Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 1, 1894
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinAngus Robertson (father), 56 Balmoral Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingBookkeeper and motor engineer
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number541949
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion3rd Army Troops Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Engineers
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at Enlistment56 Balmoral Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentDecember 11, 1915
Age at Enlistment21
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJune 20, 1973
Age at Death79

Robertson, Ranald Alexander

Sapper Ranald Alexander Robertson enlisted in December 1915 and served overseas for more than three years with the Canadian Engineers. He returned to Canada in May 1919.

Ranald was the son of Angus Alexander Robertson and Christina McDonald of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Angus was a farmer born in Lochiel Township, Glengarry County, Canada West (Ontario). Christina was also born in Lochiel Township and they were married there in June 1886. Not long after that they moved to the village of Norman in northwestern Ontario where Angus worked in a sawmill. They had at least six children: Anna Rae (1887), John Donald (1888), Linda May (1890), Ranald Alexander (1 January 1894), Augustina (1898) and Harold (1901). Ranald was born in Norman or the neighbouring town of Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora).

When the 1901 census was taken the family was living in Rat Portage and John’s occupation was listed as miner. By 1906 they had moved to Winnipeg where they lived for the next ten years. Ranald and his brother John Donald both served in the militia with Lord Strathcona’s Horse and during the war they both enlisted. Ranald signed up in Winnipeg on 11 December 1915, joining the Canadian Engineers Training Depot. He was sent to France the following spring, arriving in England in March 1916 on the SS Metagama. He spent about three months with the Canadian Engineers Training Depot at Shorncliffe Camp. In June he was attached to a newly-organized unit, the 3rd Army Troops Company, Canadian Engineers, and sent to France.

The Army Troops worked   closely with the Engineers building and repairing roads, working on trenches and drainage systems, constructing and maintaining water supply systems, doing electrical work, building huts and stables and carrying out patrols. Ranald served with his unit in France and Belgium for almost three years. In the fall of 1916 the Canadians were at the Battle of the Somme and in April 1917 they fought at Vimy Ridge. Ranald spent a week in a field ambulance in August 1917 and he was admitted again on 10 September. He was suffering from trench fever and he recovered for several weeks at a hospital in Camiers and two convalescent depots. He was discharged to duty in mid-November, just after the Battle of Passchendaele.

The final period of the war started with the Battle of Amiens in August 1918 and the Canadians were heavily involved in operations in those last three months. After the Armistice Ranald served for another four months in France and Belgium. He returned to the UK in March 1919 and was transferred to the Canadian Engineers Reserve Battalion. On 11 May he sailed from Glasgow on the SS Saturnia, arriving in Montreal about eleven days later. His service file has two different dates for his discharge: 22 May in Ottawa and 26 May in Kingston. His brother John Donald Robertson served with Lord Strathcona’s Horse and he was killed in action in France in March 1918.

Ranald’s family had moved to Vancouver during the war and he probably spent some time with them when he returned. By the fall of 1919 he was in Chicago, Illinois and when the 1920 U.S. census was taken he was living in Manhattan, New York and working as a bookkeeper. He was married in Manhattan on 18 March 1920. His wife, Vera Grace Wild, was born in 1896 in London, England, the daughter of Charles Wild and Emily Mundy. Her family immigrated to Canada around 1907 and settled in Ottawa. By 1921 Ranald and his wife had returned to Canada and they lived in Chilliwack, British Columbia for several years. Around 1928 they moved to Los Angeles, California where Ranald worked as a carpenter and mechanic at movie studios. When the 1940 U.S. census was taken he was living alone in Los Angeles and listed as divorced.

Ranald passed away in San Bernardino County, California on 20 June 1973, at age 79. His parents had died in Vancouver, Angus in 1946 and Christina in 1951, and they are both buried at Mountain View Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson


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