Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 20, 1887
Place of BirthPickering
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinMrs Elsie Benson, wife, South Cottage, Pickering, England
Trade / CallingButcher
Service Details
Regimental Number529518
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo 10 Canadian Field Ambulance
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Army Medical Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentAugust 10, 1915
Age at Enlistment27
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details

Benson, William

William Benson was born on 20 December 1887 in Pickering, Yorkshire in England. His father Mark Benson was from Pickering while his mother Annie Elizabeth Swain was from West Heslerton, also in Yorkshire. The couple had married during the first quarter of 1887 in Pickering. William had three younger siblings, James (1889), Mary (1891), and Harriet (1898). Father Mark first worked as an agricultural labour, later as a limestone quarryman, and then as a carter. Sadly, little Harriet died in 1901, followed by mother Annie the next year. By the 1911 England census William was boarding in the Donald and Margaret Robertson household in Pickering and working as a butcher’s assistant. His father had remarried and was living with his new wife Mary Jane and their daughter Laura while William’s brother and sister were working as servants in nearby households.

During the third quarter of 1913, in Pickering, William married Elsie Hodgson. Born in Pickering in 1887, Elsie, a dressmaker, was the daughter of William and Sarah (née Melrose) Hodgson. The next year William and Elsie gave birth to daughter Kathleen.

At some point William immigrated to Canada and by 1915 was living in Kenora, Ontario and working as a butcher. He signed his attestation papers with the A Section No 1 Field Ambulance on the 10th of August of that year in Kenora, giving his wife Elsie back in England as next of kin. With what was called at the time the Royal Army Medical Corps, he trained in Winnipeg for a number of months, joining the No 10 Canadian Field Ambulance. In late February of 1916 a train passed through Kenora on its way east on the first leg of the journey to France and on board was  Private William Benson along with a number of other local men. The No 10 Canadian Field Ambulance left Saint John, New Brunswick on 2 March 1916 aboard the Scandinavian, arriving in England ten days later, strength 9 officers, 180 other ranks. By early April the unit was in France.

Field ambulances were mobile units that treated wounded and ill personnel that could be returned to their units, and removed casualties from dressing stations and regimental aid posts to casualty clearing stations for further treatment. They were usually located close to the front lines/combat zones.  The No 10 Field Ambulance served with the 3rd Division of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

William received two promotions while in France, first promoted to Lance Corporal on 4 March 1917. That June he was given a two week leave, returning in mid July. On 5 November 1917 he was further promoted to Sergeant, followed by a second leave in late January of 1918. Returning to England in early 1919, William was discharged from service on the 21st of June.

William joined his wife Elsie in Pickering and the couple went on to have at least two more children, Sylvia in 1919 and Phyllis in 1921. At the time of the 1939 England and Wales Register, William and Elsie were living in Dalton on Tees in Yorkshire where William was working as a special service police constable. Further details of William’s life are unknown.

by Judy Stockham



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