Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 1, 1896
Place of BirthKemble, Wiltshire (later Gloucestershire)
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinElizabeth Gascoigne (mother), 138 Kemble, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England
Trade / CallingBlacksmith
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number622375
Service RecordLink to Service Record
BattalionCanadian Engineers Reinforcement Depot
BranchCanadian Engineers
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentMay 17, 1915
Age at Enlistment19
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathFebruary 10, 1974
Age at Death78
Buried AtBrookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Gascoigne, Percival

Sapper Percival Gascoigne enlisted in May 1915, at age 19, and served in Canada and the UK for three years. He suffered from ill health for much of that time and he was invalided back to Canada in March 1918.

Percival was the youngest son of Herbert Gascoigne and Elizabeth Neale of Kemble, Gloucestershire, England. Elizabeth grew up in Tetbury, Gloucestershire and Herbert was from Somerset. At the time of the 1891 census Herbert was boarding with Elizabeth’s family. He was a blacksmith and shoeing smith and Elizabeth was working as a grocer’s assistant. They were married later that same year and their first two children were born in Tetbury, Albert in 1892 and Harry in 1894. Percival was born on 1 May 1896 in the nearby village of Kemble.

Percival immigrated to Canada in July 1913, at age 17. He sailed from Southampton to Quebec on the SS Andania, listed as a blacksmith by trade and going to his uncle in Kenora. His uncle, John Neale, had immigrated to Canada in 1890. He settled in Rat Portage (later called Kenora), where he had a long career in the grocery business. When Percival enlisted in the spring of 1915 he was working as a clerk for a wholesale grocer, most likely his uncle. He signed up in Winnipeg on 17 May 1915, joining the 44th Overseas Battalion. After training at Camp Sewell over the summer the battalion headed to the east coast in the fall. They embarked from Halifax on 22 October on the SS Lapland and arrived in the UK eight days later.

Percival trained with the 44th Battalion until July 1916. In November 1915 he spent a week in Bramshott Military Hospital, suffering from lower back pain. In July 1916 he was admitted to Connaught Hospital in Aldershot, this time for three weeks. While he was there his unit was sent to France and after his release from the hospital he was transferred to a provisional battalion. In January 1917 he was attached to the 18th Reserve Battalion at Seaford and four months later he was transferred to the Canadian Engineers Training Depot. In June 1917 Percival was admitted to the Red Cross Hospital at Bushey Park, where he spent the next three months. He was suffering from a kidney ailment which caused back pain, weakness, vertigo and headaches.

At the end of September Percival was discharged from the hospital and transferred to the Canadian Engineers Reserve Depot. He continued to have problems with his kidneys and he was back in the hospital in November, this time at Cherry Hinton Military Hospital in Cambridge. In early February 1918 he was placed on command with No. 16 Discharge Depot at Buxton, to await his return to Canada. He sailed from Liverpool on 22 February on the SS   Grampian, arriving in St. John’s on 17 March. Percival’s medical treatment continued in Winnipeg. He was a patient at St. Boniface Hospital from 7 April to 13 May, followed by about four months at the Manitoba Military Convalescent Hospital in Tuxedo Park, Winnipeg. In early August he also spent some time at Lady Nanton’s Convalescent Home near Kenora. Lady Nanton and her husband had renovated their summer cottage on Lake of the Woods to accommodate recuperating soldiers. Percival was one of about 800 returned veterans who stayed there during the three summers it operated.

By late October Percival was well enough to be released from the hospital and he was discharged from the army on 2 November 1918 in Winnipeg, listed as medically unfit for further service. His military conduct was described as very good. At the time of the 1921 census he was working at a camp near Birtle, in western Manitoba. Sometime in the late 1920s or early 1930s he married Kathleen Avis and they settled in Kenora. They had two children, a son Herbert Percival and a daughter Gwen Rose. Percival worked as a blacksmith and he joined the Kenora branch of the Canadian Legion. Around 1962 he and his wife moved to Winnipeg. He passed away at his home there on 10 February 1974, at age 77, and he’s buried in the Field of Honour at Brookside Cemetery.

Percival is commemorated in Kenora on the St. Alban’s Pro-Cathedral First World War Roll of Honour.

By Becky Johnson

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