March 18, 1917: Private Dougald MacGillivray

MacGillivray Dougald oval crop

Date of Birth:  November 20, 1897 at Big Marsh, Antigonish County

Parents:  Alexander and Jessie (Cameron) MacGillivray

Father’s Occupation:  Farmer

Marital Status:  Single

Occupation:  Farmer

Enlistment:   March 30, 1916 at Antigonish, NS

Units:  193rd Battalion; 42nd Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada)

Service #:  902251

Rank:  Private

Previous Military Service:  None

Next of Kin:  Mrs. Jessie MacGillivray, Big Marsh, Antigonish County, NS (mother)

Date of Death:  March 18, 1917 at Le Tréport, France

Final Resting Place:  Mont Huon Cemetery, Le Tréport, France

Private Dougald MacGillivray was a son of Alexander and Jessie (Cameron) MacGillivray of Big Marsh.  Alexander was a farmer and the son of John and Marcella (MacDougall) MacGillivray, Big Marsh, while Jessie was the daughter of Hugh and Effie (Kennedy) Cameron, Lakevale.

In November 1900, when Dougald was only three years old, his father was the victim of an unfortunate accident.   Returning home from a visit with his sister in Caledonia, Alexander paused in town to give his horses a rest.  It was Nomination Day in Antigonish and so Alexander stopped by the skating rink to watch some of the political speeches being delivered there.  Some time later, he left the rink and was walking across the street, in the direction of Court Street, to return to his horses when an oncoming team of horses struck him.  Forty-seven-year-old Alexander suffered a broken spine and died the following day, leaving behind a young widow and three young sons.

The Casket assured the public that, “notwithstanding the temptations and opportunities to drink intoxicating liquor on such an exciting occasion as Nomination Day,” Alexander had tasted not a drop, a fact that proved to be “a great source of satisfaction” to his family and friends.  Needless to say, Alexander’s sudden death forever altered the lives of this small family.  The following year, the 1901 Census recorded the family living with Alexander’s parents.  Jessie went on to raise her boys on her in-laws’ Big Marsh farm, where she eventually became head of the household.  Jessie passed away at West Street, Antigonish in January 1932.  She was seventy-five years of age at the time.

On October 28, 1915, Dougald’s oldest brother, Hugh Daniel, left the Big Marsh farm to enlist with the Royal Canadian Regiment at Halifax.  He was twenty-one years old, 5’ 8 ? ‘’ inches tall and just 141 pounds, but fit and ready to fight for his country.  His regiment arrived in France in November 1915.

Dougald, the youngest of the three MacGillivray boys, was eighteen when he followed his brother to war, enlisting with the 193rd Battalion at Antigonish on March 30, 1916.  The Nova Scotia Highland Brigade, to which the 193rd belonged, had been eagerly recruiting throughout Nova Scotia during the early months of 1916.  The Brigade’s four battalions departed Halifax for England on October 12, 1916 and landed at Liverpool six days later.

In December of that year, the 193rd Battalion and other Highland Brigade units sent a reinforcement draft of approximately 800 men to units in France.  One group went to the 42nd Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada), while another joined its “sister” battalion, the 13th.  Dougald MacGillivray was amongst the reinforcements sent to the 42nd Battalion. He crossed the English Channel to the Canadian Base Depot, Le Havre, France on December 6. 1916. One month later, Dougald joined the 42nd Battalion in the forward area.

Dougald’s time in the line was brief. During the month of January 1917, the 42nd completed several tours in the trenches near Neuville-Saint-Vaast, France. The unit’s war diary described soldiers wiring, repairing and “revetting” trenches, as well as rebuilding and enlarging deep dugouts. While no battles occurred during this time, the 42nd’s soldiers participated in several raids on German trenches.

At 9:30 a.m. February 13, 1917, a party of two Officers and 48 “other ranks” (OR) carried out a raid on German trenches opposite the 42nd’s location. Dougald, who was among the OR taking part in the raid, suffered gunshot wounds to his right foot and knee and was evacuated to No. 3 Casualty Clearing Station for medical treatment.

Two weeks later, Dougald was transported to No. 3 General Hospital, Le Tréport. Medical officials described his condition as “seriously ill” at the time of his admission. A March 1 note in his service record described his condition as “now dangerously ill (may be visited).” On March 18, 1917, nineteen-year-old Private Dougald MacGillivray died of his wounds and was laid to rest in Mont Huon Cemetery, Le Tréport, France.

Dougald’s brother, Hugh, returned home from the war with his “health shattered by the privations undergone on the firing line,” as stated in his obituary.  Hugh died at Timmons, Ontario on April 18, 1925 at age 29.  His brother, John Joseph, brought his remains home to Antigonish, where Hugh was laid to rest near his parents in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Maryvale.

The lone surviving MacGillivray brother, John Joseph, spent twenty-two years in Boston and twenty-five years with the Hollinger Mining Company in Timmons, Ontario.  He passed away in March 1978 at the age of 81.  John Joseph was survived by a wife and eight children.

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