The Globe and Mail (Prairie Edition) - - NEWS -

In Jan­uary, 1916, James Tyo, a 19-year-old labourer, mar­ried Bertha Mont­petit in Corn­wall, Ont. Three months later, he walked into his home­town’s re­cruit­ing of­fice and vol­un­teered to join the Cana­dian army. He was the youngest of five broth­ers who, by war’s end, would all en­list. Their fa­ther, Stephen, was a brick­layer who used to work for the Grand Trunk Rail­way in Que­bec be­fore mov­ing his fam­ily of eight chil­dren to Corn­wall, just across the On­tario bor­der.

The el­dest son, Arthur, had been the first to en­list, in July, 1915. Within months, broth­ers Joseph and Edward also signed up. Wil­liam was the last to join.

In Au­gust, 1917, Arthur, al­most 30, and James, barely 20, fought with sep­a­rate in­fantry units at the Bat­tle of Hill 70, near the town of Lens, where Cana­di­ans suf­fered more than 9,000 ca­su­al­ties dur­ing an 11-day bat­tle. James, in the 21st Bat­tal­ion, died on the first day of the as­sault. While the bod­ies of most of his bat­tal­ion’s dead were brought back to the rear, he and five other Cana­di­ans were buried to­gether in a mass grave near the junc­tion of two trenches seized from the Ger­mans. It would be seven years be­fore their re­mains were ex­humed, and among them, only James could be im­me­di­ately iden­ti­fied.

Two days af­ter James’s death, Arthur, fight­ing with the 24th Bat­tal­ion, Vic­to­ria

Ri­fles, was wounded in both legs. He died that af­ter­noon at a ca­su­alty-clear­ing sta­tion.

The fol­low­ing year, Wil­liam, wait­ing at a Nova Sco­tia base to be sent over­seas, died of the Spanish flu – then wreak­ing havoc world­wide – just as the war was wind­ing down. Three years af­ter that, Joseph, who had suf­fered mul­ti­ple in­juries and was gassed while serv­ing in France, died in a hospi­tal in Mon­treal while await­ing his re­turn to Corn­wall.

Edward, the sole brother to make it all the way home, was none­the­less be­set with chest pains: He, too, had been gassed in bat­tle.

Of the five broth­ers, only Arthur had be­come a fa­ther. His widow, Mary Louise Sauvé, died of the Spanish flu in Oc­to­ber, 1918. The youngest of their two chil­dren, five-year-old Vin­cent, was sent to an or­phan­age; he left school at 9 to find work. Vin­cent en­listed in the army dur­ing the Sec­ond World War but was not sent over­seas be­cause of health prob­lems. He even­tu­ally be­came a civil­ian cook for the Cana­dian Forces. His son Gary re­mem­bers grow­ing up poor and in sub­si­dized hous­ing in Ot­tawa. “My fa­ther strug­gled a lot of years,” says Mr. Tyo, a for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer who is now a re­al­tor.

Both Gary Tyo and his brother Robert have served in the Cana­dian Forces. “We’ve got,” he says, “a bit of a habit serv­ing in the mil­i­tary in my fam­ily.”


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