Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthJune 10, 1895
Place of BirthPalentine, Montgomery County, New York
CountryU.S.A.
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMorley B. Guest (father), Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingFireman for CPR
ReligionMethodist
Service Details
Regimental Number198400
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion52nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentDecember 3, 1915
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 8, 1977
Age at Death82
Buried AtBrookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba
PlotD7-0100-0

Guest, Morton Frank

Private Morton Frank Guest enlisted twice and served in Canada, England, France and Belgium. He spent thirteen months overseas and returned to Canada in March 1919.

Morton was born on 10 June 1895 in Palentine, Montgomery County, New York, the oldest son of Morley Guest and Katie Saltsman. Morley and Katie were married in 1892 or 1893 and they had at least five children, sons Morton, Morley Jr. and Francis and daughters Margaret and Rhoda, all born in New York. Morley worked as a stationary engineer and in 1900 the family was living in Gloversville, Fulton County, New York. Sometime before June 1905 they moved back to Montgomery County and they were listed in the village of Nelliston for the state census that year. By the time he enlisted in 1915 Morton was living in Kenora, Ontario and working as a fireman for the Canadian Pacific Railway. His father had moved there too.

Morton signed up in Kenora on 3 December 1915, when volunteers were being recruited for the 94th Overseas Battalion. Three days later he was in Newark, Ontario where he was transferred to a new unit, the 97th (American Legion) Battalion. The 97th was made up mostly of American-born volunteers. Over the winter they trained at Exhibition Camp in Toronto and in May the recruits left for the east coast, on the first leg of their journey overseas. Morton, however, was held back in Toronto. On 25 May he was found medically unfit for service and he was discharged on 16 June.

Conscription started in Canada in 1917 and all single men age 20 to 34 were required to register that fall. Morton reported in Winnipeg and had his medical there on 13 November. He was called up for service two weeks later and assigned to the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment. He embarked from Halifax on the SS Grampian on 5 February 1918 and in England he was assigned to the 18th Reserve Battalion. After three more months of training he was sent to France in early May and transferred to the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion. The 52nd had been organized in Port Arthur in 1915 and originally recruited in towns throughout northwestern Ontario, including Kenora.

Morton joined his new unit in mid-June and that summer they underwent several weeks of intensive training in open warfare. The Canadian Corps was heavily involved in the last three months of the war, a period known now as the Hundred Days Offensive (8 August-11 November 1918). Following the Battle of Amiens in early August the 52nd Battalion moved north with the Canadian Corps and took part in operations around Arras. On 3 September Morton was admitted to No. 22 General Hospital in Camiers, suffering from trench fever and what he described as shell shock. He spent seven weeks in the hospital and in two convalescent centres, where he was further diagnosed with a heart problem and debility. By 21 October he was well enough to be discharged to a rest camp and he rejoined his unit in early November.

On 8 November the 52nd moved from France into Belgium and three days later the Armistice ended hostilities. The battalion stayed in Belgium for almost three months. They left by train on 5 February 1919 and embarked from Le Havre on 10 February, landing in England the next day. The men proceeded to Bramshott Camp and most of them were immediately given leave. Morton sailed from Southampton with his unit on 17 March on the SS Olympic. When they arrived in Port Arthur there was a huge homecoming celebration and he was discharged there at the end of the month.

Morton returned to Kenora after the war and he was married on 14 February 1921. His wife, Florence Brown, was born and raised in Kenora, the daughter of Joseph Brown and Mary Robinson. Joseph had worked for the CPR and he was killed in France in 1918 while serving with a railway unit. Florence’s brother William Thomas Brown served with the 52nd Battalion and survived the war. Morton and Florence made their home in Kenora and he joined the local branch of the Canadian Legion. They had six children: Helen, Florence, Virginia, Shirley Anne, Joseph and Morton Jr. Three other daughters died as infants. In the 1930s they moved to Winnipeg and Morton was hired by the Commissionaires, a security firm that employs war veterans. He worked for them for 25 years, retiring in 1960. Florence passed away in October 1961 and she’s buried in Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg. Morton died on 8 October 1977, at age 82. He had married again and he was survived by his second wife Rose and his six children. He was laid to rest beside Florence in Brookside Cemetery.

Morton is commemorated in Kenora on the St. Alban’s Pro-Cathedral First World War Roll of Honour.

By Becky Johnson

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