|Date of Birth||June 27, 1880|
|Place of Birth||Round Hill, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia|
|Next of Kin||WW Wagstaff, father, Round Hill, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia|
|Trade / Calling||Millwright|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||October 22, 1914|
|Age at Enlistment||34|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||August 25, 1917|
|Age at Death||37|
|Buried At||Barlin Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France|
|Plot||II. D. 3.|
Born on 27 June 1880 in Round Hill, Annapolis, Nova Scotia, Ernest Edward Wagstaff was the eldest child of William and Mary (née Yewdale) Wagstaff who had married 26 August 1979 in Annapolis. His father, born in Nova Scotia, was a carpenter by trade while his mother was from England. When the couple first married they lived with William’s widower brother John and family, John employed as a ship carpenter. Ernest’s known siblings were John, William, Mary, Stanley, and Bertram. The family was found in the 1881, 1891, and 1901 Canada censuses living in Round Hill, Annapolis, with the Ernest’s occupation given as farm labourer in the latter. Ernest’s mother Mary died on 2 April 1892. By the 1911 census the family had scattered with father William living in Round Hill with John and his wife Helen (née Whitman) who had married 25 April 1911, John’s occupation given as lumberman on the marriage registration. Stanley was living with his maternal grandparents William and Susan Yewdale in nearby Lequille, while Bert was boarding with the Hubly family, working at odd jobs. He later married Lottie Todd on 19 October 1912 with his occupation also given as lumberman. Ernest and his siblings William and Mary could not be found in any 1911 census documents. Sometime before enlisting in 1914, Ernest had moved to northwestern Ontario to work as a millwright.
With previous military experience of 6 years with the 69th Regiment Annapolis and having spent three months in Halifax Military School of Instruction, Ernest enlisted in Kenora, Ontario on 22 October 1914. With brown hair and eyes, he was 34 years old. With other men from the 27th Battalion Ernest left Kenora for training in Winnipeg on 1 November 1914 according to an article in the Kenora Miner and News dated November 4th. The 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion was the first independent battalion to be raised in Manitoba in the First World War, raised as part of a response to the demand for reinforcements early in 1915 as Canada struggled overseas. Another article in the paper dated 15 May told of the battalion passing through Kenora from Winnipeg, heading east on the first leg of the journey overseas. On 17 May 1915, the 27th Battalion left Quebec aboard the Carpathian. By 18 September a cable had been received that the battalion had left England for France. On 1 July 1915 Ernest’s appointment as Lance Sergeant had been confirmed, and he was promoted to Sergeant on the 11 September 1915.
Once in France, Ernest, suffering from bronchitis, was admitted to the No 5 Canadian Field Ambulance on 28 February 1916 and then transferred to No 6 Canadian Field Ambulance. He was discharged to duty on the 6th of March.
Their first major offensive was the battle of St Eloi, 5 kilometres from Ypres. Begun on 27 March 1916 by the British, the Canadians joined in on 4 April with the 27th Battalion taking over the front line, fully exposed to artillery fire. Casualties were high. One of the most notable battles of Somme the 27th Battalion participated in was the Battle of Courcelette, begun on the morning of 15 September 1916. This battle marked the first time in history that tanks were used in warfare although all 6 tanks were knocked out that day. Lasting until 22nd of September, the Canadian Corps lost about 7 200 soldiers. On the third day of this battle Ernest was admitted to No 13 General Hospital in Boulogne with shrapnel wounds to his arm. It was late December before he rejoined the unit only to be admitted to the No 35 General Hospital in Calais with another bout of bronchitis on 26 April 1917. Ernest rejoined the unit in early June.
On 25 August 1917, Sergeant Ernest Edward Wagstaff, previously reported dangerously wounded, died of his wounds at No 6 Casualty Clearing Station. He had been admitted to the station on the 21st suffering from shrapnel wounds to the chest. He is interred in the Barlin Communal Cemetery Extension in Pas de Calais, France.
Ernest’s brother Stanley also served during the war. With previous service with the 69th Regiment Annapolis, he enlisted on 22 May 1916 in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. Before leaving for overseas he married Alicia Rebecca Williams on 7 June 1916, occupation given as soldier on the marriage record. With the 219th Battalion he embarked from Halifax on 12 October 1916 aboard the Olympic. After the war he returned to Nova Scotia.
After the war, Ernest’s medals and decorations, plaque and scroll were all sent to his father William in Round Hill. His father died on 15 May 1937 and is interred along side his mother in the Round Hill 2 Cemetery.
Sergeant Ernest Wagstaff is commemorated on page 343 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Keewatin Cenotaph located in Beatty Park in Keewatin, on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company Roll of Honour plaque, on the Municipality of Keewatin For King and Country plaque, on the Town of Keewatin Roll of Honour, and on the Keewatin St James Anglican Church plaques.
by Judy Stockham
Grave marker photograph by Lee, findagrave.com.