March 7, 2020. While researching the names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion Pieter uncovered the sad story of a man who perhaps should never have joined the military during WW2… Ernest Ramey GALLANT.
A labourer living in Borden (now Borden-Carleton) before the war, on January 23, 1940 he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve in Halifax as a stoker. On his attestation paper he said he was born October 25, 1915 in Summerside, the son of John Peter Gallant and Mary Blanche Geneau. Gallant was assigned to H.M.C.S. Skeena on March 26, 1940. On April 3, 1940, while the ship was in port in St. John, New Brunswick, he left the ship without leave and was arrested for being drunk and improperly dressed. He was imprisoned for 60 days in Rockhead Prison in Halifax.
On June 3, 1940 he was removed from the Skeena and then discharged on August 1, 1940 ‘due to misconduct’ following a trial in Halifax on July 15, 1940. According to the trial record, he was charged with damaging a screen door and resisting arrest by two officers.
That should have been the end of Gallant’s military service story, but on June 27, 1941 he enlisted with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders in Kentville, Nova Scotia, using a birthdate of October 26, 1914 and a birthplace of Borden. On his attestation paper he denied having previous military service.
He was sent by his unit to England but spent most of the time in hospital or detention. On January 14, 1942 he was sentenced to 6 months detention for striking an officer. On February 5, 1942, while in detention, he incurred a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his thigh and spent the next months in hospital. On August 20, 1942 he was sent to the No.1 Neurological Hospital for assessment. On September 28, 1942, a Medical Board placed him in Category ‘E’ for “chronic alcoholism and mental deficiency”, according to his Hospital Discharge Notification. The case history report stated that “the patient was admitted with a long history of drunkenness and since enlistment he has failed to adjust to army routine……. His army behaviour has rendered him a liability…” On October 1, 1942 it was determined that he was mentally unfit to stand trial. It was recommended that he be sent back to Canada as “it is clear that no action taken will … influence the soldier’s future behaviour as he requires institutional care, and will probably continue to require it.”
He was returned to Canada and placed in Ste Anne de Bellevue Hospital in Montreal on April 16, 1943. On April 29, 1943 he was formally discharged due to being “unable to meet the required military physical standards”. However, Gallant “refused to sign Discharge Proceedings”. On May 20, 1943 he died of toxemia and septic throat while at the hospital and was buried in Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery, located in the borough of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, in Montreal.
Although Gallant died after being discharged, the military allowed that his death was “due to service”, meaning that he qualified for service medals and a military burial, giving a compassionate ending for this man’s family. Unfortunately, no photo or family of Gallant have been found as yet. If you have information or photos to share please contact Pieter at email@example.com or comment on the blog.
© Daria Valkenburg
2 thoughts on “The WW2 Volunteer Who Perhaps Should Never Have Enlisted”
Pingback: On The War Memorial Trail….. The Cenotaph Wall Of Remembrance | On The War Memorial Trail Research Project…….. with Pieter and Daria Valkenburg