|Date of Birth||November 19, 1892|
|Place of Birth||Keewatin, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Joseph Gagnon, father, Keewatin, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Labourer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Keewatin, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||August 4, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||22|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||March 9, 1919|
|Age at Death||26|
|Buried At||Grayshott (St. Joseph) Roman Catholic Churchyard, Hampshire, United Kingdom|
Charles Joseph Gagnon, the oldest of six sons of Joseph Gagnon and Victoria Madore, was born in Keewatin, Ontario on 19 November 1892. He was raised in Keewatin.
The 1911 Canada census shows Charles living with his family on 10th Street in Keewatin. He was sewing bags for Lake of the Woods Milling Company.
Charles enlisted with the 52nd Battalion on 04 August 1915 in Kenora. When he left for training in Port Arthur it was the last time he would see his family. On 4 November 1915 the 52nd Battalion moved by train to St. John, New Brunswick arriving on 8 November 1915. Prior to arriving in St. John, the Battalion stopped in Ottawa and was inspected by the Governor General of Canada, the Duke of Connaught.
Charles embarked for Plymouth, England with his unit from St. John on 23 November 1915 aboard the S.S. California. They arrived in England on 03 December 1915, trained at Witley Camp and in Bramshott for eight weeks before landing in France on 21 February 1916. The Battalion joined the 9th Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division on 23 February 1916 and thus began the trial by fire for the men of the north in the trenches of France and Belgium.
Near the end of June 1917 Charles was injured and admitted to No 22 General Hospital, Camiers with wounds to his right leg and left arm. His Canada Military Honours and Awards Citation Card (dated September 1917) describes the incident:
‘While in charge of a limber loaded with detonated Mills Grenades, a shell exploded nearby blowing away the tailboard of the limber. His mules bolted and though his right arm was shattered, he stuck to his post and eventually succeeded in bringing his team to a standstill, thus probably saving the lives of soldiers who were in the vicinity at the time. His arm has since been amputated.’
Charles was sent to England for treatment of his injuries, spending a month in the 2nd Southern General Hospital in Bristol, almost two weeks in the Canadian Convalescent Hospital in Bearwood, Wokingham and finally, another month in the Military Convalescent Hospital in Woodcote Park, Epsom. While there he was transferred to the 18th Reserve Battalion. Upon discharge from the hospital he was awarded the Military Medal and drafted back into the 52nd Battalion. He returned to France on 09 November 1917 and reported for duty with his unit on 01 December 1917.
Charles served in France and Belgium until 13 February 1919. On the 24th of February he was admitted to No 12 Canadian General Hospital in Bramshott, England suffering from influenza. He died on 09 March of bronchial pneumonia complicated by influenza. He was only 26 years of age. He is buried in St. Joseph Roman Catholic Churchyard at Grayshott, Hampshire, England.
Charles is commemorated on p. 534 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Town of Keewatin Plaque and the Lake of the Woods Milling Company Plaque, both formerly located in the Keewatin Legion, and on the Keewatin Cenotaph.
Two of Charles’ brothers, William and Adelard, also served overseas during World War 1, but they were fortunate enough to return to Canada.
Gravemarker photo provided by Cliff Forsythe.