Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 4, 1901
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinEdith Mary Easterbrook (mother), Norman, Ontario
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionBaptist
Service Details
Regimental Number830693
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionYoung Soldiers' Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentNorman, Ontario
Date of Enlistment15/05/1916
Age at Enlistment15
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death19/11/1996
Age at Death95

Easterbrook, William James Arthur

Private William James Arthur Easterbrook enlisted in May 1916, at age 15. He served in Great Britain for a year before being returned to Canada as a minor.

William was born in Rat Portage (Kenora), Ontario on 4 March 1901. He was the oldest son of Fred Elmo Easterbrook and Edith Mary Coxon and he had six brothers and sisters: George, Hazel, Fred Jr., Maud, Ruth and Millicent. Two other children had died young. William’s father was a mill foreman and millwright and by 1910 the family was living in the village of Norman, on the western edge of Kenora.

William was only 13 years old when the war started and he enlisted  in the spring of 1916. He was still only 15 and he signed up in Winnipeg on 15 May, joining the 144th Battalion (Winnipeg Rifles). He was about 5’2′ tall and 115 lb. and he was assigned to the Bugle Band. His battalion trained at Camp Hughes over the summer and headed overseas in the fall, sailing from Halifax on 18 September on the SS Olympic and arriving in England about two weeks later.

William served in the UK for the next year with the 144th Battalion, the 18th Reserve Battalion, the Manitoba Regiment Depot and the Boys’ Battalion (which became the Young Soldiers’ Battalion). In October 1917 the Young Soldiers’ Battalion moved from Bexhill to Bramshott and at the end of the month William was transferred to the Canadian Discharge Depot, to await his return to Canada. He sailed from Liverpool about a week later on the SS Olympic and arrived in Halifax on 14 November. He was discharged in Winnipeg on 29 December 1917, due to being a minor. He was still just 16 years old. His father Fred Elmo Easterbrook had also enlisted and he spent two years in England and Scotland serving with a forestry unit.

William returned home after his discharge then spent some time working in Minnesota. He was married in the U.S. in 1920 to 19-year-old Bertha Amorde. Bertha was born in 1901 in Minnesota, the daughter of Herman and Bertha Amorde. Her father was a farmer and both of her parents were German immigrants. At the time of the 1921 Canadian census William and Bertha were living in the community of Glenwater in northwestern Ontario. William was working as a station agent for the CNR and he went on to have a long career with them. By 1924 he and his wife had moved to Dauphin, Manitoba, where they lived for many years.

William and Bertha had two children, James Arthur born in 1923 in Minnesota and Virginia Faye born in 1924 in Dauphin. James served with the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War then earned a Ph.D. and became a professor at the University of New Brunswick (James Arthur Easterbrook). Virginia (Virginia Faye Cornish) trained as a registered nurse and settled in Claresholm, Alberta with her husband, Dr. Sidney James Cornish.

William and his wife both passed away in Kelowna, British Columbia, Bertha in October 1995, at age 94, and William on 19 November 1996, at age 95.

By Becky Johnson

Easterbrook-William-James-90


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