By Barbara Green-Noble
When I was a teenager, my grandfather, Chesley Green, gave me an old black and white photo of himself in an army uniform. I remember it clearly because, to me, it was the only time he had ever openly acknowledged, “his war.” Despite my questions, it was a conversation he always avoided.
When I got older, after grandfather passed away, my dad and his brothers told me that Chesley had never talked about the war. As children, there are things they recall that provide insight into the lasting effects the war had. They remember playing with his military medals, items that have long since disappeared. And they remember Chesley would never go to sleep at night without his bedroom lights on.
Born in 1897 in Tilt Cove, N.L., Chesley experienced tragedy at an early age. When he was five years old, his father William was killed in a mining accident. The family would later move to Harry’s Harbour and it was from there Chesley travelled to St. John’s, as an underage teenager, in his first attempt to enlist. His mother chased him all the way there and pulled him back. However, she couldn’t keep him home forever and in February 1917, at the age of 20, he signed up to join the war effort.
He spent over a year recovering from his injuries in various hospitals in England, and was ultimately shipped back to St. John’s from Liverpool in May 1919.
After training in St. John’s and Southampton, England, Chesley joined the 1st Battalion of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in February 1918 in the trenches at Passchendaele. One month later, he suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the arm and leg. He spent over a year recovering from his injuries in various hospitals in England, and was ultimately discharged and shipped back to St. John’s from Liverpool in May 1919.
The story of Chesley Green is a family affair, one that is near and dear to the hearts of me and my siblings. We are proud of our grandfather, and all those who served and sacrificed so much on the Trail of the Caribou.
Barbara Green-Noble is originally from Baie Verte, N.L. and first attended Memorial in the 1970s. She became interested in her family tree as a teenager, and along with her siblings, Hope, Paul (B.Eng.’79, M.Eng.’84), David (B.Eng.’85), Gloria (BPE’85, B.Ed.’85), and Peter (Dip. of Tech.’92), proudly tell the story of their grandfather, Chesley Green. Barbara currently resides in Burlington, N.L.