Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 2, 1883
Place of BirthBareilly
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinCharlotte Lingwood (Wife)
Trade / CallingSewer Inspector
Service Details
Regimental Number30401 / 506316
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionCanadian Army Service Corps
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Army Service Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentAugust 5, 1914
Age at Enlistment31
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 22, 1967
Age at Death85
Buried AtProspect Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario
PlotSection 40 Lot 650

Lingwood, John

Soldier, actor, carpenter, town constable, radio repairman,   cattle rancher, sewer inspector   — those were just a some of the many jobs John Lingwood held over his lifetime. But it was his time as a soldier that most influenced his life.

John Lingwood was born March 2, 1883 in Bareilly, India, the first child of British Army sergeant John Lingwood, Sr. and Lily Augusta Withers.

The senior Lingwood had joined the 51st Regiment of Foot   in 1870 at the age of 15 and after training was posted to the northwest frontier in India in 1872. He acquitted himself well and rose to the rank of colour sergeant with the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry — created by the merger of the 51st and 105th regiments in 1880. His India service included taking part in the Afghan War of 1879-1880 and two campaigns in Burma in the 1880s. Posted home in February 1881, he met and married Lily Augusta Withers, and she accompanied him when he returned to India in December 1881. Along with John Lingwood, Jr, a   daughter Alice was born while the family was in India. In 1887 Sergeant Lingwood returned to England. A second daughter, Lily was born there.

Sergeant Lingwood took up a post with his regiment as a sergeant instructor, eventually attaining the rank of sergeant major before retiring in 1903. In addition to his India and Afghan service medals with campaign bars, the senior Lingwood earned the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal and later the Meritorious Service Medal, awarded to long serving NCOs after a minimum of 20 years of exemplary service

Following in his father’s footsteps, John Lingwood Jr. enlisted in his father’s regiment in 1898 at the age of 15, as his father had done. In an interview later in his life, the younger Lingwood, noted he’d been a rebellious student, and in addition to being trained as bugler by the regiment, the army provided disciplined schooling for its boy soldiers.

At age 17, Lingwood was elevated from the position of boy solider to bugler with the regiment’s 2nd Battalion. In 1903 the battalion was dispatched from Ireland where it was serving, to a tour of garrison duty on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean.

While there Lingwood suffered the first of what would be several injuries to his knees that would put him in leg braces in later life.

Deemed medically unfit for army service in 1906, Lingwood declined the army’s offer of corrective surgery and took a small disability pension of 12 pence a month, the equivalent of about $5 today.

After being returned to England and discharged. Lingwood decided to try his luck in Canada, arriving in 1907 and taking a job as a farm labourer.

While recuperating from a broken leg in Winnipeg — an injury he attributed to attempting to corral ‘ a bunch of bulls’ — he met and married Charlotte Georgina Cooke, a Salvation Army nurse who attended him in the hospital.

John worked at a variety of jobs in the Winnipeg area over the next six years including for a time in 1910 at the Rat Portage Lumber Company in Kenora. He and Charlotte had three children born during the period — son John (Jack) born Nov 24, 1909, Arthur, July 5, 1912 and daughter Lily in 1914.

In the 1911 census the family is listed in St. Boniface with John’s occupation given as labourer. A year or so later John landed what he later described as ‘his best job’, that of sewer line installation inspector for the city of Winnipeg during a major expansion of of municipal utility lines.

When war broke out, John Lingwood, like many British nationals, especially those with previous military service, was quick to enlist. He signed enlistment papers on Aug 4, 1914, in Winnipeg, joining the PPCLI (Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry) as it recruited across the country gathering former soldiers and current reservists to form the country’s first and only privately raised infantry battalion for the war effort.

Lingwood did not remain with the Princess Pat’s once they arrived at the Valcartier, Quebec training camp where Canada’s 31,000 strong 1st Contingent was preparing for war.  Most likely due his age, 31 at the time, and his previous knee injury, he was was moved to the Army Service Corp and assigned as a driver with No. 4 company of the divisional supply train.

Shipping overseas to England with the contingent in October 1914, Lingwood arrived in France in mid-February 1915 with the bulk of what was now the 1st Canadian Division, part   of the Corp IV of the British 1st Army. In April 1915, the Canadians were moved to the British 2nd Army fighting in the Ypres area of Belgium and John Lingwood soon found himself in the front lines.

Transferred from the Service Corp back Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in early May as one of several hundred battlefield replacements for the battered battalion, Lingwood’s fighting war didn’t last long.

Taken on strength by the Princess Pat’s on May 4, he was seriously injured on May 6 by an exploding artillery shell that threw him out of a trench and resulted in concussion injuries to his legs, arm and back. After three weeks in a cast in hospital in France he was shipped to England for treatment, and taken off the battalion’s nominal roll May 28.

More months of hospital treatment, convalescence and a one-month furlough followed before a medical board ruled in Oct. 1915 that Lingwood was not medically fit for further duty.

Returned to Canada and released from service due in his injuries, Lingwood moved his family to Keewatin where he took on the duties of Town Constable in the late spring of 1916.

His wounds healed and eager to rejoin the war effort in Europe, Lingwood travelled to Winnipeg and re-enlisted on Nov. 3, 1916. A November 1916 newspaper article from the Keewatin Enterprise, noted the town band was at the railway station to give him   a suitable send off when he boarded the train.

Assigned to the Canadian Engineers Training Depot, Lingwood’s second stint with the Canadian army didn’t last much longer than his first.

Due to the physical limitations of his earlier injuries he was released from service within the year and by March 1918 was in the United States.

Having left his Canadian wife and family behind, Lingwood lived an entirely separate life for the next 25 years in America.

He   travelled throughout the U.S. as part of the Pantages theatre circuit show, ‘Over There’ in the early 1920s, marrying another vaudeville performer, Bertha Noss, of the Musical Nosses troupe, in Chicago on Jan. 6, 1920. According Lingwood, he also had a small speaking role in the silent film Monsieur Beaucare and worked on other silent film’s including the Side Show of Life.

By 1925, Lingwood had left the theatre life behind due to his war injuries that now forced him to wear heavy metal leg braces. He and Bertha settled in her former home town of New Brighton in western Pennsylvania where he ran a radio repair shop for the next 20 years.

After the Second World War, Lingwood reconciled with his Canadian family and by 1950 he and his Canadian wife Charlotte had settled in the small rural Manitoba community of Vassar near the U.S. border, about 80 km southwest of Steinbach. Lingwood’s daughter, Lily Simard, lived in nearby Piney at the time, his son Jack in Winnipeg and Arthur and his family in Ingolf, Ontario where Arthur owned and operated the Ingolf Inn.

Both John’s sons had continued the family tradition of military service and enlisted in the Canadian forces in the Second World War, John in the air force and Arthur in the army.

The Steinbach Carillon News, which covered community events for many small towns in that part of Manitoba, had numerous mentions of the Lingwood family over the next 15 years in the Vassar community notes column, reporting on various visits and trips by family members, the celebration of John and Charlotte’s 50th wedding anniversary in 1958 and his attending a 50th anniversary of the founding the Princess Patricia regiment held in Winnipeg in 1964. As one of the few surviving members of the regiment from the Great War attending the dinner, John was seated at the head table.

Charlotte passed away Oct. 16, 1964 and the next spring John moved to Toronto, where he married for a third time,

He passed away in Toronto on Nov, 22, 1967 and is interred at the Prospect Cemetery there. His obituary in the Carillon News noted he was survived by his three children, eight grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

by Bob Stewart

Kenora Miner and News 15 November 1916

Kenora Miner and News 15 November 1916

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