Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthFebruary 14, 1888
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Edith Robertson (wife), Box 29, Ignace, Ontario
Trade / CallingLumber grader
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number2293450
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionLord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians)
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Cavalry Brigade
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentLord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians)
Date of Enlistment06/04/1917
Age at Enlistment29
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of Death30/03/1918
Age at Death30
Buried AtNo known grave; commemorated on the Vimy Memorial in France

Robertson, John Donald

Trooper John Donald Robertson arrived in France in December 1917 and served with the Canadian Cavalry Brigade. He was killed in action in March 1918 at the Battle of Moreuil Wood.

John was the oldest son of Angus Alexander Robertson and Christina McDonald of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Angus and Christina were both born in Lochiel Township, Glengarry County, Canada West (Ontario). They were married in Lochiel in June 1886. By the time John was born two years later the family was living in the village of Norman in northwestern Ontario. Angus was a farmer in Lochiel but in Norman he worked at a sawmill. John’s birth was registered in the neighbouring town of Rat Portage, his birth date recorded as 18 March 1888 although other records (including his service file) have it as 14 February 1888. He had a sister, Anna Rae, who was about a year older than him, and at least four more children were born in Norman or Rat Portage: Linda May (1890), Ranald Alexander (1894), Augustina (1898) and Harold (1901).

When the 1901 census was taken John and his family were living in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) and his father’s occupation was miner. By 1906 they had moved to Winnipeg where they lived for the next ten years. The war started in August 1914 and Ranald Alexander enlisted a year later, signing up with the Canadian Engineers. John joined the permanent militia and served with Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians). When the 1916 census was taken he was training at Camp Hughes, near Brandon, Manitoba. He enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 6 April 1917. He was 29 years old at the time, married and his occupation was lumber grader. His wife Edith was listed as next of kin and her address was Ignace, Ontario. A marriage record has not been found but Edith was born in Fort William, Ontario on 6 May 1897, the daughter of Ambrose and Amy Croxton. Her family was living in Ignace by 1914.

Just a few weeks after enlisting John was on his way overseas with his unit’s 7th reinforcing draft. He sailed on the SS Olympic on 29 April and arrived in England about eight days later. He was transferred to the Canadian Reserve Cavalry Regiment and he trained with them for seven months. On 7 December he was drafted to the Fort Garry Horse and sent to France. He joined them in the field in mid-December but a few days later he was transferred to Lord Strathcona’s Horse, which was part of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade.

The German Spring Offensive began on 21 March 1918 and the Germans attacked at key points along the Western Front. Only a few Canadian units were engaged in the operations, including the Canadian Cavalry Brigade. Lord Strathcona’s Horse was southeast of Amiens when the offensive began and they took part in the Battle of Moreuil Wood on 30 March. John was killed in action that day, one of about 150 casualties in his unit.

From Circumstances of Casualty record for John: His troop crossed the Avre River at CASTELLE, and attacked the North East corner of BOIS DE MOREUIL. Trooper Robertson was killed by shell fire during the action.

John was buried ‘Just outside Hangard Wood. East of Amiens’ but after the war his burial site could not be located. A Memorial Cross was sent to his mother and his widow, Edith, received his medals and a Memorial Cross, plaque and scroll.

Edith was remarried in Fort William in 1922 to Arthur Davies. She passed away in Fort William in 1969, at age 71. John’s brother Ranald survived the war and later moved to California, where he died in 1973. Their parents had moved to Vancouver during the war and they both passed away there, Angus in 1946 and Christina in 1951. They are buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver.

John is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial in France and on the Next of Kin Monument in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

By Becky Johnson

Robertson-John-Donald-90 Robertson-John-Donald-91


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