June 17, 1916: Private Nicholas Lewis Delorey

Delorey Nicholas Fredericton Daily Telegraph

Date of Birth: August 8, 1881 at Tracadie, Antigonish County, NS

Parents: John and Marguerite (D’Orly) Delorey

Father’s Occupation: Farmer, Antigonish County

Marital Status: Married

Occupation: Labourer

Enlistment: November 25, 1914 at Saint John, NB

Unit: 26th Battalion (New Brunswick)

Service #: 69200

Rank: Private

Previous Military Service: None

Next of Kin: Mrs. Catherine Estella “Katie” (Coakley) Delorey, Minto, NB (wife)

Date of Death: June 17, 1916 near Zillebeke, Belgium

Final Resting Place: Unknown

Memorial: Commemorated on the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium

Nicholas’s father, John Abraham Delorey, was the son of Jean Baptiste (dit Maledon) Deslauriers, a descendant of Acadian refugees who fled to the Magdalen Islands and later returned to Nova Scotia. John Abraham was married twice, first to Margaret (née MacDonald) Torpey, then following Margaret’s death to John’s mother, Marguerite d’Orly. Nicholas grew up in a busy Tracadie home that contained 20 children.

Around the turn of the last century, Nicholas moved to Winchester, Massachusetts, where he married Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Swift. The couple had two children, Winnie (1901) and Michael (1903), before Lizzie passed away. Nicholas and his children subsequently returned to Canada, settling in Minto, New Brunswick, a booming coal mining town. In 1906, Nicholas married Minto native Catherine Estella “Kate” Coakley. The couple subsequently had four children—John (1907), Mary (1909), Garnet (1911) and Wilfred Nicholas (1913).

Authorized on November 7, 1914, the 26th Battalion recruited its ranks across the Province of New Brunswick. The unit departed for Britain on June 15, 1915 and crossed the English Channel to France on September 16, 1915 as part of the 2nd Canadian
Division’s 5th Brigade. The 25th Battalion—an all-Nova Scotia unit—was among its Brigade mates.

The 26th Battalion deployed its soldiers in Belgium’s Ypres Salient by month’s end, serving on rotation in this location throughout the winter of 1915-16. On June 2, 1916, its personnel were in the line at St. Eloi, south of Ypres, as German forces captured Mount Sorrel and Tor Top (Hill 62), two strategic hills near Zillebeke. British Commander-in-Chief, General Sir Douglas Haig, was determined to recapture the lost ground, as the locations provided German forces with unhindered views of British positions.

On June 12, Canadian forces succeeded in driving German forces from the two locations. The 26th, in relief positions during the attack, returned to the front line at Tor Top two days after its recapture and was subjected to intense artillery shelling for six days. Nicholas was among the tour’s fatalities, killed in action on June 17. His body was never found.

Private Nicholas Delorey is honoured on the walls of the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium, his name displayed on one of many panels that list British Imperial soldiers who died in the Ypres Salient and have no known grave. Nicholas was the first Antigonish County native killed in action on Europe’s Western Front. Of special note, his son Wilfred Nicholas was killed in the Second World War’s Italian Campaign.

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