Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 2, 1893
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJames Scott (father), Sunset, Saskatchewan
Trade / CallingFarm labourer
ReligionPresbyterian
Service Details
Regimental Number115044
Service RecordLink to Service Record
BattalionFort Garry Horse
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Cavalry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentRegina, Saskatchewan
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 2, 1915
Age at Enlistment21
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathApril 20, 1954
Age at Death60
Buried AtFindlater Cemetery, Findlater, Saskatchewan

Scott, John Thomas

Sergeant John Thomas Scott served with the Fort Garry Horse and spent more than three years in France and Belgium. He returned to Canada in July 1919.

John was the oldest son of James Scott and Margaret Downs of Chamberlain, Saskatchewan. James was from Forfarshire, Scotland and Margaret was born in Whitechurch, Ontario. They were married in 1892 in the town of Keewatin in northwestern Ontario. They had four children, all born in Keewatin: John Thomas (2 September 1893), William George (1895), Esther (1897) and Joseph Turner Elliott (born November 1900, died May 1901). When the 1901 census was taken James was working as a teamster for a local sawmill. Around 1906 he went to Saskatchewan and filed a homestead claim near the town of Chamberlain. He spent the winter back in Keewatin and moved his family to Chamberlain the following spring.

Margaret died sometime after the 1911 census was taken and by 1915 James was remarried. His second wife, Mrs. Jean Dowgray (née Gray), was a widow. Jean was from Scotland and she had moved to Chamberlain after spending a few years in the U.S. She had four sons, all born in Scotland: Joseph, John, Robert and Andy (who married James’ daughter Esther Scott). John Thomas Scott, his brother William George Scott, John Dowgray and Joseph Dowgray all served in the First World War. Robert Dowgray also enlisted but he was discharged after one month due to being underage and undersize. He was 17 at the time and he died a year later, at age 18. He’s buried in Chamberlain Cemetery.

John Scott was the first one in the family to enlist, signing up in Regina on 2 February 1915. He joined the 10th Canadian Mounted Rifles, which was being recruited in the Regina area. He was sent to the UK at the end of June in the 1st Reinforcing Draft, sailing from Montreal on the SS Northland. When he arrived in England he was transferred to the Canadian Cavalry Depot and in September he signed another attestation at Shorncliffe Camp. On 21 January 1916 he was transferred to the Fort Garry Horse and his new unit was sent to France a month later. They arrived at Le Havre on 25 February and became part of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade. At the end of March John was promoted to Corporal.

The Fort Garry Horse fought at the Battle of the Somme in July and afterwards the troops helped to build roads, railways and trenches. Over the winter of 1916-17 they had regular rotations in the front line as dismounted infantry. They also transported supplies and trained to keep up their cavalry skills. In March 1917 the Canadian Cavalry Brigade took part in an assault on German positions at Guyencourt-Saulcourt, south of Cambrai. Following the operation the Fort Garry Horse continued with regular rotations in the trenches and also carried out raids on the German lines, patrolled the front, erected horse shelters, formed work parties and built a first aid station. John had ten days leave in August and in November his unit was at the First Battle of Cambrai.

John was appointed Lance Sergeant in January 1918. In March and early April, during the German spring offensive, the Fort Garry Horse fought at Moreuil Wood and Rifle Wood. John became a Sergeant in April and he was sent on a Hotchkiss rifle course that month, then on a musketry course in August. The Canadians were heavily involved in the last months of the war, a period known now as the Hundred Days Offensive. When the Armistice was signed the Fort Garry Horse was northwest of Lens. They moved into Belgium ten days later and spent the next four months there. At the end of November John had two weeks leave in the UK. His unit returned to France in mid-March 1919 and moved to Le Havre a month later. They embarked for England on 18 April on the SS Yale, landing at Southampton. The Fort Garry Horse returned to Canada in May but John was ill at the time and he was in the hospital at Witley until 4 July. He embarked from Liverpool on HMTS Winifredian on 18 July, arriving at Halifax ten days later. He was discharged on demobilization on 3 August in Winnipeg. His brother and two stepbrothers all survived the war.

When the 1921 census was taken John was living with his parents in Sunset District, south of Chamberlain. The following year he married Margaret Smith Sinclair Gray. Margaret was the niece of John’s stepmother, Jean. She was born in Scotland in 1901 and came to Canada in October 1919 on the Empress of France, with her destination listed as Chamberlain, Saskatchewan. John and Margaret farmed in Sunset for eleven years and they raised three sons: Jim, Jack and Ronnie. In 1933 they moved to a farm near Findlater, southeast of Chamberlain. After they retired in 1951 they lived in Findlater. John passed away on 20 April 1954, at age 60, and he’s buried in Findlater Cemetery. Margaret later moved to Moose Jaw where she died in 1993.

By Becky Johnson

Information on the Scott and Dowgray families is from the  local history book ‘Chamberlain Crossroads: A Trip Back in Time’  (University of Calgary, 1980).

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