Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 29, 1890
Place of BirthKenilworth, Warwickshire, England
CountryEngland
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinW Collins, The Woodlands, Claverden, Warwickshire, England
Trade / CallingFarmer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number477184
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion5th Battalion
ForceBritish Army
BranchRoyal Berkshire Regiment
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentHalifax, Nova Scotia
Age at Enlistment24
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJune 14, 1932
Age at Death41
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
Plot43E-28-1

Collins, George Ernest

George Ernest Collins was born on 29 September 1890 in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England. His parents Walter and Clara Jane (née Bourne) Collins were both from Birmingham and had married in 1877. George had five older siblings: Walter Percival (1878), Clara Evelyn (1879), John Newton (1881), Arthur Talbot (1883), and Florence Maude (1885). Another child had been born to the family but had died by the 1911 England census. Over the years his father Walter worked as an estate agent and auctioneer.

Arthur was the first to immigrate to Canada, arriving in 1906. He went back to England for a visit and George accompanied him on his return, arriving in March of 1908 aboard the Empress of Britain. Their destination was given as Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. Still together, they were listed as farmers in the 1911 Canada census for the District of Victoria in Alberta.

Giving his father back in England as his next of kin, George signed his first set of attestation papers as a Private with the Royal Canadian Regiment in Bermuda on 28 October 1914.  Shortly after the beginning of the war, the RCR was sent to garrison the island of Bermuda thus permitting a British regiment to be sent to the front. The regiment then embarked for Great Britain, via Halifax, Nova Scotia, in August of 1915 with George signing his second set of attestation papers on the 23rd in Halifax. By early November the RCR had embarked for France where it fought as part of the 7th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division in France and Flanders.

In March of 1916 George was granted a nine day leave and then was struck of strength for purpose of discharge, on command to the 5th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment in early October. His name appears in the war diaries for the regiment:

4 October 1916, Bernafay Wood, France ‘2Lt Collins joined for duty’;

17 March 1917, Arras, France ‘A raid was carried out on the German trenches at 7 am…the raiding party was divided into 6 parties…these parties were commanded by…2nd Lt GE Collins…all parties reached their objective’

25 Nov 1917, Villers Guisian, France ’25-29th New line consolidated…following details joined on night of 29th Lt GE Collins’

14 Apr 1918, Mirvaux, France’14th-15th Training continued. Capt GE Collins rejoined from 35th Bde Staff and assumed command of D Coy’

8 Feb 1919, Erre, France ‘Captain GE Collins Demobilized’

George’s name is next found on the passenger list of the Chinecto that had arrived in St John, New Brunswick from Bermuda and British Guyana on 16 August 1920. His occupation was given as overseer with intended occupation in Canada as insurance agent. He was on his way to Kenora, Ontario where his brother Arthur was living.

On 2 July 1924, in Kenora, George married Hilda Kelson Pittman. Born in Newfoundland, Hilda had moved to Kenora with her parents Charles and Violet (née Cunningham) Pittman and siblings around 1908. Hilda was a school teacher and had been working in the village of Pelly, MacKenzie, Saskatchewan for the 1921 Canada census. George and Hilda gave birth to two children, Kelson and Ray.

George and his family lived in Flin Flon, Manitoba for a few years where he worked for the Metropolitan Life Company but returned to Kenora in the spring of 1932 as he was not well. He died in the Kenora General Hospital on 14 June 1932. According to his death notice in the Kenora Miner and News ‘his constitution had been undermined by the war services, having been gassed and also suffered from Malaria overseas’.

George is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. Hilda stayed in the area and died in 1983. She is interred beside George.

by Judy Stockham