Private Emery John Larock (Larocque)

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

Emery J. Larock

Emery John Larocque was born on 20 February 1893 at Barton, Vermont. His father, Louis Larocque, was born in Massachusetts into a Québécois family and later lived in Acton Vale, Quebec, where he married Marie Huard, also born in the United States into a Québécois family. The couple returned to the United States in the late 1880s (having lost their three children in infancy) and farmed land near Barton, Orleans County, Vermont. The family later moved to Westmore and then to Brownington. Louis and Marie would go on to have another 13 children, all but one of which would survive childhood.[1]

Emery Larocque worked as a teamster in a local lumber mill until his late teens when he headed west. He enlisted into the United States Army at Fort Snelling, Minnesota on 23 February 1913 under the name Emery J. Larock and, after a period in a recruit company at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, he was posted to 13th Cavalry in Texas. He did not serve for long, however, being discharged at Fort Bliss, Texas on 13 October that year (contrary to newspaper reports following his death).

He enlisted for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Montreal on 20 August 1915[2] and joined 69th Overseas Battalion. He was numbered 120513.   Comprising a little under 1,100 all ranks, the battalion sailed for England on 17 April 1916 on board the SS Scandinavian. Larock was one of over 400 men transferred to the 23rd Reserve Battalion at Otterpool Camp in June that year and three weeks later was drafted overseas, joining the Canadian Base Depot in France on 29 June. On 12 July he was posted to the 19th Battalion (Central Ontario), which he joined the next day.

The battalion was part of 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division and due to take part in the attacks at Thiepval in September, October and November 1916. Larock fell ill just before the first attack but had returned to duty by the end of September and most likely took part in the Battles of Le Transloy and Ancre Heights and, in April 1917, the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Larock fell ill in mid-April 1917 and was admitted to a field ambulance. Diagnosed with myalgia and trench fever, he was transferred firstly to No. 3 Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne in late April and subsequently to 1st Eastern General Hospital, Cambridge and the Military Convalescent Hospital at Wellcote Park, Epsom, where he remained until 16 July when he was discharged. Employed on light duties at 1st Central Ontario Regimental Depot, he subsequently fell ill with ‘trench mouth’ and was quarantined, immediately after which in November 1917 he returned to hospital, again suffering from myalgia, and was treated at No. 11 Canadian General Hospital at Moore Barracks, Shorncliffe and the Canadian Red Cross Special Hospital in Buxton, before again reporting to the Military Convalescent Hospital at Epsom, from which he was discharged finally on 10 July 1918.

On 29 October 1918, just prior to the end of the war he returned to France but was held at the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp until 16 November, when he departed to rejoin the 19th Battalion, thereby missing the final actions of the Hundred Days Offensive. On his arrival the next day, he joined ‘A’ Company.

On 3 April 1919 he left France for the last time and began the demobilisation process in England (during which it was discovered that he was suffering from bronchitis) and on 25 June sailed for Canada on board the SS Caronia. He was discharged from No. 1 District Depot in London, Ontario on 4 July 1919. That day he re-entered the United States at Port Huron, Michigan, according to his immigration papers bound for Woodstock, McHenry County, Illinois.

Soon after arriving in Woodstock, on 14 August 1919 he married Edna Hines at McHenry, Illinois.[3] Returning home with his bride, he lived with his parents and younger siblings but weakened by bronchitis and trench fever, he contracted pulmonary tuberculosis. Although treated in hospital, he died on 24 March 1921 at home in Brownington. He is buried in Saint Paul’s Cemetery, Barton. His wife subsequently returned home to Woodstock, Illinois where she lived with her parents, later running their home as a boarding house. A popular and well-regarded member of the local community, she did not remarry; she died on 9 February 1962 and is buried in McHenry County Memorial Park. Private E. J. Larock is commemorated on page 558 of the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; that page is displayed on 29 November. For his war service he was awarded the British War Medal 1914-20 and the Victory Medal. His medals and memorial plaque and scroll were sent to his widow in Woodstock, Illinois and the Memorial Cross was sent to his mother.

1. (Back) Louis Hormidas Larocque (30 December 1866-20 March 1923) married Marie (Mary) Huard (10 November 1868-2 December 1950) in Acton Vale, Quebec on 8 January, 1884: Marie Albina (December 1884-NK), Leopoldine (1885-18 February 1886), Louis Hormidas (26 April 1887-3 February 1890), Eva Delia (later Collins) (5 February 1889-NK), Anna J. (10 August 1891-28 September 1891), Mary Lydia (later Carroll) (7 February 1895-1 September 1939), Henry Francis (12 February 1897-8 June 1960), Lena F. (later McGahey) (27 March 1899-11 August 1975), Ida Malvina (later Hartigan) (17 December 1900-6 November 1983), Clara Georgiana (later Choiniere) (24 October 1902-23 June 1959), Mabel Ada (later Sherrer) (8 January 1904-11 October 1934), Donald Ora (4 June 1905-24 December 1996), Merrill Louis (13 July 1906-10 March 1960), Clayton Harley (24 October 1909-21 August 1996), and Blanche Sarah (28 March 1912-27 April 1930).

2. (Back) His service records show his year of birth as 1892.

3. (Back) Edna Mae Hines (24 February 1896-9 February 1962).

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