Private John Angus McNeil

John Angus McNeil was the second of six children—four sons and two daughters— born to Donald “Brown” and Sarah (Grant) McNeil of Malignant Cove, Antigonish County, NS. Donald passed away around 1886 and the couple’s two youngest children—daughters Catherine and Isabelle—died before 1891, leaving Sarah to care for four young boys.

While Sarah’s eldest son, John Joseph, remained at Malignant Cove, the three others ventured westward sometime before 1911. John Angus worked as a foreman in a Vancouver Island logging camp, while his youngest brother, William Bernard—known to family as “Willie B.”—was employed as a labourer in the same camp. Alexander, the third sibling, toiled as a logger on nearby Thurlow Island.

Sometime after 1911, John Angus made his way to New Zealand, where he hoped to establish a sheep farm. In the meantime, he worked as a sawmill hand for a Mr. H. Moss at Hekein, Otago Province, South Island.

Shortly after the outbreak of war in Europe, two brothers enlisted for military service. Willie B. led the way, attesting with the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) at Camp Valcartier, QB on September 23, 1914. Two days later, in distant New Zealand, John Angus completed his military medical examination. On October 20, he formally attested for overseas service with the Otago Infantry Reinforcements at Trentham, Upper Hut, Wellington Region, North Island, New Zealand.

…to continue reading, visit First World War Veterans of Guysborough County.


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