George Brown was born in Tacks Beach, in the district of Placienta & St. Mary’s, Newfoundland in 1899. Tacks Beach was a small fishing community on a remote island off the Newfoundland mainland.
(Newfoundland had chosen to stay with The British Empire when Canada opted for independence on 1st July 1867 when The Dominion of Canada was officially established).
George Brown enlisted into 2nd Battalion of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment on 8th August 1918. His his trade was Teacher, although later in his Service record he was listed as Fisherman. It was not uncommon for people who could read and write to help in the island schools which were sometimes located in churches or the biggest house on the island. He took the train from St Johns to Halifax on 22nd September 1918.
(Library and Archives of Canada. Service Files of 1st W.W. 1914-1918-Canadian Expeditionary Force).
There are no details about his journey to Britain but when he arrived he was posted to Winchester, then on 21st October 1918 he was recorded as being seriously ill and was admitted to Kinmel Park Hospital, Rhyl.
Kinmel Park Camp was a segregation camp used to house Canadian Soldiers awaiting repatriation to Canada after the end of WW1. Unfortunately the conditions at that time were extremely harsh with a lack of every kind of commodity, the camp was overcrowded and the services were poor, there were shortages of clothing, food and blankets. As a result of this situation, a vast number of servicemen and women became ill and many succumbed to the Influenza Epidemic or complications associated with this infection.
A wire was sent to his mother Hannah Maria Brown on 23rd October informing her of George’s condition and a further one on 2nd November 1918 advising her that George had died of Pneumonia.
George is buried in St. Margaret’s Cemetery, Bodelwyddan.
He is commemorated on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.
There are no census records for Tacks Beach until 1921 when I found George’s Mother, Hannah Maria Brown, (widow) age 59 born September 1862, in Tacks Beach, living with her son Ephrim He was married, aged 26 born October 1894 in Tacks Beach his wife was Adelia, aged 22 born October 1899 on Woody Island and their son George age 2 born April 1919 in Tacks Beach. Also listed were Violet, Hannah’s daughter, aged 15 born in August 1906 and Violet’s brother John aged 17 born April 1904. Both had been born in Tacks Beach
George’s father died on 30th April 1912 of Tuberculosis, he was 53 years of age. (Register of Deaths for Placienta Bay and St. Mary’s. Newfoundland).
The children at this time had a very poor education and teachers were on the whole unqualified. It was mainly for this reason and also the lack of good healthcare and job opportunities available to the Islanders that promoted The Newfoundland Government to give cash incentives to people who lived in remote areas to encourage them to move to re-settlement areas. They were given £1000 per family plus £50 per child when they agreed to re-settle.
In 1968 the final members of the community of Tacks Beach removed to Arnold’s Bay, some towing their log cabins, tied to large rafts, behind their fishing boats.
Unfortunately for this particular community the plan was flawed as there wasn’t any heavy industry to provide job opportunities and although the educational needs were being met, the standard of teaching was still poor, resulting in a small number of students attaining elementary skills.