Archives provinciales du Nouveau-Brunswick

Les soldats de la Grande Guerre : Projet de biographies historiques sur les soldats de Fredericton

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Ross, Frederick James

Corporal 817530
140th Battalion, New Brunswick
26th Battalion, New Brunswick
2nd Battalion, Canadian Machine Gun Corps


Corporal Frederick James Ross was born November 9, 1890 in Taymouth, New Brunswick to Wesley A. Ross and Catherine Elizabeth Young. Wesley and Catherine, both from the Nashwaak area, married one another in the summer of 1888. According to the 1911 Census, the Ross family lived in Fredericton on 336 Queen Street with their three daughters, Nellie, Maggie, and Vera, and their only son, Frederick James. While little is known of Fred’s early life growing up in Fredericton, records reveal that the Ross family were Methodists and attended the local Wesleyan Church while Fred would eventually become a student at the Fredericton Business College. Just prior to the war he would be working locally as a book-keeper. Newspapers indicate that his older sister, Nellie, would marry a Keswick Ridge man named Arthur Jewett, while Maggie would marry George Flewelling. Fred would never marry.

Without any prior military training, Fred would formally enlist for service September 17, 1915 in Sussex, New Brunswick with the 140th Battalion. According to his attestation papers, Corporal Ross was taller than most men standing five feet nine inches with a fair complexion, blue eyes, and light brown hair. Fred was 23 years of age. His service would be delayed early on during the winter of 1915-1916 as he would contract pneumonia, and while at Camp Valcartier would spend time in hospital with German Measles. Once discharged from hospital, he would leave with his unit to go overseas, never to return.

Wartime Experience

By the summer of 1916 Corporal F. J. Ross was with the 140th Battalion again and would travel with that unit from Halifax, Nova Scotia on September 9 aboard the S.S. Corsican for Liverpool, England. While many soldiers experienced an extended period of time in England training with their units, Fred’s time was only less than a month before he would be in France in November after joining a draft with the 26th Battalion, likely needed as reinforcement after Canadian involvement during the Somme battles. While remaining with the 26th Battalion over the winter of 1916-1917 at various fronts in northern France and Belgium, by the spring of 1917 he would be involved in attacks involving Canadians at the battle of Vimy Ridge.

The “Fighting 26th” were part of the 2nd Division’s 5th Infantry Brigade, which saw action near the center of the Canadian attack the morning of April 9, 1917. It is here where Corporal Ross would receive the Military Medal for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.” According to his military citation, Fred “when attached to a carrying party showed exceptional courage and bravery in following up the infantry to establish ammunition and water dumps under heavy shell fire, and at great personal risk. His fine example and perseverance was a great incentive to the remainder of his party in accomplishing a most trying and dangerous task”. After the success of Vimy and battles that followed, Corporal Ross would join the 5th Canadian Machine Gun Corps in June and later spend a week in hospital for treatment of an undocumented illness.

Between November 22 and December 6, 1917 Fred would be granted time away in England, likely in recognition of his award and efforts in the field up until that point in the war. A few months later, in early 1918, Fred would earn the rank of Corporal and would be absorbed into the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Machine Gun Corps in preparation for expected German attacks in the spring and the Canadian response that would follow. By August, Corporal Ross and his unit were near the city of Arras preparing for what many hoped would be the breakthrough needed to end the war over the next few months. According to Corporal Ross’s circumstances of death record dated August 27, during the final operations of Amiens, Fred was commanding a gun section East of Heninel and South West of Vis-En-Artois. It is here where his team was attacked by heavy enemy gun fire at 12:30 p.m. and Fred would be severely wounded by an enemy shell. His wounds were quickly attended to and he was carried to a dressing station, but he would not survive, dying before he arrived to receive emergency medical assistance. Fred was 27 years old.

Lest We Forget

Corporal Frederick James Ross, Military Medal recipient, is buried with honour at the Wancourt British Cemetery, in the village of Wancourt, France. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the village is 8 kilometers south-east of Arras, and was recaptured by the Canadian Corps August 26, 1918. There are 1, 107 identified casualties.

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