Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 12, 1893
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinAngus Carmichael (father), Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingHardware Merchant
ReligionPresbyterian
Service Details
Regimental NumberNA
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo. 22 Squadron
ForceAir Force
BranchRoyal Flying Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentFort William, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of Enlistment16/02/1916
Age at Enlistment22
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death03/03/1981
Age at Death88
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
PlotChapel Grounds West Block. 1W-15-3

Carmichael, George Raymond

When the First World War started aircraft technology was still quite new and airplanes were used mainly for observation. Major advancements were made over the next four years and both sides developed fighters and bombers. Flight Lieutenant George Raymond Carmichael served as a pilot with the Royal Flying Corps for over two years and he survived an attack by German fighters in 1917.

George was the youngest of three sons of Angus Carmichael and Minnie Helena Simpson of Kenora, Ontario. Angus was from the township of Mariposa, Ontario, near Lake Simcoe, and Minnie was born and raised in Toronto. They were married in Toronto in 1886 and made their home in Rat Portage (later called Kenora), in northwestern Ontario, where Angus had already been living for about four years. All three boys were born there: Hugh Melville (1887), Ross McNevin (1890) and George Raymond (12 March 1893). Angus was very active in community affairs. He operated a dry goods store and he was also involved with the local power company, the flour mill, the board of trade, real estate and insurance. He was the first officer of the local militia, clerk of sessions for Knox Presbyterian Church, a lodge member and the mayor of Kenora in 1906.

George grew up in Rat Portage and received his education there. In 1908, at age 15, he enlisted in the Lake Superior militia regiment and he was with them until the start of the First World War. He attended the Royal School of Infantry at Fort Osborne Barracks and in December 1915 he qualified as a Lieutenant in the Canadian Army. He went overseas with the 94th Battalion under Colonel Machin, embarking with his unit from Halifax in June 1916 on the SS Olympic. Once in England he was transferred to the 32nd Reserve Battalion on 18 July, then to the Royal Flying Corps on 31 August.  George attended the School of Aeronautics and trained with three Reserve Squadrons (No. 18, 26 and 40), followed by a month with No. 35 Training Squadron. Part of his training was done in Scotland.

In July 1917 George was sent to France and transferred to No. 22 Squadron, a reconnaissance unit that flew Bristol Fighters. On 3 September he was on an offensive operation when he was attacked by German fighters. His Bristol Fighter was riddled with bullets and the observer in his aircraft, 2nd Lieutenant Sidney Cleobury, was seriously wounded. George made a forced landing near Ypres and was very fortunate to escape with no injuries.  After the incident he was granted three months leave in Canada. He arrived home in October 1917 and for his remaining months of service he was based in Toronto with the Royal Flying Corps. His official discharge was on 1 May 1918, with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

Once he was back in Kenora George joined his father in the insurance business. On 8 August 1923 he married Lilly May Nelson of Peterborough, Ontario and they had three children: Nancy (Mrs. Bruce McEown), Dick and Terry. George remained active in military affairs. In 1922 when the Kenora Light Infantry was reorganized under Colonel Schnarr, Major Carmichael was one of the first officers called back to serve. In 1930 the spirit and enthusiasm of the unit had dropped to an all time low but because of George’s patience and hard work to get a new Armoury, the unit was revitalized and became even more efficient than before. He commanded the Kenora Light Infantry and in 1936 when the militia was changed from infantry to artillery he reorganized the 40th Medium Regiment including the 16, 17 and 18 Batteries at Kenora, Fort Frances, and Port Arthur.

During the Second World War George was a member and Vice-Chairman of the Department of National War Services Board, which was involved with the administration of the National Resources Mobilization Act for Division D, Port Arthur. He also helped promote the Lake of the Woods Military Institute and served as its president. He was an honourary life member of the Royal Canadian Legion and he served as the mayor of Kenora from 1948 to 1951. George died in Winnipeg on 3 March 1981, nine days before his 88th birthday, His funeral was held in Kenora on 7 March and he’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery. He was predeceased by wife Lilly May (1896-1955) and his daughter Nancy, and survived by his sons Dick (1934-2011) and Terry (1935-2012), as well as seven grandsons.

George’s older brothers both became civil engineers. Hugh Melville served in the First World War and he died in Belgium on 6 June 1916, at age 29. Ross was married in Kenora in 1921 and he lived in Montreal for about twenty years, working as a civil engineer. Their father Angus passed away in 1938 and their mother Minnie died in 1948. They are both buried in the family plot in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

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Photos courtesy of Lake of the Woods Museum Archives.


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