Antigo­nish Ceno­taph Project

The Casket - - Page Two -

Date of Birth:

Hal­i­fax, N.S.

Henry and Jeanette





Mar­i­tal Status: Oc­cu­pa­tion: En­list­ment:


Farm labourer

Nov. 16, 1914 at Fred­er­ic­ton, N.B.

23th Bat­tery, Cana­dian Field Artillery (CFA); 5th Bri­gade, CFA

Ser­vice #: 85704

Rank: Driver

Pre­vi­ous Mil­i­tary Ser­vice: 18th Field Bat­tery, Antigo­nish (two years)


May 4, 1896 at

Broth­ers Wal­ter &

Next of Kin:

Wal­ter De­vaney, Pom­quet River, Antigo­nish County, N.S. (brother)

Oct. 28, 1916 near Thiep­val, France

Sept. 3, 1918 near Cag­ni­court, France


Date of Death:

Fi­nal Rest­ing Place:

Quéant Road Cemetery, Buissy, France

Robert De­vaney was born at Hal­i­fax, N.S. on April 14, 1897 to Henry and Jeanette De­vaney. Robert had two broth­ers, Wal­ter and Harry. Through un­known cir­cum­stances, all three boys came to live and work on farms in the Antigo­nish area. Robert ar­rived some­time after 1901, and was listed in the 1911 cen­sus as the adopted son of James and An­nie Mcdon­ald, Cloverville. At the time of Robert’s en­list­ment, Wal­ter was work­ing on a Mcdon­ald farm along Pom­quet River Road, while his brother, Harry, was liv­ing with an­other Mcdon­ald fam­ily at Monk’s Head.

As a young lad of 16 years, Robert joined the 18th Bat­tery, a re­serve artillery unit in Antigo­nish, and trained with the Bat­tery for two years prior to the out­break of the First World War. When Bri­tain de­clared war on Ger­many, Robert was quick to vol­un­teer for ac­tive ser­vice. While he stated his age at en­list­ment as 18 years six months, this was most likely an ex­ag­ger­a­tion, as he was closer to 17 years old at the time.

A well-built boy stand­ing five feet nine inches and weigh­ing 150 pounds, Robert put his pre­vi­ous artillery ex­pe­ri­ence to good use, en­list­ing with the 23rd Bat­tery, Cana­dian Field Artillery (CFA) at Fred­er­ic­ton, N.B., on Nov. 16, 1914. The 23rd Bat­tery’s ranks con­sisted of 152 men from the Maritime Prov­inces, a num­ber of whom were from Antigo­nish and prob­a­bly served with Robert in the 18th Bat­tery.

Robert departed for Eng­land with the 23rd Bat­tery on Feb. 22, 1915 and crossed the English Chan­nel to France on May 28. His unit was as­signed to the 2nd Cana­dian Divi­sion’s 5th Bri­gade, Cana­dian Field Artillery (CFA) and served in the Ypres Salient for al­most one year be­fore re­lo­cat­ing to the Somme region of France in Septem­ber 1916. As a ‘driver,’ Robert worked with horse teams, mov­ing field bat­ter­ies’ am­mu­ni­tion sup­plies to the front.

The fol­low­ing month, a steady, cold rain turned the ground to thick mud. The harsh weather and re­lent­less en­emy “counter-bat­tery” fire made an ar­tillery­man’s life unimag­in­ably dif­fi­cult. On Oct. 28, 1916, a piece of artillery shrap­nel struck Robert in the chest and he was evac­u­ated to No. 13 Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal, Boulogne, France.

Robert was sub­se­quently trans­ferred to Eng­land for fur­ther treat­ment and spent a to­tal of 83 days in sev­eral hos­pi­tals be­fore he was deemed fit for duty. He re­turned to France on April 21, 1917 and served in the line with­out in­ci­dent for 17 months. On June 6, 1918, Robert re­ceived a Good Con­duct Chevron, in ac­knowl­edg­ment of al­most four years of mil­i­tary ser­vice.

On Sept. 2, 1918, Al­lied forces launched a se­ries of at­tacks on the Dru­court-quéant line, a sec­tion of the Ger­man “Hin­den­burg

Line” de­fen­sive sys­tem. The as­sault was part of a mas­sive Al­lied counter-of­fen­sive that even­tu­ally ended the war. The bat­tle took place a few kilo­me­ters from Cam­brai, in north­ern France. His­to­ri­ans have de­scribed the “D.Q.” line as a kilo­me­ter­wide bar­rier of dugouts, for­ti­fi­ca­tions, trenches, and rows of barbed wire.

The op­er­a­tion’s ob­jec­tive was to seize con­trol of Canal du Nord, a strate­gic wa­ter­way, and push Ger­man forces back to­ward the Bel­gian bor­der. The Cana­di­ans bravely took on the task of cap­tur­ing the strate­gic ob­jec­tive. Dur­ing the sub­se­quent fight­ing, en­emy air­planes dropped bombs on

Al­lied artillery po­si­tions. Driver Robert De­vaney was killed when one such shell struck his unit’s po­si­tion on Sept. 3, 1918. Robert had served at the front for more than two years, en­dur­ing harsh con­di­tions and re­cov­er­ing from a se­vere in­jury. His death at the age of 21 years, only 69 days be­fore the Ar­mistice that ended the fight­ing, makes his pass­ing all the more tragic.

Robert posthu­mously re­ceived the 1914-1915 Star, awarded to all sol­diers who served in any the­atre of war against the Cen­tral Pow­ers be­tween Aug. 5, 1914 and Dec. 31, 1915. He also re­ceived the Vic­tory Medal (1914-1918), awarded to those who served in a the­atre of war be­tween Aug. 5, 1914 and

Nov. 11, 1918, and the Bri­tish War Medal, which was awarded to all ranks of Cana­dian mil­i­tary forces who crossed the At­lantic to

Europe be­tween Aug. 5, 1914 and Nov. 11, 1918, or who had served in a the­atre of war.

Driver Robert De­vaney was laid to rest in Quéant Road Cemetery, Buissy, France. His brother, Wal­ter, Pom­quet River, re­ceived no­tice of his brother’s death shortly af­ter­ward. In an­other sad twist of fate, Wal­ter passed away on Dec. 21, 1918, at age 19, three and a half months after his brother was killed in ac­tion. Robert and Wal­ter’s youngest sib­ling, Harry, later moved to Goshen, where he passed away in 1980.

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