Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 11, 1893
Place of BirthMontrose, Forfarshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinGeorge Anderson (father), Clearbank, Stracathro, Scotland
Trade / CallingLocomotive fireman
Service Details
Regimental Number503706
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion5th Battalion, Canadian Engineers
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Engineers
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 19, 1916
Age at Enlistment22
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 20, 1920
Age at Death27
Buried AtSt. Andrew's - St. James' Cemetery, Orillia, Ontario
PlotJ053/01 N02

Anderson, Charles McLaren

Sapper Charles McLaren Anderson joined the Canadian Engineers in February 1916 and served overseas for three years. He returned to Canada in June 1919 and died in a railway accident a year later, at age 27.

Charles was the son of George and Annie Lyon Anderson of Stracathro, Forfarshire, Scotland. His parents were both originally from Kincardineshire and his father worked as a farm labourer and cattleman. Charles was born on 11 April 1893 in Montrose, a small coastal village near Stracathro. He had five sisters (Rebecca, Elizabeth, Susan Jane, Jessie and Jean) and four brothers (John, David, Robert West and George Lyon). Jean, Charles and George Lyon all immigrated to Canada.

By the time he enlisted Charles was living at the Railway YMCA in Kenora, Ontario and working as a locomotive fireman for the Canadian Pacific Railway. He went to Winnipeg where he signed up with the Canadian Engineers Training Depot (CETD) on 19 February 1916. His brother George Lyon had enlisted in Winnipeg the previous fall. Charles embarked from Halifax on the SS Olympic on 24 July 1916, with the 17th draft of the CETD, and they arrived in Liverpool about a week later.

In England Charles spent six months at the CETD followed by a year with the 5th Divisional Canadian Engineers. In May 1917 his brother George died in France and he’s buried there in Petit-Vimy British Cemetery. From July to September 1917 Charles was in Bramshott Military Hospital due to illness. On 8 March 1918 he was transferred from the 5th Division back to the training depot and a week later he was on his way to France. He spent three months with the Engineers Pool and in June he was posted to the 5th Battalion, Canadian Engineers, a new unit that had just been organized that month. Charles served with them in France, Belgium and Germany for almost a year.

Work listed in the war diary of the 5th Battalion included the construction and maintenance of roads, railways and bridges, erecting billets, installing water pumps and water tanks, clearing debris and filling shell holes. During the final months of the war the battalion moved with the Canadian Corps from Amiens to Arras, crossing the Canal du Nord at the end of September and advancing past Cambrai towards Belgium. When the Armistice came into effect they were near Valenciennes. The battalion entered Germany in early December, with the 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions, and remained there as an occupying force for almost two months, returning to Belgium at the end of January 1919.

In March Charles had two weeks leave in the UK and in April he spent about a week in the hospital. From there he was transferred to the Canadian Engineers Reserve Pool and in May he was back in England. He embarked from Southampton on 14 June on the SS Aquitania, arriving in Halifax on 19 June and getting discharged on demobilization five days later in Winnipeg.

After his service Charles returned to his job with the CPR in northwestern Ontario. He was injured in a railway accident on 20 October 1920, at Oxdrift Station, and he died the same day. Charles is buried in St. Andrew’s – St. James’ Cemetery in Orillia, Ontario, where his youngest sister Mrs. Jean (Joseph) Briggs was living.

By Becky Johnson

Anderson-Charles-McLaren-90 Anderson-Charles-McLaren-91

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