|Date of Birth||July 10, 1898|
|Place of Birth||Grassy Narrows First Nation, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||May-squa-che-kesik (brother), Grassy Narrows First Nation|
|Trade / Calling||Trapper|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Grassy Narrows First Nation, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||July 1, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||18|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||May 10, 1923|
|Age at Death||24|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
|Plot||RC E - 3 - 16|
Private Phillip Pelly enlisted in July 1916 and served in France and Belgium with the 52nd Battalion. He was invalided back to Canada in March 1918 due to illness.
Phillip’s service file records his birth as 10 July 1898 at Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario. He was working in the Kenora area when he enlisted in the summer of 1916, signing up with the 141st ‘Bull Moose’ Battalion on 1 July. He was 18 years old at the time and his occupation was trapper. Both of his parents were deceased and next of kin was his brother May-squa-che-kesik in Grassy Narrows. The 141st was based in Port Arthur and the Kenora recruits were sent there at the beginning of August. After training over the winter the battalion left for the east coast on 20 April 1917 and embarked for England a week later, sailing from Halifax on 29 April on the SS Olympic. In England the men were absorbed into the 18th Reserve Battalion to be used as reinforcements for other units.
On 21 June Phillip was drafted to a front line unit, the 52nd Battalion, and sent to France. The Canadians were in the Lens-Arras area at the time and in August they took part in the Battle of Hill 70. Phillip suffered gas poisoning and he was admitted to No. 5 Canadian Field Ambulance on 16 August. Four days later he was moved to No. 1 General Hospital in Camiers and he spent most of September at two convalescent depots. He was discharged to duty at the end of September and he rejoined the 52nd Battalion in the field. A short time later the Canadians moved to the Ypres salient for the Battle of Passchendaele. On 12 November Phillip’s unit took over a section of the front line on Passchendaele Ridge and their position was heavily shelled. The following day Phillip suffered a shrapnel wound to his left hand. He was taken to No. 9 Canadian Field Ambulance then evacuated to England. He spent five days at Richmond Military Hospital followed by three weeks at a convalescent hospital.
Philllp was discharged to duty on 11 December and he served in the UK for the next five weeks. In mid-January 1918 he became ill with bronchitis and he was admitted to No. 11 Canadian General Hospital in Shorncliffe. Two weeks later he was moved to the Canadian Special Hospital in Lenham, with suspected tuberculosis. At the end of March he was invalided to Canada on the Llandovery Castle and he had further treatment in Winnipeg. He was discharged in Winnipeg on 22 June 1918, due to being medically unfit for further war service. He was entitled to wear one gold (casualty) stripe and his intended residence was Kenora.
In December 1918 Phillip had a medical exam at the Manitoba Military Convalescent Hospital in Tuxedo, Winnipeg, at the request of the pension board. He passed away at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Kenora on 10 May 1923, at age 24. His death registration records him as a widower and the cause of death as tuberculosis. His circumstances of casualty card mentions that he was on a 100% pension at the time of his death.
Phillip is buried in the Roman Catholic section at Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. He’s commemorated on the Anishinaabe Veteran Heroes plaque at Ne-Chee Friendship Centre in Kenora, on the Notre Dame du Portage Roman Catholic Church WW1 memorial plaque and on the Aboriginal Veterans Tribute Honour list here.
By Becky Johnson
Photo of Phillip courtesy of Library and Archives Canada