NS-CAPE-BRETON-L ArchivesArchiver > NS-CAPE-BRETON > 2002-11 > 1036959866
From: joseph macdonald <>
Subject: [NS-CB-L] CENTREVILLE SOLDIER'S MEDAL COMES HOME 80 YEARS LATER
Date: Sun, 10 Nov 2002 16:25:19 -0400
This article was in the Inverness Oran on Feb. 2nd, 2000.
CENTREVILLE SOLDIER'S MEDAL COME HOME 80 YEARS LATER
by Frank MacDonald
The United States government has delivered a Victory Medal to a
Centreville soldier's family 80 years after his death.
JIM MACLELLAN, who was working in the United States when the Americans
entered World War I, enlisted and was sent overseas with the 108th Motor
Cycle Corps. MacLellan, a brother to LAUCHIE MACLELLAN who lives in the
family home, served in France until the end of the war, and was
officially discharged on November 06, 1919. In early January, along with
other veterans, JIM MACLELLAN boarded a ship for the United States.
On its way across the Atlantic, the ship ran into a severe storm and not
being heard from for a matter of weeks, was considered lost.
"They thought it sank," Lauchie MacLellan said, "and the people aboard
only had light clothes on. There was no communications like there is
In February the ship made its way into New York Harbour. Several of the
men aboard were sick, including MacLellan. He was sent to a sanatorium
in Florida, and later shipped to a hospital in North Carolina.
Although the Spanish flu had raged through 1919 and 1920, Lauchie
believes that Jim's trouble was with his lungs, possibly tuberculosis.
Shortly after arriving in North Carolina, Jim MacLellan died. He was 31
The U.S. soldier's remains were sent home, accompanied by a SGT. HURLEY.
The family met the train at the Glendyer station, and burial was to take
place following a funeral Mass in St. John's church, Brook Village.
Lauchie MacLellan was a boy of twelve when his brother's remains came
home, but he remembers that a controversy arose around the flag draped
The parish priest at the time, Fr. MacKay, had been one of many
Canadians who had been opposed to Conscription when it was introduced by
the federal government during the war. When Sgt. Jim MacLellan's coffin
was taken to the church, Sgt. Hurley had draped it with a huge American
flag. The priest refused to admit the coffin into the church with the
flag covering it, and Sgt. Hurley refused to allow the flag to be
removed. The stalemate was referred to the Bishop who advised Fr. MacKay
not to tackle the American government and army over the issue. The flag
remained on the coffin during the funeral Mass.
At the graveyard, Jim MacLellan's father, JIM 'PEGGY' was told by Sgt.
Hurley that he could either have the flag folded and presented to him,
or have his son buried with it. Jim 'Peggy' opted to leave the flag on
Following his graduation from the Margaree Forks high school more than a
decade ago, GARY MACLELLAN of Belle Côte, a grandnephew of JIM MACLELLAN
went to the United States and joined the military. On one trip back
home, he visited his grandfather, Lauchie, and was given Jim MacLellan's
uniform which had accompanied him home. It was in exceptional condition
and Gary had it cleaned up and discovered that it fit him perfectly. On
his return to duty, he took the opportunity to wear the First World War
Gary also became serious about his granduncle's service during W.W.I,
and began doing some research. He discovered that his granduncle's
Victory Medal had never been awarded to him or sent following his death,
home to his father. he began trying to correct this oversight, but ran
into numerous impediments.
Finally Gary MacLellan, currently studying criminology at the University
of Arizona, contacted a Canadian organization for the Merchant Marines
and told them about the difficulty he was having setting Sgt.
MacLellan's medal sent home. In a short time the medal was released and
forwarded to RICHARD G. ROSENMAN, Consulate General of the United States
in Halifax, his brother's Victory Medal was dropped in the mail. It
arrived in Centreville last week.
While Lauchie is glad to have the medal, he is disappointed with the
"How proud my father would have been to get that medal," he says
recalling that the army did send Jim 'Peggy' MacLellan $5000
compensation for the loss of his son.
Sgt. Jim MacLellan's medal may have lain forgotten for 80 years in the
archives of the U.S. Army, but his memory remains in evidence on the
walls of the family home. The picture of a young man in an American army
uniform hangs there, as does a framed copy of his discharge papers
beside a scroll of appreciation from the Government of France, and a
photograph of a war memorial from St. Bernard's Parish in West newton,
Mass., with the name of five members of the parish who died as a result
of the war. Sgt. Jim MacLellan's name is among them.
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