With last week’s post about Jack Martin, we saw the 100th anniversary of the first death of a Deseronto man in World War I. In total, 40 of the Deseronto and Tyendinaga men who signed up to the Canadian Expeditionary Force had died by the end of 1918. Another (Ross MacTavish) died in 1919 and Ambrose Clause died in 1920 as a result of his service. In total in this project we are following the wartime careers of 302 local people (two women and 300 men).

The death of 42 of these people represents a total fatality rate of 14%, which is higher than the national rate of Canadian casualties (around 10%). There is a statistically significant difference, however, between the fatality rate for the Mohawk men in our sample and the rate for non-Mohawks. In our group, Mohawks make up about one third of the total number who enlisted: 98 of the 300. But they were much more likely to die than their non-Mohawk comrades. Twenty-two of the 42 men from the Deseronto area who died were Mohawks, which represents a fatality rate of 22% of those who enlisted. The equivalent rate for non-Mohawk men from the Deseronto area was 10%.

Volunteers were much more likely to be killed than conscripted men: only one man in our group who was drafted under the 1917 Military Service Act was killed during the war. He was also a Mohawk.

The chart below shows the distribution of deaths of Deseronto-area people over the course of the war, beginning in April 1915:

Chart showing the distribution of WW1 deaths by month of the war

Ten of the 42 men who died were killed by illnesses or disease of various kinds. The remaining 32 were killed in action or died of injuries received while fighting. In a later blog post, we’ll look at the corresponding figures for the men of the Royal Flying Corps (later the Royal Air Force) who died while they were attached to the Deseronto pilot training camps.