The O'Leary Collection—Medals of The Royal Canadian Regiment

733119 Private Isaac Zenas Weagle

The Royal Canadian Regiment

By: Capt (ret'd) Michael M. O'Leary, CD, The RCR

Isaac Zenas Weagle was born in Danesville, Queen's County, Nova Scotia, on 18 Aug 1889. Danesville is a small community on Nova Scotia's south shore between Bridgewater and Liverpool. Isaac was one of fifteen children of Israel Weagle, and the second child of Israel's third wife, Janet (Jennie).

Weagle's family, led by parents Israel and Janet, can be found in the 1891, 1901, and 1911 Canadian Censuses. The appearances of the family, although there are inevitable differences in the recording and transcription of names, show that Isaac Weagle is the second oldest child, and the oldest son, of eight offspring of Israel and Janet. In 1911, the Weagle household consisted of parents Isreal (78) and Janet (43) with children Zenas (20), Charles Caleb (17), Eva Blanche (15), Phillip Vincent (13), James Thomas George (10), Florence A. (7), and Ernest Leroy (4).

By 1915, Isaac Weagle had moved to Chester, Nova Scotia. Weagle attested for service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.) with the 112th Overseas Battalion at Chester, N.S., on 10 Nov 1915. A 26 year old telephone linesman, Weagle was described on his attestation paper as 5 feet 8 1/2 inches tall, weighing 170 pounds, with a 41-inch chest, a fair complexion, blue eyes, and dark brown hair. His religious denomination was Methodist. Weagle identified his wife, Laura, as his next of kin.

The 112th Battalion (Nova Scotia), CEF, was authorized on 22 Dec 1915. The unit was recruited throughout Nova Scotia and mobilized at Windsor, N.S.

On 12 Feb 1916, during the unit's period of organization and initial training, Weagle was promoted to Corporal. This would be a temporary rank and when the Battalion sailed for England Weagle was listed in its roll as a Private.

The 112th Battalion and embarked for Great Britain on 23 Jul 1916 aboard the S.S. Olympic and disembarked at Liverpool, England on 31 Jul 1916. The Battalion provided reinforcements for the Canadian Corps in the field until 7 Jan 1917, at which time its remaining personnel were absorbed by the 26th Reserve Battalion, C.E.F.

On the same date he landed in England, 31 Jul 1916, Weagle was again appointed to the rank of Acting Corporal.

Commencing August, 1916, Weagle established a monthly Pay Assignment of $22 to be sent to his wife (which he reduced to $20 in December 1917). As a Private in the C.E.F., Weagle was paid $1.00 per day plus an additional ten cents daily field allowance. His pay assignment represented about two-thirds of his monthly pay. Laura Weagle also received $20 monthly Separation Allowance, which had begun in March, 1916. The amount of separation allowance would increase to $25 per month in December, 1917.

While waiting to join a reinforcement draft for overseas to France, Weagle completed The Form of Will in his soldier's pay book on 6 Oct 1916. In this will he left all of his estate to his wife, Mrs. Laura Weagle, Chester, Lunenburg Co. N.S. On 1 Dec 1916, he was reduced in rank again, being reverted to his permanent grade of Private for inefficiency.

On 2 Feb 1917, Weagle was transferred to 26th Reserve Battalion. On month later, on 5 Mar 1917, he proceeded overseas for service with The RCR and landed in France the following day to be taken on the strength of The RCR.

Weagle spent most of his first month in France remaining at the Canadian Base Depot (C.B.D.). On 31 Mar 1917, he left the C.B.D. for his first stage in progressing to the front lines. He joined the 3rd Entrenching Battalion in the field on 3 Apr 1917. This Divisional troops unit was employed as a ready labour force and by design its troops were a forward reserve of reinforcements for the division's fighting battalions. They were also used as labour forces to maintain and build trenches or other work as needed.

After a little more than a week at the Entrenching Battalion, during which the unit supported the 3rd Division's efforts at Vimy Ridge, Weagle left to join The RCR on 12 Apr 1917. While Weagle was on the strength of the Regiment from the date he arrived in France, the casualties suffered at Vimy Ridge would require many more reinforcements than those already designated for The RCR. ON 14 Apr 1917 another 100 soldiers would be taken on the strength from the 26th Res. Bn., among them another 78 men who, like Weagle, were originally from the 112th Battalion. In total, 289 men of the 112th Battalion (Nova Scotia) would serve with The RCR.

The day before Weagle arrived at the unit, The RCR was relieved in the trenches by the 58th Battalion to commence a month of "rest" and working parties. On 12 May 1917, the Regiment would be back on front line duty, relieving the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles in a Brigade Reserve role and immediately setting every man to the task of deepening and improving trenches on the new lines. Four days later, the Regiment moved to billets near the Quarries Line.

Weagle was in billets with the Regiment for two days when he reported sick on 18 May 1917. Suffering from "P.U.O.," i.e., pyrexia of unknown origin, and colloquially termed trench fever, Weagle was admitted to No. 1 Canadian Field Ambulance. After a week, on 26 May 1917, he was admitted to No. 2 Australian General Hospital.

Weagle was invalided (sick) and evacuated across the Channel to England on 29 May 1917. Making the crossing aboard the hospital ship H.S. St. Davis, he was posted to the Nova Scotia Regimental Depot (N.S.R.D.), Bramshott. The N.S.R.D. was part of the a regionally based reinforcement system established in early 1917, with named Depots taking in troops from battalions raised in those areas in Canada and providing reinforcement drafts to similarly designated fighting units. The RCR, having been headquartered in Halifax in the decade before the War, was associated with the N.S.R.D. These Depots also became the parent unit for any soldiers returned to England from their affiliated battalions in France and Flanders.

Once in England, Weagle was admitted to Wharncliffe War Hospital at Sheffield on 30 May 1917. He would be in hospital for 85 days before being transferred on 23 Aug 1917 to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital at Woodcote Park, Epsom. He would remain here another 29 days. On 19 Sep 1917 Weagle was discharged from Hospital to the 2nd Canadian Convalescent Depot at Bramshott with the medical category "Di," i.e., expected to be fit for Category A after completion of remedial training.

Weagle was soon back in hospital, this time with a malady that shows he may not have been the best behaved soldier in the C.E.F. during the preceding month while recuperating from the flu. On 5 Oct 1917, he ceased to be attached to 2nd C.C.D. on admission to No. 12 Canadian General Hospital with a diagnosis of gonorrhea.

That affliction would dictate his treatment for the next while. Weagle was admitted to the Canadian Special Hospital, Witley Camp, where his Venereal Disease Case-Card noted that he admitted to his last "Date and Place of Exposure" on 25 Sep 1917 at Briddlington. The series of case cards in Weagle's service record provides a detailed history of his treatment. His stay here would last 74 days, with his discharge notes stating "apparently cured, stoppages as for dates." (It does not appear that the usual stoppages of 50 cents per pay while under treatment for venereal disease was entered on Weagle's pay records.)

Weagle ceased to be shown as a patient in Hospital on 28 Dec 1917 and returned to being on command to 2nd Canadian Convalescent Depot (C.C.D.) "On Command" was a temporary duty assignment without changing parent units, which would still be the N.S.R.D.

Despite his extended hospital stay in England, on 11 Jan 1918, Weagle was awarded one good conduct stripe. A month later, on 8 Feb 1918, he ceased to be attached to 2nd C.C.D. and was taken on the strength of the 17th Reserve Battalion from the N.S.R.D. He remained with the reserve battalion for two months and on 4 Apr 1918 proceeded overseas to rejoin The RCR in the field.

Weagle landed in France and was taken on the strength of The RCR on 6 Apr 1918. As with his previous journey to the front, he joined a depot unit in France, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Depot (C.I.R.D.), until sent forward. The following day, Weagle left the 3rd C.I.R.D. and joined the C.C.R.C. to wait until he joined a reinforcement draft. That wait would be four months long.

It was not until 12 Aug 1918 that Weagle was on the move, leaving the C.C.R.C. on 12 Aug 1918 and reaching the Regiment on 14 Aug. This time, he would last three weeks.

On 14/15 Aug 1918, The RCR was engaged in an attack on the village of Parvillers, gaining all their objectives. The Regiment was relieved the following day and with days split between rest and travel, went into the attack again at Monchy on 26 Aug 1918. Supporting the subsequent actions by other units, the Regiment was relieved again on 29 Aug 1918, moving to billets in Arras to rest until 1 Sep 1918.

On 2 Sep 1918 The RCR went into Corps Reserve in positions east of Arras. This was followed by a day in Divisional Reserve and then Brigade Reserve from 6-11 Sep 1918.

Isaac Weagle was wounded on 7 Sep 1918. The Regiment's War Diary entry for the day reads:

"7-9-1918. – FIELD.

"Heavy showers all day. Trenches at Battalion Headquarters flooded. Heavy enemy shelling in vicinity of Transport Lines causing casualties. Enemy shelled rear areas at night with H.V. Gun.

"Lieut. W.H. POOLE returned from leave. 5 O.R's from C.C.R.C. 1 O.R. from C.C.S. 1 O.R. Killed. 15 O.R's wounded."

Weagle was admitted to No. 4 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station. His condition was described as "S.W. legs, face, and feet (amputation)." "S.W.," i.e., shot wounds, were a general description for wounds by shrapnel or shell splinter.

Isaaw Zenas Weagle died of wounds at No. 4 Casualty Clearing Station at 8.45 p.m. on 7 Sep 1918. He was buried in Duisans British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France. At the bottom of his Commonwealth War Graves headstone is the inscription selected by his wife: "He Giveth His Beloved Sleep." In a cemetery containing 3289 identified casualties, Weagle lies between another Royal Canadian, Pte. Clifford Moss, M.M., and a soldier of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, Cpl. J. Feeney.

There are three Royal Canadians buried at Duisans Cemetery who died of wounds on 7 Sep 1918. The other two, Privates Moss and Pay, have surviving circumstances of death forms. (The available records end with the surname "Sims" leaving Weagle's, and many others, lost to researchers.) Both of these men's Circumstances of Death details tell a similar story and, based on the singular event referred to in the War Diary causing casualties, it is reasonable to believe that Weagle suffered the same fate. Private Moss' Circumstances of Death form reads as follows:

"DIED OF WOUNDS.

"Whilst on a pay parade in Arras on the evening of September 7th, 1918, prior to proceeding on a course of instruction [Pte. Moss] was wounded in the legs and face by shrapnel from the explosion of shell which struck the side of the building and which was fired from an enemy long range gun. He was immediately conveyed to the 2/3rd London Ambulance and evacuated to No.4 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station where he died the same night."

On 30 Jul 1920 a War Service Gratuity to Dependents of Deceased Soldiers form was completed on behalf of Laura Weagle. She was entitled to receive $180, which was then reduced by the $80 she had previously received as a Special Pension Bonus. This was sent to her at 27 Columbus Place, Halifax, N.S.

For his service in the CEF, Weagle was entitled to receive the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. These were despatched to his widow at 27 Columbus Place, Halifax, N.S., on 23 May 1922. Laura Weagle would also receive the Memorial Plaque and Scroll and a silver Memorial Cross. Weagle's mother, by then Mrs. Earle Joudrey, Danesville, Queen's County, N.S., would also receive a silver Memorial Cross. The plaque and crosses would be despatched in 1921 and 1922.

Two of Isaac Weagle's brothers would also serve during the First World War.

3185744 Private Vincent Weagle (b. 30 May 1899) enlisted in the C.E.F. with the 1st Depot Battalion of the Nova Scotia Regiment on 24 May 1918 at Aldershot, N.S. He arrived in England on 12 Oct 1918 and served the remainder of the war with the 17th Reserve Battalion in England. Discharged at Halifax, 22 Jun 1919.

3203086 Private Thomas George Weagle (b. 9 Jan 1898) enlisted in the C.E.F. with the 1st Depot Battalion of the Nova Scotia Regiment on 11 Apr 1918 at McNab's Island, Halifax, N.S. He proceeded overseas with a Special Draft, 63rd Regiment (Halifax Rifles), and arrived in England on 7 Jul 1918. After some months with the 17th Reserve Battalion, he proceeded overseas to join The RCR, reaching the unit on 2 Nov 1918. Discharged at Halifax, 15 Mar 1919.

Pro Patria


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