Private Alfred Desmarais

This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Massachusetts.

The grave of Alfred Desmarais

Alfred Desmarais was born in Massachusetts on 13 March 1882 into a French Canadian family; his father had emigrated to the United States as a young child. Prior to his enlistment he worked as a shoemaker.[1]

Desmarais enlisted on 23 April 1918 at Montreal and joined 1st Depot Battalion, 1st Quebec Regiment and was allocated the number 3083903. Although transferred to the 8th Overseas Draft in mid-May, while at Halifax prior to embarkation Desmarais had a ‘fit’ and was sent for examination at the Station Hospital. Diagnosed with epilepsy, his medical category was reduced firstly to ‘C-1’, fit for garrison service, and then to ‘E’, unfit for further service. He was readmitted to hospital on 9 August having had another ‘fit’ but the doctor examining him stated that he did not see a reason to admit him to hospital every time he had an episode because he was awaiting discharge. Desmarais was sent to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu to await final processing an accommodated at the National Hotel. He died there in his sleep on the night of 18/19 August 1918. His remains were returned to his family and he was buried in Saint Mary’s Cemetery, Marlborough. His grave (L-517) is in a family plot.

Private Alfred Desmarais is commemorated on page 397 of the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; that page is displayed on 27 August.

1. (Back) Joseph Desmarais (1846-1913) married Melvina Lacouture (1850-1915) on 24 June 1866 in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Three of their eight children survived childhood: Emma (27 August 1870-NK); Philias (12 October 1973-1938).

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