This is an interesting post for me as this is the first entry where I have memories of people who had direct connections to the subject of the post. This makes it feel both more personal and more difficult to write.
John Brady was my 2nd Great Uncle. He and his siblings, my Great Grandmother Elizabeth Brady, my second great uncle Thomas, and my second great aunts Emily (who my father remembers fondly) and Charlotte (who I met several times as a child), were all born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to John Brady and Emily Topping. The family emigrated to Canada in 1904 when my Great Grandmother was 14, Thomas was 12, Aunt Em was 11, John was 8, and Aunt Charlotte was 3. The family settled in Toronto on Salem Avenue where John was a carpenter, as was his son Thomas according to the 1911 census. In April 1911, John contracted Influenza and died soon after of pneumonia. His eldest child, Elizabeth, had already married John Russell Miller in 1910, and had delivered her first child, Samuel, just ten days before her father’s death. John’s other four children were still at home at the time of his death, the oldest of whom, Thomas, was 19. In October of 1913, Thomas died of “phthisis pulmonalis,” otherwise known as Tuberculosis. Less than a year later, Canada was at war.
On February 5th, 1915, at the age of 19, John Brady enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, in the 7th Canadian Mounted Rifles. He arrived in England in June of 1915 where he was transferred to the 2nd Canadian Divisional Ammunition Column. It was with the 2nd CDAC that he first arrived in France in September of 1915. From arrival in France until April 2, 1916, the John was was stationed near Berthen, about 20 kilometres south-west of Ypres, where the Divisional Ammunition Column functioned as the railhead where divisional ammunition was stored before being shipped to the front. On April 2, John and 21 other ordinary ranks were transferred to the 6th Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery. Just over a month later, he was transferred to the 5th Brigade stationed in Dikesbusch, Belgium due to a reorganization of the brigades.
It is in May 1916 that there is a first mention in his record of an issue with his hearing as he was admitted to hospital for an infection in his ear. This became a chronic problem for him, and was attributed to his exposure to gunfire. He spent the duration of the war alternately serving in artillery units and in hospital for his painful ear.
He finally returned to Toronto in May 1919 at the age of 23. In March of 1920, he married Gladys Louisa Moat, and together they started their family. His first three children were born in Toronto, and at some point between 1922 and 1926, he and his family moved to the United States, first to Iowa, then eventually to Illinois, settling in Chicago. In total, he and Gladys had 8 children. In an email exchange with his Granddaughter, she told me that he worked at the Chicago Tribune, and was beloved by his coworkers; so much so that when he suffered a stroke at work in 1964, a group of them carried him to a nearby hospital, where sadly, he passed away at the age of 68.
I would like to thank John’s Granddaughter for sharing her memories and family stories with me as well as for permission to use the above photograph of John in uniform.