|Date of Birth||December 18, 1897|
|Place of Birth||Birmingham|
|Next of Kin||John A Bull, Father|
|Trade / Calling||Fireman|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||April 3, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||18|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||May 11, 1917|
|Age at Death||19|
|Buried At||no known grave/Vimy Memorial|
Good friends: sitting Harry Betton, and Albert Bull
Albert James Bull was born on 18 December 1897 in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England. His parents were John Albert and Emma (née Talbot) Bull who had married during the last quarter of 1881 in Aston, Warwickshire.
The family was found in the England 1891 census living in the inner-city of Sparkhill, Birmingham, occupation of John given as train driver. Other household members were Emma, age 28; Alice, age 8; John, age 4; and Thomas, age 3. By the 1901 England census the family had moved to Greet, another inner-city in Birmingham. John’s occupation was given as train locomotive driver, and there were two new additions to the family, Hilda, age 5, and Albert, age 4.
The Bull family was next found on the passenger list of the Victorian that arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 19 April 1907, destination listed as Winnipeg, Manitoba. Alice was not travelling with the family. By the 1911 Canada census the family was living at 417 4th Avenue in Kenora, Ontario. Household members were John who was working as a hostler, Emma, John junior who was working as a steward, Thomas who was working as a car repairer, Hilda, and Albert. Also with the family was ‘Lottie’ Bull who was actually Thomas’ wife Florence. At the time of Emma’s death on 7 October 1913 the family was living at 416 3rd Street North.
Albert James Bull enlisted in Winnipeg on 3 April 1916. Fair-haired with gray eyes, he was only 18. He headed to Camp Hughes with friend Harry Betton for training before going overseas.
With the 203rd Battalion (Winnipeg Rifles), Private Albert Bull embarked from Halifax aboard the Grampian on 26 October 1916. Once overseas the 203rd was absorbed by the 18th Reserve Battalion on 12 January 1917.
Transferred to the 44th Battalion, Albert joined the unit in the field on 2 April 1917. On 11 May 1917 Private Albert Bull made the ultimate sacrifice. The CEF burial register for Albert states that he was ‘Previously reported Missing, now killed in action.’ His battalion was at Avion at the time of his death.
The War Diary for the 44th Battalion describes the events on the day Albert was killed, 11 May 1917: The battalion was in the trenches west of La Coulotte (near Avion) and the enemy attacked in force at 3 a.m. using flamethrowers. Heavy fighting ensued and a line was established behind the fighting to which the men withdrew. ‘After ammunition was replenished and casualties cleared Major Belcher led an attack in daylight, without artillery protection, and regained the whole of our former positions, establishing all blocks. Major Belcher was unfortunately killed at the close of his most successful enterprise. Lieuts M. Oliver, H.A. Robertson and 14 O.R. [other ranks] were killed.‘ There were also 36 men wounded and 8 missing. Lieut. M. Oliver was alsofrom Kenora.
Private Albert James Bull’s name is inscribed on the ramparts of the Vimy Memorial in Pas de Calais along with the names of over 11,000 Canadian soldiers who were posted as ‘missing, presumed dead’ in France.
Albert’s brother Thomas also served, enlisting in Winnipeg on 23 February 1917. He was with No. 2 Railway Construction. His next of kin on his attestation papers was given as wife Florence Bull, having married Florence Julia Meadows on 8 June 1910. Thomas returned home safely. Brother John was drafted on 3 January 1918 and was with the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba. He later married Ada Betton on 21 February 1921 in Kenora. Hilda never married. Albert’s father died in December of 1964. All are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.
Albert’s good friend Henry (Harry) Betton enlisted in Winnipeg 3 days after Albert and was reported as killed in action on 14 August 1918. His name is also inscribed on the Vimy Memorial.
Private Albert James Bull is commemorated on page 210 in the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on a plaque hanging in St. Alban’s Anglican Church in Kenora, on the Kenora Cenotaph, on the Kenora Legion War Memorial, and on the 44th Canadian Infantry Vimy Ridge Monument in Vimy Ridge Memorial Park on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
by Fred Betton and Judy Stockham
photographs: Fred Betton and Carol Fischer
St Alban’s Pro Cathedral plaque: courtesy of the church