Each November, I take time to reflect on those in my family tree that served. My great-grandfather, Donald Bradford Sr., had four brothers that served in the First World War: Harold, Martin, Eric and Winnie. These brothers, like so many young men in
, enlisted to fight in the war. From my own research, approx. 1,170 men (and women) served in the First World War from Charlotte County . With respect to the 1911 Census, that is approx. 18% of the population of the county. As many Charlotte County men, Harold, Martin and Eric serve with the “Fighting 26th”, the New Brunswick Regiment. While these three older brothers went overseas, Winnie, the youngest of the four, served at home in various guard duties with the 236th (The New Brunswick Kilties) Battalion. Through their individual war records and the information obtain in battalion diaries, a picture of their lives can be seen as well as a story on a period of time for the New Brunswick Bradford family.
(left to right) Winnie, Eric, Harold, Martin
July 23, 1916, Harold, Martin and Eric departed on the “SS Olympic” from however they would not see action until November 1917. During their time in Halifax, Nova Scotia , the brothers learned that their father, Martin Byrne Bradford, has died. By the Christmas of 1917, their second Christmas away from home, they were encamped not far from the front lines. By the follow summer, Martin was killed in action near the town of England on Arras August 28th, 1918. One family story says that his older brother, Harold, watched as Martin lied wounded amongst barbed wire, unable to reach him. He was only 25 years old and is buried at , not far from Sun Quarry Cemetery . A year prior, younger brother, Eric was severely injured when he was shot in the head during the Battle of Hill 70 near Cherisy, France . Eric eventually made it back home however he died from his injuries on May 19. 1919. I have heard many stories of Eric’s return and how his injuries were so severe. He would go into mad fits and experience excruciating headaches. One medial report in his military records indicate that “brain pulsations are visible at the wounded area” and that little could be done for him. One doctor did little but prescribed eye glasses. Eric is buried in the Lens, France , not far from his parents. Harold, the eldest of the brothers, returned back to Blacks Harbour Community Cemetery in August 1919. He would cross the same ocean that he and his two brothers sailed across only three year prior. In those three years that passed, two of his brothers, his father and several close friends are dead. However, if there is a glimmer of hope in this story it is that Harold returned with a new wife and a baby daughter. Harold, with his new family, settled in Canada , Oak Bay and many of his descendants remain in that area today. Charlotte County
I’m sure you family tree has wonderful stories such as these. The Library and Archives of Canada can offer so much to family historians with military records. Be sure to reach out to the LAC for assistance in discovering your family’s military legacy. (http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/military-peace/index-e.html)
One of my favorite books is “
New Brunswick's Fighting 26th: A History of the 26th New Brunswick Battalion
MacGowan, Heckbert & O'Leary; 1995, Tribune Press; ISBN: 1896270026