|Date of Birth||January 23, 1890|
|Place of Birth||Camden, Nova Scotia|
|Next of Kin||John Connolly (father), Truro, Nova Scotia|
|Trade / Calling||Farmer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Alberta Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||February 14, 1917|
|Age at Enlistment||27|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||October 28, 1954|
|Age at Death||64|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
|Plot||Liberty View, 38E-34-4|
Private Benjamin Connolly joined the 251st ‘Goodfellows’ Battalion in February 1917 and went overseas later that year. He served for a year and a half in England, France, Belgium and Germany, returning to Canada in May 1919.
Benjamin was born in Camden, Colchester County, Nova Scotia, the youngest son in a family of twelve children. His parents, John Connolly/Conley and Janet Power, were both born in Nova Scotia to Irish parents. John was a farmer and Janet was the second of his three wives. With his first wife Margaret Smith he had five children: Charles, David, Spencer, Mary Jane and Smith. Margaret died of illness in the fall of 1874 and John married Janet about a year later. They had seven children: Alexander, Fulton, Katherine (Cassie), William, Howard, Edgar and Benjamin (born 23 January 1890). Benjamin’s mother died when he was just an infant. At the time of the 1891 census he was a year old and living in Salmon River, Colchester County with his widowed father and seven of his brothers and sisters. John remarried and moved to Brookfield, Halifax County with his third wife Mary. When the 1911 census was taken Benjamin was the only child still at home.
When Benjamin was in his early 20s he moved west and found work as a farm labourer in Manitoba. By the fall of 1916 the war was in its third year and he enlisted in Winnipeg on 14 February 1917, signing up with the 251st ‘Goodfellows’ Battalion. The unit had been organized the previous fall and it was being recruited in the Winnipeg area. After training over the summer 175 men from the battalion were chosen for an overseas draft. They embarked from Halifax on the SS Metagama on 4 October and landed in England thirteen days later. Benjamin was part of the draft and he spent the next seven months in England training with the 18th Reserve Battalion. At the end of May 1918 he was sent to France and transferred to the 44th Battalion. However, he never joined the 44th in the field and instead spent over two months at the Canadian Infantry Base Depot and the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp.
Benjamin was drafted to the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion on 6 August 1918. The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started with the Battle of Amiens on 8 August and ended with the Armistice on 11 November. The Canadians were heavily involved in the operations and they had some of their greatest victories during that time. Benjamin joined his new unit in the field just as the Amiens offensive was ending and they had little rest over the next three months. When the Armistice came into effect the battalion was in France, close to the Belgian border. They continued moving west into Belgium then took part in the March to the Rhine, crossing into Germany on 4 December and remaining there with the occupying forces until 24 January 1919. February and March were spent back in Belgium and on 8 April the battalion boarded trains for Le Havre, returning to England four days later. They proceeded to Witley Camp and most of the men were immediately given leave. Benjamin embarked for Canada with his unit in early May and he was discharged on demobilization on 25 May in Halifax. His intended residence was Truro, Nova Scotia where his father was living.
Benjamin ended up moving back to Manitoba and when the 1921 census was taken he was working in Dauphin as a labourer, clearing land. He was married in Winnipeg on 23 October 1923, at age 33. His wife, 25-year-old Euphemia (Effie) Young, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. She had come to Canada with her family in 1901 and her parents settled in Morden, Manitoba where they took up farming. Benjamin and Effie had two children, a son Floyd and a daughter Shirley. Around 1930 they moved to northwestern Ontario and Benjamin found work as a carpenter. They may have spent a short time in Dryden before settling in Kenora, where Shirley was born in 1934. There were also two stillborn sons, Clarence Alexander (1931) and John William (1933), both buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery. The family lived on Matheson Street South and Benjamin joined the Kenora branch of the Canadian Legion. Effie was active in the Legion Ladies Auxiliary and the Women’s Institute. Benjamin passed away at home on 28 October 1954, at age 64. His wife Effie died in Kenora in 1971, at age 73, and they are both buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.
By Becky Johnson