward Watson Hachborn, 214th Royal Siege Battery, B.E.F. (Imperial Forces). Edward Watson Hachborn was born in Toronto on July 19th, 1894 and was the eldest son of E. G. Hachborn, who ran the E. G. Hachborn Company, 50 York St., Toronto. Hachborn began his military service during the first World War with the Canadians. His Officer's Declaration Form dated May 10, 1916, was for the 48th Battery Canadian Field Artillery, as a Lieutenant, with previous service in the 9th Battery CFA, and the 109th Regiment. The Toronto Star reported on December 15th, 1916 that Lieutenant E. W. Hachborn, had been transferred to the Royal Garrison Artillery, promoted to Captain, and commanding a siege battery at the front. From the same source, on January 20, 1917, it was reported that Capt. Hachborn had been made commanding officer of the 214th Royal Siege Battery. On March 29th, 1917, a new report indicated that Capt. E. W. Hachborn had been promoted to acting major while commanding a Siege Battery. Later that year, a report published on November 23, 1917, included the information that Major Hachborn was back in Toronto on convalescent leave, wounded at the Battle of Messines and also at Passchendaele Ridge. Lastly, according to a report and photo published in the Toronto Star on March 11th, 1919, Major E. W. Hachborn, Special Reserve Royal Artillery, had returned home from the war to his family home at 131 South Drive, Rosedale, Toronto. He had spent three years overseas. Hachborn married Goldie Pirie's sister, Elsie Gowan Pirie, on June 12th, 1919 at Old St. Andrew's Church, Jarvis Street. They resided at 48 Glenholme Avenue in Toronto, and had one daughter, Hester. Major Hachborn died in 1969. I've placed further details on the CGWP. - Research compiled by Marika I. Pirie
Married to Cousins
Lt. Arthur Reginald Burk. Enlisted November 1916 with the 255th Battalion in Toronto. Previously served for 7 1/2 years as a Lieutenant with the Queen's Own Rifles, Toronto. A railway agent, he was named on the Canadian National Railways Roll of Honour (1920 ca). According to Lieut. Burk's Veterans' Death Card, he died February 25th, 1925 at Hamilton, Bermuda, of pneumonia. He was buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, in Toronto. Burial record
Lt. Charles Edward Kilmer, DSO (award mentioned in the August 1916 19th Battalion CEF War Diary). Lieutenant for "B" Company, 19th Battalion C.E.F. (see Nov. 1914 War Diary). Wounded during a trench raid on July 29, 1916. Amputee - lost right leg. Enlisted November 1914 in Toronto. Previous experience with the Queen's Own Rifles. Profiled on the St. Andrew's College Roll of Honour where he was described as "...one of the earliest officers to lead daylight trench raids against the Germans in 1916". In 1921 his mother placed a memorial tablet at St. Andrew's and it was unveiled by Governor General Lord Bing of Vimy. Kilmer was listed in the "Who's Who in the British War Mission in the United States of America, 1918". Online version. Entry on page 61:
KILMER, Capt. Charles Edward, D.S.O.; born Toronto, Ont., Canada, Dec. 4, 1892; educated St. Andrews College, Toronto; B.Sc. University of Toronto, 1913. Lieut. 2d Regt. Queens Own Rifles, Canada, Nov., 1912; seconded 19th Battalion Canadian Inf., C.E.F., Nov., 1914; overseas service, May, 1915, to Dec., 1916; Captain 19th Battalion Canadian Inf., Dec., 1915; D.S.O. and despatches, Aug. 1916. Joined Mission June 26, 1917. --171, Crescent Road, Toronto, Ontario, and Vanderbilt Hotel, New York.Kilmer's DSO Citation:
"For conspicuous gallantry during operations. He led with great skill, a successful daylight attack on the enemy's trenches. Though severely wounded, he was the last man to withdraw after all his party, including the wounded, had got clear." London Gazette Sept. 22, 1915 / Canada Gazette Oct. 21, 1916, P 1314Lt. William Edward Seymour Trent. Royal Canadian Dragoons. Officer's Declaration Paper signed in October 1918 in Toronto.