Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthAugust 28, 1898
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinPaul Comeau (father), Great Northern Railway, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingFarmer
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number86191
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion16th Battery
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Field Artillery
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentJune 24, 1915
Age at Enlistment16
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJune 26, 1961
Age at Death62

Comeau, Louis Philippe

 

Corporal Louis Philippe Comeau enlisted in June 1915, at age 16, and served in France and Belgium with the Canadian Field Artillery. He was wounded at the Somme but he survived the war and returned home in May 1919.

Louis was the only son of Paul Comeau/Comeault and Cecile Virginie Beaubien of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Paul and Cecile were both born in Quebec, Paul around 1873 and Cecile in 1873 in Victoriaville, Arthabaska County. They were married on 20 April 1896 in the RM of Montcalm, Manitoba. A short time later they moved to the town of Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in northwestern Ontario. Their oldest daughter, Marie Cecile Josephine, was born in Rat Portage in August 1896. Louis followed two years later, on 28 August 1898. He was born in Rat Portage and baptized as Joseph Louis Philippe at the Notre Dame du Portage Roman Catholic Church. By the spring of 1901 his family had moved to Winnipeg and Paul’s occupation for the census that year was carpenter. Two more daughters were born in Winnipeg, Cecilia in 1901 and Marie Therese Blanche in 1906. When the 1911 census was taken the two oldest girls were living at St. Charles Convent School in Winnipeg.

Louis enlisted in Winnipeg on 24 June 1915, just before the war entered its second year. He was only 16 years old at the time but he passed himself off as 21. He said he was a farmer, he was already in the militia, the 34th Fort Garry Horse, and next of kin was his father Paul with the Great Northern Railway in Winnipeg. Louis joined the 5th Artillery Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery and two months later he was on his way overseas. He embarked from Halifax with his unit on 10 August on the SS Metagama and landed in Plymouth about eight days later. He trained in the UK for another five months. The 5th Artillery Brigade arrived in France on 18 January 1916 where they became part of the 2nd Canadian Divisional Artillery.

In May Louis was briefly posted to the 2nd Canadian Divisional Ammunition Column then transferred to the 16th Battery in the 6th Artillery Brigade. The Somme Offensive started on 1 July and the Canadians began moving to the Somme area in August. Louis was wounded at the Somme on 21 September, suffering shrapnel or shell wounds to his loin, abdomen and right hand. He was admitted to the Dannes-Camiers hospital three days later. On 5 October he was evacuated to England on the hospital ship St. Patrick and he recovered at St. Luke’s War Hospital in Halifax from 6 October until 16 February 1917. There was a shrapnel or bullet fragment lodged in his back near the spine and the doctors decided it could not be safely removed.

Louis was at the convalescent centre in Epsom from 16 February until 6 March, when he was discharged to full duty and posted to the Reserve Brigade. He returned to France in early April and rejoined the 6th Brigade near the end of the month, serving with them until the end of the war. He was ill for a week in July 1917. In January 1918 he had two weeks leave and in September he spent two weeks at a rest camp. After rejoining his unit he was promoted to Corporal on 3 October. In November the Armistice ended hostilities on the Western Front but it wasn’t until 15 April 1919 that the 6th Brigade returned to England. Louis sailed for Canada a month later on the SS Minnekahda, arriving in Halifax on 23 May. He was discharged due to demobilization on 25 May in London, Ontario.

Louis returned to Winnipeg and found work as a salesman with the Eaton Company. He was married in Winnipeg on 3 November 1923. His wife, Elizabeth Rolston Hamilton, was born in Neepawa, Manitoba on 17 January 1899. Her parents were Abner Hamilton and Margaret (Maggie) Perry and she was one of at least five children. Louis and his wife lived in Winnipeg for several years. Late in 1928 Elizabeth moved to the U.S. and in December 1930 she obtained a divorce in Detroit, Michigan. In 1933 Louis spent some time in Cornwall, Ontario and Montreal before settling in Toronto. He was collecting a veterans pension due to his war injuries and he had a tonsillectomy in 1933 in Toronto. Over the next 25 years he worked for Eatons, the Department of Public Works and several other companies.

Louis was married again on 1 February 1936 in Toronto. His wife Margaret Casey was born in 1902 in Toronto. Her parents, Thomas Casey and Mary Healey, had emigrated from Ireland and she had at least eight brothers and sisters. Her brother John Joseph Casey served with the 14th Battalion during the war and he was killed in June 1916 at the Battle of Mount Sorrel. After getting married Margaret and Louis continued to live in Toronto. Louis’ parents both passed away in Manitoba in 1937. His father died in Winnipeg in September and he’s buried in St. Hyacinthe Roman Catholic Cemetery in La Salle. Louis’ mother died six weeks later in Selkirk and she’s buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery in St. Jean-Baptiste.

By the early 1950s Louis was living alone again, possibly widowed. Over the next few years he was admitted to Sunnybrook Hospital several times, mainly for treatment for a chronic skin disease. He passed away in Toronto on 26 June 1961, at age 62, of coronary thrombosis. His funeral and burial were provided by the Last Post Fund. His sister Therese (Mrs. Thomas Willdey) died in Winnipeg in 2003, at age 97.

By Becky Johnson


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