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

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Gough, Walter Ernest

Private 709834
104th Battalion, New Brunswick
5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles

Background

Private Walter Ernest Gough was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, May 8, 1894. Walter was the second oldest of a large family who resided at 63 Shore Street in Fredericton. Walter’s parents were Isabelle Amelia (Sturgeon) Gough and James Wellington Gough. Isabelle originally came from White Rapids, in northern New Brunswick, and James was from Fredericton. The 1911 Census reveals that Walter had four brothers and two sisters. His brothers were James Percy, Norman, Kenneth and Robin. The names of his sisters were Barbara and Jean. All three older brothers in the Gough family, James Percy, Walter Ernest, and Norman would enlist for service during World War One.

While little is known of his early life prior to his service, Walter’s attestation documents reveal that he worked as a shoemaker at the Hartt Shoe Factory in Fredericton and was not married. According to the Daily Gleaner, Walter was known as one of the best amateur baseball players in the city of Fredericton and was a popular young man. At the time of his enlistment, Walter stood five foot eight inches tall, had a dark complexion, gray eyes, and his hair was brown. The Goughs were Presbyterians. Walter was twenty one years old with virtually no military experience when he arrived in Sussex, New Brunswick on November 23, 1915 to enlist with the 104th Battalion. While in Fredericton training with the 104th, just prior to leaving, newspapers reported that as he was boarding the train for Sussex to go overseas, he heard the news that his younger brother, Norman, had been wounded while in France. Only a few weeks earlier Walter and his family had also received the horrible news that his older brother, James Percy, had died on May 7. It had been just one day before Walter’s birthday.

Wartime Experience

Only one month after his brother’s death and news of Norman’s injuries, Walter embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia on June 28, 1916 with the 104th Battalion aboard the S.S Olympic. Walter disembarked in Liverpool, England on July 5 with the 104th Battalion only to join the 5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles in November as his New Brunswick regiment was being absorbed into other units. Newspapers reported that Walter, eager to get to the front, volunteered to help reinforce the 5th CMR along with two chums from Fredericton, Harry “Dutchy” Lynn and Frank Merryweather. Both Harry and Frank would later be wounded the following year in 1917. They would train together in England with the 5th CMR until leaving for the front with their new unit in late November. Walter, or “Tid” as he was known to friends, would not be as fortunate. After arriving in France in late November, after the Somme battles, “Tid” would arrive to reinforce the 5th CMR making his way to the Arras region near Vimy. During the Vimy Ridge attacks, the 5th Battalion, serving with the 8th Brigade, was used as support for the 1st, 2nd, and 4th CMR units. After Vimy Ridge, Canadians were involved in a series of push back attacks intended to remove the Germans beyond the Vimy and Lens areas.

According to the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles War Diary, heavy enemy shelling was reported as were exchanges between enemy and allied planes near Lens by mid-July. While Walter was engaged in the area with his unit, heavy shelling continued on trench lines and explosions were observed near railway embankments. While little is known regarding what exactly happened to him, Walter Ernest Gough was reported killed near Avion and Mericourt, just south east of Lens on July 16, 1917. Walter was only 23 years old.

Lest We Forget

Private Walter Ernest Gough is buried in La Chaudière Military Cemetery in Vimy, France along with 594 identified casualties. It is located 3 kilometers south of Lens and is on the North West side of Vimy. Walter was buried in Chinook Cemetery along with 32 other Canadians before being brought to this much larger cemetery in 1919.The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker at the foot of Vimy Ridge.

*This biography was researched and written by Mona Wong & Cameron Taylor, Grade 8 students (2015-2016) at George Street Middle School located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

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