Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 3, 1893
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMabel Mary Colpman (mother), 21 Belgrave Avenue, Belgrave, Leicester, England
Trade / CallingCivil Servant
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number301952
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion39th Battery
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Field Artillery
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentLethbridge, Alberta
Address at EnlistmentLethbridge, Alberta
Date of Enlistment13/10/1915
Age at Enlistment22
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death04/06/1955
Age at Death61
Buried AtPark Lawn Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario

Colpman, Frank Joseph

Corporal Frank Joseph Colpman enlisted with an artillery unit in October 1915 and served overseas for more than three years. He returned to Canada in May 1919 with a war bride.

Frank was the oldest son of Arthur White Colpman and Mabel Mary Pollard. Arthur was born in 1859 in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, England and he came to Canada in 1879 to work as a clerk for the Hudson’s Bay Company. He was stationed in Selkirk, Manitoba at first then he spent some time in Calgary, Alberta. Two of his brothers, William and Frank, had settled in Lethbridge, southeast of Calgary, and they were involved in successful business ventures there. By 1891 Arthur’s job with the HBC had taken him to Rat Portage in northwestern Ontario. He was married in Rat Portage on 20 April 1892 to Mabel Mary Pollard. Mabel was born in 1864 in Belgrave, which is now part of the city of Leicester in Leicestershire.

Frank Joseph was born in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) on 3 July 1893. In the fall of 1894 his parents moved back to England and when the 1901 census was taken they were living in Lewisham, London. They had four more children including sons Charles (1900) and Geoffrey (1903). Arthur returned to Canada in May 1903, before Geoffrey was born, but his family stayed in England. At the time of the 1911 census Mabel was living in her hometown of Belgrave but none of the children were with her. Frank moved back to Canada that spring, arriving in Halifax on 7 April 1911 on the SS Virginian. He was 17 years old, his occupation was clerk and he said he was going to Indian Head, Saskatchewan.

By 1914 Frank was living in Lethbridge and working as a bookkeeper for the Dowsley-Mulhern Land Company. One of his uncles was still living in Lethbridge too. The following year when Frank enlisted he was employed as a clerk at the post office. He signed up in Lethbridge on 13 October 1915, joining the 39th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery. The unit had just been organized that month and it was based in Lethbridge. The recruits headed overseas in the spring, embarking from St. John on 2 March 1916 on the SS Missanabie and arriving in Plymouth ten days later. The 39th Battery was sent to France in August, where it became part of the 10th Brigade, 3rd Canadian Divisional Artillery.

The Canadians were at the Somme Offensive that fall and in September Frank was promoted to Acting Corporal. He became a Corporal on 15 April 1917, just after the Battle of Vimy Ridge. In July he had two weeks leave in England and during that time he got married. His wife, Theodora Fraser Ross, was born in 1898 in Manchester, England. She was the only daughter of David Ross, a Baptist minister, and his wife Janet, who were both born in Scotland. After his marriage Frank changed his next of kin to his wife, who was living at Clarendon Park in Leicester, and when his leave ended he rejoined his unit in France.

In August the Canadians fought at the Battle of Hill 70. At the end of September Frank was posted to the 3rd Canadian Divisional Artillery headquarters, where he served for the next three months. In January 1918 he spent two weeks on postal duty and for the last two weeks in February he was on leave in England. Early that summer the Canadians went into reserve and after a period of rest they were given several weeks of intensive training in open warfare. It served them well during the heavy fighting in the final three months of the war. Five weeks after the Armistice Frank was given leave in England. It was extended several times and he ended up staying there for a month.

Frank returned to France on 21 January 1919 but on 5 February he was granted another two-week leave. When it was over he was kept in England and posted to the Canadian Artillery Reserve Depot. At some point during his service Frank was ‘mentioned in despatches’ but the details and reason for the recognition are not known. He and his wife sailed for Canada in April 1919 on the SS Metagama, arriving in Quebec on 2 May. He was discharged on demobilization three days later in Quebec City.

Frank and his wife made their home in Lethbridge at first, and his brothers Charles and Geoffrey were living there at the same time. Frank went on to have a long career with the post office and he became the regional inspector for western Canada. By the mid-1920s he and his wife had moved to Winnipeg and they later lived in Ottawa then in Toronto. Frank passed away suddenly in Ottawa on 4 June 1955, a month before his 62nd birthday. He was living in Toronto at the time and his body was returned there for burial in Park Lawn Cemetery. He was survived by Theodora and their two daughters, Janet and Judith.

Frank is commemorated on the Lethbridge Post Office First World War Roll of Honour.

By Becky Johnson

Colpman-Frank-90 Colpman-Frank-91 Colpman-Frank-92

Grave marker photo courtesy of MystikNZ, findagrave.com.


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