Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 19, 1895
Place of BirthGateshead, Durham
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMary Chapman (mother), 245 Marion Street, St. Boniface, Manitoba
Trade / CallingChauffeur
Service Details
Regimental Number113133
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionCanadian Army Service Corps Training Depot
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Army Service Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentBelleville, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentJuly 30, 1915
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 28, 1975
Age at Death79
Buried AtVictory Memorial Park Crematorium, Surrey, British Columbia

Chapman, William John (1895-1975)

Private William John Chapman enlisted in 1915 and served for almost four years with the Canadian Army Service Corps and the Canadian Forestry Corps. He enlisted again in the Second World War, serving for three years in Canada and the UK.

William was born on 18 July 1895 in Gateshead, Durham, England, the son of Joseph Chapman and Mary Ann Barrass. Joseph and Mary Ann were married in 1884 and they had eleven children, most of them born in Gateshead: Mary, Joseph, Emily, Sarah, Edward, William, Gwendoline, Henry and three others who died young. Joseph was an iron and steel worker and he and his wife were both born in Northumberland. In 1907 they immigrated to Canada with at least two of the children and settled in St. Boniface, Manitoba, where Joseph found work at a rolling mill. Mary went back to England and returned to Canada in 1911 with four more of the children: Emily, William, Gwendoline and Henry. They arrived from Liverpool on 4 August on the SS Tunisian with their destination listed as Winnipeg. William was 16 years old at the time.

According to his service file, William enlisted on 30 July 1915 in Belleville, Ontario. His attestation was signed three weeks later, on 19 August, at Camp Barriefield near Kingston. He had just turned 20 and his occupation was chauffeur. He signed up with the 8th Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles, ‘B’ Squadron and they trained at Camp Barriefield. The troops headed overseas that fall, embarking from Montreal on 9 October on the SS Missanabie and arriving in England eight days later. In January 1916 William was transferred to the Canadian Army Service Corps Training Depot and he served with them for the next year. From June 1916 to January 1917 he was attached to the Ontario Military Hospital at Orpington. He was a patient there himself for about a week in January when he sprained his knee.

At the end of May 1917 William was transferred to the Canadian Forestry Corps Base Depot at Sunningdale and the following month he was sent to France. He was attached to the Canadian Forestry Corps Headquarters (Central Group) and he spent several months with No. 22 Company and No. 40 Company. From December 1917 to February 1918 he was in the hospital due to illness and after recovering he had two weeks leave in the UK. William served in France with the Forestry Corps for another year, returning to England in February 1919. He was transferred back to the Canadian Army Service Corps for his last few months of service. He embarked from Glasgow on 18 June on the SS Saturnia, arriving in Quebec ten days later, and he was discharged on 1 July in Winnipeg.

William’s parents had moved to Selkirk, Manitoba in 1916 and he spent some time there after the war. He also took some college courses in Winnipeg. In the late 1920s he was living in Kenora, Ontario and he joined the local branch of the Canadian Legion. He was back in Selkirk by the mid-1930s and he moved to Regina a few years later. He enlisted again during the Second World War, signing up in Regina on 8 September 1939. He was 44 years old and he said he’d been working as a truck driver. He was sent to England in January 1940 and served there as a dispatch rider with the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps. He was invalided back to Canada as medically unfit in January 1941 and discharged in February. He was suffering from an old shoulder injury and bursitis. William enlisted again that fall, for service as a band member in Canada only. He was in the No. 12 District Depot band until July 1943, when he was discharged again due to his shoulder problem.

William lived in Winnipeg for awhile, taking courses in mechanics and finding work as a machinist’s helper. He returned to Regina in 1944 then moved in the village of Strasbourg, north of Regina, where he planned to set up a feed mix business. When it didn’t work out he spent some time in Selkirk before moving to Vancouver in 1951. By the late 1950s he had settled in North Surrey, where he bought two lots and a small cottage. His widowed sister Emily (Mrs. James Smith) had also moved to Surrey and she passed away there in 1968, at age 80.

In his last years William lived in an apartment on King George Highway. He passed away in Surrey Memorial Hospital on 28 March 1975, at age 79, and he’s interred at Victory Memorial Park Crematorium.

By Becky Johnson

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