|Date of Birth||October 14, 1888|
|Place of Birth||Morris, Manitoba|
|Next of Kin||John Wilton (father), Morris, Manitoba|
|Trade / Calling||Locomotive Fireman|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||10th Battalion, Canadian Engineers|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||February 24, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||27|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||January 1, 1970|
|Age at Death||84 or 85|
|Buried At||Hillside Cemetery, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba|
|Plot||Section 3, Row 15, Plot 226, Grave 4|
Second Corporal John Robert Wilton joined the Canadian Engineers in February 1916 and served overseas for two and a half years. He returned to Canada in December 1918.
John Robert was the son of John Wilton Sr. and Elizabeth Munson of Morris, Manitoba. John Sr. was from Ontario and he had moved west with his parents as a child. He trained as a carriage maker before becoming a farmer and settling in the Morris area. He had at least four children with his first wife, Margaret Munson: Charles, Arthur, Margaret and Eleanor. His wife died in 1886, at age 30, and John Sr. returned to Ontario where he married Elizabeth Munson in 1887. They had two sons, John Robert (b. 14 October 1888 in Morris) and George Leith (1890). Sadly, Elizabeth died in 1892. John Sr. married his third wife, Fanny Bumstead, in February 1895 and they had at least three children, Sterling, Alice and Grace. Several of John’s children died young.
John Sr. was very active in the Morris community, serving at different times as alderman, councillor, reeve and mayor. He was also the local postmaster for many years. John Robert found work with the railway and by the time he enlisted he was living in Kenora, Ontario. Along with a few other Kenora lads he went to Winnipeg, where he signed up with the Canadian Engineers Training Depot on 24 February 1916. His occupation was locomotive fireman and next of kin was his father in Morris. He was assigned to No. 2 Field Company and on 10 March they passed through Kenora on their way to Ottawa.
John’s unit embarked from Halifax on the SS Baltic on 16 May 1916, arriving in England two weeks later. John was transferred to the Canadian Engineers Training Depot and he spent the next year in England. In July 1917 he was sent to France and transferred to No. 10 Field Company, Canadian Engineers. After some time at the Canadian Base Depot and with an entrenching battalion he joined his new unit in the field in mid-September. Work done by the field companies included mining, wiring, tunnelling, railway and road work, constructing water systems, and building and repairing trenches and dugouts. In October and November the Canadians were at the Battle of Passchendaele and over the winter of 1917-18 they held a section of the front line near Lens in France.
In May 1918 due to a re-organization John’s unit was absorbed by the 10th Battalion, Canadian Engineers. He became ill in mid-June and he was sent to No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station. Three days later he was admitted to No. 36 Stationary Hospital in Etaples, where he was diagnosed with diphtheria. After about six weeks he was evacuated to England on the hospital ship Cambria and he recovered from 26 July to 27 August at Fort Pitt Military Hospital in Chatham. From there he was sent to Princess Patricia’s Canadian Red Cross Hospital in Bexhill. John had a two-week sick furlough in October and the Armistice ended hostilities a month later. He embarked for Canada on 12 December on the SS Regina, arriving at Halifax a few days before Christmas. He was discharged on demobilization on 2 February 1919 in Winnipeg. His brother Sterling Wilton had also enlisted and he went overseas in November 1916 with the 222nd Battalion.
John was married in Morris, Manitoba on 1 January 1920 to 26-year-old Mary Alice Edmondson. When their father died later that year both John and Sterling were living in Prairie River, Saskatchewan. At the time of the 1921 census John and Mary were farming in the Prince Albert area. At some point they returned to Manitoba and in the early 1960s they were living in Portage la Prairie. John passed away there in 1973 and Mary followed a year later. They are both buried in Hillside Cemetery in Portage la Prairie. Sterling had died in Winnipeg in 1967 and he’s buried in the family plot in Morris Cemetery.
By Becky Johnson