23 September 2020

War Bride Murder?

Duncan Gammon married Sarah Ann Helling in Cheshire in early 1919. They likely met while he was being treated for a gunshot wound received at Arras while serving with the CEF.

Born 20 Oct 1897 at River John, Pictou Co, Nova Scotia, Duncan returned to Nova Scotia after the war to prepared a home then crossed to collect his wife and child. They returned in September 1923.

Here's the story from the Saskatoon Star Pheonix of 22 March 1935.

One day in the Fall of 1924 Gammon, his wife and their two children left Pictou to motor to Halifax. Gammon and the children reached the provincial capital the next day but his wife was not with them. She has not born seen since.

Search for the missing woman began in the spring of 1925 when Elijah Gammon, half-brother of Duncan, notified Halifax police of her disappearance. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. James Helling of Cheshire, had expressed anxiety when their letters remained unanswered,

Duncan Gammon told the police his wife had become dissatisfied with life in Canada and decided to return to England. He had left Halifax on 3 September 1924, and driven her to Quebec, where she had left him and the children on the pier after receiving enough money for her passage to England.

Reports of new unmarked graves kept the sleuths running up and down the countryside, but weeks of searching brought no trace of the woman.

The authorities took the statement of Gammon's eldest child, just 4-1/2 years old. Holding a bag of candy, the little girl sat on the knee of a policeman in the magistrate's office and endeavoured to answer questions about the trip. Her answers were confusion and the crown established little more than that her mother had been on the trip.

Committed to stand trial. Duncan Gammon, then 30. appeared in the Supreme Court in November 1925 when a true bill was brought in against him by the grand jury. Hoping from day to day that the woman would turn up or that her body would be discovered the crown delayed prosecution. Nine years later the indictment still stands.

Information from an Ancestry contributed profile is that he married a second time to Mary Elizabeth Buchie in 1931. He died in Halifax in 1970.

Do you think he got away with murder?


Anonymous said...

Despite my sudden urge to research this, I am not going to do that. TOO MANY research projects going on now. Thanks though, and cheers, BT

Unknown said...

Me, too. And yes, I think he did.

Tess said...

Certainly seems likely! At least the children don't appear to have actually witnessed the crime...

Winsford Resident said...

I'm from the wife's home town and would like to know if there is any further evidence of what happened to her. Seems very mysterious that he wasn't questioned as to where he left her. Some reports say that he returned home with only one child.... others say that she had an acquaintance back in UK but can't find a name otherwise could research here.