James Archibald Anderson was born in Big Baddeck, Victoria County, NS, on January 29, 1894. He was more commonly known as Archie. He was the son of Alexander and Susan Theresa (Archibald) Anderson. He grew up in the Baddeck area and took up farming. He was active in the local militia, serving two yeras in 94th Victoria Regiment “Argyll Highlanders”, the precurser to the Cape Breton Highlanders.
After the outbreak of World War 1, Archie enlisted as a private in the 85th Battalion (Nova Scotia Highlanders). He joined the unit at Aldershot, NS, on October 7, 1916. He enlisted just in time to be with the battalion when it sailed for England on the SS Olympic a few days later. He was with the 85th Battalion when they landed in France in February, 1917. In June, 1917, James was sent back to England where he was attached to the 17th Reserve Battalion for training and received his commission as an officer. He rejoined the 85th Battalion in France in November, 1917 with the rank of lieutenant.
On September 29, 1918, the 85th Battalion was involved in offensive operations near Bourlon Wood in front of Cambrai. Archie was an acting captain in “D” Company. When his company was ordered to quickly form an outpost line covering an important village, he personally reconnoitred the position, and, one by one, rushed his posts out to advantageous positions over ground which was kept under a constant sweep of enemy machine gun fire. Archie was wounded in this action but carried on until his line was established. For his actions during this fighting he was awarded a Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. After recuperating from his wounds, Archie rejoined the battalion the following month.
After the war ended, Archie spent much of the summer of 1919 in hospital in England with an infection, and missed returning home with his battalion. He returned to Canada in August and was demobilized on August 25, 1919. Archie married after the war but had no children. He passed away in 1964.
Archie's brother and sister both served overseas during WW1. Percival was also an officer in the 85th Battalion (Nova Scotia Highlanders) and was killed in action. Blanche was a nursing sister in the Canadian Army Medical Corps.
For additional information on James Archibald Anderson, refer to the following online source:
Thanks to Caitlin Hanam for sharing her wonderful family photos of Archie and Blanche Anderson contained in Section 2, and thanks to Jim MacDonald of Baddeck for putting me in contact with Caitlin. The photo in Section 1 is from my own collection.