Antigo­nish Ceno­taph Project

Pri­vate John Grant

The Casket - - Page Two -

Date of Birth: Dec. 1, 1896* at Ma­lig­nant Cove, Antigo­nish County

Par­ents: Colin and Amanda (Mac­don­ald) Grant

Sib­lings: Brother An­gus Dougald; sis­ters Eliz­a­beth ‘Bessie,’ Mary ‘Pep­per,’ and Cather­ine (Mrs. Alex Macisaac)

Mar­i­tal Sta­tus: Sin­gle

Oc­cu­pa­tion: Labourer

En­list­ment: Jan­uary 31, 1918 at Vic­to­ria, B.C.

Units: 2nd De­pot Bat­tal­ion, Bri­tish Columbia Reg­i­ment; 72nd Bat­tal­ion (Seaforth High­landers of Canada)

Ser­vice #: 2138552

Rank: Pri­vate

Pre­vi­ous Mil­i­tary Ser­vice: None

Next of Kin: Amanda Grant, Antigo­nish, N.S. (mother)

Date of Death: Septem­ber 2, 1918 five miles east of Ar­ras, France

Fi­nal Rest­ing Place: Wan­court Bri­tish Ceme­tery, Wan­court, France

John Grant was born at Ma­lig­nant Cove, N.S., on Dec. 1, 1896, the son of Colin and Amanda (Mac­don­ald) Grant. Colin was the son of Dougald and Cather­ine (Mac­don­ald) Grant, a grand­son of John Grant, and a great-grand­son of Don­ald (Pi­o­neer) Grant, who first set­tled in Prince Ed­ward Is­land with his wife Cather­ine Mac­don­ald, son John, and three daugh­ters. Sev­eral years later, Don­ald, Cather­ine, John and daugh­ter Mary re­lo­cated to Knoy­dart, Antigo­nish County, along the shores of the Northum­ber­land Strait and close to the county line. The cou­ple’s other two daugh­ters had mar­ried and re­mained in PEI. Mary later mar­ried Lewis (Loddy) Mac­don­ald, who had ar­rived in Antigo­nish County aboard the Jane in 1790.

John, son of Don­ald (Pi­o­neer), raised a large fam­ily of six boys and four girls at Knoy­dart. One son, An­gus, re­mained on the fam­ily farm. An­other son, John, be­came ‘Rev­erend John,’ a noted pri­est now buried at Broad Cove, Cape Breton. In a sad twist of fate, two sons, Don­ald and Dun­can, drowned off Ari­saig, while an­other son, Colin, trav­elled to Que­bec to study for the priest­hood. Or­dained by Bishop Fraser in 1836, he served as an as­sis­tant in Antigo­nish for a num­ber of years and is re­mem­bered as the pri­est who “van­quished the Beech Hill Bò­can” in 1837.

John’s re­main­ing son, Dougald, moved to Ma­lig­nant Cove when an op­por­tu­nity arose to buy prop­erty there. He mar­ried Cather­ine Mac­don­ald and raised an ex­tended fam­ily at the Cove. Dougald’s daugh­ter, Sarah, mar­ried Don­ald (Brown) Macneil of Doc­tor’s Brook, while his son, Colin, mar­ried Amanda Mac­don­ald, also a na­tive of the Cove.

John Grant’s mother, Amanda Mac­don­ald, was the daugh­ter of An­gus Mac­don­ald and Betsy Ross. An­gus, known lo­cally as ‘An­gus Dougall Mor,’ was the son of Dougall (Mor) Mac­don­ald. Dougall and his three broth­ers — Don­ald (Straight), John and Hugh (Ban) — were pi­o­neer set­tlers at Ma­lig­nant Cove.

The 1901 cen­sus lists Colin as head of a Ma­lig­nant Cove house­hold that in­cluded his wife Amanda and five chil­dren — two sons An­gus Dougald and John, and three daugh­ters Bessie, Mary and Cather­ine. Sev­eral years later, Colin’s elder son, Dougald, moved to Kam­loops, B.C. Un­for­tu­nately, he passed away there on April 9, 1913, at only 22 years of age. It is un­clear if his brother, John, had moved out west by that time, but mil­i­tary records do in­di­cate that he was work­ing for the West Koote­nay Power & Light Com­pany, South Slo­can, B.C., at the time of his en­list­ment.

On Oct. 17, 1917, John re­ported for a med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion at Grand Forks, B.C., as re­quired by the Mil­i­tary Ser­vice Act (1917). At

the time, he was a month and a half shy of his twenty-first birth­day. Early the fol­low­ing year, John trav­elled to Vic­to­ria, B.C., and for­mally at­tested for over­seas ser­vice with the 2nd De­pot Bat­tal­ion, B.C. Reg­i­ment, on Jan. 21, 1918.

John spent the next sev­eral months train­ing in prepa­ra­tion for over­seas ser­vice. Af­ter mak­ing his way across Canada by train, he de­parted for Eng­land aboard HMT Sco­tian on April 16, 1918.

The ves­sel ar­rived over­seas 12 days later, car­ry­ing a large draft of re­in­force­ments ready for ser­vice in France. On Aug. 14, 1918 — only four months af­ter leav­ing Canada — John and a group of his Bri­tish Columbia com­rades were trans­ferred to the 72nd Bat­tal­ion (Seaforth High­landers of


The 72nd was af­fil­i­ated with the Seaforth High­landers of Canada, a Bri­tish Columbia High­land mili­tia reg­i­ment. Au­tho­rized on July 10, 1915, the unit had landed in France in mid-au­gust 1916 as part of the 4th Di­vi­sion’s 12th Brigade. The 85th Bat­tal­ion (Nova Sco­tia High­landers) be­came one of its Brigade mates sev­eral weeks af­ter the Cana­dian Corps’ April 9, 1917 at­tack on Vimy Ridge.

Im­me­di­ately prior to John’s ar­rival, the 72nd saw ac­tion dur­ing the Bat­tle of Amiens (Aug. 8 18), an event that marked the be­gin­ning of a ma­jor Al­lied counter-of­fen­sive. John was part of a group of 20 “other ranks” who ar­rived in the 72nd’s camp near Vrély, France, on Aug. 19. One week later, 3rd Cana­dian Di­vi­sion units launched a sec­ond at­tack on the Ger­man line east of Ar­ras, France.

Fight­ing con­tin­ued for the re­main­der of the month, as fresh Cana­dian units at­tempted to break through the Hin­den­burg Line, a ma­jor Ger­man de­fen­sive sys­tem. On the night of Aug. 31, the 72nd re­turned to the trenches and pre­pared for a 12th Brigade at­tack, sched­uled for Sept. 2. The ob­jec­tive was to break through the Dro­court-quéant sec­tion of the Hin­den­burg line, east of the vil­lage of Vis-en-ar­tois.

At 5 a.m. Sept. 2, three 12th Di­vi­sion units — the 38th, 72nd and 85th Bat­tal­ions — “went over on a 500-yard front.” In lit­tle more than two hours, “all ob­jec­tives were taken and the Bat­tal­ions were es­tab­lish­ing them­selves” in the cap­tured Dro­court-quéant line, south of Dury. Pri­vate John Grant was killed some­time dur­ing the at­tack. His “cir­cum­stances of ca­su­alty” card de­scribed the in­ci­dent: “South of Dury, he was wounded by shell fire and de­spite re­ceiv­ing treat­ment he suc­cumbed shortly af­ter.”

John’s mother soon re­ceived of­fi­cial no­ti­fi­ca­tion that her son had been killed in ac­tion, along with a let­ter from Ma­jor Kirk­patrick of the 72nd Bat­tal­ion, which read in part: “While your son had not been with this bat­tal­ion a very long pe­riod, he was with us long enough to prove him­self a very ca­pa­ble and pop­u­lar soldier. His cheer­ful­ness and will­ing­ness un­der all cir­cum­stances were an in­spi­ra­tion to all with whom he came in con­tact, and his loss is deeply mourned by all ranks.”

Pri­vate John Grant was laid to rest in Wan­court Bri­tish Ceme­tery, along­side a num­ber of his com­rades. Of the 222 Cana­di­ans soldiers buried there, 40 were mem­bers of the 72nd Bat­tal­ion, all killed on the same day — Sept. 2, 1918 — dur­ing the same bat­tle. On July 4, 1921, John’s griev­ing mother, Amanda, passed away at Ari­saig at 61 years of age. Her hus­band, Colin, was 86 years old when he died at Ma­lig­nant Cove on June 17, 1933.

Amanda’s nephew, Ron­ald Wil­liam, son of Wil­liam J. Mac­don­ald, also served with the CEF and died of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis at York­shire, Eng­land, in Au­gust 1919. Amanda’s sis­ter-in-law, Sarah, who was mar­ried to Don­ald (Brown) Macneil, lost a son, John An­gus. Wounded in ac­tion while serv­ing at Gal­lio­pli, Turkey, with the New Zealand Ex­pe­di­tionary Force, John An­gus died of those wounds at Alexan­dria, Egypt, on Sept. 2, 1915 and is buried there. Al­to­gether, Amanda (Mac­don­ald) Grant lost one son and two neph­ews dur­ing the “Great War.”

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