|Date of Birth||June 8, 1891|
|Place of Birth||Horsted Keynes, Sussex|
|Next of Kin||Mrs.Mary Awcock (mother), Nobles Farm, Horsted Keynes, Sussex, England|
|Trade / Calling||CPR Fireman|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||700 Flora Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||27/04/1916|
|Age at Enlistment||24|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||29/06/1965|
|Age at Death||74|
|Buried At||Burnsland Cemetery, Calgary, Alberta|
|Plot||Field of Honour (Section T, Block 22)|
Private Arthur George Awcock enlisted in April 1916 and served overseas with the 78th Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers). He was wounded at the Battle of Passchendaele but he survived the war and returned to Canada in January 1919.
Arthur was the son of Edward and Mary Awcock of Horsted Keynes, Sussex, England. He was born on 6 June 1891 in Horsted Keynes and he had two sisters, Bessie and Mary, and four brothers, John, Frederick, William and Frank. Another child died as an infant. During the 1890s Arthur’s father worked as a railway labourer but by 1911 he was a farmer. Arthur immigrated to Canada in the spring of 1911, at age 19. He arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick on 10 April on the Lake Champlain, listed as a farm labourer going to Manitoba. When the 1911 census was taken he was living on a farm in Rossmere Township in the District of Selkirk. A few years later he moved to Winnipeg and found work as a teamster. By the time he enlisted in 1916 he was employed as a locomotive fireman with the Canadian Pacific Railway, working in both Winnipeg and Kenora, Ontario.
Arthur enlisted in Winnipeg on 27 April 1916, signing up with the 221st (Bull Dogs) Battalion. During the summer the battalion trained at Camp Hughes, east of Brandon, and the recruits returned to the city for the winter. They headed overseas in the spring of 1917, embarking from Halifax on 18 April on the SS Ausonia and arriving in the UK twelve days later. In England the men were absorbed into the 11th Reserve Battalion and the 221st was disbanded. On 7 June Arthur was attached to the 78th Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers), which was in the 12th Brigade, 4th Canadian Division. He arrived in France the following day and after some time at the Canadian Base Depot he joined his new unit in the field in early July.
The 78th Battalion was in the Lens-Arras area at the time, carrying on with training and having regular rotations in the front line. In August they took part in the Battle of Hill 70 (15-25 August 1917). Two months later they were moved north to the Ypres Salient for the assault on Passchendaele. The operation was carried out in several phases starting on 26 October and the 78th Battalion took part in the second phase. They moved into position on the night of 28-29 October and their attack began on the morning of 30 October. Their brigade was on the right flank for the operation, advancing up the south spur towards the village of Passchendaele. After reaching their objectives the 78th Battalion dug in and consolidated their position and the next day the entire area was heavily shelled. The unit’s casualties over the four days were about 70 killed and 300 wounded or missing. Arthur was one of the injured, suffering a shell or gunshot wound to his head and right shoulder. He was evacuated to a casualty clearing station then to No. 26 General Hospital in Etaples. After just a week there he was moved to a convalescent centre and by early December he was back at the Canadian Base Depot.
When Arthur rejoined his unit at the end of December they were in the Lens-Arras sector again. In January 1918 he had two weeks leave and in mid-March he became ill with trench fever. He spent a few days at a hospital in Camiers before being evacuated to England, where he served for the rest of the war. He was a patient at the General Military Hospital in Colchester from 29 March to 11 April, then at the Military Convalescent Hospital in Epsom from 11 April until 26 July. When he was discharged he was put on command to the 3rd Canadian Convalescent Depot for two months. At the end of September he was declared fit for duty and attached to the 18th Reserve Battalion. Six weeks later the Armistice was signed. In early January 1919 Arthur was sent to Kinmel Park in Wales to await his return to Canada. He embarked from Liverpool on the SS Aquitania on 18 January and arrived in Halifax ten days later. He was discharged on demobilization on 27 February in Winnipeg.
Arthur returned to his job as a fireman with the CPR and he lived at 700 Flora Avenue in Winnipeg, the boarding house where he had stayed before enlisting. In August 1920 he made a two-month trip to England and he was married while he was there. His wife, Dorothy Rhoda May Shawyer, was born in 1896 on the Isle of Wight and he may have met her while he was serving in England. They were married on the Isle of Wight and they left for Canada a short time later, arriving in Quebec on 16 October on the SS Metagama. When the 1921 census was taken they were living in Winnipeg and Arthur was still with the CPR. About five years later they moved to Calgary and he had a long career there with the Oliver Corporation, a tractor company. They had two daughters, Mary and June. Arthur retired around 1953. He passed away in Calgary on 29 June 1965, at age 74, and he’s buried in the Field of Honour at Burnsland Cemetery. Dorothy died in 1983 and she’s buried in Sundre, Alberta.
Arthur is commemorated on the Canadian Pacific Railway First World War Roll of Honour.
By Becky Johnson
Grave marker photos courtesy of Forrest Herr and Deb on findagrave.com.