|Date of Birth||November 9, 1877|
|Place of Birth||Trenton, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Mrs. Amelia Van Norman (mother), Orillia, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Wheelwright|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||10th Infantry Brigade|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan|
|Address at Enlistment||Lynthorpe, Saskatchewan|
|Date of Enlistment||January 9, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||37|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||July 8, 1959|
|Age at Death||81|
|Buried At||St. Andrew's - St. James' Cemetery, Orillia, Ontario|
Lieutenant Harry Hinds Van Norman, MC, enlisted in January 1915 and served overseas for three and a half years. He was promoted from Private to Sergeant in October 1915 and commissioned as a Lieutenant in April 1917. He earned a Military Cross in the last weeks of the war.
Harry was the oldest son of William Van Norman and Amelia Hinds of Orillia, Ontario. William and Amelia were married on 25 December 1876 in Trenton, Ontario and Harry was born on 9 November 1877 in the nearby village of Frankford. He had three sisters (Susan, Eva Phoebe and Julia Grace) and one brother (William George), all younger than him. Another brother, John Arthur, died as an infant. Their father was a wagon and carriage maker and the family moved to Orillia around 1882. During the South African War (1899 -1902) Harry served with the Royal Canadian Regiment, 3rd Special Service Battalion, which provided troops for garrison duty in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Harry was married in Toronto on 31 August 1904 to 18-year-old Jennie Harris. Their daughter Nettie May Amelia was born in May 1905. The marriage ended by 1910 and Harry moved west, first to Kenora, Ontario where he spent some time working for the Canadian Pacific Railway. When the war started he was living in the village of Lynthorpe, Saskatchewan, not far from Moose Jaw, and working as a wheelwright. His brother George was also living in that area.
Harry enlisted in Moose Jaw on 9 January 1915, signing up as a Private with the 46th (Saskatchewan) Battalion. After training for seven months in Canada the battalion headed to the east coast where they embarked from Halifax on 23 October. Harry was promoted to Transport Sergeant the day they left and his rank was confirmed when they arrived in the UK on 2 November. The battalion spent nine months in England before being sent to France in August 1916, becoming part of the 10th Infantry Brigade in the new 4th Canadian Division. After a month in the front lines south of Ypres the 4th Division went into reserve for two weeks then moved to the Somme in early October. They took part in several operations over the next eight weeks, including the capture of Regina Trench. The offensive ended in late November and the 4th Division moved north to the Vimy front, where they spent the winter with the rest of the Canadian Corps.
On 6 April 1917 Harry was commissioned as a Lieutenant and the Battle of Vimy Ridge started three days later. On 12 April the 46th Battalion took part in the assault on the Pimple, the last part of the ridge to be captured by the Canadians. They stayed in the Vimy area for another four months and in August Harry was given ten days leave. In September he had a short break at a rest camp, rejoining his unit in October in time for the Battle of Passchendaele. At the end of December he was attached to the 10th Infantry Brigade as a Pack Pony Officer and he remained with them until the end of the war.
The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started on 8 August 1918 with the Battle of Amiens. Harry suffered a back injury on the last day of the operation, 11 August, when he was crushed under a horse. He remained at duty but later in the month he took a period of leave to recuperate. The fighting had moved into a more open phase and after capturing Cambrai in early October the Canadians continued advancing northeast towards Mons. On 31 October and 1 November Harry earned a Military Cross at the Battle of Valenciennes. The citation reads:
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in front of Valenciennes on 31st Oct and 1st Nov 1918. He was responsible for moving forward ammunition to the vicinity of the front line, and he accomplished this in the most daring manner, and under heavy shell and machine-gun fire. It was due to his initiative and energy that troops in the firing line were kept at all times plentifully supplied with ammunition.”
The Armistice was signed ten days later and Harry’s unit remained in Belgium for several months. He was awarded his Military Cross on 2 April 1919 and he returned to England on 25 April. By then his back injury had become a problem and he was invalided to Canada a month a later, embarking from Liverpool on 28 May on the Empress of Britain. He arrived in Quebec on 4 June and was admitted to Ross Military Hospital in Moose Jaw a week later. In August he was transferred to Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg. He was discharged on demobilization on 1 December 1919 in Toronto, with his intended address listed as Eyebrow, Saskatchewan.
In the early 1920s Harry lived in St. Walburg in the RM of North Star, Saskatchewan. A group of veterans there formed a Legion, North Star Branch No. 13, and Harry was one of the first members. Late in 1926 he went to Orillia for an extended visit with his family and he ended up making his home there for about ten years. He became a member of the Canadian Legion, Orillia Branch No. 34. Around 1936 Harry moved to BC, living in Vancouver and Burnaby, and he moved back to Orillia in 1953. He died on 8 July 1959, at age 81, and he’s buried in St. Andrew’s-St. James’ Cemetery in Orillia. He was survived by his second wife Edith May Phillips. She passed away ten years later, in November 1969.
Harry is commemorated in the 1926 Year Book of the 46th Battalion Association CEF of Canada.
By Becky Johnson
Death notice and obituary courtesy of Orillia Public Library