Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 12, 1895
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinRobert Arbuthnot (father), c/o John Arbuthnot, Rockland Avenue, Victoria, British Columbia
Trade / CallingMachinist
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number102089
Service Record Link to Service Record
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
Branch4th Division Headquarters
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentVictoria, British Columbia
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 1, 1915
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 12, 1966
Age at Death71
Buried AtRose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, Los Angeles County, California
PlotTerrace of Memories B, Lot 398

Arbuthnot, Robert James

Private Robert James Arbuthnot joined the 67th (Western Scots) Battalion in September 1915 and went overseas the following spring. He served in France and Belgium for three years and returned to Canada in June 1919.

Robert was the oldest son of Robert James Arbuthnot Sr. and Florence Teresa Henesy. Robert Sr. was born in St. Catherine’s, Ontario in 1870. By 1891 he was living in the town of Rat Portage in northwestern Ontario where he worked as a mill hand. Florence was born in Duluth, Minnesota and came to Ontario with her family as a child. Her father was very involved in mining in the Rat Portage area. Robert Sr. and Florence were married in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in 1894 and Robert was born there on 12 July 1895. A short time later his family moved to Manitoba. A son John McCrae was born in Winnipeg in 1896 and twin boys, Orville and Lyle, in 1901. Sadly Florence died in Winnipeg in 1905, when Robert was ten years old, and she’s buried in Elmwood Cemetery. When the 1906 census was taken Robert Sr. and his four boys were living in Winnipeg. A short time later he moved to British Columbia and he was married again in 1908 in Nanaimo. His wife, Margaret Halloran, was born in Nanaimo. They made their home there and had four children: James, Margaret, Sarah and Leonard.

The war entered its second year in August 1915 and Robert and his brother John enlisted a month later. They signed up together with the 67th Battalion on 1 September in Victoria, British Columbia. Robert was twenty years old at the time and a machinist by trade. The 67th (Western Scots) had just been organized and over the fall and winter they were based at Willows Camp. In early February 1916 Victoria was paralyzed by a record snowfall and the troops assisted in clearing the streets. The men in the battalion were given a big sendoff when they left Victoria on 24 March. They embarked from Halifax on the SS Olympic on 1 April and arrived in Liverpool ten days later. The unit was stationed at Camp Borden and in May it was converted to a pioneer battalion. In June both Robert and John asked to be transferred to the Mechanical Transport section of the Canadian Army Service Corps, so they could follow their trade as mechanics. The transfer was approved and they were sent to France in late July. A few days later they were both transferred to the 4th Divisional Supply Column.

The Canadians were at the Battle of the Somme that fall. When it ended in November Robert asked for another transfer, this time to the Signal Company so he could work with the lighting sets. He served with the 4th Divisional Signal Company for four months. In March 1917 he was attached to a front line infantry unit, the 47th Battalion, and he was with them for the spring and summer. During that time they fought at the Battles of Vimy Ridge and Hill 70 and in June Robert had ten days leave in Paris. In late August 1917 he was transferred to the 4th Division Headquarters Sub-Staff, where he served for the rest of the war.

The Armistice ended hostilities in November 1918 and a month later Robert had ten days special leave in the UK. He returned to his unit the day before Christmas and stayed in Belgium and France until the spring of 1919. On 7 May he was in Le Havre and by 1 June he was back in England. He and his brother John embarked for Canada together on the SS Olympic, sailing from Southampton on 3 June and arriving in Halifax ten days later. Robert was discharged on 20 June in Montreal, with his intended residence listed as Victoria.

In January 1922 Robert moved to the U.S., joining his brother John in Eureka, California. Within a few years he was married to Pauline Catherine Dubrock. Their daughter Yvonne Florence was born in San Diego in November 1928. When Robert filed his U.S. draft registration card in 1942 they were living in Los Angeles and he was working as an auto mechanic. He passed away in Los Angeles on 12 December 1966, at age 71. Pauline died in 1974, at age 74, and Yvonne in 1999. Robert and his wife are buried at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, Los Angeles County, California.

By Becky Johnson


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