Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthAugust 16, 1882
Place of BirthWinnipeg, Manitoba
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinCharles Henry Dancer (father), 371 Assiniboine Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingBanker
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental NumberNA
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionCanadian Army Service Corps
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Army Service Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at Enlistment371 Assiniboine Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentOctober 25, 1914
Age at Enlistment32
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death19600926
Age at Death78
Buried AtElmwood Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Dancer, Charles James

Major Charles James Dancer enlisted in October 1914 and served in Canada, the UK and France for more than four and a half years, most of that time with the Canadian Army Service Corps. He returned to Canada in July 1919.

Charles was the oldest son of Charles Henry Dancer and Emma Pilling of Winnipeg, Manitoba. His parents were both born in Manchester, England. Charles Henry attended St. Owens College in Manchester and graduated with a degree in civil engineering. He and Emma were married in Hulme, Manchester in March 1880 and their first child, Kathleen, was born in December 1880. Around that time Charles Henry immigrated to America and Emma joined him later with the baby. They settled in Winnipeg, Manitoba and the rest of their children were born there: Charles James (16 August 1882), Harold (1883) and Gladys Maud (1885). Charles Henry worked for the railway and they lived in Portage la Prairie for several years. Sadly Gladys died of meningitis in June 1898, at age 12. They moved back to Winnipeg around 1899 and Charles Henry was hired by the provincial government. He became chief engineer in 1905 and deputy minister of public works in 1907.

When the 1911 census was taken Charles James was in Vancouver working as an accountant at a bank. Before the war started he spent some time living in Kenora, Ontario, where he was an accountant at the Imperial Bank on Main Street. In April 1914 his sister Kathleen married a rancher, George Purves, and they moved to Earlstone, Alberta. Their only child, Gladys, was born there in January 1915. By then Britain had been at war for several months and over the next two years Charles, his brother Harold and his brother-in-law George Purves all enlisted. Charles was the first to sign up, enlisting in Winnipeg on 25 October 1914. He signed up with the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion and served with them for about two months. He was discharged on 2 January 1915 in order to get a commission and he joined the Canadian Army Service Corps as a Lieutenant.

Charles was married in Grand Forks, North Dakota on 29 June 1915. His wife, Elsie Daisy Linall (née Ward), was born and raised in Toronto, the daughter of David Ward and Rose Paradie. Her mother died in 1887 when she was three years old. Elsie was divorced from her first husband, Harry Linall, and she had a son Harry Shaw Linall who was born in 1903 in Toronto. Charles and Elsie returned to Winnipeg after their wedding and he attested a second time on 26 July at Camp Sewell. He was sent overseas about six weeks later and he arrived at Shorncliffe Camp in England on 16 September. He was transferred to the Canadian Army Service Corps Training Depot and in December he was appointed as Chief Transport Officer.

On 8 January 1916 Charles was promoted to Captain and in April he was sent to France for an instructional tour. He spent time with the 1st Divisional Train and No. 3 Depot Unit of Supplies. He returned to England in mid-May and continued as Chief Transport Officer, attached to the Director of Supplies and Transport in London. Later in 1916 he served as Deputy Assistant Director of Supplies and Transport with the rank of Temporary Major. In February 1917 he was ‘brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War for valuable service rendered in connection with the war.’ When his position as deputy ended he was posted to the Headquarters of the Canadian Army Service Corps.

On 24 April 1918 Charles was granted special leave to Canada and he arrived in Halifax on the SS Aquitania at the end of the month. He returned to England on 31 July, sailing from Montreal to Liverpool on the SS Arawa, accompanied by his wife. Elsie had been active in the Red Cross in Winnipeg and, according to her obituary, she served as an ambulance driver while she was in the UK. Her address was listed as Sandgate, Kent at first and later as West Hampstead, London. In early October Charles was sent to France and transferred to the 3rd Divisional Train for what would be the final weeks of the war. On 25 December he was appointed as assistant embarkation officer at Le Havre, with the rank of Acting Major. He returned to England in mid-May 1919 and in June he was promoted to Temporary Major. Charles and his wife embarked for Canada together on the SS Melita, sailing from Liverpool on 11 July. He was discharged in Quebec on 23 July.

His brother Captain Harold Dancer enlisted in May 1916 and he also served with the Canadian Army Service Corps. He returned to Canada a few days after Charles. Their brother-in-law Major George Purves signed up in May 1915, joining the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders of Canada). He was commissioned as a Captain and he died of wounds in October 1916, during the Somme Offensive. He was posthumously awarded the Military Cross.

After the war Charles and his wife settled in Winnipeg for awhile then moved to Giroux, near Ste. Anne, Manitoba, where they took up farming. Their son Harry Linall was married in Ste. Anne in 1926. Charles’ mother died in 1936 and his father three years later. During the Second World War Elsie was active in the Red Cross again. She passed away at the Misericordia Hospital in Winnipeg on 17 July 1948, at age 63. Charles died at Misericordia on 26 September 1960, at age 78. Sadly his niece Gladys Purves had passed away at age 10 and his brother Harold Dancer took his own life in 1926.

Charles was survived by his son Harry Linall, one grandson and his sister Kathleen Purves in Victoria, BC. Charles and Elsie are buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Winnipeg, along with his parents and his brother.

By Becky Johnson

Dancer-Charles-90 Dancer-Charles-91 Dancer-Charles-92 Dancer-Charles-93

Grave marker photo courtesy of Dave & Janice,

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