September 2, 1915: Private John Angus McNeil

McNeil John Angus headstone

Date of Birth: October 15, 1877 at Malignant Cove, Antigonish County

Parents: Donald “Brown” and Sarah (Grant) McNeil

Siblings: John Joseph, Alexander, William Bernard (“Willie B.”), Catherine and Isabella

Marital Status: Single

Occupation: Sawmill hand

Enlistment: October 20, 1914 at Trentham, Upper Hut, Wellington Region, North Island, New Zealand

Unit: Otago Regiment, 1st New Zealand Expeditionary Force

Service #: 8/1304

Rank:  Private

Previous Military Service: None

Next of Kin: Sarah McNeil, Malignant Cove, Antigonish County, NS (mother)

Date of Death: September 2, 1915 at 5th Indian General Hospital, Alexandria, Egypt

Final Resting Place: Chatby Cemetery, Alexandria, Egypt

John Angus McNeil was the second of six children—four sons and two daughters—born to Donald “Brown” and Sarah (Grant) McNeil of Malignant Cove, Antigonish County.  Donald was the son of Alexander and Elizabeth McNeil, while Sarah was the daughter of Dougald and Catherine (MacDonald) Grant, Knoydart. Donald passed away around 1886, while Sarah remained at Malignant Cove until her death on October 8, 1939. The McNeil family home, a “heritage property”, still stands on the Campbell McQuarrie Road.

Sometime prior to the outbreak of war in Europe, John Angus and his two younger brothers, Alexander and Willie B., made their way to British Columbia, where they worked in the timber industry.  John Angus subsequently travelled to New Zealand, finding employment as a sawmill hand in Otago Province, South Island.

Three of the McNeil boys served overseas during the First World War. Willie B. attested with the 1st Canadian Division’s 16th Battalion “Canadian Scottish” at Camp Valcartier, Quebec on September 23, 1914. John Angus enlisted with Otago Infantry Reinforcements at Trentham, Upper Hut, NZ on October 20, 1914, while Alexander joined the 102nd (Comox-Atlin) Battalion at Vancouver, BC on March 13, 1916.

John Angus departed New Zealand on December 14, 1914, arriving at Alexandria, Egypt on January 29, 1915. He accompanied the Otago Regiment to Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula as part of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), landing near Suvla Bay on April 25, 1915. After four months’ service in the line, John Angus was seriously wounded in late August. Evacuated for medical treatment, he was admitted to 5th Indian General Hospital, Alexandria, Egypt on August 30, suffering from a gunshot wound and fractured bone in his right thigh. John Angus died of wounds on September 2, 1915 and was laid to rest in Chatby Cemetery, Alexandria, Egypt.


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