Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 23, 1875
Place of BirthGlasgow, Lanarkshire
Marital StatusWidower
Next of KinMrs. Elizabeth Munro (mother), 23 Providence Place, Brighton, England
Trade / CallingSteam Driller
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number14416
Service RecordLink to Service Record
BattalionCanadian Cavalry Brigade Signal Troop
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Cavalry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentValcartier, Quebec
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 24, 1914
Age at Enlistment39
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 21, 1967
Age at Death92
Buried AtBrookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Munro, James Robert

Sergeant James Robert Munro served for 19 years with the British army before immigrating to Canada in 1911. He enlisted again during the First World War and served for almost five years with Canadian cavalry units.

James was born on 23 September 1875 in Glasgow, Scotland, the son of George Andrew Munro and Elizabeth Allan. George worked as a railroad engineer and he was born in Greenock, Scotland. He married Elizabeth in 1871 in Plumstead, Kent, England and their first child, George Andrew Jr., was born in the nearby town of Woolwich. He was followed by at least four more children: James Robert, Margaret, Harriet and Mary. The family moved quite often, living in Scotland, Sussex and Rutland. By the time of the 1891 census they had settled in Brighton, Sussex. James was 15 that spring and working as an apprentice to a plumber.

James joined the British army on 15 March 1892, signing up with the 3rd King’s Own Hussars. He was only 16 but he passed himself off as two years older. He joined the Hussars at their training camp in Dublin, Ireland on 23 March. During his 19 years of service he spent six months in Egypt, about three years in India, more than two years in South Africa and the remaining time in the UK. He was awarded the South Africa Medal and Clasp (Transvaal) for service in the Second Boer War. James married a widow, 28-year-old Dorothy Rosina Murrall, in April 1903 in Farnham, Sussex. Dorothy had a daughter, Mabel Ellen Bowring, who was six years old at the time. In the fall on 1903 James was sent to India for a few months then he was back in the UK from 1904 to 1909. His wife Dorothy died at Aldershot, Hampshire in June 1908, at age 33. The following year James was sent to South Africa. He arrived back in England in February 1911 and he was discharged from the army, by his own request, later the same month.

When the 1911 census was taken James was living in Brighton with his widowed mother and his two children, Mabel Ellen and a son George Andrew. He was listed as an army pensioner, widowed, and working as a general labourer. Later that same year he immigrated to Canada. When the war started in August 1914 James was one of the early volunteers. He may have been living in Manitoba at the time and he travelled to Valcartier, Quebec, where the 1st Canadian Contingent was being assembled. He was 39 years old by then and his occupation was steam driller. After passing the medical he joined the 6th Battalion (Fort Garry Horse) on 24 September and sailed for England about ten days later. He embarked on the SS Lapland in a convoy of 32 transport ships and they arrived safely at Plymouth on 14 October.

James was promoted to sergeant on 23 October. In the spring of 1915 he moved to Canterbury where he joined the Canadian Cavalry Brigade Signal Troop. Sometime that spring he got married in Canterbury to Jane Langan and his marriage was approved on 3 April. Jane’s address was listed as Brighton, Sussex and later as Rushton, Northamptonshire. In May James was transferred to the Canadian Cavalry Depot and in June he sailed for France. He served in France for a year, getting a one-week leave in February 1916, and he returned to England in June 1916. For the next two and a half years James served with reserve units and the Canadian Reserve Cavalry Regiment. He became a Signalling Sergeant in March 1917 and he was sent to a signalling school that December. In July 1918 he cut his hand and he spent six weeks at No. 11 Canadian General Hospital in Shorncliffe, getting treated for an infection.

The Armistice ended hostilities on 11 November and James arrived back in France the following day. He was assigned to the Fort Garry Horse and he served with them in Belgium for three months. In February 1919 he was transferred back to the Canadian Cavalry Brigade Signal Troop and two months later he returned to England. He embarked for Canada from Liverpool on 22 May on the SS Carmania, arriving in Halifax on 29 May. He was discharged on 2 June in Winnipeg, with his intended residence listed as the Fisherton area in Manitoba.

It’s unlikely that James’ wife joined him in Canada, and she may have passed away. When the 1921 census was taken he was living in the Selkirk district in Manitoba, listed as a widower and employed as a miner in a gold mine. In the 1930s he spent some time in Kenora, Ontario, where he joined the local branch of the Canadian Legion. By 1940 he was retired and living in Fisher Branch, Manitoba. He moved into Winnipeg in the mid-1950s and lived on Alexander Avenue in the north part of the city. James passed away in Deer Lodge Veterans Hospital on 21 October 1967, at age 92. He’s buried in the Field of Honour at Brookside Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

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