Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 6, 1885
Place of BirthRichibucto, New Brunswick
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinFidèle Comeau (father), Richibucto, Kent County, New Brunswick
Trade / CallingRailway Signalman
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number790211
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo. 2 Tramways Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Railway Troops
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentNew Westminster, British Columbia
Address at EnlistmentNew Westminister, British Columbia
Date of EnlistmentJuly 31, 1916
Age at Enlistment31
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death19390312
Age at Death53
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
Plot36E-34-3

Comeau, Jules Peter

Sapper Jules Peter Comeau enlisted in July 1916 and served in France and Belgium for more than two years. He returned to Canada in March 1919.

Jules was born on 6 July 1885 in Richibucto, Kent County, New Brunswick, a small town on the northeast coast of the province. He was the youngest son of Fidèle Comeau, a farmer, and Genevieve Chevarie. Fidèle was of Acadian ancestry and he and his wife were both born in New Brunswick. They had at least seven children: Adeline, Celemie, Felix, Amelia, Ursule, Joseph Lucien and Jules. Jules grew up in Richibucto and he said he served in the 93rd Cumberland Regiment, a militia unit based in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. By 1913 he had moved across the country to the west coast, where he found work with the Canadian Pacific Railway in Vancouver. He joined another militia unit, the 104th Westminster Fusiliers of Canada, which was headquartered in the neighbouring community of New Westminster.

By late 1915 the war was in its second year. New units were being raised and one of them was the 131st (Westminster) Battalion, which was mobilized in New Westminster and recruited in that area. Jules signed up with the unit on 31 July 1916. He had just turned 31 and he was working as a railway signalman at the time. The troops trained at Vernon Camp during the summer and in October they headed to the east coast, on the first leg of their journey overseas. They embarked from Halifax on 1 November on the SS Caronia and landed in England ten days later. The recruits were absorbed into the 30th Reserve Battalion but Jules spent only two weeks with the unit. At the end of November he was attached to the 47th (British Columbia) Battalion and sent to France. The 47th was in the new 4th Canadian Division, which had been organized just a month earlier. Along with the other three Canadian divisions they had suffered heavy losses at the Battle of the Somme and Jules joined them in a large draft of reinforcements.

In early December the 47th Battalion moved north to the Arras-Lens area, across from Vimy, where the Canadian Corps would spend about a year. In early 1917 they began training for their next big operation, the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The 47th Battalion took part in the opening day of the assault, on 9 April, advancing in the second wave of the attack. On 12 April they acted as a carrying party, following immediately behind the assaulting troops and bringing in large amounts of ammunition. A few days later Jules became ill with trench fever and he was out of action for a week. At the end of May he contracted influenza and he was sent to a hospital in Etaples, on the coast of France. After he recovered he was attached to the 4th Canadian Entrenching Battalion and he served with them for the next four months. Entrenching battalions provided labour for the Canadian Corps, doing work such as trench repairs, wiring, building roads, forming carrying and burial parties and clearing the battlefields.

Jules became ill with trench fever again in November 1917, during the Battle of Passchendaele. After three weeks of rest he was attached to a new unit, the Canadian Light Railway Construction Company. In December he had a two-week leave of absence in Bordeaux, France and in February 1918 his unit was re-designated the 2nd Tramway Company, Canadian Engineers. Tramway companies built, operated and maintained light railways in the forward areas. Light railways were used to carry supplies, ammunition and fuel and they also acted as hospital trains to evacuate the wounded. In July 1918 Jules was awarded a good conduct badge for two years of service. When the Armistice was signed in November his unit was just west of the Belgian border and at the end of the month he was given two weeks leave. His company stayed in France for another two months, returning to England at the end of January 1919. Jules was attached to the Canadian Engineers Reserve Depot and on 13 March he left for Canada, embarking on the SS Cretic and landing in Halifax nine days later. He had 14 days landing leave that he planned to spend with his family in Richibucto. He was discharged on 25 March in St. John, New Brunswick with his intended residence listed as New Westminster, British Columbia.

After the war Jules spent some time in Elbe, Washington and in Tashota, north of Thunder Bay, before settling in the town of Kenora in northwestern Ontario. He suffered ill health from his time in service and his last years were spent in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Kenora. He passed away there on 12 March 1939, at age 53. He was given a Legion funeral and he’s buried in the veterans section of Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

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