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Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Soldiers of the Great War; The Fredericton Soldier Biography History Initiative

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Brewer, Storey Connor

Private 709003
5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles

Background

Private Storey Connor Brewer was born on July 4, 1898 in Smith’s Corner New Brunswick to Holland Brewer and Carrie Allen. Although various records have conflicting birth dates for Storey, the 1901 census appears to be correct and is reflected above. Storey lived in Burt’s Corner with his family, the eldest brother to Harold Magnus and Vera Pearl. He also had three siblings who passed away at a very young age. According to records, on December 3, 1912, Ervine F. died at the age of five months and in 1918, twins Margaret and Mary died only one day after their birth to Holland’s second wife Maggie Jones. All of this happened at a time when Storey’s mother, Carrie, passed away only a few years earlier in 1913.

When looking at the Brewer family, one cannot ignore how loss played a role in the lives of the children and parents as they all experienced the trauma of losing a family member at some point. While the father Holland Brewer, a labourer and mill worker by trade, would remarry Margaret Rachel Jones on December 26, 1917 after the death of his first wife, Carrie, it would come at a time when he had just lost his son to the Great War. Records suggest that the Brewers were Irish Baptists and grew up experiencing the hard working life of rural New Brunswick. When Storey enlisted for service in Saint John, New Brunswick on November 4, 1914, he had been working as a shoemaker, in all likelihood with other Fredericton boys at the local Hartt Shoe Factory. Only 16 years of age and single, Storey was five foot six inches tall and had blue eyes, light brown hair, and what was described as having a dark complexion. While Storey did claim to have prior military experience with the local 71st York Carleton Regiment on his attestation documents, his early entry into service would not be an easy transition.

Wartime Experience

After formally enlisting for service in the fall of 1914, Storey’s young age, only 16, perhaps played a role in his brief discharge from service after being in Saint John the winter of 1914-1915 with the 26th Battalion. Private Brewer’s casualty form reveals that in February of 1915 he would be discharged for reasons unknown, only to re-join with the 104th Battalion by the fall of the same year. After being struck of service likely because of his young age, on October 13th, 1915 he re-enlisted at Sussex with the 104th Battalion, New Brunswick Regiment and trained with his unit over the winter of 1915-1916. It was at this time that his records reveal him being appointed the rank of Lance Corporal.

Two years after enlisting for service, Storey left with the 104th Battalion from Halifax for England on June 28, 1916 aboard the S.S. Olympic. After a week-long trip across the Atlantic Ocean, he would arrive with his unit to Liverpool, England on July 5 and spend the next few months in training at Whitley Camp. By late August his rank would revert back to private as he joined the 5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles in preparations for going to France with his new unit. His service record reveals him being “admonished” in early September for failing to obey and order, however, such occurrences were not rare with young men away from home for this first time. In November of 1916 he would be formally transferred to the 5th CMR and would be in France a month later in December. Prior to leaving for the front, he would name his father, Holland Brewer, as his next-of-kin in his will. He arrived with his unit for duty in France on February 26, 1917 and he would take part in all engagements with the 5th CMR over the next nine months. By the fall of 1917, Private Brewer was with his unit near Ypres, Belgium pushing the German line off and beyond the Passchendaele Ridge. On the morning of October 30, at approximately 5:50 a.m., noted as a clear but very cold and windy day that brought rain in the afternoon, Private Brewer was part of the 5th CMR, 8th Brigade’s frontal assault on the left flank which made the best progress of any unit that day. Only after an hour and a half of fighting that morning, according to Nicholson (1962), “observers could see enemy parties in full retreat, joining large numbers who were withdrawing in disorder along the roads running north from Crest Farm and Mosslemarkt”. It is during the fighting at Passchendaele that Private Brewer would go missing sometime over the next two days and would never be found again. He was officially reported to have been killed sometime between October 30 and 31. His body would never be recovered. Private Storey Brewer was only 18 years of age.

While news of his death would reach home in local papers, there would be limited information about what actually happened to Storey. By November 27, newspapers were reporting a Sunday memorial service being held in the community of Burtt’s Corner at the Christian Church in his honour. Rev. H.E. Cooke delivered the memorial address to a community paying their last respects to a young man described as a brave young soldier. Three years after his death, Storey’s father passed away. As Holland Brewer was named the only next-of-kin, there was no beneficiary named to receive Private Brewer’s medals.

Lest We Forget

Private Storey Connor Brewer is remembered with honour at the Menin Gate Memorial on the eastern side of Ypres, Belgium to those whose bodies were never recovered in Belgium. He is also named on his parent’s grave marker in the Burtt’s Corner Cemetery, located at Burtt’s Corner, New Brunswick, Canada. Private Brewer is the only individual whose name appears on three community cenotaphs (Mactaquac, Stanley, and Fredericton).

*This biography was researched and written by Austin Allen & Jiun Chung, Grade 8 students (2015-2016) at George Street Middle School located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

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