|Date of Birth||December 28, 1894|
|Place of Birth||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Next of Kin||Mrs. Emily Gooding (mother), Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Gasoline Engineer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||Canadian Army Dental Corps|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Army Dental Corps|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Date of Enlistment||September 21, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||20|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||December 25, 1922|
|Age at Death||28|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
|Plot||Teardrop Block, 31E-23-1|
The Somme Offensive was a series of battles that lasted from July to November 1916 and resulted in enormous casualties for both the Allied and German armies. The Canadian Corps arrived at the Somme in late August and in less than three months they suffered 24,000 casualties. One of the wounded was Private Stratton Blair Gooding of Kenora, Ontario.
Stratton was the only son of Albert Francis Gooding and Emma Christine Ormond. Emma was born in Peterborough, Ontario but her parents moved to Winnipeg when she was very young. Albert was originally from the town of Goderich on Lake Huron and his family also moved to Manitoba, settling in Brandon in the early 1880s. Albert and Emma were married in June 1890 in Winnipeg, where he worked as a clerk for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Their first four children were born there: Alberta (1891), Olive (1893), Stratton Blair (28 December 1894) and Winnifred (1895). In the late 1890s they moved to the town of Rat Portage in northwestern Ontario and their youngest child, daughter Marion Ila, was born in Rat Portage (later called Kenora) in 1900.
Stratton was 19 years old when the war started and he enlisted a year later, signing up in Kenora on 21 September 1915 with the 79th Battalion. The 79th was based in Manitoba and the recruits trained at Camp Sewell, just east of Brandon. The day after he enlisted Stratton left for Camp Sewell along with several other local lads and a few weeks later the battalion moved into Brandon for the winter. In April 1916, just before going overseas, he had a period of leave that he spent in Kenora with his family. The troop trains carrying the 79th Battalion arrived in town early in the morning on 20 April and the local recruits had a big sendoff from the crowd of friends and relatives gathered at the Kenora station. They embarked from Halifax on the SS Lapland on 24 April and arrived in the UK ten days later.
In England the 79th Battalion was broken up and used as reinforcements for other units. Stratton had a few more weeks of training and at the end of June he was drafted to the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles and sent to France. The 1st CMR had started the war as a mounted unit but in January 1916 they were converted to infantry and together with three other CMR units they formed the 8th Brigade in the 3rd Canadian Division. Stratton spent some time at the Canadian Base Depot in France before being sent south to join his new unit at the Somme. The 1st CMR had suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (15-22 September) and Stratton arrived on 26 September in a draft of reinforcements. The battalion was just ending a period in reserve and on 27 September they began to move forward to the front line again, to relieve the 5th Brigade. The relief was completed early on the morning of 28 September and over the next three days the men faced heavy machine gun and artillery fire. They lost part of the trench system to the Germans, recaptured it, carried out a raid on an enemy outpost and fought off a raiding party. The battalion was relieved very late on 30 September but Stratton was among the unit’s casualties that day. A shrapnel shell had exploded near him injuring both of his hands, his left leg and knee and his right ear.
Stratton was treated at a casualty clearing station and evacuated to a hospital in Rouen the next day. On 11 October he was back in England and he spent five months recovering in two different hospitals and a convalescent centre. He was discharged in mid-March 1917 and sent to the 3rd Canadian Command Depot, where soldiers underwent physical training before returning to active service. A month later he developed a minor heart condition and he was transferred to the 2nd Canadian Command Depot, Permanent Cadre. Before he enlisted he was studying to be a dentist and from October 1917 until January 1919 he served as a dental orderly with the Canadian Army Dental Corps. After a few weeks at another depot he embarked for Canada on 19 February 1919 on the SS Scotian, arriving in St. John, New Brunswick ten days later, and he spent his two-week landing leave in Kenora. He served for another month at No. 10 Depot (Manitoba) and he was discharged due to demobilization on 14 April 1919 in Winnipeg.
Stratton returned to Kenora and in the fall he enrolled in a dental college in Toronto. When the next census was taken in June 1921 he was listed as a student living at home with his parents and two younger sisters, Winnifred and Ila. He started his final year of studies in 1922 and in December he went home to spend the holiday season with his family. He became ill while he was there and he was admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospital on 21 December. Sadly he passed away on Christmas Day, the cause of death listed as dilation of the heart and gastric hemorrhage.
Stratton’s funeral was held on 28 December, which would have been his 28th birthday. It was attended by almost 100 veterans. He’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery along with his parents, his sister Olive and other family members.
By Becky Johnson