Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 12, 1894
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinFather: Francis (Frank) Henry Armstrong, Keewatin
Trade / CallingHardware Clerk
ReligionPresbyterian
Service Details
Regimental Number439278
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion52nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentKeewatin, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentOctober 1, 1914
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 23, 1918
Age at Death24
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
Plot10E-36-3

Armstrong, Frederick Cameron

Frederick Cameron Armstrong was born and raised in Keewatin, Ontario.

His father, Francis (Frank) Henry Armstrong had come to the community in the late 1880s along with his brother William from the Otonabee area of Ontario to work at the Keewatin flour mill. Their father Martin Armstrong had been born in Ireland and their mother Catherine in Ontario.

Frank Armstrong married Mary Emma (Mamie) Cameron on Nov. 23, 1891 in Keewatin and the couple raised a family of three girls and two boys — Annie Catherine (born Sept. 21, 1892), Frederick Cameron (Jan. 12, 1894), Beaulah Isabell (April 10, 1898), Amy Ruth (Nov. 10, 1903) and Francis Henry, Jr. (June 21, 1907). By 1901 Frank Armstrong held the position of foreman in the stave department at the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plant in Keewatin.

When war broke out Frederick Cameron Armstrong was among the early enlistees with the local militia unit, the 98th Regiment, which was raising troops for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was listed in the local newspaper with a number of other men from Kenora and Keewatin published in October of 1914. He signed attestation papers for overseas duty with the CEF on May 25, 1915 and was assigned to the 52nd Battalion being formed in the region. He trained with the battalion in Kenora, Port Arthur and Valcartier, and shipped overseas to England with the battalion in November 1915 aboard the SS California. The battalion arrived in France in February 1916 as part of the 9th Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division.

After eight months in the field Frederick Armstrong developed a hernia, a not uncommon medical condition in the army brought on by the physical demands of soldiering. Two operations in England to correct the problem were unsuccessful and Armstrong declined the offer of a third attempt. He was shipped home to Canada, arriving back in Keewatin in July of 1917 and after a further five months at a convalescent hospital in Winnipeg was discharged from the army on Dec. 31, 1917 as unfit for further service.

While his injury had been serious enough to warrant a medical discharge, it was not debilitating and Frederick Armstrong returned to his prewar work as a stenographer (clerk), taking a position at the Lake of the Woods Milling Co..

On Sept. 16, 1918 Frederick Armstrong was initiated into the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Lodge 417 Keewatin, and a month later he died. Having survived the battlefields of Europe, Frederick Armstrong fell victim to the influenza pandemic that began sweeping the globe during the last year of the war.

His death registration gives the official cause of death as pneumonia as a complication of influenza. He died Oct. 23, 1918 after five days of illness and was interred at the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in a family plot which would later included his father (who died in 1935), his mother (1954) and his sister Anne Catherine (1960).

While Frederick Armstrong wasn’t an official fatal casualty of the war, the town of Keewatin included him in their list of the war dead in a community service held in 1919 and his name was included as one of those ‘who fell in the Great War’, rather than among ‘those who served’ on a community plaque the milling company commissioned to honour employees and community members who’d enlisted in service to their country.

by Bob Stewart

Armstrong photographs provided by Marnie Karlberg.

 


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