November 24, 1897 (or October 25, 1898) -
The story of Phillip Pilon (1102297) is one of those mysteries which can only be resolved by straining one's imagination because the few official documents which relate to Phillip and which can be found in the National Archives of Canada, are silent on the reasons which moved Phillip to attempt to enlist in January of 1917 in spite of having been rejected earlier in May of 1916.
The first time Phillip Pilon (649320) presented himself in front of a recruiting officer in Timmins, Ontario on May 1, 1916, he gave his date of birth as October 25, 1898 in Pursefield, Massachusetts, USA. His mother, Adel Minard, was living at Robinson Lake, Québec. At that time, he was rejected for service and was assessed as "Not likely to become efficient soldier".
Undeterred, he again presented himself for service in January of 1917. He gave his date of birth as November 24, 1897, perhaps in order to give himself a bit more maturity! His place of birth was given as Purcefield, New York, USA and his mother, still liking at Robinson Lake, Québec, was Minard Ferne. Surely this was the same individual. In addition to this information, he had similar left eye (partially blind) and hand (lost thumb and some fingers) characteristics. The best evidence can be found in the signatures which he appended to his Attestation Paper (enlistment form). They are virtually identical.
When Phillip was finally accepted into the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he joined the 257th Battalion, also known as the Canadian Railway Battalion or Troops which would become the 7th Battalion C.R.T. Phillip would also serve with the 8th Battalion C.R.T. in France.
Arriving in England after just a few weeks of training in Canada, Phillip was soon in hospital with rheumatic fever and would take nearly 4 months to recover. Three weeks later, in the middle of July, 1917, he found himself in France, in the land of his ancestors.
Less than one month later, he would suffer the first of three episodes of shell shock. In fact, each new instance would take place within a month of the last. The summer of 1917 was virtual hell for Phillip who then spent the fall and early winter in hospital before being returned to Canada in January of 1918, less than a year after leaving Canada.
What could possibly have driven Phillip Pilon to seek enlistment with
such insistance? He was partially blind in one eye and his thumb
and the first two fingers on his left hand were partially amputated.
Surely he was not the fittest soldier volunteering for duty, but he must
have had enthousiasm. How quickly that youthful drive was wiped away.
The descriptions of the events more than likely do not fully convey the
terror that must have greeted this young soldier when he finally regained
control of himself, only to be told that he would be returning to the front
and potential danger. Not only did he suffer the intensity of the
concussion of a shell exploding nearby a second time, but also a third.
His assessment upon discharge from the CEF leads us to wonder about the
kind of life Phillip had following his return to civilian life. Was
he ever able to regain normalcy? Did he ever forget the deafening
ringing of artillery and anti-aircraft fire? Was he ever the same
information about Phillip Pilon
Important moments of Phillip Pilon's military carreer, as recorded in his personnel file
Descriptions of events in which Phillip suffered shell shock in the summer of 1917
Medical information relating to Phillip Pilon's shell shock
Phillip Pilon's ancestral line and his family (sisters & brothers)