James ‘Jimmy’ Gammie was born April 26, 1895 in St. Nicholas, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He was a younger half-brother of my great grandfather, Alexander Shand Hadden. In 1907, Jimmy’s parents, Andrew and Helen (Shand) Gammie moved the family, that included Jimmy, his older brothers Andrew and Peter and younger sisters, Helen and Williamina, to Saskatchewan, Canada where they acquired a homestead and began a new frontier life.
On May 17th, 1916, Jimmy and his brother, Peter, enlisted in the 46th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Pictured above, in 1917 when in France, is the 46th Battalion’s Pipes and Drums Band whose music Jimmy would have no doubt marched to. Peter Gammie was discharged just over a year later in June 1917 for medical reasons but Jimmy remained to fight, and die, in France. His military records, obtained from Library and Archives Canada, offer a glimpse into Jimmy’s brief military career.
When Jimmy Gammie enlisted, he completed and signed his Attestation Paper which listed his mother “Mrs. Helen Gammie” of Quimper, Saskatchewan as his next of kin. Jimmy, standing 5 feet 8 inches in height, was described as having a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. He was certified as being medically fit for duty.
According to his military record, Jimmy went AWOL (Absent Without Leave) on October 3, 1916 for just one day. He was docked one day’s pay for this apparent youthful misadventure. On October 30th, 1916 Jimmy was diagnosed with pneumonia and for about 3 weeks was under medical care before being ‘discharged’ for duty. Jimmy first was ‘shipped’ to Halifax, Nova Scotia on April 17, 1917 and twelve days later, on April 29, 1917, he debarked from the S. S. Northland at Liverpool, England and was sent straight into training at Bramshott Military Camp in Surrey, England. On September 12, 1917, Jimmy “proceeded overseas for service” with his 46th Battalion.
Jimmy Gammie saw lots of action once in France and on March 24th, 1918, he suffered gun shot wounds to the left side of his body, arm and ankle. As a result he was moved to different Casualty Clearing Stations, first, #6 station, then a day later, #2 station, and finally on May 1st, to #1 station from which he was discharged for duty on May 2nd and sent back to the front to take up the fight once more. Sadly, on September 27th, 1918 he suffered severe shrapnel wounds to his back and was listed as “Dangerously Ill” at #22 Casualty Clearing Station where he died the next day.
Jimmy was paid $1.10 per day to fight in France for King and country. Like all soldiers, he was paid monthly with his pay credited on a ledger that also recorded the amounts spent each month. In Jimmy’s case, he was frugal and spent only an average of 10% of his wages so that when he died, a credit balance of $398.34 was left to his next of kin, his mother Helen.
On November 3, 1920, the Memorial Plaque and Scroll was issued to Andrew Gammie to commemorate his son’s sacrifice along with the Memorial Cross for Jimmy’s mother, Helen.
The name of Private James Gammie, 46th Battalion, can still be seen today inscribed on page 412 of the World War 1 Book of Remembrance so that his sacrifice is not forgotten.