Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 20, 1888
Place of BirthAberdeen
CountryScotland
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinCharles Gibson (father), Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Trade / CallingFarmer
ReligionPresbyterian
Service Details
Regimental Number700477
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion2nd Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Machine Gun Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentWiseton, Saskatchewan
Date of EnlistmentDecember 29, 1915
Age at Enlistment27
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 21, 1967
Age at Death78
Buried AtBrookside Cemetery, Winnipeg
PlotMlty-6302

Gibson, Robert

Private Robert Gibson served overseas for three years with infantry units and the machine gun corps. He was wounded three times – at the Somme, at Lens and at Amiens – but he survived the war and returned to Canada in July 1919. Three of his brothers also served, two with the Canadian army and one with the British.

Robert was the son of Charles Gibson and Susan Ann Willox of Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He was born in Aberdeen on 20 December 1888 and he had two older brothers (George and Charles) and at least six younger brothers and sisters (Alexander, Mary, Susan, Peter, James and Ann). For both the 1891 and 1901 censuses the family was living in Lomnay, Aberdeenshire and Robert’s father was a farmer. Robert immigrated to Canada around 1911 and settled in the village of Wiseton, Saskatchewan where he took up farming. His brothers George and Alexander also moved to Saskatchewan and when the war started all three lads enlisted.

Alexander and George enlisted together on 12 February 1915, signing up in Saskatoon with the 9th Canadian Mounted Rifles. Robert was living in Wiseton and he travelled to Winnipeg where he joined the 101st Battalion on 29 December 1915. The unit trained in the city during the winter and at the end of May they moved to Camp Hughes, just east of Brandon. On 23 June they boarded trains bound for the east coast. During the stopover in Winnipeg about 5,000 people gathered at the station to wish them well and see them on their way. A week later the battalion embarked from Halifax on the SS Olympic, arriving in England on 6 July.

Robert was transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion on 8 July. On 27 August he was drafted to a front line unit, the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish), and sent to France. The Somme Offensive had started in July and the Canadians were moved there in late August and early September. Robert joined his new unit at the Somme in mid-September. During the Battle of Thiepval Ridge (26-28 September) two companies from the 16th Battalion were used to reinforce the 14th Battalion while the rest of the unit held a section of the front trenches. Robert was wounded on 27 September, suffering a bullet wound to his left knee and an injury to his right knee. He was sent to No. 12 Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne then evacuated to England on the HS St. Denis. He spent two weeks at the 2nd Birmingham War Hospital followed by a few days at a convalescent centre. From there he was posted to a training battalion and in January 1917 he was assigned to the 14th Reserve Battalion.

After a month with the reserve unit Robert was transferred to the Canadian Machine Gun Depot and by early May he was back in France. On 23 May he was transferred to the Eaton Motor Machine Gun Battery and he joined them in the field at the end of the month. In late July the unit was near Lens, carrying out artillery bombardments on the German lines. Robert was one of the casualties on 2 August, possibly when the brigade’s billets were shelled that morning. He was wounded in the right thigh and back. He was moved from a field ambulance to No. 23 Casualty Clearing Station then admitted to No. 22 General Hospital in Camiers on 5 August. From there he was evacuated to England on the HS Warilda and he spent three weeks in Winchester War Hospital. After a month at Bearwood Convalescent Centre he was released to furlough on 22 September. He served with the Canadian Machine Gun Corps Depot for the next seven months and in April 1918 he returned to France to rejoin the Eaton Motor Machine Gun Battery.

On 8 June Robert’s unit was absorbed by the 2nd Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade. The final period of the war started later that summer with the Battle of Amiens (8-11 August). The Brigade took part in the first three days of the operation, suffering 42 casualties. Robert was wounded for the third time on 10 August when a bullet entered his cheek and fractured his jaw. He was sent to No. 11 Stationary Hospital where he had surgery to remove the bullet, then he was evacuated to England on the HS St David. He was a patient at the 2nd Western General Hospital in Manchester from 17 August to 21 January 1919, then at No. 16 Canadian General Hospital in Orpington until mid-June. He spent the last two weeks of June at a hospital in Liverpool awaiting his return to Canada. He embarked on the HS Araguaya on 30 June and arrived in Canada via Portland, Maine on 11 July.

Robert was admitted to the Saskatchewan Military Hospital in Saskatoon on 16 July and discharged from the army on 2 August in Regina. He was entitled to wear three gold casualty stripes and four blue service chevrons. His intended residence on discharge was Sovereign, Saskatchewan where his brother Charles was living. His brothers George and Alexander both survived the war and returned to Canada. Their brother Sergeant James Gibson (MM) served in the British army with the 5th Battalion Gordon Highlanders. He became a prisoner of war on 21 March 1918, at age 19, and he spent eight months in German prison camps. He was discharged from the army in March 1919 and he immigrated to Canada in 1920.

After the war Robert lived in Winnipeg for awhile then in June 1923 he moved to Chicago, Illinois. He returned to Canada three years later, in September 1926, and found work as a butcher. He was married in Winnipeg on 30 September 1929 to Olive Mable Flanagan. Olive was born in 1909 in Mariapolis, Manitoba, the daughter of John Thomas and Eliza Flanagan. Robert and Olive moved to Kenora shortly after getting married and he joined the Canadian Legion there. Robert later moved back to Winnipeg. He passed away in Deer Lodge Hospital on 21 August 1967, at age 78, and he’s buried in the Field of Honour at Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg.

By Becky Johnson

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Photos courtesy of Gibson public family tree on ancestry.com.


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