|Date of Birth||April 30, 1891|
|Place of Birth||Croydon|
|Next of Kin||Mary Louise Richardson (wife), 528 South John Street, Fort William, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Railroad brakeman and fireman|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||No. 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Railway Troops|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||Fort William, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||February 9, 1917|
|Age at Enlistment||25|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||October 31, 1969|
|Age at Death||78|
|Buried At||St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
Sapper Claude Harry Richardson was married and the father of a young son when he signed up with a railway unit in February 1917. He served in France and Belgium for a year and returned to Canada in December 1918.
Claude was the only son of William Henry Richardson and Sarah Ann (Sadie) Law. William was born in Southminster, Essex, England and Sarah in County Durham. They were married in Croydon, London in 1890 and they had three children, all born in Croydon: Claude Harry (30 April 1891), Dora Blanche (1892) and Hilda Jessie, also known as Hazel (1898). When the 1901 England census was taken the family was living in Croydon and William was working as a house decorator foreman. He passed away in 1908, when Claude was 17 years old. The following year Sarah and the three children immigrated to Canada, arriving in April 1909 on the Empress of Britain, their destination listed as Fort William, Ontario.
Sarah was married again in Fort William in September 1910 to Jesse Miller, a bachelor who had emigrated from England just a few years earlier. When the 1911 census was taken Claude and his two sisters were living with their mother and stepfather. Claude, age 20, was working as a machinist apprentice for the railway. He was married in Fort William on 2 October 1912 to 19-year-old Mary Louise Bryan. Mary was born in Cleveland, Ohio and moved to Canada with her family as a child. Claude and Mary’s only son, Raymond Claude, was born in 1913 and the war started the following year.
During the war Canada played a major role in providing skilled workers for the construction and operation of railways in France and Belgium. In 1916 rail transportation was being expanded and more railway workers were needed for service overseas. Claude enlisted in Winnipeg on 9 February 1917, signing up with No. 1 Section Skilled Railway Employees. A short time later he left for the east coast, on the first leg of his journey overseas. The recruits were sent to Montreal, where the No. 1 Section had been mobilized, and they embarked for the UK on the SS Ausonia on 4 March, arriving in England eleven days later. No. 1 Section became the 12th (Canadian) Light Railway Operating Company, Royal Engineers and three weeks later they were re-designated as No. 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company (Canadians), Royal Engineers.
Claude’s unit stayed in England for only a month before being sent to France, arriving there on 19 April 1917. Major battles for the Canadians that year were Hill 70 (August) and Passchendaele (October-November). Trains were essential for evacuating the wounded and for hauling troops, ammunition, equipment and supplies. No. 58 Company also supported the British army at Messines Ridge in June 1917. In the spring of 1918 Claude’s unit was based in the Vimy area where the Canadians were holding a section of the front line. On 8 May Claude was cycling from his camp into town when his bike side-slipped and he fractured his right arm. He was sent to No. 35 General Hospital in Calais and evacuated to England on 13 May. He spent a week at Cambridge Military Hospital in Aldershot followed by four months at the Granville Special Hospital (orthopaedic) in Buxton. In June he was ill with influenza as well.
By mid-September Claude’s arm had healed but he was diagnosed with vd and transferred to the venereal hospital at Etchinghill, where he received treatment until 31 October. When he was discharged he was posted to the Canadian Railway Troops Depot. The Armistice ended hostilities in November and a few weeks later he was on his way back to Canada, sailing from Southampton on the SS Olympic and arriving in Halifax on 14 December. He was discharged on demobilization on 31 January 1919 and he returned to his family in Fort William.
Claude had a long career as a conductor with the Canadian Pacific Railway and he was a member of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. He and his wife lived in Fort William for many years and they had two more children, daughters Eula and Dorothy. They also spent some time in Saskatchewan as well as in Kenora, where Claude joined the local branch of the Canadian Legion. Their daughter Eula (Mrs. A. Johnson) and Mary’s sister Pearl (Mrs. John Pedden) both lived in Kenora. Mary passed away in Fort William in August 1951, at age 56. In November Claude was baptized into the Catholic Church and by 1954 he was married to his second wife, Yvonne, and living in Winnipeg. He continued to work for the CPR until his retirement in 1956 or 1957.
Claude passed away in Misericordia Hospital on 31 October 1969, at age 78, and Yvonne died in 2005, at age 90. They are both buried in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Winnipeg.
By Becky Johnson
Grave marker photo courtesy of Leone Sigurdson, findagrave.com.