Finlay Stewart Fraser was born in McLellans Brook, Pictou County, NS, on January 6, 1894, one of thirteen children born to Robert Overstone and Jessie Ann (MacDonald) Fraser. Finlay enlisted with the Canadian Army Service Corps in Halifax on November 21, 1916. He was 22 years old and single at the time. His attestation document lists his trade as machinist and his present address as New Glasgow, NS. His rank was private and he was issued service number 513303.
The Canadian Army Service Corps transported and supplied food, forage, ammunition, equipment and stores to the Canadian troops overseas. They were also responsible for repairing motor vehicles.
A month after enlisting, Finlay departed for overseas on the RMS Olympic, a huge and luxurious pre-war ocean liner turned troop ship, sister ship of the RMS Titanic. He arrived in England on December 28, 1916. While in England, Finlay received training at the Canadian Army Service Corps’ training depot in Shorncliffe and also at Seaford.
In April, 1917, Finlay proceeded to France where he was attached to the 28th Company, Canadian Forestry Corps. He joined them in the field on April 24th. The Canadian Forestry Corps was divided into companies containing approximately 190 officers and men plus additional labourers. They worked in the forests in the U.K. and France and ran saw mills creating lumber for the front lines and the war industry. By the end of the war there were close to 100 companies working in England and France. Finlay’s company, the 28th, arrived in France only a couple of days before Finlay. He remained attached to the 28th Company in France for the rest of the war.
During his time in France Finlay was granted two leaves to Paris, one at the end of 1917 and one in the fall of 1918. On November 11, 1918, the day the war ended, Finlay was promoted to the rank of sergeant. His service documents indicate that he was promoted from private directly to sergeant.
After the war ended, Finlay returned to Canada, via England, on the passenger liner SS Belgic. He disembarked in Halifax on April 23, 1919, and was discharged the same day.
Finlay returned to Pictou County and operated his own auto mechanic business. In 1928 he married Margaret MacKenzie MacNaughton and they had one daughter together. During the Second World War, Trenton Industries, in nearby Trenton, produced artillery and naval shells. Finlay was foreman of the shell finishing department. At the time of his retirement, Finlay was employed with the Nova Scotia government in the Department of Highways.
Finlay passed away on April 8, 1979 in New Glasgow. He was 85 years old. He and his wife Margaret, who died in 1997, were both laid to rest, side by side, in Castle Hill Cemetery in McLellans Brook.
For additional information on Finlay Stewart Fraser, refer to the following online source:
Thanks to Huir Muir for allowing medals, photos and documents to be copied for this profile.