|Date of Birth||October 31, 1885|
|Place of Birth||Leicester, Leicestershire|
|Next of Kin||William Saddington (Father), Main St., Thurmaston, Leicester, Leicestershire, England|
|Trade / Calling||Locomotive Fireman|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||17th Battery, 5th Brigade|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Field Artillery|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||November 7, 1914|
|Age at Enlistment||29|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||April 6, 1966|
|Age at Death||80|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
|Plot||History Haven Block, 4E-31-3|
Birth and early life: According to his Attestation Papers from the First World War, William was born October 31, 1888, in Leicester, Leicestershire, England; however, his actual birth date was October 31, 1885. He was the son of William Saddington and Bertha Ann Wright who were married in 1863 in the parish of St. Andrew, Leicester.
William was the oldest of 8 children including, Simon Henry (born about 1888); John Thomas (born 1890, died 1949); Emma Beatrice (born about 1892); Harry (born about 1894); Baden Powell (born about 1900); Warren (born about 1902, died 1991); and, Lydia May (born about 1907). The family was Church of England.
In the 1891 census, both William Senior and Bertha are working in a weaving factory: William as a labourer and Bertha as a silk winder. ‘Willie’ is in school and is recorded as about 5 years of age. In the 1911 census, William Senior was now working as a Stoker in a factory, Bertha was at home with the younger children and Willie, now age 16, was a labourer at a brickyard. According to the 1921 census, he came to Canada in 1909; however, passenger ships records have William and his brother, Harry arriving in New York on March 10, 1911. They set sail from Southampton, England, on the SS Adriatic on March 1, 1911. Their address was Thurmaston Street, Thurmaston, West Leicester and both men were bricklayers.
War experience: William, who was employed as a locomotive fireman and who also had been active with the 90th Rifles Militia, enlisted in Winnipeg on November 7, 1914. His father, who was still living in England on Main Street, Thurmaston, Leicester, was next of kin. A stocky man of just under 5 feet 5 inches with a chest of 37 inches, William, at age 29, was declared fit for service. He was placed with the 17th Battery, 5th Field Artillery Brigade of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces. Four months later, Private William Saddington left Canada on the Metagama, landing at Plymouth, England on August 18, 1915. Five months later on January 15, 1916 he and the 5th Brigade embarked for France, landing at Le Havre.
William took two Gas Courses in mid 1917 and was attached to the Canada Corps Gas School September 2, 1917. He was given the rank of Acting Bombardier following his training and returned to the field of battle. While in England, William returned to his hometown, and on June 23, 1917, married Lily Perkins of that community. His marriage was later approved by the military on November 11, 1917.
His training about gas warfare could not have prepared William for the real thing and, in November 1917, during the final assaults in one of the worst battles in history, William was gassed at Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres. He was treated for 2 weeks in a field hospital in France experiencing dizziness, coughing, weight loss and shortness of breath. Mostly ignoring his symptoms, he never took time off and returned immediately to the field. On April 8th, 1918, however, William was gassed again, and, this time, experienced more serious and debilitating effects, including partial loss of the functioning of his heart, difficulty walking and breathing, reduced hearing and 5 weeks of near blindness. He also received a gunshot wound to his right leg below the knee.
On April 19, 1918, he was admitted to Merchants Hospital, Staples, England and, over the next 6 1/2 months, William received treatment in several different hospitals in England. Although he gradually recovered, he ended the war with a permanent disability.
Unable to return to service, William was invalided to Canada out of Liverpool on October 20, 1918 as being medically unfit. He was discharged on December 19, 1918 at Tuxedo Park in Winnipeg with the rank of Gunner and with ‘conduct very good’. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. It is important to note that on his Casualty Sheet dated December 10, 1918, William is recorded as a Sergeant; however, it is not clear when he received this rank. Also, according to a letter on his service record written by his grandson in the 1980’s, William had received a disability pension.
Life after the war: In the 1921 Census, William and Lily were living at 720 River Street, Kenora. He was employed as an Engineer with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Also according to that census, Lily, who was born February 11, 1890 in Leicester, travelled alone from England to Canada in 1918. She and William had one adopted child, Ernest William, born April 17, 1922 in Leicester, England, who they brought to Kenora when he was two years of age.
In the 1935 Voters’ List, William and Lily are living on Brewery Street in Kenora. William is employed as an Engineer. In the 1945 Canada Voters’ List, William and Lily are living at 815 River Street, Kenora. William is now retired. Ernest, their son, is recorded in the census at this residence, however, he had been serving as a wireless operator with the Royal Canadian Navy since 1940.
In the 1949, 1957 and 1963 Voters’ Lists, William, Lily, Ernest and Ernest’s wife, Barbara, who was born April 20, 1925 in Ottawa, Ontario, continue to live together in the same house at 815 River Street. Although not mentioned in the lists, Ernest and Barb had two children, William and Cheryl.
Date of death and burial location: William died April 6, 1966 and Lily on November 12, 1965. They are buried next to each other in the East Section of the History Haven Block in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora. Ernest died in 2002 and Barbara, in 2003. They are also buried in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery. Grandson, William, died at the age of 53 in Calgary, Alberta in 2000.
Presented by Susan [Hillman] Brazeau in support of the Kenora Great War Project – honouring all who served, remembering those who died.
1891 England Census
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
1921 Canada Census
England and Wales Marriage Indexes: 1917
Library and Archives Canada: Service File
Canada Voters’ Lists: 1935, 1945, 1949, 1957, 1963
Lake of the Woods Cemetery
Northern Ontario Gravemarkers Gallery
Cheryl [Saddington] Graham, granddaughter
Family History Researcher: contact through ancestry.ca