Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 27, 1890
Place of BirthDalrymple, Aryshire
CountryScotland
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinMary Armour (wife), Suite 1, Ivanhoe Block, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingStreet Railway Conductor
ReligionPresbyterian
Service Details
Regimental Number859144
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion43rd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Age at Enlistment25
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death15/07/1944
Age at Death54

Armour, James

Private James Armour served in France with the 43rd Battalion for a year before being wounded at Passchendaele in October 1917. He was invalided back to Canada in the fall of 1918.

James was born on 27 January 1890 in Dalrymple, Ayrshire, Scotland. His parents, Thomas Armour and Jane Kennedy, were married in 1886 and he was the third of their ten children. In 1911 James and his brother Thomas Jr. immigrated to Canada. The following year the rest of the family joined them and they settled in the town of Keewatin, Ontario. James was married in Winnipeg on 5 September 1913. His wife, Mary Smith Aitken, was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and she came to Canada with her family in 1911, at age 17. James and Mary made their home in Winnipeg and their son James Ferguson was born there in 1914.

Late in the summer of 1915 the war entered its second year and James enlisted that fall, signing up with the 179th Battalion on 19 October. He was working as a street railway conductor at the time. The 179th headed overseas a year later, embarking from Halifax on the SS Saxonia on 4 October 1916 and landing at Liverpool on 13 October. A week after arriving James was transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion but he trained with them for only a month. The Canadian Corps had suffered 24,000 casualties at the Somme that fall and reinforcements were needed for front line units. James was sent to France on 12 November and transferred to the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders of Canada). When he joined his new unit in the field in early December they were at the Vimy front, between Lens and Arras, where they would spend the winter.

In early 1917 the Canadians began preparing for the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which started on the morning of 9 April. After capturing the ridge the Canadians stayed in the Vimy area, holding the new front line and carrying out raids and patrols. They took part in further operations that summer at Arleux, Fresnoy and Hill 70. In October they were moved north to the Ypres Salient for the assault on Passchendaele. The 43rd Battalion took part in the opening attack on 26 October, advancing up the Bellevue Spur with other units in the 9th Brigade. They were relieved at midnight the next day and the battalion suffered 350 casualties over the two days. James was one of the wounded on 26 October, when he was hit by shell fragments in his right side including his shoulder, arm and hand.

James was admitted to No. 83 General Hospital in Boulogne on 27 October and he had an operation to remove the shell fragments. A few days later he was evacuated to England and he spent a month recovering at Colchester Military Hospital. On 7 December he was transferred to No. 4 Canadian General Hospital in Basingstoke, where he stayed until April 1918. After his release he was assigned to the Manitoba Regiment but served on command to the 1st Canadian Convalescent Depot. In late September he was invalided to Canada on the SS City of Poona, arriving in Montreal on 7 October. Sadly, his father had passed away in Keewatin just two days earlier, on 5 October. James was discharged in Winnipeg on 8 November, listed as medically unfit for further war service with his conduct described as very good. His brothers Robert, Thomas and William also served overseas and they all returned home in the spring of 1919.

James stayed in Winnipeg for about three years, working as a street railway conductor again, and in 1921 he and Mary moved to Los Angeles. Her parents, Ferguson and Jane Aitken, also went with them and they lived on neighbouring streets. James’ brother Thomas and his family moved there in 1929. In 1930 James was working as a salesman for a dairy company and in 1940 he was a gardener. He passed away on 15 July 1944, at age 54. His mother had also moved to Los Angeles and she died there in 1945. His wife Mary passed away in Lake Forest, Orange County, California in 1986, at age 92.

James is commemorated on the Town of Keewatin Roll of Honour and the Municipality of Keewatin For King and Country 1914-18 plaque.

By Becky Johnson

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