Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthAugust 13, 1867
Place of BirthBermondsey, London
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinMrs. E.M. Woodhouse, 27 Heygate Street, Walworth, London, England
Trade / CallingPhotographer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number478032
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionRoyal Canadian Regiment
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Army Medical Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentLeft Keewatin, Ontario with CEF volunteers; with RCR in Halifax, Nova Scotia at time of Attestation
Date of EnlistmentAugust 22, 1915
Age at Enlistment48
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 18, 1938
Age at Death71
Buried AtEngland

Woodhouse, William

William Woodhouse was born 13 August 1867, Bermondsey, Borough of Southwark, London, England.  1,2,3    Baptism records show he was baptized, age of 13, at Parish of St. Mary, Southwark, son of Joseph and Elizabeth Woodhouse. 2    His siblings (known to date)  are  Jessie Ellen Woodhouse: b. 1853, Lewisham, (Bermondsey), Surrey, England / died 1900 Hackney, London, England; Elizabeth Woodhouse: b. 3 Jun 1860, Southwark, Surrey, England / immigrated to Keewatin, Ontario, Canada 10 May 1911 / died 16 December 1932, Keewatin, Ontario, Canada; two possible brothers are George Woodhouse, born c1864, Walworth, London, England and Thomas Woodhouse, born England.

William first marriage to Emily Louisa Godfrey occurred in 1889 at Walworth All Saints, Southwark, England.  1,2  Emily died within two years of their marriage,1,2  and  William, re-married in 1892, to Elizabeth Mary Manning.1,2,3    During this period of time, William worked as a Postman.  1,2

With the death of his parents in 1901 and c1905, William immigrated to Canada in 1904 and Elizabeth follows by 1905.  2,4

By 1910, adapted to his new life, William enticed two young nephews, David George and Arthur Robert Parfitt to follow him from England and settle in Keewatin.    Waiting another year, William’s sister, Elizabeth and her husband, Fred Parfitt, along with their new son-in-law, Alfred Balchin, and her daughter, Kate and family, arrive in Keewatin.  2,4   As new immigrants, they appear on the 1911 Census for Keewatin.  William is shown living on Wharf Street, his occupation being a sweeper at a local flour mill.  4

Early family photos show the families adapting to new surroundings and lifestyles.  William and his nephew, David George Parfitt join the Kenora 98th  militia,13-p.7  and are among the first to volunteer when war is declared in August 1914.  5   On 23 August 1914, William, with other volunteers join the special troop train which will take them to Valcartier, Quebec.  5   Confident of acceptance as a volunteer for the Canadian Expeditionary Forces (C.E.F.), William will show he has had previous military experience:  10 yrs. with the 4th  East Surrey (Vol.), England; 6 yrs. with the Army Post Office Corp (Reg.) and with the 98th Corps Light Infantry (Mil) ~ Kenora, Ontario Militia.  3

At Valcartier, David Parfitt is attached to the Winnipeg Rifles’ Little Black Devils, and sails for England for training prior to being despatched to France.    Volunteering under the furor of patriotism, William must have felt a sense of despondency, when along with others from Valcartier, is sent on board the S.S. Canada, to Bermuda t as relief for the Lincolnshire Regiment, the latter being promptly returned to England for combat readiness.  6,7,13-p.23 and p.24

A year passes before William is returned to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where on 22 August 1915, he completes and signs his Attestation Paper. Trying to ensure he does indeed become part of the C.E.F. and see overseas action,  Pte. Woodhouse, states his year of birth as 1874, making himself 7 years younger.  3   Assigned Regimental Number 478032, under the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR), William finally sets sail for England on 13 August 1915 on board the S.S. Caledonia.  6

Meanwhile, William’s wife, Elizabeth, has returned to Walworth, England.  3  It is likely owing to ill health of her mother.  In any case, the War and Elizabeth’s return are the catalysts for William’s eventual return to England after the War.

Under his Attestation Paper, William has put his occupation as ‘Photographer’.  3  The Lake of the Woods Museum Kenora holds 6 photographs of local scenes done by William. It is thought that they were in preparation for postcard production.

Once back in England, the RCR remained at Shorncliffe undergoing training for trench warfare, until word came down on 31 October 1915 they were to set sail for France.  As Corps Troops initially, RCR formed under the created 3rd  Canadian Division, were Brigaded with PPCLI,  42nd  Bn (Royal Highlanders of Can) and 49th  Bn (Edmonton Reg.), the whole forming the 7th  Canadian Infantry Brigade under Command of Brigadier General  A.C. MacDonell.  8,9,13-p.134

On 2 June 1916, the Regiment tasted its first battle of importance, the 3rd  Battle of Ypres and between June – August, were involved in several trench raids .  8,9, 13-p.135, 136,147,151   In July 1916, William is transferred from the Royal Canadian Regiment, in Field, to the Canadian Army Medical Corps (C.A.M.C.),11  in Field, for the purpose of water duties (proposed transfer for ADWS – 3rd  Cdn Div.- Station-in Field).  His character has been recognized as good.  10

Ironically, in September 1916, the RCR took part in severe fighting at Courcelette 9 as did the Winnipeg Rifles’ Little Black Devils.   William’s nephew, David George Parfitt, is recorded as ‘Missing in Action’ on 26 September (his body never found).    During this period of battles on the Somme, C.A.M.C. would have been required nearby. It may only be speculated if William was told of his nephew’s disappearance.

On 5 August 1916, Pte. Woodhouse is promoted to Corporal.  10   His service in France lasts for 28 months before his health show deterioration (although it is noted that he looks younger than stated on his Attestation Paper).  10   By March 1918, William returns to Shorncliffe, England, where he will be re-assigned tasks under the Canadian Postal Corps.  10   His military career comes to an end on 3 July 1919 when he is discharged in Britain.  10

William and Elizabeth Mary Woodhouse reside at 38 Deacon Street, Walworth  2,10  until her mother’s death in 1925  after which they move into her mother’s home at 27 Heygate Street, Walworth.  2,10      Elizabeth Mary Woodhouse, soon follows her mother, when in 1929, she dies.  1,2

Further research is required, but whether or not it was following his brother, George, and family, it appears William ends up in Essex.  1,2   There, in 1933, he marries for a third time to Ellen Lavinia Hammond.  1,2

I believe this is the correct William Woodhouse as Probate records show that a William Woodhouse (who died 1938 Hackney  1,2) and an Ellen Lavinia Woodhouse (who died in 1941 at Billericay 1,2) resided in a home named ‘Keewatin’.  Perhaps William harboured special memories of his ten years living in the small town of Keewatin, Ontario, Canada, using the name for his home.

To date, no known children have been found that are descended from William Woodhouse.  Likewise, his brother, George had one son, Perciville, but no further descendants of the Woodhouse line have been found.

William Woodhouse is commended on the Roll of Honour – the Town of Keewatin, and on the Town of Keewatin Plaque.  12

By Darlene Wolfe

1st-contingent-19140822 1st-contingent-19140826 baj-Keewatin-plaque-image baj-RDFraser-image

Footnote:    Created March 2013;    cross reference to Canada Great War Project
and to, Balchin Family tree


1   and/or certificates
3 Attestation Paper:   Link to Attestation Paper
4  1911 Census of Canada, Ontario, Thunder Bay and Rainy River, District No.123,
Keewatin, Sub-district 82, page 8
5  Kenora Miner & News  – Kenora Public Library
6  On to Bermuda    by  Mr. W. H. Hayes (late C.S.M.I.    -The RCR   »  Regimental History   »  1914-1919   »  On to Bermuda
8  The RCR – A Brief Regimental History, July 1917
The RCR  »  Regimental History  »  1914-1919  »  A Brief Regimental History, July 1917
9  The RCR – Regimental History 1918
The RCR   »  Regimental History   »  1914-1919   »  Regimental History (1918)
The Royal Canadian Regiment (Regimental history published 1918.)
10  Military Records – Library and Archives Canada,
RG 150 Accession 1992-93/166 Box 10553-54 File Cpl Woodhouse William #478032
11  Canadian Army Medical Corps  (C.A.M.C.)
War Story of the Canadian Army Medical Corps
12  Roll of Honour  – The Town of Keewatin – R.Douglas Fraser Plaque;    and,
Town of Keewatin  Plaque –  For King and Country    Members of Municipality of Keewatin who have volunteered for Active Service with Canada’s Fighting Forces    1914-1918.
13  Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War  Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914 – 1919 by Colonel G.W.L. Nicholson, C.D., Army Historical Section

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