On The War Memorial Trail….. The WW1 Soldier Who Served In The 1st Canadian Engineers Battalion

February 14, 2022.  Every fall, veterans from the Borden-Carleton Legion volunteer to place flags at the graves of veterans buried in cemeteries in the area covered by this Legion Branch on Prince Edward Island.  (See https://onthewarmemorialtrail.com/2021/11/04/borden-carleton-legion-honours-veterans-by-placing-flags-at-their-graves/)

One of the graves for which a flag is placed annually at the Tryon People’s Cemetery is for WW1 veteran George Stanley HENNESSEY.

CIMG4008 George Hennessey

George Stanley Hennessey.  (Photo courtesy of South Shore United Church in Tryon.)

George was born July 20, 1887 in Cape Traverse, the son of Lawrence and Margaret (nee Muttart) Hennessey.  On November 4, 1910 he moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he married Eliza May Thomas, a fellow Islander, on April 15, 1912.  At the time of his marriage he was employed as a machinist and Eliza as a housekeeper.

When WW1 broke out, George and Eliza were back in Prince Edward Island and living in North Tryon.  George enlisted with the 105th Battalion in Charlottetown on November 17, 1915.  His attestation paper recorded that he had been in the Militia, a member of the 82nd Regiment.

On July 15, 1916 he sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the SS Empress of Britain, arriving in England on July 25, 1916.  On January 26, 1917, he was transferred to the 104th Battalion.

On February 26, 1918 he was transferred to the 124th Pioneer Battalion, which became known as the 124 Pioneer Battalion Canadian Engineers in March 1918. He was sent to continental Europe and on March 3, 1918 was despatched to a Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp (CCRC).

….George joins the 1st Canadian Engineers Battalion…

On April 19, 1918 he was transferred to the Canadian Engineers Reinforcement Pool (CERP).  On May 31, 1918 he was transferred to the 1st Canadian Engineers Battalion.  This corps built bridges, railway depots, camps, bases, and other military installations used during the war.

George joined them while the Battalion was undergoing training in Gauchin-Légal, France, a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Hauts-de-France region of France.

On July 12, 1918, the Battalion moved to Arras, France.  The war diary for that day reported that “…No enemy shelling in Arras; our guns active.  Enemy low flying planes came over Arras twice and were heavily shelled by ‘Archies’…” ‘Archies’ refers to anti-aircraft guns.   (Source: Library and Archives Canada. War diary 1st Battalion, Canadian Engineers, 1918/05/01-1919/04/25, Reference: RG9-III-D-3. Volume/box number: 4993)

…What did the Canadian Engineers do?….

Screenshot 2022-02-13 at 18-26-27 ViaMichelin Route planner, Maps, Traffic info, Hotels

A modern day map, showing the location of Gauchin-Légal, France, identified as A, and Seilles, Belgium, identified as B.  (Map source: https://www.viamichelin.com)

Under attack or not, work for the Battalion included …pontoon bridging and trestle framings, sandbagging, patrolling water supply systems…

The war diary for August 1, 1918 recorded the Battalion in Dainville, France.  “…Many enemy aeroplanes up and a great deal of bombing during night…”  The Battalion moved on to Gouy-en-Ternois, France, some marching by foot, others travelling by train.

On August 7, 1918, they received orders to “…fill shell holes…in the area around Gentelles Wood, France.  Work stopped a few days later due to heavy bombing, but was soon resumed.  The Battalion moved towards working on roads “…forward of Cayeux…” which is still in France.

By mid-August 1918 they were tasked with “…salvaging tools from old ‘No Man’s Land’ and old front lines….” and “…burying enemy dead…

At the beginning of September 1918 the Battalion moved on to Villers-les-Cagnicourt, France, repairing roads and railway tracks.  The end of September found them in Inchy-en-Artois, repairing the access to the Canal du Nord bridge.

In October 1918 they moved to Ecourt St. Quentin, France tasked with constructing bridges over La Sensee River.  The end of the month found them in Écaillon, France, doing roadwork and constructing a bathhouse.

In November 1918 they moved to La Sentinelle, France and worked on “…roads, bridges, and investigation of traps…”  The end of the month found them in Seilles, Belgium.

On December 31, 1918, George was admitted to the 7th Canadian General Hospital in Etaples, France, with an ear infection that caused pain and deafness.  The ear infection was preceded by influenza, and he ended up being invalided back to England on January 25, 1919.  Luckily the condition was cleared up and his hearing restored.

George was discharged from hospital on February 19, 1919, but remained in England, where he was transferred to the Canadian Engineer Reinforcement Depot (CERD) in Seaford, a Canadian military training base in Sussex, England. On February 25, 1919 he was transferred to the Canadian Engineer Railway Battalion (CERB).

On April 3, 1919 he left Liverpool, England aboard the SS Lapland, bound for Canada.  On April 18, 1919 he was officially discharged in Charlottetown.

On July 3, 1919, he was awarded the “…Military Medal for bravery in the field” by King George V.  (Source: Canada Gazette, 1867-1946 (Dominion of Canada), vol. 53, Supplement, August 30, 1919, Volume: 53, Issue type: Supplement)

…Back to civilian life….

CIMG5355 Oct 4 2021 Pieter with David & Pam Ing at Tim Hortons in Charlottetown

Pam Ing, centre, with husband David on left, and Pieter on the right. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

His granddaughter, Pam Ing, whose father Harry Raymond ‘Ray’ was a WW2 veteran, told us that her grandfather “…moved to Charlottetown after being discharged and worked for the railway.  He died three months before I was born, so I never knew him….

George worked as a brakeman on CNR (Canadian National Railway) and later was a conductor for a number of years before retirement.  He and Eliza had 4 sons, one of whom, William Thomas, died of illness shortly after enlistment in WW2.

George died at his home in Charlottetown on October 17, 1946 following a long illness, and is buried in the Tryon People’s Cemetery in Tryon, Prince Edward Island.

CIMG5341 Sep 27 2021 Pieter & George by George Hennessey grave Tryon Peoples Cemetery

Pieter with George Palmer by the grave of WW1 veteran George Hennessey at the Tryon People’s Cemetery in Tryon. (Photo credit: Daria Valkenburg)

Thank you to Pam and David Ing for sharing recollections with us.  If you have photos or information to share, please let Pieter know. Email him at memorialtrail@gmail.com, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.

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Screenshot_2021-02-27 On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg

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© Daria Valkenburg

3 thoughts on “On The War Memorial Trail….. The WW1 Soldier Who Served In The 1st Canadian Engineers Battalion

  1. Pingback: On The War Memorial Trail….. The WW1 Soldier From Abrams Village Buried In Manitoba Cemetery in France | On The War Memorial Trail Research Project…….. with Pieter and Daria Valkenburg

  2. Pingback: On The War Memorial Trail….. The WW1 Soldier Who Attended Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee | On The War Memorial Trail Research Project…….. with Pieter and Daria Valkenburg

  3. Pingback: On The War Memorial Trail….. The WW1 Soldier From Pisquid Who Served In The 26th Battalion | On The War Memorial Trail Research Project…….. with Pieter and Daria Valkenburg

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