Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 30, 1886
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Phoebe Alice Carmichael (mother), Bradner, British Columbia
Trade / CallingSteam Engineer
Service Details
Regimental Number500609
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionCable Section
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Engineers Signal Service
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentVancouver, British Columbia
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 7, 1915
Age at Enlistment29
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 13, 1966
Age at Death80
Buried AtAberdeen Cemetery, Abbotsford, British Columbia

Carmichael, James Andrew

Sapper James Andrew Carmichael joined the Canadian Engineers in September 1915 and served overseas for three and a half years. He returned to Canada in August 1919 with a war bride.

James was born in Rat Portage, Ontario on 30 March 1886. His parents, Alexander Frederick Carmichael and Phoebe Alice Wetmore, were both from New Brunswick. They had moved to Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in the early 1880s. Alexander was a farmer and he and his wife had at least twelve children, although several of them died young. Around 1892 the family moved to British Columbia and settled in the Bradner area, on the outskirts of Abbotsford. The six youngest children were born in BC.

James started working as a steam engineer when he was about twenty years old. In August 1915 the war entered its second year and he enlisted a month later, signing up in North Vancouver on 7 September. His occupation was steam engineer and next of kin was his mother in Bradner. He joined the Canadian Engineers Training Depot and at the end of October he left for Ottawa, where his unit was headquartered. He embarked for England on the SS Metagama on 10 January 1916. After three months of training he was posted to the Canadian Engineers Training Depot Signals Section and at the end of May he was sent to France. He joined the Cable Section of the Canadian Engineers Signal Service and served with them for the next three years. The Signal Service was responsible for telephone, telegraph and visual signalling for the Canadian Corps.

In September 1917 James had ten days leave and in January 1918 he was ill with tonsillitis. He had leave again in October 1918, just before the Armistice. He became ill in January 1919, suffering from possible trench fever. He was admitted to No. 55 General Hospital in Boulogne then evacuated to England on the hospital ship Jan Breydel on 13 February. He was sent to the 1st Western General Hospital in Liverpool suffering from several ailments including fever and gastritis. He recovered over the next two months at four different hospitals and convalescent centres. During that time he was given permission to marry and he was married in March to Phyllis Amelia Wood. Phyllis was born in 1897 in Hertford, Hertfordshire, the daughter of George William and Fanny Wood. Her father had died when she was a child and she had three sisters. James and Phyllis were married at St. Mary’s Church in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

In mid-April James was well enough to return to duty and he was posted to the 1st Canadian Engineers Reserve Battalion. Married soldiers were among the last to return home and he sailed for Canada with Phyllis on 22 July, embarking from Liverpool on the SS Scotian and arriving in Quebec on 3 August. He was discharged in Quebec a week later with his intended residence listed as Bradner, BC.

James and his wife settled in Bradner and took up mixed farming. They had at least three children, Colin, Doreen and Mildred. Colin served in the Canadian Navy during the Second World War, enlisting in 1940 at age 19. Around 1962, after James was retired, he and his wife moved to the nearby community of Mission. He passed away there on 13 October 1966, at age 80. Phyllis died in 1990 and they are both buried in Aberdeen Cemetery in Abbotsford. Also buried there are James’ parents, his son Colin and his brother Robert.

By Becky Johnson

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