Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 6, 1886
Place of BirthPembroke, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs William Klabundle, mother, Pembroke, Ontario
Trade / CallingRailroad conductor and brakeman
ReligionPresbyterian
Service Details
Regimental Number2125134
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo. 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Railway Troops
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentYMCA, Kenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 8, 1917
Age at Enlistment30
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJuly 26, 1970
Age at Death84
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
Plot28E-10-4

Klabunde, Gustave Frederick Carl

Gustave Frederick Carl Klabunde was born on 6 April 1886 in Pembroke, Ontario. His parents Carl Wilhelm (Charles William) and Emilie (née Shultz) Klabunde were from Wusterbarth, Germany, and along with their one year old daughter Anna had arrived in New York on the 30th of March aboard the  Eider, just days before Gustave’s birth. The family settled in Pembroke and grew with three new additions to the family, Ida Johanna Elizabeth (1889), William Henry (1894), and Otto Emil Henry (1897-1901).

By 1911 Gus had moved north to Kenora where he found work with the Canadian Pacific Railway. With his place of residence given as the YMCA in Kenora and occupation as conductor and brakeman, Gus signed his attestation papers in Winnipeg on 8 February 1917. A Kenora newspaper article of the seventeenth of February spoke of Gus, along with  six other Kenora men that had signed up for overseas service with the No 1 Skilled Railway Operators, passing through Kenora heading east on the first leg of the journey to the front.

Listed as a Private on the nominal rolls of the No 1 Section, Skilled Railway Employees,  Gus embarked from Halifax aboard the  Ausonia on 4 March 1917. First redesignated as the 12th (Canadian) Light Railway Operating Company, Royal Engineers that March, the unit was changed to the No 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company (Canadians) Royal Engineers on April 7th. The battalion arrived in France on April 19th. ‘This unit was operating lines in the immediate rear of active operations and hauled troops, ammunition, supplies, material, ambulance trains, refugees for the battles of Messines Ridge, June 1917, and the Lys, April 1918.’ (Library and Archives Canada). A description of some of the activities of the 58th Broad Gauge Operation Company was summarized in the Canadian Rail’s November December 1993 edition that marked the 75th anniversary of the end of the war: ‘The Canadian Railway Troops on World War 1’ .

Gus was granted a fourteen day leave to the UK in late August of 1918. On 20 February 1919 he arrived in Halifax aboard the  Royal George with his final discharge on demobilization on the 31st of March in Ottawa.

On 21 May 1919, in Pembroke, Gus married Elizabeth Wilhelmina Louise Houth, daughter of Theodor and Augusta (née Retzalff) Houth. The couple returned to Kenora where Gus resumed working for the Canadian Pacific Railway, promoted to conductor in 1929 and retiring in 1951. The couple had one child, a daughter Edith. Gus was a member of Knox United Church, the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion, and the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen.

Predeceased by his father in 1926 and his mother in 1944, both in Pembroke, Gus died on 26 July 1970 in the Lake of the Woods  District Hospital. His wife Elizabeth died in 1977. They are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.

According to his obituary, for his service during the war, Gus received a scroll in honour of duty nobly done. He also received a scroll from the General Headquarters, British Armies in France for actions beyond the Call of Duty.

by Judy Stockham

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