Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 25, 1899
Place of BirthNorman, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinSven John Johnson (father), Josephine Johnson (mother), 5 Ninth Ave. S. Kenora
Trade / CallingStudent
ReligionPresbyterian
Service Details
Regimental Number1250312
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion13th Brigade
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Field Artillery
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at Enlistment5 Ninth Ave. S., Kenora
Date of EnlistmentApril 9, 1917
Age at Enlistment18
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 19, 1970
Age at Death71
Buried AtCremated (Vancouver Crematorium, Vancouver)

Johnson, Albin William

Gunner Albin William Johnson enlisted in Winnipeg in April 1917, two weeks after his 18th birthday. He served overseas with the Canadian Field Artillery and returned to Canada in September 1919.

Albin was the youngest son of Sven John Johnson and Josephine Carlson of Kenora, Ontario. Sven was born in Sweden and came to Canada in the late 1880s, settling in the town of Norman (now part of Kenora). Josephine was born in either Sweden or Finland and she also came to Canada in the late 1880s. After a short time in Winnipeg she moved to Keewatin, a neighbouring town to Norman. Sven and Josephine were married in Keewatin in 1892 and they had five children: Carl Victor, John Walford, Arthur William (died at age one), Ida Wilhelmina and Albin William. Albin was born in Norman on 25 March 1899. His father worked for the Lake of the Woods Milling Company and later the Maple Leaf Milling Company. The family moved to Kenora around 1912 and Albin attended Kenora High School.

Albin turned 18 years old in March 1917 and he enlisted two weeks later, signing up in Winnipeg on 9 April with the 76th Depot Battery, Canadian Field Artillery. After eight months of training he was sent to England with his unit’s 6th reinforcing draft. He embarked from St. John, New Brunswick on 21 December 1917 and arrived in Glasgow at the end of the month. At the time regulations required soldiers to be 19 years old before serving in a front line unit. Albin spent the next year in England with the Reserve Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery. He turned 19 in March 1918 and a week later he was on his way to France. He was transferred to the Canadian Artillery Pool and he spent several months at the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp.

The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started on 8 August 1918 with the Battle of Amiens. The Canadians were heavily involved in the operations in those last three months. On 19 August Albin was transferred to the 13th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery, and he served with them until the following spring. The Canadians fought at the 2nd Battle of Arras in September 1918 and crossed the Canal du Nord at the end of the month. Cambrai was captured in October and on 11 November Albin’s unit was northeast of Valenciennes, near the Belgian border. They took part in the March to the Rhine, crossing into Germany on 6 December and remaining there as part of the occupying forces until 27 January 1919, when they returned to Belgium.

In March Albin had two weeks leave in Paris and he rejoined his unit on 1 April. A month later he was admitted to No. 55 Casualty Clearing Station and diagnosed with vd. His unit returned to the UK but he was sent to No. 51 General Hospital in Etaples, then evacuated to England near the end of May. Albin spent five weeks at the convalescent centre at Epsom and all of July at No. 11 Canadian General Hospital in Shorncliffe. He was discharged on 31 July and he served for another month with the Canadian Artillery Reserve Depot. He embarked for Canada in early September on the SS Minnekahda, arriving in Halifax on 14 September and getting discharged on demobilization three days later in Toronto. His brother John Walford had enlisted in 1916 and he served with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. He was invalided back to Canada in October 1918, suffering from tuberculosis. Their brother Carl Victor was called up in 1918 and he served in Canada for nine months. Their sister Ida later married George Lutz, who was also a veteran of the war.

A month after returning home Albin started working for the Bank of Commerce and he went on to have a long career with them. When the 1921 census was taken he was working in Fort Frances and he was later transferred to locations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. He was married in Gilbert Plains, Manitoba on 3 August 1927. His wife, Ellen Marguerite Randell, was born in Gilbert Plains in 1903, the daughter of Thomas and Janet Randell. Her parents were farmers and she was one of eight children. Her father died in 1920 when the youngest child was about two.

In 1935 when Albin’s mother passed away he and his wife were living in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Albin enlisted again in the Second World War and served for four years. He was gazetted as a Pilot Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force on 5 September 1941 and he served in the Administrative Branch. After training in Trenton, Ontario he was stationed as Flying Squadron Adjutant at the Winnipeg Training Wing. He held other administrative positions in Manitoba and Saskatchewan then became an Administrative Officer in the Northwest Air Command at Edmonton. He was gazetted as a Flight Lieutenant in February 1945. His service ended on 1 November 1945 and he returned to his career with the Bank of Commerce at a branch in Winnipeg. In the 1950s he was a bank manager in Neepawa, Manitoba and Watson, Saskatchewan.

Albin retired in 1959 and he and his wife may have returned to Fort Frances to live. In 1970 they moved to British Columbia and made their home in White Rock. They had only been living there a month when Albin passed away on 19 November, at age 71.

Albin is remembered in the Canadian Bank of Commerce War Service Records 1939-1945, published in 1947.

By Becky Johnson

Witts-Gordon-90 Witts-Gordon-91 Johnson-Albin-90


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