Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 1, 1890
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMr. & Mrs. Horswill (parents), Nelson, British Columbia
Trade / CallingBookkeeper
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number77325
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion1st Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Machine Gun Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentVictoria, British Columbia
Date of EnlistmentNovember 9, 1914
Age at Enlistment24
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJuly 3, 1979
Age at Death89
Buried AtNelson Memorial Park

Horswill, Alfred Stanley

Acting Sergeant Alfred Stanley Horswill enlisted early in the war and served overseas for four years. He was in Great Britain studying for a commission when the Armistice was signed.

Alfred was the son of Algernon Sidney Horswill and Amy Partington of Nelson, British Columbia. Algernon was born in Warwickshire, England and came to Canada in the early 1880s. Amy was from the city of Manchester, England. Her family also emigrated in the early 1880s, going to the U.S. first then settling in Selkirk, Manitoba. Algernon and Amy were married in Selkirk in December 1884. They made their home in Rat Portage, Ontario where nine of their ten children were born: Richard, Algernon Thomas, Alfred Stanley (born 1 March 1890), Eva, Amy, Mary, Leslie, Edward Allan Cecil and Hugh. Richard and Leslie both died at age one.

Alfred’s father worked as a carpenter in Rat Portage, later becoming a contractor and retail grocer. He was active in local politics, serving on the town council for several years and as mayor in 1904 and again in 1905, when the name of the town was changed from Rat Portage to Kenora. Three of Amy’s brothers also moved to Kenora, Walter, Oswald and Charles. Charles worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company and around 1904 he was transferred to Nelson, British Columbia. Algernon and Amy joined him there a few years later. Algernon continued to work in the grocery business and their tenth and youngest child, John (Jack) Partington, was born in Nelson in 1910.

By the time he was 15 years old Alfred was already working as a clerk for his father and when he enlisted his occupation was bookkeeper. He signed up in Victoria on 9 November 1914, at age 24, joining the 30th Overseas Battalion. The recruits embarked for England on 23 February 1915 and disembarked there on 6 March. The unit was re-designated as the 30th Reserve Battalion and the men were used as reinforcements for the 1st Canadian Division. At the end of April Alfred was transferred to the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) and sent to France. The Canadians took part in several operations that summer and the fall and winter of 1915-16 was spent in the Ypres Salient, holding a section of the front line between Ploegsteert Wood and St. Eloi.

Alfred had seven days leave over Christmas and while he was in England he became ill. He was admitted to Warneford Hospital in Leamington and diagnosed with a kidney ailment. At the end of February he was transferred to the 1st Southern General Hospital in Birmingham. He spent two weeks there followed by two weeks at the Monks Horton convalescent hospital. After recovering he served in England for the next two years. In April 1916 he was posted to the Record Office in London and in March 1917 he was transferred to the 14th Reserve Battalion. He was in the hospital for different health issues for three weeks in July, three weeks in September and two weeks in October. Once he was well again he served with the Manitoba Regiment Depot and the 11th Reserve Battalion until mid-March 1918, when he was sent back to France.

Alfred rejoined the 16th Battalion in the first week of April and a month later he was transferred to the 1st Battalion of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps. The Canadians were given several weeks of intensive training in open warfare that summer and they were heavily involved in the last months of the war. In early October Alfred was sent to England to take a cadet course, with the view of getting a commission. He was appointed Acting Sergeant on 29 October. The Armistice ended hostilities on 11 November and he was on his way home two months later. He sailed from Liverpool on the SS Metagama, arriving in St. John, New Brunswick on 16 January. He was discharged on demobilization on 28 February in Vancouver. Alfred’s uncle, Charles Partington, had enlisted in October 1915 and he was killed in September 1916 at the Battle of the Somme.

Alfred returned to Nelson and he was married before his official discharge, on 3 February 1919. His wife, 26-year-old Irene Evelyn Danforth, was a school teacher who was born and raised in Michigan. During the 1920s Alfred worked as a grocery store owner, a time keeper and the manager of a cook house. He and Irene lived in the town of Hedley, BC for several years. Sadly, Irene died in Nelson in October 1929, at age 38, from a ruptured appendix. Alfred married again two years later, on 22 October 1931. His second wife, Dorice Marguerite Vallance, was born in 1894 in West Virginia, the daughter of John and Gertrude Vallance.

Around 1933 Alfred started working for the federal government as an inspector of food and drugs, and he was with them until he retired at age 70. He was very involved in the community including the Nelson Fair Board, the Canadian Travellers Club, the Nelson Senior Citizens and the church men’s club. He was a life member of the Canadian Legion and he served on the Legion executive.

Alfred passed away in Kootenay Lake District Hospital on 3 July 1979, at age 89. He was survived by his wife and five sons: Richard, Jim, Weldon, Ron and John. Dorice died in Nelson in 1986, at age 91. Alfred is buried at Nelson Memorial Park along with his parents and both Irene and Dorice.

By Becky Johnson

Horswill-Alfred-90 Horswill-Alfred-91 Horswill-Alfred-image

Family photos courtesy of Spencer public tree on ancestry.com; grave marker photo courtesy of Alison on findagrave.com. Note that Alfred’s death registration and obituary have his death date as 3 July but his grave marker has 4 July.


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