Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 13, 1893
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJohn Wesley Loyst Sr. (father), Chase, British Columbia
Trade / CallingRancher
Service Details
Regimental Number687998
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion47th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKamloops, British Columbia
Address at EnlistmentChase, British Columbia
Date of EnlistmentMarch 21, 1916
Age at Enlistment23
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 8, 1921
Age at Death28
Buried AtChase Cemetery, Chase, British Columbia

Loyst, John Wesley

Corporal John Wesley Loyst enlisted in March 1916 and served overseas for two and a half years. He was wounded at the Battle of Vimy Ridge but he survived the war and returned home in June 1919.

John was the oldest son of John Wesley Loyst Sr. and Mary Sinclair of Chase, British Columbia. John Sr. was from Addington County, Ontario and Mary was born in Port Kent, Maine. They were married in 1888 and John was born on 13 April 1893 in Keewatin, Ontario, where his father worked in the lumber industry. He had seven brothers and sisters: Alma Mary, Robert, Joseph Andrew, Ethel, Donald Cameron, Isabel and Archie. When he was growing up his family moved from Keewatin to the RM of Woodlands in Manitoba, then around 1909 to the town of Chase in British Columbia. John Sr. worked in Chase as a carpenter and later as a contractor.

John was 21 when the war started and he enlisted about a year and a half later, signing up in Kamloops on 21 March 1916. He said he had three years experience with a mounted militia unit, the 31st Regiment, British Columbia Horse. He joined the 172nd Battalion (Rocky Mountain Rangers), which was headquartered in Kamloops. After ten months of training the recruits headed overseas, embarking from Halifax on the SS Mauritania on 25 October. In England the battalion was broken up and used as reinforcements for other units. John was one of a draft of 200 men transferred from the 172nd to the 54th (Kootenay) Battalion. He joined his new unit in France in mid-December.

Over the winter of 1916-17 the Canadians were holding a sector of the front line near Arras. In January and February the 54th Battalion had several rotations in the front trenches. The men also formed work parties, repaired trenches and dugouts and carried out raids and patrols. On 1 March the 54th took part in a disastrous, poorly planned gas attack on the Germans, suffering heavy casualties. The unit received reinforcements later that month as they prepared for the next major assault – the Battle of Vimy Ridge. On the night on 8 April the battalion moved into position and the operation began at 5:30 the next morning. From the War Diary of the 54th Battalion, Vimy Ridge, 9 April 1917: ‘Weather snow & rainstorms. 5:30 am Bn attacked, – 350 all ranks in four waves behind 102nd Bn.‘ The unit was on the right flank of the 4th Canadian Division and their objective was a high point of the ridge called Hill 145. Artillery had failed to put the German machine guns out of action and the men were under heavy fire as they advanced up the slope. Their casualties that day were 24 killed, 105 wounded and 100 missing, 2/3 of the unit’s battle strength. John was one of the casualties, with a bullet wound to his upper left arm. He was sent to a Casualty Clearing Station then admitted to No. 3 General Hospital in Boulogne on 10 April. From there he was evacuated to England.

John recovered at the Ontario Military Hospital in Orpington, Kent from 11 April to 5 May. After another week at a convalescent hospital in Bromley he was assigned to the BC Regiment Depot but served on command to the 3rd Canadian Convalescent Depot. From July to September he trained with two reserve battalions. On 27 September he was transferred to a new unit, the 47th (British Columbia) Battalion, and sent back to France. He joined the 47th in the field in early November, during the Battle of Passchendaele, and he served with them for the next year and a half. The Canadians were heavily involved in the final period of the war, which started with the Battle of Amiens in August 1918. In October John had two weeks leave in the UK and he rejoined the 47th a week before the Armistice. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on 4 November and on 11 November when hostilities ended his unit was in Valenciennes.

The battalion continued moving east into Belgium and they spent the next five months there. John was promoted to Corporal on 10 March and on 18 April his unit entrained for Le Havre. They embarked for England on 27 April, landing at Southampton and proceeding to Bramshott Camp. After another four weeks they were on their way home, sailing on the Empress of Britain on 28 May and arriving in Quebec on 4 June. John was discharged on demobilization a week later. His brother Joseph Andrew served with an artillery unit and he was wounded in September 1918 but he also survived the war.

After his discharge John returned to Chase, where he worked in a saw mill for the next two years. In May 1921 he took a job as a fire warden at Momich Lake, about 60 km north of Chase. He died at Momich Lake on 8 August 1921, either from drowning or from a stroke suffered while he was in the water. He was 28 years old. John is buried in Chase Cemetery, along with his parents, his grandparents and his brother Donald.

By Becky Johnson


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