Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 3, 1899
Place of BirthDundee
CountryScotland
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinDavid Peters (father), 353 - 8th Ave South, Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingTeamster
ReligionPresbyterian
Service Details
Regimental Number199377
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion1st Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at Enlistment353 - 8th Ave South, Kenora, Ontario
Date of Enlistment27/05/1916
Age at Enlistment17
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of Death01/11/1917
Age at Death18
Buried AtOxford Road Cemetery (Ypres), Belgium
PlotI. J. 3.

Peters, David

For most of the war regulations required soldiers to be at least 19 years old before they served in front line units but thousands of young Canadians enlisted underage, and many of them were killed in action or died of wounds. Private David Peters enlisted at age 17 and he died at the Battle of Passchendaele four months before his 19th birthday.

David was the oldest son of David Peters and Helen Taylor of Kenora, Ontario. His parents both born in Scotland and they were married there in 1898. David was born on 3 March 1899 in the City of Dundee, on Scotland’s east coast. At the time of the 1901 census his family was living in Strathmartine, a small village on the outskirts of Dundee, and David’s father was working as a farm labourer. Two daughters were born there, Nellie (1900) and Annie (1902). David immigrated to Canada with his family in 1903, when he was four years old, arriving in Montreal on 23 June on the SS Sardinian with their destination listed as Rat Portage, Ontario. At least three more children born in Canada: Gordon, Jean and Caroline. In Rat Portage (later called Kenora) David’s father worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway.

The war started in August 1914 and David enlisted on 27 May 1916, two months after he turned 17. He was living at home at 353 Eighth Avenue South at the time and working as a driver for Mr. Squire, the owner of a butcher shop in downtown Kenora. Like many young men eager to sign up he gave a false date of birth on his attestation, passing himself off as 19. His medical exam tells us he was 5’9″ and 140 lb and he was found fit for overseas service. He joined the 94th Battalion, which was based in Port Arthur and recruited in towns throughout northwestern Ontario. Most of the Kenora recruits left for Port Arthur on 25 May 1916, two days before David enlisted, and he made his way there later with other volunteers in time to entrain for Quebec in early June. After a short stay at the military camp in Valcartier the 94th embarked from Halifax on 28 June on the SS Olympic. In England the men were absorbed into reserve battalions to be used as reinforcements for other units.

David spent six months with the 17th and 30th Reserve Battalions. In January 1917 he was transferred to the 1st Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles and sent to France. The 1st CMR had started the war as a mounted unit but in January 1916 they were converted to infantry, one of four battalions in the 8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division. David arrived at the Canadian Corps Base Depot in France on 6 January 1917 and spent a month there followed by two months with an entrenching battalion. He joined the 1st CMR in mid-April in a draft of 46 reinforcements. The 1st CMR fought at the Battle of Vimy Ridge (9-14 April 1917) and when David arrived they had just returned from the front line, where the unit suffered 365 casualties. After a short rest they went into the trenches again on 17 April for a five day rotation. Over the summer the men trained, formed work parties and had regular rotations in the front line, and in August the battalion took part in the Battle of Hill 70 (15-25 August 1917).

That fall all four divisions of the Canadian Corps moved to the Ypres Salient in Belgium for the Battle of Passchendaele (26 October-10 November 1917). The 1st CMR arrived in Ypres by train on 21 October and marched to the forward area the same day. The assault on the ridge was planned to take place in several stages starting on 26 October. Even before it began the battlefield was a wasteland of swamp, mud and water-filled craters and sometimes the men were knee-deep and even waist-deep in mud and water. The 1st CMR took part in the first advance on 26 October. After three days in reserve they were brought in again, first to the intermediate trenches on 30 October then to the support area the next day. On both days they faced heavy shelling – artillery and gas shells as well as bombs dropped from airplanes. David was wounded sometime in the last days of October and he died of his injuries on 1 November at No. 10 Canadian Field Ambulance.

David is buried in Oxford Road Cemetery near Ypres in Belgium. He’s commemorated on the Kenora Cenotaph and the Kenora Legion War Memorial.

His father passed away in 1926 and his mother in 1946. They are buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora along with their son Gordon and their daughters Jean, Annie, Nellie (Mrs. Richard Redding) and Caroline (Mrs. John Morrison).

By Becky Johnson

Photo of grave marker courtesy of wargrave.eu on findagrave.com.

94th-1916-06-10 Peters-David-90 Peters-David-91 Peters-David-92 Peters-David-93 Peters-David-94


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