Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthFebruary 9, 1897
Place of BirthNorman, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJames Henry Grace (father), Norman, Ontario
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number198255
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion43rd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentNorman, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentNovember 23, 1915
Age at Enlistment18
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 27, 1970
Age at Death73

Grace, James William

Private James William Grace was living in Kenora, Ontario when he enlisted in the fall of 1915. He was wounded at the Somme in October 1916 and invalided back to Canada the following spring.

James was the oldest son of James Henry Grace and Matilda Ducharme of Kenora, Ontario. His parents were both born in Quebec and they were married in Rat Portage (later called Kenora) on 30 December 1895. They settled in Norman, a neighbouring village to Kenora. James was born in Norman on 9 February 1897 and he had at least ten younger brothers and sisters. His father worked as a stationary engineer in a saw mill.

In August 1915 the war entered its second year and James enlisted that fall. He signed up in Kenora on 23 November, joining the 94th Overseas Battalion. He was 18 years old at the time, living in Norman and working as a saw mill labourer for the Keewatin Lumber Company. After training locally over the winter the Kenora recruits were sent to Port Arthur in May 1916 to join the rest of the unit. They left for Quebec on 9 June and spent a short time at the large military camp in Valcartier, north of Quebec City. The battalion embarked for England on the SS Olympic at the end of the month, arriving in Liverpool on 6 July.

On 13 July James was transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion. Six weeks later, on 24 August, he was drafted to the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders of Canada) and sent to France. After some time at the base depot and with an entrenching battalion he joined his new unit in the field during the Somme Offensive. On 20 September the 43rd attacked the Zollern Graben Trench, suffering 150 casualties in the operation. They were relieved on 21 September for two weeks of rest and refitting and it was during that time that James joined them in a draft of 90 reinforcements.

Early in October the battalion had a two day rotation in the front trenches then on 8 October they were back in action, taking part in the assault on Regina Trench. They ran into problems during the early morning advance when they encountered uncut barbed wire and strong German counter-attacks. The unit suffered 360 casualties that day, including James who was hit in the right hand by shrapnel. He was sent to a casualty clearing station then to the 3rd Stationary Hospital in Boulogne. From there he was evacuated to England on the HS St. David. On 15 October he was admitted to Edinburgh War Hospital, where he had surgery to remove a piece of shrapnel from his hand. He recovered there for the next two months.

On 20 December James was transferred to the convalescent centre at Epsom but a week later he was back in the hospital, this time at Moore Barracks. In January 1917 he had surgery to remove another piece of shrapnel. He was a patient at Granville Special Canadian Hospital from 24 January until 23 February, then at Princess Patricia Canadian Red Cross Special Hospital until 12 March. He was found medically unfit for further service and invalided to Canada two months later, arriving in Halifax on 21 May on the SS Olympic. He spent some time in a convalescent home in Quebec followed by two months at the Manitoba Military Convalescent Hospital in Winnipeg, mostly as an outpatient. He was discharged from service on 31 October 1917.

A few days before his discharge James left for Minneapolis to spend some time with relatives. His parents moved to Port Arthur and when the 1921 census was taken James was living with them and working as a salesman for Imperial Oil. He was married in Port Arthur on 17 June 1922 to 20-year-old Mildred Gladys Curry. Mildred was born in North Dakota, the daughter of William and Grace Curry. James and Mildred moved to the U.S. in 1925 and at the time of the 1930 census they were living in Hillsboro City, Oregon where James worked for a power company. When the next census was taken, in 1940, he was living in Oakland City, California with his second wife Edna. James passed away in Alameda County, California on 27 December 1970, at age 73. Edna died three years later, at age 72.

By Becky Johnson

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