Lives behind the Commemorative Banners: Fall Banner News 2022

This fall, 2022, will mark the 6th year that Commemorative Banners will be hung on the main streets of both Port Elgin and Southampton honouring those from our town that made the Supreme Sacrifice in Past Military Conflicts.

This year, there will be 49 Banners hanging with one new one, honouring Donald (Dan) McIntyre, a WWI casualty from Port Elgin. We found a picture of him of satisfactory quality to be able to produce a banner and its cost was supported by the Port Elgin Legion Branch 340.

This still leaves us with 38 men from our town who died in WWI and WWII and for whom we do not have any pictures that are usable for production of Banners.

One of these men was Admiral James (Abbie) Fenton. No, he was not a Navy Admiral. Admiral was his official first name, while Abbie was his nickname that everyone used to address him.

What makes Abbie most interesting though is that he was a grandson of one of the most colourful citizens Southampton has ever known, Malcolm (Scubby) MacAulay.

The exploits of Scubby have been researched and written by John Weichel and his booklet is available at the Bruce County Museum under the title; “SCUBBY – The forgotten life of M. S. MacAulay”. Just a bit of a teaser though is that Scubby was born in Scotland in 1841 and immigrated initially to the US where he fought in the US Civil War before arriving in Southampton in the early/mid 1880’s.

His family residence was on the north side of the entrance to the Southampton harbour on a spot still referred to as Scubby’s Point.

Grandson Abbie was the son of Scubby’s daughter Flora, who married James Fenton. Abbie was born in 1897. In 1904, his father, James and some friends went to a “Lodge” meeting in Kincardine by tugboat and late at night, on their return in the dark, James went overboard and drowned leaving Flora and four small children. Southampton townsfolk were in an uproar with rumours flying and they demanded an inquest. A panel was selected, the hearing held and after a very searching and exhaustive inquiry conducted by the coroner and listening to the evidence the jury returned the following verdict:

“We the jurors of His Majesty the King who have been authorized to inquire into the death of the late James Fenton of the Village of Southampton, find as follows.

After viewing the body of the deceased and listening to the evidence of the parties who were with the deceased during the voyage from Southampton to Kincardine and return to Southampton and of those witnesses who were with the deceased all the time he was in Kincardine, we are of the unanimous opinion that the deceased James Fenton came to his death by accidently falling overboard from the Tug Dobson about 9:30 p.m. on August 9th, 1904. And we further find that the captain and crew of the Tug Dobson and those other parties who were on the boat with the deceased at the time are entirely blameless in the matter. (James A. Chapman, foreman.) (From the Times, Sept. 22, 1904).”

James Fenton’s son, Admiral (Abbie) Fenton) enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on September 23, 1915. He had just turned 18 years of age and he gave his occupation as “Chauffer” on his attestation papers. He joined the 71st Battalion out of Woodstock Ontario who were doing recruiting in our area. On April 11, 1916, he arrived in Liverpool and training and preparation for battle continued in England until February 27, 1917, when he landed in France. He had been assigned to the 50th Battalion out of Calgary Alberta.

Pte. Admiral Fenton died of wounds on May 11, 1917. The following is from the Southampton Beacon of May 24, 1917.

Abbie Fenton Died of Wounds

Another of our Southampton boys has made the supreme sacrifice in the great war. Last Saturday, Mr. M. S. MacAulay received a wire stating that his grandson Abbie Fenton had died on May 11 in the 6th Casualty Clearing Station in France. Abbie wasn’t much more than a lad when he enlisted and was known to almost everyone in Southampton. Since notice of his death was received, a letter has come to hand from Norman Cairns stating that he and Abbie and Herb Harmer had all met at the front, and that they hope to keep in touch with one another until they were back in the old town again. We all regret Abbie’s death.

His wounds were described as shrapnel wounds to his abdomen, his face and his left arm. His medical record shows only the cause and date of his death BUT we know that the 50th Battalion fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge from April 9th to April 12th 1917. Due to numerous deaths and many men wounded the 50th Battalion did not return to battle until The Battle of Hill 70 that started on August 15, 1917. It becomes obvious that Abbie Fenton had succumbed from wounds he received earlier in the battle of Vimy Ridge.

He is buried in the Barlin Communal Cemetery Extension in Pas de Calais France. There are 679 Canadians buried there amongst the total of 1,181, all from the Commonwealth. He is buried in Section III Row B Grave 10.


With thanks to John Weichel
Researched and written by: G. William Streeter