|Date of Birth||November 13, 1899|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Mary Robinson (mother), 410 Toronto Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Trade / Calling||Clerk and Salesman|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||410 Toronto Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||January 26, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||16|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||November 8, 1979|
|Age at Death||79|
Private Frank Edward Robinson was 16 years old when he enlisted in January 1916. He served overseas for eight months in Great Britain and France and he was sent back to Canada in January 1918 due to being a minor.
Frank was born in Rat Portage, Ontario on 13 November 1899. His father, Alfred Robinson, was from West Yorkshire, England and his mother, Mary Elizabeth Boyd, was born in Manitoba. Alfred and Mary were married in 1890 in Winnipeg and they made their home in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), where Alfred worked as an electrician. They had four daughters: Louise Gertrude (1892), Mabel Elizabeth (1894), Lillian Bertha (1896) and Sarah Alvera (1898). Frank was the youngest child and only son. The family was still living in Kenora at the time of the 1911 census but by 1912 they had moved to Winnipeg.
Frank turned 16 years old in November 1915 and he enlisted in Winnipeg on 26 January 1916, passing himself off as 18. He was 5’8″ and 140 lb with blue eyes and black hair and he listed his occupation as clerk and salesman. He joined the 108th (Selkirk) Battalion, which was being recruited in Manitoba. On 14 May his father Alfred Robinson enlisted with the 200th (Winnipeg) Battalion. Both units trained at Camp Hughes, east of Brandon, and at the end of May Frank was transferred to his father’s battalion. They spent the winter in Winnipeg and headed overseas in the spring of 1917, sailing from Halifax on 3 May on the SS Megantic and disembarking at Liverpool about ten days later.
Frank was transferred to the 11th Reserve Battalion shortly after arriving in England. On 21 June he was drafted to the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion and sent to France. After some time at the Canadian Base Depot he joined his new unit in the field at the end of August, just after the Battle of Hill 70. The battalion spent another six weeks in the Lens area. In October the Canadians were moved to the Ypres Salient in Belgium for the Battle of Passchendaele. The assault on Passchendaele ended on 10 November and five days later Frank was sent back to England. He was 18 years old by then but regulations at the time required front line soldiers to be 19. Frank was transferred to the Manitoba Regiment Depot at Dibgate to await his return to Canada. He embarked from Liverpool on the SS Metagama on 4 January 1918 and arrived in St. John, New Brunswick about twelve days later. He was discharged in Winnipeg on 15 February, due to being a minor. His father arrived back in Canada in July 1918 and he was discharged in August.
Frank was married in Winnipeg on 1 February 1921. His wife, Margaret Pansy Dietrich, was born in 1901 in Treherne, Manitoba. Her parents were John and Edith Dietrich and her older brother Joseph Henry Dietrich had served in the Royal Air Force duing the war. When the 1921 census was taken Frank and his wife were living in Winnipeg and he was working as a motor machinist. His parents moved to California around 1920 and Frank and Margaret joined them there in November 1922. They settled in Los Angeles where Frank worked as a salesman and department store buyer. They had at least two children, a son John (Jack) and a daughter Ruth, both born in Treherne, Manitoba.
Frank’s parents died in Santa Monica, California, his father in 1929 and his mother in 1955. His wife Margaret passed away in Los Angeles County in December 1970, at age 69. She’s buried at Desert Lawn Memorial Park in Palmdale. Frank died in Palmdale, Los Angeles County on 8 November 1979, five days before his 80th birthday.
By Becky Johnson
Photo of Frank’s parents courtesy of Robinson public family tree on ancestry.com.