Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 22, 1894
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinDavid Kelley, father, Keewatin, Ontario
Trade / CallingClerk
Service Details
Regimental Number551233
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion34th Fort Garry Horse
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Cavalry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentDecember 7, 1915
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 26, 1952
Age at Death56
Buried AtElmwood Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Kelley, William Henry

Although he gave his birth year as 1895 on his attestation papers, William Henry Kelley was born on 22 October 1894 in Keewatin, Ontario. His father David Kelley and his mother Catherine Jane Boswell were both from Liverpool, England and had immigrated to Canada in 1887. Along with his parents George and Lucy Kelley and his brother Edward, David spent about a year in New Westminster, British Columbia before moving to Keewatin where his brother George was living as well as his future wife Catherine (Kate) Boswell. William had an older half brother Albert Edward. William’s father David and and his  uncle George both worked for the Lake of the Woods Milling Company in Keewatin. In October of 1897, William’s mother Catherine died; she is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. In 1907 David married Edith Capron and then later married Eleanor Blackwell in Winnipeg in 1915.

William signed his attestation papers with the 34th Fort Garry Horse on 7 December 1915 in Winnipeg, Manitoba giving his occupation as clerk and his next of kin as his father David back in Keewatin. Transferring to the overseas draft in late December, Private William Kelley embarked from Canada on 5 February 1916 on the Metagama.

Once in England, William went through a series of transfers: to Lord Strathcona’s Horse Reserve Regiment in June of 1916, to the Royal Canadian Dragoons Reserve Regiment in October, back to Lord Strathcona’s Horse Reserve Regiment in December, and then to the Canadian Reserve Cavalry Regiment in March of 1917. Later that month, William proceeded overseas to France to be attached to the Fort Garry Horse,  joining the unit on the 30th.

The Fort Garry Horse was involved in heavy fighting east and southeast of Amiens in late March and early April in cooperation with French cavalry units. They took part in the capture of Moreuil Woods (30 March – 4 April 1918), both mounted and dismounted. Fort Garry Horse casualties for 22 March to 4 April were 160 killed, wounded, and missing. In early April William sustained a gunshot wound to his left cheek. Invalided to England on the 4th of April, William was first admitted to a hospital  in Brighton and then transferred to the Convalescent Hospital at Woodcote Park, Epsom. Upon his discharge on 1 May, he was taken on strength with the Canadian Reserve Calvary Regiment.  Returning from  a 14 day leave earlier in December of 1918, he arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the  Carmania on the 30th.

After the war William returned to Winnipeg and on 7 November 1927 in the RM of Rockwood, he married Ella Alvera Mitchell. Born in Balmoral, Manitoba, Alvera was the daughter of William and Minnie Mitchell. William and Alvera  lived in Winnipeg throughout their lives, giving birth to one child, a daughter Donna. William owned and operated the Kelley Butcher Equipment and Supply Company, founded around 1928.

Predeceased by his father David and his stepmother Eleanor, both in 1938 in Kenora, William Henry Kelley died on 26 March 1952 in Winnipeg. He was a member of the Griffins club, the Lord Selkirk Masonic Lodge No 137, the  Winnipeg Winter club, the Motor Country club, and the St Andrews River Heights United Church.

The next year, 1953,  William’s daughter Donna married John Gordon Ford in Winnipeg. the couple left for France shortly after the marriage as Gordon was serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force. They later lived in southeastern Ontario. William’s wife Alvera died in Winnipeg on 19 December 1988. At the time of her death she was survived by daughter Donna and husband Gordon Ford of Clayton, Ontario, two grandchildren, and four great grandchildren as well as her sister Gladys Anderson. William and Alvera are interred in Elmwood Cemetery in Winnipeg.

William’s brother Albert Edward also served during the war, enlisting in Winnipeg in June of 1915 and going overseas with the reinforcing draft of the 61st Battalion. He was transferred to the 8th Battalion and returned to Canada in July of 1919. Albert also made his home in Winnipeg where he worked for Eatons. Albert died in 1967 in Winnipeg and is interred in the Military Field of Honour at Brookside Cemetery. He was survived by his wife Constance and only child, a daughter Myra, her husband and son.

William John and Albert Edward Kelley were both  listed as being awarded badges and medals by the mayor of Keewatin  at a Honour Roll  demonstration  in August of 1919 and their names  are  recorded  on two Keewatin commemorative plaques (surname spelled as Kelly).

by Judy Stockham

Kelley-William-Henry-2 Kelley-William-Henry-3 Kelley-William-Henry-4 Kelley-William-Henry-5 Kelley-William-Henry-6 Kelley-William-Henry-7


« Back To Soldier Biographies