Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthNovember 4, 1897
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Margaret Margach (mother), 9215-99th Street, Edmonton South, Alberta
Trade / CallingDrug Dispenser
Service Details
Regimental Number523497
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo. 10 Canadian Field Ambulance
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Army Medical Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentCalgary, Alberta
Address at EnlistmentLeduc, Alberta
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 2, 1917
Age at Enlistment19
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathApril 17, 1981
Age at Death83
Buried AtNorth Shore Crematorium, North Vancouver, British Columbia

Margach, William

Private William Margach enlisted with a field ambulance unit in January 1917 in Edmonton, Alberta. He served overseas for two years and returned to Canada in March 1919.

William was the son of William Innes Margach and Margaret Dunbar Hay of Edmonton, Alberta. His parents were both born in southern Ontario and they were married in 1879 in Margaret’s hometown of Whitby. William Innes was a lumber merchant and he and Margaret lived in northwestern Ontario, first in Port Arthur for a few years then in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora).Two children were born in Port Arthur (Gray McKay and Margaret) and three in Rat Portage (Donald James, William and Florence Helen). William was born on 4 November 1897. The family was still in Rat Portage for the 1901 census but by 1906 they had moved west to Calgary. The youngest child, Walter Ross, was born there in 1907. Around 1911 they moved again, this time to Edmonton, where William Innes became president of Jasper Forest Saw Mills.

When the war started the three oldest boys all enlisted: Donald James in 1914, Gray McKay in 1916 and William in 1917. Donald was seriously wounded in the spring of 1916 and he was invalided home that fall. William was living in Leduc, Alberta at the time, where he worked as a druggist. He went to Calgary and enlisted with the No. 1 Field Ambulance Depot on 2 January 1917. His medical exam two days later found him fit for service and his training started that same month. In late February he was assigned to an overseas draft and he headed to the east coast with his unit. They embarked from Halifax on the SS Canada on 3 March and landed at Liverpool about twelve days later.

William spent two months at the Canadian Army Medical Corps Training Depot in Westenhanger, Kent. On 6 May 1917 he was sent to France and transferred to No. 3 Canadian General Hospital. He served in France for the next 21 months. In late March 1918 he was given two weeks leave and when he returned he was assigned to No. 10 Canadian Field Ambulance (3rd Canadian Division). Field ambulances operated advanced and main dressing stations, which were located just behind the front lines. They provided short term medical care, collecting casualties, treating them and evacuating them to the clearing stations and hospitals as needed. They also operated rest stations and provided stretcher bearers for moving the wounded.

The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, began in August 1918 and ended with the Armistice. The Canadians were heavily involved in the operations in those last three months. William’s unit moved with the 3rd Canadian Division, starting at Amiens in early August then going north to Arras and on to Cambrai and Valenciennes. By 11 November they were based just west of Mons, Belgium. They stayed in Belgium for another two months, returning to England in February 1919, and after another month there William was on his way home. He embarked on the SS Baltic on 12 March and landed at Halifax eight days later. No. 10 Field Ambulance had been organized in Winnipeg and he was discharged there on 24 March.

William settled in Calgary after the war and within a couple of years he was married. His wife, Thelma Effie Minore, was born in 1904 in Fenelon Falls, Ontario to James and Edith Minore. When she was still very young her family moved to west Edmonton where her father farmed. William worked as a druggist in Calgary and he and Thelma had at least one child, their son William Leroy (1923-1964). Sadly Thelma died in May 1932, at age 28, and she’s buried in Burnsland Cemetery in Calgary. Sometime in the 1940s William moved to British Columbia, where his widowed father was living, and he married again. His second wife, Evelyn Marie Hesselgrave (née Sanger), was born in 1916 in Cadillac, Saskatchewan. Her father Daniel Leroy Sanger was a farmer and a veteran of the Great War. Evelyn had married her first husband, Milo Hesselgrave, in 1935 in Kelowna and they had two children.

William worked as a construction manager and he and his wife lived in several places in BC including Kelowna, Chilliwack and Nanaimo. His sister Florence (Mrs. Charles Sydney Arnold) died in 1952, his father in 1954, his brother Gray in 1967 and his brother Walter in 1973. They are all buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Burnaby. His son William Leroy died in 1964 and his brother Donald in 1980; they are buried in Calgary, Alberta.

William passed away in Burnaby on 17 April 1981, at age 83. His wife Evelyn died in Kelowna in 2001.

By Becky Johnson

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