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 "26th Battalion today" on Facebook
Daily events of 100 years ago today

Soldiers of New Brunswick's 26th Battalion aboard the SS Caledonia
en route to Europe in June, 1915.

The shot was taken by one of the Battalion's Captains, F.F. May.
                                                                      (Byron O'Leary collection)

Ordinarily we enjoyed visiting Gram but tonight it was under protest. We wanted to take our sleds and go sliding on the hill behind her house. But Mum said that the wind was blowing and the temperature was 40 degrees below which would mean our cheeks could get frost bitten in minutes.

Aunt Sadie tried to cheer us up by playing Snakes and Ladders with us. She even made fudge and put it in the outside pantry to cool so we could eat it after we played a long game of crokinole.

Gram was slowly knitting a sock with heavy, grey yarn. She was saying little and seemed lost in thought.

Dad noticed her quietness and inquired if she was feeling okay.

Her reply came slowly in a very sad voice, as she answered him. “I was thinking about all the socks I knit when you were a boy of about twelve years as several of my childhood friends were overseas spending many a cold day and night in the wet muddy trenches.”  “The least we girls, at home, could do was knit socks for them, to try to keep their feet dry and warm.”

The kitchen became very quiet as she continued to speak of the suffering from wounds as well as the terrible cold they endured which would often be followed by days of  rain. “Those fellows never knew from one minute to the next if a bullet had their name on it.” “I am certain many of them longed for a warm bed to place their head on.” “The letters they wrote home were very sad to read.”

She mentioned that many ladies met together in towns and villages throughout New Brunswick to prepare boxes for the boys overseas.

For example the granddaughter of Mrs. John Pinney told me of the meetings her Grandmother attended over the Simonds Fire Station in East Saint John. This lady had two sons in the 26th Battalion and was recognized for her effort in knitting so many pairs of socks.

Those at home during the Great War  remembered the boys in the battle fields in prayer and thought. Today with the power of social media their descendants and those with an interest in the 26th Battalion are able to share their letters, photos and memories on

When I found this facebook page - I contacted Connell Smith seeking information about its origin and purpose. His answer was certainly enlightening: “The 26th Battalion today Facebook project attempts - to the extent possible - to witness the Great War day by day through the eyes of the soldiers of New Brunswick's 26th Battalion. To that end we post something about what members of the Battalion are doing each day 100 years later.

In other words we try to imagine today, January 16, 2015, is January 16, 1915.

It is a sobering exercise. The 26th Battalion suffered terrible casualties, about three quarters of the original 1150 soldiers who left Saint John in June 1915 were killed or wounded. So too were many of those who replaced them.

At home, families lived in desperate fear for the safety of their sons, husbands and fathers.

January 16th, 1915 was a Sunday. The men of the 26th are in Belgium getting ready to move into the front line trenches for another six day "tour". One of those who will be killed later in the war is Lieutenant Harry Wensley Ferguson, a Campbellton native, who took time almost every day to write in his diary: "Today is Sunday, but only by following the calendar can one keep track of the days. Captain Reverend McDonald of the Ammunition Column rode up to RE Farm to hold service for us in the shade of a grove of trees away from aircraft. I did not attend as I had to discuss plans for a concrete emplacement at K2A with OC 5 Field Company. Sent the section away under Sgt Comley. In orders today was notification of promotion to Captain of CE Fairweather and PD McAvity. PD appeared on Church Parade spic and span with his third star on, all brand new and the extra row of braid on his sleeve."

Ferguson's Diary - available through the New Brunswick Public Library system - is a terrific resource. But the project also gets big help from people willing to pass along copies of letters, stories, and - especially - photographs of grandfathers, great uncles, and others connected to the battalion. 

You might catch Byron O'Leary and Connell at their weekly meeting spot and - unofficial - headquarters, Loyalist City Coins in Saint John or contact them by email:

The group plans to continue daily postings until the 100th anniversary of the ending of the war in November 2018.

From the website of the Albert County Museum & RB Bennett Commemorative, “One Hundred years ago on Dec 20, 2015, Hugh C. Wright from Shepody, Albert County, NB was busy fighting with the 26th New Brunswick battalion in trenches of Belgium. He was only 20 years old at the time.”  A letter written home on December 20, 1915 -. “I just got a nice big parcel from Uncle Silas tonight with some cake, cookies and chocolate. It was a dandy box. Walter Danahy and Stevens were here so I gave them some and will give Silas some in the morning

Hugh Wright was one of the hundreds of Albert County men who volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), the majority joining the New Brunswick 26th Battalion. It was because of their sacrifices that Albert County was awarded the 77 mm field cannon which sits in the square in Hopewell Cape .

Thanks to Connell, Byron and a group of dedicated followers of the 26th Battalion today, the boys of the 26th are being remembered through the Social Media of the twenty first century at

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New Brunswick for sale.

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