Honour Roll of the Nova Scotia Overseas Highland Brigade: 85th, 185th, 193rd, 219th Battalions.


280 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-897009-14-7
DDC 940.4'67716




Reviewed by Tim Cook

Tim Cook is the transport archivist at the Government Archives and
Records Disposition Division, National Archives of Canada, and the
author of No Place to Run: The Canadian Corps and Gas Warfare in the
First World War.


While this book will never be a bestseller, W. James MacDonald has done a service for Canadians. MacDonald has meticulously compiled a list of those Nova Scotians who went overseas in the Great War of 19141918 as part of the Nova Scotia Highland Brigadewhich consisted of the 85th, 185th, 193rd, and 219th battalionsand who were subsequently killed in combat, accidents, or other circumstances. The honour roll consists of short biographies of the fallen, including name, community, tombstone data like date of birth and death, next of kin, and place of burial. In almost all cases, each of the entries is also accompanied by a photograph, which resonates strongly with the reader. A useful appendix contains a list of cemeteries where Canadians are buried, battle maps, and an example of a letter written by an officer to the mother of a killed soldier. A close reading of the entries will repay, as historians or genealogists can examine the age of enlistees or prewar profession, thereby revealing much about the society from which these soldiers were drawn. However, one wishes more research could have been supplied on the circumstances of death in battle, or personal accounts drawn from letters or private musings on how the soldiers had embraced life.

Throughout the book, one is struck by the withering loss, not only of the young and middle-aged soldiers, but also of the loved ones who had to deal with the anguish and agony of men who marched away, never to return. Perhaps this is best summed up in brothers Bruce and Oscar Nickerson, who enlisted within a month of each other in early 1916 and were both killed while serving on the Western Front with the 85th Battalion.


MacDonald, W. James., “Honour Roll of the Nova Scotia Overseas Highland Brigade: 85th, 185th, 193rd, 219th Battalions.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 30, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/27389.