|Date of Birth||May 12, 1894|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Mrs. Joseph Doucette (mother), Pinewood, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Labourer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Pinewood, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||December 10, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||21|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||October 16, 1952|
|Age at Death||58|
|Buried At||Mountain View Memorial Park, Lakewood, Washington, USA|
Private Ernest Joseph Doucette enlisted in December 1915, at age 21, and served for three and a half years. He was wounded at the Vimy front in November 1916 but he survived the war and returned home in May 1919.
Ernest was the son of Joseph and Adelaide Doucette of Pinewood, Rainy River District, Ontario. He was born on 12 May 1894 in the Kenora area, possibly in the town of Kenora (called Rat Portage at the time) or at Mikado Mine on Shoal Lake. When the 1901 census was taken he was living at Mikado Mine with his parents, his older sister Anna and his younger brother Henry. His father’s occupation was listed as miner. At the time of the next census in 1911 Ernest was living with his parents in Nelles Township, Rainy River, where the family had taken up farming.
Ernest was 20 years old when the war started and he enlisted about a year later, signing up in the town of Rainy River on 10 December 1915. He had served as an International Bridge Guard for five weeks before enlisting. He joined the 94th Battalion, which had been organized that fall and was being recruited in towns throughout northwestern Ontario. The battalion was based in Port Arthur and the recruits were sent there in the spring to train with the rest of the unit. They headed to Quebec on 9 June 1916 and spent a short time at Valcartier Camp, northwest of Quebec City, before embarking from Halifax on 28 June on the SS Olympic. In England the men were transferred to reserve battalions to be used as reinforcements for other units.
Ernest trained for two months with the 32nd Reserve Battalion. In early September he was drafted to a front line unit, the 7th (1st British Columbia) Battalion, and sent to France. When he joined them in the field in mid-October they were at the Somme. The unit had just finished its last rotation in the trenches and on 17 October the troops left Albert and moved north to the Lens-Arras sector, across from Vimy. On the night of 1 November they went into the front line for a five day rotation. Ernest was wounded on 6 November when an artillery shell exploded near him. He was hit in the head by shrapnel, suffering a concussion and lying unconscious for about half an hour. He was able to walk to the nearest medical station and from there he was sent to No. 22 General Hospital at Camiers. He had a piece of shrapnel removed from the left side of his head before being evacuated to the UK.
Ernest spent the next ten months recovering in England. He was a patient at Bagthorpe Military Hospital in Nottingham until 4 January 1917 when he was moved to the Hillingdon House convalescent centre. After that he spent four months at the Duchess of Connaught Canadian Red Cross Hospital, from 9 March to 4 July. When he was discharged he was given sick furlough then assigned to the 1st Reserve Battalion. By early September he was fit for front line duty again and he was sent back to France to rejoin the 7th Battalion. The unit had suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Hill 70 in August 1917 and in October they moved to the Ypres Salient for the assault on Passchendaele. The winter was spent in the Lens-Arras sector again and the troops were kept busy with training, raids and patrols, and regular rotations in the trenches. In May 1918 the Canadian Corps went into reserve before being given several weeks of intensive training in open warfare.
The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started with the Battle of Amiens in August and ended with the Armistice. The Canadians were heavily involved in operations in those last three months. Ernest had two weeks leave in Paris at the end of the September and he rejoined his unit in mid-October. On 11 November they were in Auberchicourt, France, near the Belgian border. A few days later they continued moving northeast, crossing into Belgium on 15 November. In early December the 7th Battalion took part in the March to the Rhine and spent several weeks as part of the occupying forces in Germany, returning to Belgium on 8 January 1919. After two months there they moved to France and Ernest was back in England on 22 March. He embarked for Canada on the SS Baltic at the end of April, arriving in Halifax on 7 May. He was discharged in Port Arthur four days later, with his intended residence listed as Pinewood, Ontario.
In August 1920 Ernest moved to the U.S. and settled in Tacoma, Washington. He was married in Tacoma on 30 September 1922 to 17-year-old Edith Mabel Ostrander. Edith was born in Minnesota in October 1904, the daughter of Herbert and Mabel Ostrander. Her family had lived in Minnesota and South Dakota before moving to Tacoma. Ernest and Edith had at least three children, Evelyn, Clinton and Arthur.
Ernest passed away on 16 October 1952, at age 58, and Edith died in 1990. They are buried in Mountain View Memorial Park in Lakewood, Washington. Ernest’s parents are both buried at Calvary Cemetery in Tacoma.
By Becky Johnson