|Date of Birth||December 19, 1897|
|Place of Birth||Carron, Stirlingshire|
|Next of Kin||David Ducan, father, Ignace, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Clerk|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Dryden, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Ignace, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||April 15, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||18|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
William McKechnie Duncan was born on 19 December 1897 in West Carron, Larbert, Stirlingshire in Scotland. His father David Duncan, an iron moulder, was from Falkirk while his mother Annie McKechnie was from Edinburgh where the couple married on 10 July 1877. Their first child, daughter Mary, was born in Edinburgh but by the time of the birth of their next child, Annie, the family had moved to Larbert. Subsequent children born in Larbert were Agnes, Isabella, Sarah, James, Jemima, and William.
William’s father David immigrated to Canada first, arriving on 2 October 1906 aboard the Corinthian on his way to Winnipeg. Annie and children Agnes, Isabella, Sarah, James and William followed the next year, arriving in Halifax on 22 February 1907, also on the Corinthian. The family eventually settled in the village of Ignace in northwestern Ontario where David found work as a caretaker.
William signed his attestation papers on 15 April 1916 in Dryden, Ontario. His occupation was given as clerk and his father David in Ignace as next of kin. In February William’s brother James had enlisted in Dryden, both boys with the 94th Battalion. Organized in November of 1915 under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel HAC Machin with recruitment throughout northwestern Ontario, the 94th Battalion was headquartered in Port Arthur. After training for several months the battalion embarked from Halifax on 29 June 1916 aboard the Olympic. On board were Privates William and James Duncan.
Once in England the brothers were transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion. In September William embarked for France, joining the 28th Battalion in the field on the 19th. By November of 1917 the battalion was in the front lines at Passchendaele. William was admitted to the No 3 Australian Casualty Clearing Station on November 7th, having sustained shrapnel wounds to the left buttocks. A few days later he was transferred to the No 22 General Hospital Dannes Camiers and then on to the No 14 Convalescent Depot in Trouville in early December. He was discharged to the Base Depot in Etaples on 1 January 1918, rejoining the 28th Battalion in mid February but then granted a two week leave to the UK. It was early March when William returned to his unit. On the 24th of April 1918 William sustained a gunshot wound, once again to the left buttocks. The 28th Battalion had been in Divisional Reserve at Bretencourt when an advance party was sent out to the front lines the day of William’s wounding. On the 27th he was admitted to the No 5 General Hospital in Rouen and by May 1st William was a patient in the Military Hospital in Lewisham, England. In mid June William was transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital in Bromley, Kent, discharged in late July. He then went through a series of transfers in the UK before embarking for Canada aboard the Grampian on December 15th. William was discharged from service due to demobilization on 21 February 1919 in Winnipeg.
After the war William returned to Ignace, found on the 1921 census with his parents and brother James, both William and James working as operators. By the time of his father’s death in 1926 in Port Arthur, he was also living in the Lakehead. On 29 June 1927 in Port Arthur, William married Margaret Emily Cox, daughter of Ernest Cox and Margaret Burrough. William had returned to Ignace and had been working as a railroad telegrapher. According to the marriage record they were to make Port Arthur their home. But by 1941 they were living in Kenora, Ontario where William joined the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion. Living on Park Street, he was listed as a telegrapher on the 1945 Kenora Voters List. Further confirmed trace of William and Margaret could not be found.
by Judy Stockham