Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 31, 1896
Place of BirthBradford, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinFrances Fraser (mother), General Delivery, Vancouver
Trade / CallingClerk/Train Brakeman
ReligionPresbyterian
Service Details
Regimental Number75793
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion29th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentVancouver, British Columbia
Age at Enlistment18
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death17/01/1989
Age at Death92

Fraser, Gordon Edwin

Lance Corporal Gordon Edwin Fraser enlisted with the 29th Battalion in November 1914, three months after the war started. He was seriously wounded at the Vimy front in 1917 and invalided back to Canada later that same year.

Gordon was the oldest son of Andrew Fraser and Frances Elizabeth Fennell of Vancouver, British Columbia. Frances was from Simcoe County, Ontario and Andrew was born in Quebec. They were married in North Bay, Ontario in 1895 and Gordon Edwin was born on 31 January 1896 in Bradford, Simcoe County. By the following year the family was living in Calumet, Quebec where two children were born, Gertrude Irene (1897) and Claude Alexander (1900). From there Andrew and his wife moved to Kenora, Ontario and they had two more daughters, Rebecca (1903) and Marjorie (1905). Andrew worked as a cook for a railway contractor and when the 1911 census was taken the family was living on Seventh Avenue South in Kenora. Not long after that Andrew’s job took him out west and when his wife and children joined him they settled in Vancouver.

When the war started Gordon was one of the early volunteers, enlisting in Vancouver on 7 November 1914 at age 18. He signed up with the 29th (Vancouver) Battalion, which was being recruited for the second Canadian overseas contingent. After training over the winter the battalion headed to Montreal in the spring, where the troops embarked for the UK on the SS Missanabie on 20 May 1915. Gordon spent about four months training with his unit in England. In mid-September the battalion was sent to France where it became part of the 6th Brigade in the 2nd Canadian Division.

The Canadians spent the winter of 1915-16 holding a section of the front line between Ploegsteert Wood and St. Eloi. In early 1916 they took part in the operations at St. Eloi craters (March-April) and Mount Sorrel (2-13 June). Shortly after the Battle of Mount Sorrel Gordon developed a problem with one of his feet. He was out of action for a month then he spent some time with an entrenching battalion and it was mid-September when he rejoined his unit. They were at the Somme that fall, where the Canadian Corps suffered 24,000 casualties in less than three months. The Canadians spent the winter in the Lens-Arras sector and early in 1917 they began to prepare for the assault on Vimy Ridge.

Gordon was promoted to Lance Corporal on 21 March and two days later his unit marched to Neuville St. Vaast, just west of Vimy Ridge. Over the next few days the troops had a rotation in the trenches and also provided work parties for the engineers. German artillery was active and there were a few casualties every day. Gordon was seriously wounded on 31 March, suffering shrapnel wounds to his face, arm and back. He was admitted to No. 26 General Hospital in Etaples on 2 April and evacuated to England on 19 April. He spent two weeks at the 3rd Western General Hospital then recovered from 4 May until 27 July at the Canadian Convalescent Hospital in Bearwood.

Gordon became ill in late July and he was transferred to King’s Canadian Red Cross Hospital, where he was diagnosed with nephritis. He was discharged from the hospital on 12 September and invalided to Canada two months later, sailing from Liverpool on 17 November 1917 on the SS Saxonia. He spent two weeks as a temporary outpatient at a convalescent centre in Esquimalt then on 27 December he was admitted to the Vancouver General Hospital Military Annex. The annex had opened earlier that year to help in the rehabilitation of soldiers through physiotherapy. After a month there Gordon was moved to Shaughnessy Veterans Hospital and on 6 April 1918 he was discharged from the army, listed as medically unfit for further war service. His conduct was described as very good. His brother Claude Alexander enlisted with the Royal Air Force in May 1918 and he trained as a pilot cadet in the Toronto area.

Gordon returned to Vancouver after his discharge but a few months later he moved to the U.S. He lived in Tacoma, Washington for awhile then settled in Portland, Oregon where he worked as a welder. He was married on 3 October 1924 to 28-year-old Hazel Adeline Bredemeier (née Gatchet). Hazel was born in Portland in 1896, the daughter of Charles and Ordean Gatchet. Gordon and Hazel had two daughters, Frances (1926) and Laurie (1927), both born in Portland. Hazel also had a daughter Kathryn Bredemeier from her previous marriage.

Hazel passed away in December 1963, at age 67. Gordon survived his wife by 25 years. He died in Portland on 17 January 1989, two weeks before his 93rd birthday.

By Becky Johnson


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