|Date of Birth||May 16, 1887|
|Place of Birth||Bradford, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Mrs. Mary Dougherty (mother), 415 Main Street, Toronto, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Teamster|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||3rd Machine Gun Company|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Machine Gun Corps|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||July 3, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||29|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||September 24, 1918|
|Age at Death||31|
|Buried At||Wanquetin Communal Cemetery Extension, Wanquetin, France|
|Plot||II. E. II.|
Private John Joseph Dougherty enlisted in July 1916 and arrived in France a year later. He was killed in September 1918 by a large bomb dropped from a German airplane.
According to his service record John was born on 16 May 1887 in Bradford, Ontario, a small village about 50 km north of Toronto. When he enlisted on 3 July 1916 he was living in the town of Kenora in northwestern Ontario and working as a teamster. He was 29 years old, single, 5’4″ and 140 lb. with grey eyes and black hair. Next of kin was his mother Mrs. Mary Dougherty in Toronto. John signed up with the 141st (Bull Moose) Battalion, which had been organized in December 1915 and was recruited in the District of Rainy River. On 1 August 1916 John left for Port Arthur with the other local volunteers and a huge crowd gathered at the Kenora train station to see the men off. The battalion trained in Port Arthur over the winter then headed east on 21 April 1917, embarking from Halifax a week later on the SS Olympic. Before leaving John had changed his next of kin to his fiancée, Miss Eva Pearl Weigand of Fort William.
In England the 141st was absorbed into the 18th Reserve Battalion to be used as reinforcements for other units. Six weeks later John was transferred to the 52nd Battalion, a front line unit that had been recruited in towns throughout northwestern Ontario, including Kenora. John arrived at the base depot in France on 22 June 1917 and after a short time there followed by two months with an entrenching battalion he joined the 52nd in the field in September. That fall all four Canadian Divisions were sent to the Ypres Salient in Belgium for the Battle of Passchendaele (26 October-10 November 1917). Artillery shells and heavy rains had turned the battlefield into a wasteland of mud, swamp and water-filled craters and the Canadians suffered 15,000 casualties in the operation, with many of the missing and dead lost in the mud. The 52nd Battalion took part in the attack up the Bellevue Spur on 26 October, reaching their objectives and digging in until they were relieved on the night of 27-28 October. Following the operation the battalion provided stretcher bearers to carry out the wounded. On 11 November, the day after Passchendaele was captured, they went into the front lines for a three day rotation. While they were there they suffered about 100 casualties from artillery fire and a German counter-attack.
After Passchendaele the 52nd Battalion moved to a sector northwest of Lens in France and on 28 December they went into the trenches for six days. On 30 December John and eleven other men in his unit were poisoned by German gas shells. John was evacuated to a casualty clearing station for treatment then he recuperated in a convalescent centre until the middle of February. From there he was sent to the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp and in March he had two weeks leave in the UK. John was back with the 52nd Battalion early in April but two weeks later he was transferred to a new unit, the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Machine Gun Corps. He joined them in the field in early May. At the end of the month he was admitted to a field ambulance due to an infection in his foot and leg and by the middle of June he had recovered and rejoined the machine gun battalion.
The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started with the Battle of Amiens in August 1918. The Canadians had some of their greatest victories during that time but they also suffered heavy losses, with 20% of their total battle casualties occurring in the last three months of the war. After the successful operation at Amiens John’s unit stayed in the area and had two long rotations in the front lines. They were relieved from the second one on 20 September and the next day the battalion moved to a camp at Warlus, just west of Arras. Three days later, on 24 September, John was killed when a German airplane dropped a large bomb on the camp during a parade.
From the War Diary of the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Machine Gun Corps, 24 September 1918: At 10 a.m. a bomb was dropped in Camp from an aeroplane, killing [33?] O.Rs outright, and wounding 35 O.Rs: all being in ‘A’ and ‘C’ Batteries. Of the wounded, 15 O.Rs died later at C.C.S. [Casualty Clearing Station].
From the Circumstances of Death record for John: During a parade in No. 1 Camp, Warlus, he was instantly killed by a bomb dropped from an enemy aeroplane.
John is buried in Wanquetin Communal Cemetery Extension in the village of Wanquetin, about 3 km west of Warlus. The cemetery was started in March 1916 and among the last burials were those of John and 32 other members of the 3rd Canadian Machine Gun Battalion, all killed on 24 September 1918 and buried in Rows C and E.
John is commemorated on page 399 of the First World War Book of Remembrance, on display in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
His fiancée Eva Pearl Wiegand married Harold Field Norman in 1921 in Fort William. She died in 1979 at age 86 and she’s buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Thunder Bay.
By Becky Johnson
Photo at the top is the Wanquetin Communal Cemetery Extension.