|Date of Birth||February 21, 1882|
|Place of Birth||Selkirk|
|Next of Kin||Mrs. Margaret Scott (wife), Keewatin, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Packer, Lake of the Woods Milling Company|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Keewatin, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||March 3, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||34|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||October 27, 1917|
|Age at Death||35|
|Buried At||Waterloo Canadian Cemetery; commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium|
Private James Young Scott was married and the father of three young children when he enlisted in March 1916. He arrived in France that fall and he was killed in action a year later at the Battle of Passchendaele.
James was the son of William Scott and Agnes Smith of Selkirk, Selkirkshire, Scotland. William and Agnes were married in 1865 and over the next 25 years they had thirteen children, five sons (William, John, Thomas, James and George) and eight daughters (Isabella, Janet, Helen, twins Christina and Mary, Christina Mary, Aggie-Bella and Margaret). William, the tenth child, was born in Selkirk on 21 February 1882. Sadly six of his siblings died young: John at age 12, Isabella at 11, the twin girls at one day, Christina Mary at age 7 and Aggie-Bella at nine months. William (Sr.) worked in a textile factory as a woollen weaver, dye work labourer and foreman. When the 1901 census was taken James was living at home, listed as age 17 and employed as a tailor. When he was still in his teens he joined the British Territorial Army, a volunteer force similar to the militia, and he served with them for almost six years.
James immigrated to Canada in 1905, at age 23. He arrived in Halifax on 4 May on the Buenos Ayrean, listed as a tailor, coming from Selkirk, Scotland and going to Keewatin, Ontario. The following year, on 28 December 1906, he was married in Keewatin to Margaret Roberta Ramage. Margaret was from Manchester, England and she arrived in Canada in July 1906. Their daughter Margaret Winnifred was born in June 1908. When the 1911 census was taken the family was living in Keewatin and James was employed as a teamster at a flour mill. A second daughter, Agnes Smith, was born in July 1911 and a son Stanley followed in 1914. By then James was working as a packer for the Lake of the Woods Milling Company. Their youngest child, daughter Sybil, was born in 1916 or 1917.
James enlisted in the 94th Battalion on 3 March 1916 in the neighbouring town of Kenora. The unit was based in Port Arthur and the Kenora and Keewatin volunteers were sent there in May to join the rest of the recruits. On 9 June 1916 they left for Quebec and they spent a short time at Valcartier, northwest of Quebec City, before embarking from Halifax on 28 June 1916 on the SS Olympic. In England the men were absorbed into reserve battalions to be used as reinforcements for other units. James was assigned to the 17th Reserve Battalion in July and just a month later he was transferred to the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders) and sent to France.
James spent a few weeks at the base depot and with an entrenching battalion before joining the 43rd in the field at the end of September. The Canadians were at the Somme that fall and on 20 September the 43rd attacked the Zollern Graben Trench with a loss of 150 men. They were relieved on 21 September for two weeks of rest and refitting and it was during that time that James joined them in a draft of 90 reinforcements. Early in October the battalion had a two day rotation in the front trenches then on 8 October they were back in action, taking part in the assault on Regina Trench northwest of the village of Courcelette. They ran into problems during the early morning advance when they encountered uncut barbed wire and strong German counter-attacks and the unit suffered 360 casualties. After the operation they moved north to the Lens-Arras sector where they would spend the winter.
James was sent on a Lewis Gun course in December and early in 1917 the Canadian Corps began intensive training for their next big operation, the Battle of Vimy Ridge (9-14 April 1917). A few days before the battle James became a batman (officer’s servant) and he held the position until the middle of September. During that time his unit fought at Vimy and at the Battle of Hill 70 (15-25 August 1917). In October he had ten days leave in the UK and he rejoined his battalion in the Ypres Salient in Belgium a few days before the start of the Battle of Passchendaele (26 October-10 November 1917). The 43rd moved into the area on 22 October and on the night of 25 October the men took up their positions in preparation for the attack the next morning. It began at 5:40 am with a creeping barrage followed by the advancing infantry. An early morning mist turned into an all-day rain and in some places the men waded waist-deep in mud and water. The battalion was involved in heavy fighting but they were able to reach and hold a position on the Bellevue Spur until they were relieved at midnight on 27 October. The War Diary of the 43rd Battalion listed casualties for the two days as 38 killed, 67 missing and 244 wounded. James died on the second day, 27 October. From his Circumstances of Death record, ‘Killed during operations directed against Bellevue Spur, Passchendaele Ridge.’
James was buried at ‘Waterloo Canadian Cemetery’ which was probably part of Waterloo Farm Cemetery near Passchendaele. After the war his grave could not be identified. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, which bears the names of over 54,000 men who died in Belgium and have no known grave. He is also commemorated on the Next of Kin Monument in Winnipeg, on the Keewatin Cenotaph and on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plaque. The plaque honours staff and citizens who served in the Great War. At a ceremony in Keewatin on 4 August 1919 James’ family was given a medal in honour of his war service. It was inscribed: He fought for freedom and honour. In commemoration of J.Y. Scott who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War 1914-1918. Presented Aug. 4/19.
By 1921 James’ widow Margaret had moved to Winnipeg and she married Benjamin Clark McFadyen there in April 1923. Margaret died in 1954 and she’s buried in Brookside Cemetery. Benjamin had predeceased her in 1950 and she was survived by two sons, Stanley Scott and Robert McFadyen, and two married daughters, Mrs. John R. (Sybil) Adams and Mrs. John G. (Agnes) Hughes. Around 1949 Stanley moved back to Kenora, where he worked at the pulp and paper mill. He died in 1976 and he’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.
By Becky Johnson
Photo at the top is the Next of Kin Monument in Winnipeg.