|Date of Birth||January 17, 1897|
|Next of Kin||Margaret Sigurdson, sister. Keewatin, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Motor Mechanic|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||2 Mansfield Court, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||20/12/1916|
|Age at Enlistment||19|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Decorations and Medals||Military Medal|
|Date of Death||01/11/1958|
|Age at Death||61|
Born as Asgier Thorsteinsson he became known as ‘Oscar Thorsteinson’sometime after his arrival in Canada. He was the son of Thorvaldur (called Valdi) Thorsteinsson and Ragnihildur Eyolfsdottir. His mother separated from Valdi and left Iceland about 1902 taking their youngest child, Oscar, with her. She settled in Seattle, Washington. Oscar, born January 17, 1897, was only 5 years old. His father, his grandparents, along with Oscar’s aunt and his two sisters (12 year old Margret and 9 year old Hazel) immigrated 2 years later in 1904 to Canada. Oscar’s father and the rest of his family went to Selkirk, Manitoba. His mother soon after made her way north to Canada bringing Oscar and joined up once again with her husband and the rest of the family.
Sometime around 1913 the family moved to Keewatin, Ontario where Oscar’s sister, Margaret and her husband Magnus Sigurdson lived. He obtained employment with the Lake of the Woods Flour Milling Company before enlisting. Oscar was just 19 years old when he signed his attestation papers in Winnipeg on December 20, 1916.
Oscar was placed with the 141st (Rainy River District) Battalion. They trained in Canada before being shipped overseas the next spring. The S.S. Metagama arrived in England on April 7, 1917. The men were sent to Shorncliffe (a large military camp). The 141st was absorbed into other battalions and Oscar was taken on strength by the 11th Reserve Battalion and again moved. By June 16, 1917 Oscar was transferred to the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion. His Battalion landed in France the next day.
In Oct 1917 Oscar sprained his right ankle and was off duty for 2 days. March of 1918 he was given 14 days leave. In April 1918 he was wounded in the arm and also suffered with a bleeding in his eye. In November 1918 he was promoted to a Corporal and granted another 14 days leave. By April 12, 1919 the 27th Battalion was given the order to proceed to England.
On May 13, 1919 Oscar was aboard the HMT Northland leaving Liverpool and arriving at Halifax on May 23, 1919. On May 26th the 27th Battalion was demobilized in Winnipeg and Oscar received his discharge. It was a few months later that the approval was received for Oscar’s promotion to Lance Sergeant.
A request had also been submitted for Oscar to receive a Military Medal. This was approved by July 1919. According to a living relative, it was given for bravery in the field. Often under gun fire and gas attacks Oscar was responsible for delivering messages from one unit to another along the area of ‘no man’s land’.
Oscar suffered from ‘shell shock’ and his sister, Margaret, helped to nurse him back to health upon his return to Keewatin. (Shell shock is the reaction of some soldiers in World War 1 to the trauma of battle. It is a reaction to the intensity of the bombardment and fighting that produced a helplessness appearing variously as panic, or flight, an inability to reason, sleep, walk or talk. ‘Simply put, after even the most obedient soldier had enough shells rain down on him, without any means of fighting back, he often lost all self control.’)
Later he met Annie Morea Wolfe and they married in Winnipeg on 02 October 1922. It was a short lived marriage and they divorced. Oscar then ventured west obtaining work on a ranch in High River, Alberta with a family by the last name of Davis. Oscar married their daughter Vera Davis. They went back to Keewatin for a short time; at this time they had 2 children, Ruth and Bruce. Vera was a nurse and this took the family to Sioux Lookout, Ontario where she obtained a good job at the local hospital. Oscar also went to work at the hospital maintaining the boilers and doing janitorial work. They had 4 more children, Edward, Hugh, John and Shirley.
Oscar was still in the war overseas when his mother died in 1917 and she was buried in The Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora. His father went back to Selkirk and passed away there and was buried in Selkirk.
Oscar lost his life during a hunting accident in the fall of 1958/1959. He became lost in the bush and it is believed that he fell into a bog. His body was never recovered. Vera moved west with the children to be closer to her family.
Oscar Thorsteinson is commemorated on the Town of Keewatin Plaque honouring those members of the Municipality ‘Who Have Volunteered for Active Service for Canada’s Fighting Forces’.
By Linda Pelletier