Ora Thorne -A Veteran Remembers - This Story was wrote by Ora Thorne's daughter Norma Thorne Corey. (posted in Positive Impact January 18th, 1989)
Ora Whitfield Thorne was born on December 24, 1895 at Salem, Kings County. The son of Byatha and Almeda Mae Thorne., Ora was one of fifteen children-two girls and thirteen boys. He received very little formal education as he was needed to help support the family.
On March 1,1916 Ora, who was then 20 years old, enlisted with the army's 115th Battalion in Saint John. After three months, the battalion was shipped to the outskirts of Quebec City , where they drilled on the Plains of Abraham.
That summer , the 115th battalion travelled by train to Halifax. They stopped in Moncton to get off and march around the city before reboarding to continue the journey. From Halifax, a shop carried the soldiers around the coast of Ireland to Portsmouth, England. A train carried them from there to Branshot. The battalion drilled there for awhile but the men and the villagers were unhappy together. Their commander, Colonel Fowler, formed the 13th reserve and drilled the group until they received the call to France. Once again the men boarded a ship[ which this time carried them to LeHavre. They soon found themselves near Vimy Ridge where they were instructed in bombing techniques before joining the engineers.
The men were drafted alphabetically. As his last name begins with a "T", Ora was left until nearly the last. When the 26th Engineers "came out" for R and R, ora was ready to join them. He was with the 26th Engineers when they took and held the main part of Vimy Ridge. Ora was wounded in the neck and was hospitalized for two weeks. Ironically , he was transferred to hospital on the Narrow Gauge rail line which he help build.
Ora returned to England for two weeks before taking the draft to join the 26th Battalion , D Company. It was shortly after this that the rest of Vimy Ridge was taken. The fall of Vimy Ridge was the turning point for World War I.
While with the Engineers, Ora had helped construct the rail line and had dug trenches. His experiences with the 26th Battalion Infantry were different. They carried the Lee Enfield rifle. A full battle dress included a backpack containing a great coat, a blanket, a hand gun and ammunition. Marches from one front to another lasted all night.
Horses and Mules were used for all deliveries and transport while in combat. The soldiers rations consisted of hard tack (hard biscuits) chlorinated water, bread and jam. The weather was cold and the mud was everywhere. The men were always ankle deep in it. The trenches were full of rats, and bodies were strewn everywhere. The smell of decay was beyond description. When the men nearly reached the point where they could stand it no longer, they were given a week's leave.
For about 2two years ,Ora was a stretcher bearer in the 26th Battalion. He acquired this position by being the closest to a stretcher when one of the bearers was shot down. Ora was ordered to replace him. he continued stretcher bearer until he was shipped home.
From Vimy Ridge, Ora's group travelled to Passchendaele, Belgium, where they took the town from enemy forces: "Oh, how I remember on the 6th day of November Up in Belgium, in that mud, Where so many Canadians lost their blood. We took that town called Passchendaele.
They took the town and turned it over to others to secure before returning to France. They stayed in a dug-out for six days becoming out for pay.
For a time, the battalion was under the leadership of Sarge Fred Cain who took over after the colonel was killed. A new colonel resumed leadership at the end of 1918. The new colonel was in his sixties and had very high standards of army life.
At the end of the war, Ora's battalion was transferred to Cologne, France, where did guard duty for six months to help maintain order. One evening , while Ora was on guard detail there was an outburst of gunfire. The Canadians opened up and restored order. Everything remained quiet from that time on .
Before returning to Canada at the end of the war, Ora was one of the men of the 26th battalion chosen to parade before King George V in London. He was given a rifle and trained to march with the troops . Ora received 2 medals and a person note of thanks from the King.
In 1919, the war-weary soldiers returned to Canada.
In 1925, Ora married Annie Marcia Thorne, daughter of Charles and Mary Thorne of Canaan Road. They built and lived in the house where Deverne Carson now resides.
Ora farmed and worked out for a living. At the outbreak of World War II, he tried to enlist but was refused. Ora then helped to build the facilities at Camp Sussex. Upon it's completion , he returned home to work at Bloise Corey's Mill.
In 1945 , Ora purchased the Dan Burgess farm which he continued to work until his retirement. He and Annie had 2 sons, Gerald (who married Lillian O'Neil and Ronald (who marred Ruby Keith). Ronald passed away in 1970. They also had tow daughters Norma and Marilyn. Ora and Annie have 22 grand children and 13 great grand children.
Ora was a member of the Havelock branch Royal Canadian legion for a number of years. He is an Honourary Deccan of the Havelock United Baptist Church, of which he has been a member for approximately thirty years.