Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 7, 1895
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinNellie Davidson (mother), Manitou, Manitoba
Trade / CallingBank Clerk (Bank of Hamilton)
ReligionPresbyterian
Service Details
Regimental Number421078
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion43rd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Age at Enlistment19
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJune 28, 1968
Age at Death72
Buried AtMountain View Cemetery, Vancouver
PlotHORNE2/*/10/036/0015

Davidson, Gilbert Kerr

Private Gilbert Kerr Davidson was the oldest son of Thomas Henry Davidson and Ellen Jane Webster of Manitou, Manitoba. Thomas and Ellen (Nellie) were both from the township of Chatham in the province of Quebec. By 1891 Thomas was living in the Rat Portage area in northwestern Ontario, where he worked in the lumber industry. He returned to Quebec in February 1892 and married Ellen. They made their home in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) where their three sons were born: Gilbert Kerr (7 December 1895), John Webster (1900) and William Douglas (1902). Around 1903 Thomas moved his family to the Manitou area in Manitoba, where two of his brothers were living. He worked as a lumber yard manager and he passed away in 1907, at age 45. Ellen and the boys moved into the town of Manitou and sadly William died in 1914, at age 12.

Gilbert found work as a bank clerk and by the time he enlisted he was employed at the Bank of Hamilton in the nearby town of Carman. He signed up in Winnipeg on 8 January 1915, joining the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders). He was 19 years old and next of kin was his mother Nellie in Manitou. The 43rd Battalion was a new unit that was being raised in Winnipeg as part of the third overseas contingent. After training in Manitoba the battalion headed east in the spring, passing through Gilbert’s old hometown of Kenora on 29 May 1915. They embarked from Montreal on the SS Grampian on 1 June and arrived in England eight days later.

The 43rd Battalion spent eight more months training in the UK before being sent to France in February 1916. They became part of the 9th Brigade in the new 3rd Canadian Division. Gilbert came down with the measles in March and he was out of action for about two weeks. He rejoined his unit in mid-April and in June the Canadians were at the Battle of Mount Sorrel. Afterwards Gilbert was sick with bronchitis and he spent a week at a field ambulance and rest station. When he rejoined his unit he was assigned to a work party but he became ill again five days later. He was away for most of July and August at No. 32 Stationary Hospital, two convalescent camps and a rest station, suffering from trench fever and gastritis.

Gilbert was back with the 43rd Battalion in early November. The Canadians spent the winter of 1916-17 near Arras, opposite Vimy Ridge, and in January 1917 Gilbert was on command to Canadian Corps headquarters for three weeks. Preparations were soon underway for the assault on Vimy Ridge, which started on 9 April. After the ridge was captured the Canadians stayed in the area holding the new front line, and in August they took part in the Battle of Hill 70. In October Gilbert was put on command to the Canadian Corps Chaplain Service and he served with them for the next eight months. He had two weeks leave in November and he rejoined the 43rd Battalion in June 1918.

That summer the Canadians were given several weeks of intensive training in open warfare and they were heavily involved in the last months of the war. At the end of August Gilbert was sent to a field ambulance then admitted to No. 55 General Hospital. He had an abscess on his face and he was also suffering from a fever and neurasthenia (shell shock). He was moved to No. 8 Stationary Hospital on 27 November and evacuated to England in January 1919. He spent about three weeks at the 5th Northern General Hospital in Leicester, followed by six weeks at the convalescent centre in Epsom. He was discharged to duty on 19 March and posted to the Manitoba Regiment Depot. Gilbert embarked for Canada on the SS Celtic on 7 May, arriving in Halifax eight days later. He was discharged on demobilization on 17 May in Montreal, with his intended residence listed as Manitou. He was awarded the British War and Victory medals.

When the 1921 census was taken Gilbert was working at a bank in Pilot Mount, Manitoba. A short time later he moved to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and it was probably there that he married Agnes Donnelly. Agnes was born in 1904 in Scotland and came to Canada with her family in 1913. At the time of the 1921 census she was living in Moose Jaw with her parents, Hugh and Agnes Donnelly, and five younger brothers and sisters. Gilbert and his wife moved to Vancouver, where he worked for the post office. Their daughter Mary June was born there in February 1926 and she was followed by two sons, Doug and Tom. Sadly, Mary June died in 1947 at the Tranquille Sanatorium.

Gilbert passed away in Vancouver’s Shaughnessy Hospital on 28 June 1968, at age 72. His wife had died in 1967. They are buried in Mountain View Cemetery along with their daughter and other family members.

Gilbert is commemorated on the Bank of Hamilton First World War Roll of Honor.

By Becky Johnson

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