Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthFebruary 2, 1888
Place of BirthSimcoe, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs WE Austin, mother, RR4, Simcoe, Ontario
Trade / CallingTrain Dispatcher
Service Details
Regimental Number700908
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion4th Divisional Signals Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Engineers
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at Enlistmentc/o St Regis Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 21, 1916
Age at Enlistment28
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death1959
Buried AtFonthill Cemetery, Fonthill, Pelham, Ontario

Austin, Archie

Archie E Austin was born on 2 February 1888 in the township of Townsend, Norfolk, Ontario. His father William Edwin Austin, a blacksmith, was from Townsend while his mother Della Force was from Windham, Ontario. The couple married in 1887 in Waterford in Norfolk. Archie had a younger brother, Charles Arthur, born in 1889.

Archie was likely working for the Canadian Pacific Railway in Kenora, Ontario when he signed his attestation papers in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 21 January 1916, occupation given as train dispatcher. He listed his mother Mrs WE Austin in Simcoe, Ontario as next of kin. Although he enlisted with the 101st Battalion he was soon transferred to the 4th Canadian Divisional Signal Company, embarking from Halifax with the unit aboard the SS Baltic on 20 May 1916, listed as a Sapper on the Nominal Roll.

Once in England Archie was taken on strength with the Canadian Engineers Training Depot at Shorncliffe for a few days and then transferred to the 4th Divisional Signal Company on the 5th of June at Bramshott. By mid August he had arrived in France.

‘Visual signalling and telephony were the responsibility of the Signal Service throughout the war. Telegraphy was a function of the Canadian Engineers. The telephone soon became the vital means of communication in France and Belgium and signal companies were increasingly occupied in the laying, maintenance and repair of air lines and cables. Divisional signal companies consisted of a headquarters section, a wireless section and two cable sections. The companies provided telephone and wireless service (including policing and interception) and visual signalling. Each had motorcycle dispatch riders, a pigeon service and personnel for airline and cable construction, electric light and battery charging. They also operated repair shops for mechanical transport and for telephone, telegraph and wireless instruments. The Signal Service of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces came under the command of the Canadian Engineers.’ (Library and Archives Canada)  

Archie was granted a leave on 30 June 1917, returning on the 11th of July. On 11 August 1917 Archie was appointed Lance Corporal with pay and then as 2nd Corporal on the 22nd of December. He was granted a second leave, fourteen days to Paris, in March of 1918. On 13 July he was on command to course at the Signalling Depot in Abberville, returning on the 11th of August. On 30 March 1919 he was promoted to Corporal and arrived back in England in May. He embarked for Canada aboard the Maurentania on the 31st and was discharged from service due to demobilization on the 8th of June in Toronto, Ontario.

On 20 June 1920, in Welland, Ontario, Archie married Al Birdie Edgar. Born in 1885 in Welland, Birdie was the daughter of Frederick and Sarah (née Stephens) Edgar. At the time Archie had been working as a telegrapher in Kenora where the couple were to make their home. In March of 1933 Archie joined the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion. By 1957 Archie and Birdie had retired to Welland. It is not known if they had any children.

Archie was predeceased by his father William in 1927 and his mother Della in 1935, both interred in the Greenwood Cemetery in Waterford, Ontario, and by his brother Charles in 1957 who is interred in the Fonthill Cemetery in Fonthill, Pelham, Ontario. Archie died in 1959 followed by Birdie in 1968. Archie and Birdie are also interred in the Fonthill Cemetery.

by Judy Stockham

grave marker photo: Gene Spider on


« Back To Soldier Biographies