Private Holgar Robert Johnson

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

2nd University Company, McGill, 1915

Holgar Robert Johnson was born on 11 October 1893 in Worcester, Massachusetts, the second eldest and second of the four sons of Peter John Johnson. His parents were Danish and had emigrated from Bønsvig in Denmark in 1892.[1] The family later lived in Woburn.

When war broke out Holgar Johnson was a student. Travelling to Montreal, he enlisted on 3 June 1915 and joined the 2nd University Company at McGill University and was allocated the number McG153. The university contributed hugely to the war effort raising no fewer than six reinforcement companies and the core of two general hospitals.[2] The 2nd University Company sailed from Montreal aboard the SS Northland on 29 June 1915 and arrived in England in July 1915 and was absorbed by the 11th Reserve Battalion. Johnson was posted to Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in August 1915 and joined the battalion in the field at the end of the month. The first Canadian infantry battalion to serve in France, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was part of 8th Infantry Brigade in 27th Division until late in the year when it joined the newly arrived 3rd Canadian Division.

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Private Charles Porter Johnson

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

The Canadian Book of Remembrance showing the entry for Private Charles Porter Johnson

Charles Porter Johnson was born on 28 November 1882 at Danville, Quebec and emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1901. In 1907 he married Minnie B. Fraser (also a Canadian) who died in 1917.[1] Prior to his enlistment he worked as a bookkeeper in Worcester, Massachusetts.

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Lance Corporal John R. Gientner

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 John R. Gientner

Notwithstanding the dates on his gravestone and enlistment record, John R. Gientner was born at Ashland, Massachusetts on 2 May 1868, the fifth of the eight children of Rudolf and Mary Gientner (many records show the family name spelled as ‘Gentner’). His father had emigrated from Germany and worked as a shoemaker. John Gientner worked as a blacksmith and metal fabricator.

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Private Ezra Charles Fitch Jr.

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

Private Ezra Charles Fitch Jr.

Ezra Charles Fitch Jr. was born on 2 May 1881 in New York, NY. His father was the president of the renowned Waltham Watch Company. Charlie Fitch was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard (Class of 1905). On 14 November 1906 he married Ethel Tucker.[1] When war broke out he was managing the Montreal office of the Waltham Watch Company, although his home was in Manchester, Massachusetts.

He enlisted on 20 August 1917 and joined the 2nd Reinforcing Company, 5th Regiment (Royal Highlanders of Canada) where he was allocated the number 2075594.[2] While travelling in New England on a recruiting tour, he fell ill and was admitted to Hartford Hospital, Hartford Connecticut on 8 October 1917 and died 13 October. He is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Mattapan in the family plot (Lot 1054, Grave 19) on Central Avenue just before the junction with Union Avenue.

His memorial plaque and scroll and Memorial Cross were sent to his wife. Private Ezra Charles Fitch  is commemorated on page 237 of the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; that page is displayed on 27 May. He is also commemorated on the wall of the Memorial Room in Harvard’s Memorial Church.


1. (Back) Ethel Tucker (11 February 1878-31 May 1942). Former wife of Archibald Lionel Bethune, later the 13th Earl of Lindsay (divorced March 1906). Their son, William Tucker Lindesay-Bethune, became the 14th Earl of Lindsay. On 17 May 1921 she remarried Bethune.

2. (Back) The training of recruits was later undertaken by the depot battalions formed in late 1917 and early 1918. In this region that was by 1st Depot Battalion, 1st Quebec Regiment which was formed in August 1917, at about the time of Fitch’s recruitment, hence the terminology on some of his documents and on his CWGC commemoration.

Private William Feeley

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 Private William Feeley

William Feeley was born on 20 May 1889 at Bandon in County Cork, Ireland. The use of different dates of birth and the commonality of his name and its variant spellings make it difficult to identify other family members but his enlistment papers indicate that his father lived in Timoleague, County Cork and that his sister, Catherine, lived and worked in Massachusetts.

He enlisted in Quebec on 28 January 1918 giving his date of birth as 20 May 1882 and indicating that he lived and worked in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He joined the 249th Battalion and was allocated the number 1070090. The battalion sailed for England aboard RMS Saxonia, arriving on 4 March, and on its arrival was absorbed into the 15th Reserve Battalion. Feeley served there until posted to France in early June with a reinforcement draft. After a period at the Canadian Base Depot, on 20 July he joined the details of 5th Battalion (Western Cavalry), an infantry battalion in 2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division. The battalion came out of the line in the early hours of 21 July and the following day it was joined in its billets in Arras by the draft of reinforcements, which numbered 100 other ranks.

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Private Albert Moore Downs

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 Albert Moore Downs

Albert Moore Downs (several records show his name as Albion) was born on 20 July 1873 in Maine (although he declared on his enlistment that he was born in Head Millstream, Kings County, New Brunswick). He was married with two daughters and prior to his enlistment he worked as a carpenter.[1]

He enlisted in New Brunswick on 2 March 1917 and joined No. 16 Canadian Field Ambulance (536452 Private), which was being raised in Saint John. The unit sailed from Halifax on 28 March 1917 aboard the RMS Saxonia and arrived in England on 7 April 1917. It served in England with 5th Canadian Division until the division was broken up in early 1918 and the medical personnel were despatched to the Canadian Army Medical Corps Depot at Shorncliffe. Downs was then posted to France to No. 1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, where he arrived in April 1918.

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Private Eugene C. Daly

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 Private Eugene C. Daly

Eugene Daly was born in Massachusetts on 14 June 1879, the eldest of the six children of an Irish immigrant father and a Canadian mother.[1] After leaving school he worked as a painter before he enlisted on 4 May 1898 for service in the Spanish American War. He joined Company ‘A’, 9th Massachusetts Infantry, and served in Cuba. The Regiment returned to the United States in August 1898 and Daly was discharged on 26 November. He then found work as a filing clerk before enlisting into the United States Army. He served two periods of enlistment from 12 October 1907 to 11 October 1910 and from October 1910 to 6 June 1912, when he was discharged ‘without honor’. The records indicate that his first period of service was with the Hospital Corps at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, and that the second was with Company ‘C’, 7th Cavalry at Fort William McKinley in the Philippines. In March 1917 Daly was admitted to the recently opened National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers at Togus, Maine suffering from a range of ailments including chronic gastritis and chronic rheumatoid arthritis; he was discharged three months later.

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Sapper Byron Everard Nash

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

The grave of Sapper Byron Everard Nash

Byron Everard Nash was born on 16 May 1891 at North Beverly, Massachusetts, the only son and youngest of the two children of Dana and Ella Nash.[1] The family lived in Essex County, Massachusetts for a period, where his father was a newspaper salesman, before his mother and the two children moved to Ellsworth, Maine, near where the family originated. His mother was a telegraph operator and when Byron left school and became a telegraph linesman.

Byron Nash travelled north to Canada in April 1916 and enlisted on 25 October at Windsor, Ontario. He joined the Canadian Engineers Signal Service and was allocated the regimental number 506265. He arrived in England onboard the SS Grampian on 6 February 1917 and joined the Signal Company, Canadian Engineers Training Depot at Crowborough. Nash reported sick in March 1917 and was admitted to No. 14 Canadian General Hospital at Eastbourne suffering from diabetes. Deemed unfit for further service, he was evacuated to Canada in May 1917. On his arrival in Canada he was admitted for treatment London Military Convalescent Hospital in Ontario. In early 1918 it was determined that no further treatment was possible and was discharged from the Army in March 1918. Nash died of diabetes exacerbated by tuberculosis on 8 March 1920 at the family home on Franklin Street, Ellsworth. He is buried in the family plot in Forest Hill Cemetery, Harrington.

Private Byron Everard Nash is commemorated on page 552 of the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance; that page is displayed on 24 November. For his war service he was awarded the British War Medal 1914-20; his medal and the memorial plaque and scroll were sent to his father, and the Memorial Cross was sent to his mother.

The Canadian Book of Remembrance showing the entry for Sapper Byron Everard Nash

Acknowledgement:

J. Fenn-Lawson on Find A Grave for the photograph of Nash’s gravestone.


1. (Back) Dana J. Nash (7 January 1869-16 December 1929) married Ella G. Leighton (25 March 1863-NK) on 25 September 1888; Jessie M. (later Howard) (24 March 1889-8 June 1949).

Private John Robert Collinson

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 Private John Robert Collinson

John Robert Collinson was born on 1 February 1896 in Keighley, West Yorkshire the only son and eldest of the two children of Isaac and Martha Collinson.[1] When he was eight his mother died and soon afterwards his father remarried.[2] The fate of that marriage is not known but in September 1907 Isaac Collinson emigrated alone to the United States, to Lawrence, Massachusetts. The two children lived with their maternal grandparents and then their mother’s brother in Leeds until they followed their father in November 1914; Isaac Collinson had remarried by the time of their arrival and over the next few years half-siblings were added to the family.[3] Having lived for a time in Rhode Island, the family settled in Methuen, Massachusetts. Prior to his enlistment, Collinson worked in a mill in Lawrence and he lived in Methuen with his wife, Fanny, who had also been born in Yorkshire, and their daughter.[4]

He enlisted on 23 January 1918 and joined the 249th Battalion, Canadian Infantry; he was allocated the number 1070011. The Battalion had been raised in 1917 and by the time Collinson joined it was preparing to travel to England. Continue reading

Private (Joseph) Raymond Collier

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 Private Raymond Collier

Raymond Collier was one of several men who served for only a few weeks before dying while undergoing training. A French Canadian immigrant to the United States, he enlisted on 4 May 1918 in St. Jean, New Brunswick and joined the 1st Depot Battalion, New Brunswick Regiment, where he was allocated the number 3259323. After only three-and-a-half weeks he was admitted to St. John Military Hospital on 29 May suffering from pneumonia and very severe bronchitis; after a few days’ treatment he rallied but then relapsed and died at 3.00 pm on 8 June, aged 22. Continue reading