June 10, 1917: Lance Corporal James Arthur Grant

Grant James Arthur playing pipes

Date of Birth: December 30, 1894 at Halifax, NS

Parents: Duncan J. “Cutter” and Catherine M. (Duggan) Grant

Siblings: Brothers Joseph, Duncan, Gerald, Richard; sisters Miriam, Agnes, Mary Inez, Marjorie and Kathleen

Marital Status: Single

Occupation: Clerk

Enlistment:  March 17th, 1916 at Antigonish, NS

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

Service #: 901996

Rank:  Lance Corporal

Previous Military Service: None

Next of Kin: Catherine Grant, Antigonish, NS (mother)

Date of Death: June 10, 1917 at # 6 Casualty Clearing Station, near Vimy, France

Final Resting Place: Barlin Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas De Calais, France

James Arthur Grant was born at Halifax to Duncan J. and Catherine (Duggan) Grant. Duncan was the grandson of Peter Grant, a native of Keith, Scotland who arrived in Nova Scotia around 1811 and was married four times. Peter established a contracting business in the city, and is remembered as the contractor who oversaw construction of Holy Cross Cemetery’s Lady of Sorrows Chapel on South Park St., Halifax, a structure that stands to this day. Peter’s son, Duncan, also a contractor, married Matilda Gold, a native of Liverpool NS. Both father and son are buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Halifax.

Duncan J. “Cutter” Grant, son of Duncan and Matilda, trained in New York as a tailor, an occupation then known as “cutter.” He married Catherine M. Duggan, a native of Halifax, on April 9, 1888. Duncan J. first worked in Halifax and later journeyed to other parts of Nova Scotia, plying his trade. In 1888, the couple moved to North Grant, where they raised a family on nine children while Duncan J. continued to work at various locations around the province.

Duncan J.’s oldest son, Joseph, purchased and operated a farm at Brierly Brook. He also became a partner in the Grant & McNaughton grocery store on Main St., which likely explains his younger brother James Arthur’s occupation at the time of his enlistment.
During the winter of 1916-17, the drive was on to recruit a Nova Scotia Highland Brigade.

Lieutenant Colonel Allison Hart Borden, initially Commanding Officer of the 85th Battalion, relinquished command of the Brigade’s senior unit after his appointment as Brigadier-General. The Brigade’s other units were the 185th (Cape Breton Highlanders), 193rd (northern Nova Scotia) and 219th (south western Nova Scotia) Battalions.

In March 1917, 193rd recruiters arrived at Antigonish, where James Arthur and his brother, Gerald, enlisted on March 17, 1916. Gerald’s regimental number—901995, immediately preceding James Arthur’s—indicates that they stood in line together on the day of their enlistment. The Brigade mobilized at Camp Aldershot, NS in May and trained there throughout the summer of 1916. On October 12, 1916, personnel headed overseas aboard SS Olympic, sister ship to the famous SS Titanic, departing Halifax amidst great fanfare.

The Brigade was dissolved shortly after arriving in England, two of its battalions—the 193rd and 219th—disbanded to provide soldiers for units already in the field. As a result, on December 5, 1916, James Arthur and Gerald were both transferred to the 42nd Battalion, which was part of the 3rd Canadian Division’s 7th Infantry Brigade.

Authorized on November 7, 1914, the 42nd Battalion was recruited by Montreal’s Royal Highlanders of Canada, a militia unit affiliated with Scotland’s famous Black Watch. The 42nd initially landed in France on October 9, 1915 and immediately entered service in the line with the 7th Brigade.

At the time of James Arthur and Gerald’s arrival, the 42nd was a seasoned outfit, having served in Belgium’s Ypres Salient for almost one year and fought in the final two months of the 1916 Somme offensive. On February 13, 1917, James Arthur was slightly wounded in the right hand, but quickly returned to the line.

As spring approached, the 42nd’s soldiers prepared for their role in a series of British Army offensives collectively known as the Battle of Arras. The attacks commenced in early April and included the Canadian Corps’ successful April 9, 1917 capture of Vimy Ridge, during which Gerald was wounded. Invalided to England shortly afterward, subsequent health issues prevented him from returning to the front lines. James Arthur came through the battle unscathed and remained on duty in the field.

In early June, the 42nd commenced its third tour in the line following Vimy Ridge’s capture, entering the front trenches south of the Souchez River. On June 9, its soldiers conducted a large raid on German forward positions. Nine Officers and 420 other ranks went “over the top,” with the objective of seizing a trench 75 yards west of the Lens – Arras Railway. Four soldiers were killed and 45 wounded in the raid. James Arthur was amongst the wounded soldiers evacuated for treatment. He died of wounds at No. 6 Casualty Clearing Station on June 10, 1917 and was laid to rest in Barlin Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France.

2 thoughts on “June 10, 1917: Lance Corporal James Arthur Grant

  1. What a tribute to Lance Corporal J. Arthur Grant posted on the 100th Anniversary of his death. He happens to be my Great-Uncle on my mother’s side. Thank you for honouring his memory in such a way. It is moving to see his photo as a young man looking so vital. Now I know that he did play the bagpipes. Thank you Jocelyn and to any one else who may have contributed information. Canada is the way it is due to brave soldiers like Arthur who enlisted and then fought for our freedom in that horrible war. Thank you Great-Uncle Arthur for your supreme sacrifice.
    Paula J. Purcell, Ottawa


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