Compiled by Peter Hatton


When war broke out in Europe in 1914, Robert Borden was the Prime Minister of Canada. The Government provided assurance to Britain that we would provide support and co­operate as fully as possible in this endeavour. In 1914, the Canadian people were completely behind the government of the day. Men flocked to recruiting stations. Under the leadership of the Minister of the Militia, Sam Hughes, citizens were assembled, trained and dispatched overseas. It was mostly an army of volunteers in the early years, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, clerks, farmers and labourers. By February of 1915, Canadians were in France, ready to do battle with the enemy.

The number of Canadian soldiers in Europe was one of the smallest forces of the Allied Forces. Despite the size of the contingent, Canadians quickly became marked and recognized as one of the best fighting formations of the war. Frequently Canadian soldiers were assigned objectives that were the most difficult and bloody. Owing to their courage and determination in these objectives, Canadian soldiers suffered particularly high casualty rates. A total of 60,661 Canadians died in battle.

The final two years of the conflict in Europe, 1917-1918, saw some of the bloodiest battles for Canadians. Historians have described the courage of four Canadian divisions at Vimy Ridge, the prelude to the critical Flanders campaign of 191 7. Canadians fought in encounters at Pyres, Passchendale and in 1918 at Amiens.

Citizens from our local Townships; Laird, Macdonald, Tarbutt and St. Joseph were part of the history and courage of this great war. Details are sketchy and many of those who returned to Canada after the war were more intent on returning to their former way of life than re-living the past tragedies of their war experiences. The 119th Battalion that trained in Echo Bay during the First World War is one example of the commitment that Canadians exhibited in the fight for freedom. The Honour Roll from this area of those who served and risked their lives reads long and proud; for some the ultimate price was paid by those who defended our right to live as free citizens today.

The 119th Battalion was formed in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario for the purpose of recruiting and training soldiers. Following basic training, some of which took place in the Echo Bay area, the men of 119th were shipped to Toronto then to the east coast and finally to Europe. The 119th was used to fill the gaps in the other divisions in France. For this reason, there is no identifiable Canadian battalion that fought in France. Nevertheless, Canadians did earn a reputation for their bravery and fierce fighting.

Although there was a heavy concentration of men from Laird Township in the 119th Battalion, many others from the communities enlisted and were willing to dedicate their lives in the cause of freedom. They served in other units of the conflict.

This is the content of the Honour Roll placed in the Knox Presbyterian Church and reads:

“Our men from the Townships of Laird and Macdonald”.

Cpl. Harold Barkley

Cpl. John McLean

Cpl. George Nash

Cpl. Fred Hurley

Pte. Earl Alton

Pte. Wm. Bartlett

Pte. Wilkie Collings

Pte. James Bagler

Pte. Dan Buchanan

Pte. Neil Munro

Pte. John Brodie

Pte. Ralph Evoy

Pte. Walter Bookman

Pte. Clarence Hurley

Pte. James McBain

Pte. John Smith

Pte. George Gibb

Pte. William Vincent

Pte. Walter Scott

Pte. Adam Murray

Pte. Clarence Gibson

Pte. Roy Murray

Pte. Douglas Currie

Pte. Harvey Lidstone

Pte. John Keating

Pte. Percy Gamble

Pte. Ernest Elliott

Pte. Albert Johnstone

Pte. Harry Haldenby

Pte. John Jerrolds

Pte. Harry Swinn

Pte. Willis Beattie

Pte. Oliver McWatters

Pte. Alfred McWatters

Pte. Arthur Hurley

Pte. Percy Thomas

Pte. William Browne

Pte. Malcolm Browne

Pte. John Gamble

Pte. Fred Pine

Pte. Edward Hollingsworth

Pte. Aird Hollingsworth

Pte. Percy Howard

Pte. William Corboy

Pte. Tuffiel Larocque

Pte. Cecil Pitt

Pte. Ernest Swire

Pte. Dolphus Rudell

Pte. Garfield Pitt

Pte. Duncan Fraser

Pte. Duncan Smith

Dr. G.H.L. Armstrong

According to the picture on page 87 [referring to the picture below], there were 35 of the above in the 119th Battalion. Five of these brave men did not return; From 1917 – Clarence Gibson and Harvey Lidstone: 1918 – George Gibb, Garfield Swire and William Browne.

Members of the 119th Batallion
Left to Right, Back Row: J.W. Beatty, C. Hurley, W. Browne, G.P. Nash, F. Hurley, W. Collins, NN. Monroe, J. Smith, M. Browne, P. Howard, J. Brodie, A.H. McWatters, F. Pine; Middle Row: P. Thomas, A. Murray, J.F. Jerrall, J.S. McBain, J. Bagler, Lieut. E. Depencier, D. Buckannan, A. Alton, E. Elliott, R.L. Evoy, W. Bartlett, W. Bookman, Front Row: W. Scott, L. Gibson, A.W. Hurley, G. Gibb, Corp. J. McLean, Corp. H. Barkley, P.H. McWatters, P.R. Murray, A. Johnson, W. Vincent, H. Swen.

After 20 years of peace, another dictator threatened and World War II was declared. By this time there were three different fields of conflict and again the boys from Laird volunteered to do their duty and fight for their country.

Map showing main combat area for Canadian troops, World War II

The following is a list of those who enlisted from the Township of Laird:

“For King and Country Members of Laird Township who have volunteered for active service with the Canadian Fighting Forces.”

Pte. R.W. Bagler

Sig. A.J. Bradshaw

Pte. E.V. Catling

Pte. O.E. Catling

Tpr. W.C. Cook

L.A.W. M.C. Cove – R.C.A.F.

Flt. Lt. H.B. Curry – R.C.A.F.

Gnr. G.W. Eaton

Lance Bombardier J.H. Eaton

L.A.C. D.E. Evoy – R.C.AF.

Tel. (S.O.) E.F. Evoy – R.C.N.

F.O. L.W. Evoy – R.C.A.F.

Ab. Seaman J.F. Fremlin – R.C.N.

Pte. J. Garrett

Tpr. R.G. Gibb

Cpl. L.A. Gummerson

Dvr. A.A.  Gunn

Dvr. W.G. Haldenby

Pte. E.F.H. Headley

A.C.2 C.A. Headrick – R.C.N.

Gnr. D.J. Headrick

Ab. Seaman W.K. Headrick – R.C.N.

Sgn. Lt. J.A. Henry – R.C.N.V.R

Lance Cpl. Provost D.K. Johnston

Pte. F.A. Johnston

L.A.C. R.W. Johnston – R.C.A.F.

Pte. L. Junor

Pte. W. Junor

L. Corp. D.M. Kehoe

Spr. J.A. Kehoe

Rifleman J.M. Kehoe

Pte. E.M. Khull

Sgt. R.W. Khull

L. Corp. Vera I. Khull

L.A.C.  G.J. Keating – R.C.A.F.

Able Seaman J. Lukovitch – R.C.N.

L.A.C. P. Lukovitch – R.C.A.F.

Pte. G.W. McCluskie

Pte. O. McCoy

Cpl. D.H. McKinnon

Pte. J.D. McKinnon

Cpl. D. Montgomery

Pte. W. Montgomery

L.A.C. R.F. Murray

Pte. W. Reid

Pte. A. Rivers

Cpl. D. Rouleau

Gnr. J.W. Shellhorn

C.K. (S) L.L. Shellhorn – R.C.N.

Sig. A.G. Stewart – R.C.N.

Pte. W.A. Stewart

Sgt. W.R Stewart

Pte. F. Starzynski

Pte. A.P. Swire

Pte. W.T. Swire

Sgt. Air Gnr B.T. Taylor – R.C.A.F.

Pte. R. Taylor

E.V.R. A.A. Tuckett

Pte. W.E. Tuckett

Pte. J.F. Wilson

Sigm. L.F. Wilson

Of the 61 enlisted men who served in the Second World War, there was only one who did not return – Sgt. Air Gnr. Beverley T. Taylor.

In a small Presbyterian Church located near the corner of Lake George Rd. and Government Rd. in Laird Township, are historical markers reminding us of the freedom that was won by local residents who paid the ultimate price. These soldiers are to be remembered to this day. The church has been converted into a museum and visitors to the area are invited to inspect these monuments.


Where To Next?
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Further Information On The Military Effort:
Laird History Volume Two – Military
Photos – Military Collection