|Date of Birth||March 28, 1881|
|Place of Birth||Leith, Midlothian|
|Next of Kin||Mrs Mary Cousins, wife, Bridge End, Lasswade, Midlothian, Scotland|
|Trade / Calling||Miller|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||No 1 General Hospital Etaples|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Army Medical Corps|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Age at Enlistment||34|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||May 29, 1963|
|Age at Death||82|
Joseph Cousins was born on 28 March 1881 in Leith, Midlothian in Scotland, a port on the northern outskirts of Edinburgh. His father Joseph Cousins was from Edinburgh while his mother Annie Stewart was from Bathgate, a community about 30 kilometres west of Edinburgh. The couple married on 26 September 1876 in Bathgate. Over the years Joseph Sr worked as a butcher, janitor in a medical mission, and dispensary porter. Joseph had an older sister Annie, born in Bathgate, and younger siblings Mary and Margaret, born in Leith, and Douglas and Rosina, born in Edinburgh.
On 21 August 1903 in St Andrews Church in Canongate, Edinburgh, Joseph married Mary Carruthers. Born in 1882 in Alloa, Clackmannan, Mary was the daughter of Samuel Carruthers and Mary Smith although she was raised by her uncle David Wright in Edinburgh. By the 1911 Scotland census Joseph, Mary, and their two children Mary and Joseph were living in Merchiston in Edinburgh were Joseph was working as a flour miller. At some point after the census Joseph immigrated to Canada, travelling to Keewatin in northwestern Ontario to work at the local flour mill.
With occupation given as miller and his wife Mary back in Scotland as next of kin, Joseph signed his attestation papers in nearby Kenora on 3 August 1915. After training at Camp Sewell with the A Section No 1 Field Ambulance Depot, Joseph arrived in England in late October/early November, taken on strength with the Canadian Army Medical Corps at Shorncliffe on the 1st. On 2 February 1916 Joseph joined the Royal Army Medical Corps Depot at Mustapha Camp, Alexandria in Egypt. In late April he was transferred to the No 4 General Hospital in Salonika (later renamed Thessalonika) where he was to serve until September of 1917. Joseph had been granted one Good Conduct Badge that August.
‘Anglo-French forces began landing at the Greek port of Salonika (now Thessaloniki) on 5 October 1915. The troops were sent to provide military assistance to the Serbs who had recently been attacked by combined German, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian armies. The intervention came too late to save Serbia and after a brief winter campaign in severe weather conditions on the Serbian frontier, the Anglo-French forces found themselves back at Salonika. At this point the British advised that the troops be withdrawn. However, the French – with Russian, Italian and Serbian backing – still believed something of strategic importance could be gained in the Balkans. After preparing the port of Salonika for defence, the troops moved up country. During 1916, further Allied contingents of Serbian, Italian and Russian troops arrived and offensive operations began. These culminated in the fall of Monastir to Franco-Serb forces during November. A second offensive during the spring of 1917, the British part of which was the First Battle of Doiran (24-25 April and 8-9 May 1917), made little impression on the Bulgarian defences. The front-line remained more or less static until September 1918, when a third offensive was launched. During this the British attacked at Doiran for a second time (18-19 September 1918). With a breakthrough by Serbian forces west of the river Vardar the Bulgarian army was forced into a general retreat. The campaign concluded with the surrender of Bulgaria on 30 September 1918.’ ( http://www.salonikacampaignsociety.org.uk)
Returning to Basingstoke in England, in May of 1918 Joseph proceeded overseas, posted to the No 1 Canadian General Hospital in Etaples. In March of 1919 Joseph was to return to Shorncliffe in England but the order was cancelled. In April he returned to Canada, discharged on the 22nd in Montreal.
Joseph did not remain in Canada, arriving in Liverpool, England on his way home on 31 December 1919 aboard the Empress of France. During the war Mary and the children had been living in Lasswade, Midlothian, home of flour mills, paper mills, and carpet factories. It is likely that the family stayed in the area as Joseph’s death record indicated that his occupation had been paper mill worker. Predeceased by his wife Mary in 1962, Joseph died on 29 May 1963 in nearby Dalkeith, Midlothian.
In August of 1919 the town of Keewatin held a demonstration where those who had served during the war were presented with medals and badges by the mayor, with Joseph’s name on the list. He is commemorated for his service during the war on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plaque and the Municipality of Keewatin for King and Country plaque.
Joseph’s brother Douglas served in France and Flanders with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment). He was reported as killed in action on 28 February 1915. With no known grave, Douglas is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.
by Judy Stockham