Edward Pilon
April 20, 1883 - July 5, 1916

Edward Pilon, was the son of Isidore Pilon and Eulalie Poudret dit Lavigne.  He was born and raised at Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, a town situated on the shores of the St.Lawrence River on the island of Montréal.  He was the second to last born of 10 children but only 1 of 5 who lived beyond the age of 20 years (3 died within less and 2 years of birth while a fourth died at age 15).  His civilian employment was as a book-keeper.  Upon joining the Canadian Expeditionary Force in September of 1914, he was assigned the serial number 1467 and obviously was among some of the first to step forward.  Edward was part of the First Contingent of Canadian soldiers to cross the Atlantic in one of the largest single conveys ever and a member of the First Canadian Division to land in France in the spring of 1915.

What were the expectations of this 31 years old as he travelled to Valcartier, north of Québec City to become a soldier and to go to war in Europe, in the land of his ancestors?  Surely there was a sense of adventure.  Surely there was a desire for a good time.  In fact, his file contains a clear indication that Edward liked, perhaps a bit too much, the liquid hospitality of England and Belgium.  He was charged on several occasions with drinking infractions.  How serious were these infractions is difficult to say.  In two instances, Edward was court martialed and the transcripts are reproduced here.  You be the judge.  In some ways, one get the feeling that Edward was likely no different from many of his contemporaries with the single exception of timing.  While these documents allow us to see a lighthearted side of Edward, it also appears that he just didn't seem to known when to keep quiet!

One observation that comes from a reading of Edward's unjustly brief personnel file is that while in England he suffered from influenza and pneumonia, deseases which were killing people both in Europe and in North America.  More importantly, he suffered "shell shock" in June of 1915.  Could it be that from that point on, Edward came to realize that the war was not what he had hoped it would be, but rather had a inescapable character all its own?  Could these realities have led to his difficulties with the drink?  Might a few days in detention have been perceived as preferable to a few nights of misery under bombardments that not infrequently included shells from your own artillery?  Questions that cannot be answered, but that should be pondered.

Basic information about Edward Pilon
Important events of Edward Pilon's military carreer, as recorded in his personnel file
The transcript of Edward Pilon's 1st court martial, August, 1915
The transcript of Edward Pilon's 2nd court martial, May, 1916
The account of the action in which Edward Pilon died on July 5, 1916
Edward Pilon's ancestral line and his family (sisters & brothers)