Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 27, 1890
Place of BirthWellingborough, Northamptonshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of Kinfather, Charles Allen of 31 New Road, Woodstone, Peterboro, England
Trade / CallingRancher
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number338954
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion6th Brigade
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Field Artillery
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentQuesnel, BC
Date of EnlistmentMay 17, 1916
Age at Enlistment25
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death06 March 1992
Age at Death101

Allen, Christopher Charles

Christopher Charles Allen was known as ‘Charlie’ and signed his book C.C. Allen. The book, ‘OUR FIRST 60 YEARS – A STORY OF A CARIBOO PIONEER’, provides an interesting account of his life.Charlie was born in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England on 27 Oct 1890. His parents were Charles Allen and Sarah Moulding. He had an older sister, Bertha, an older brother, Sidney and a younger brother Arthur. In 1891 the family moved to Peterborough, Northamptonshire where Charles Sr. was employed in a foundry making the wheels for railway wagons.

Charlie received his education in Peterborough and while in school he was a member of the Cathedral Voluntary Choir. At the age of 14 he became an apprentice in the grocery department of the Co-operative Society and joined the Co-Op Choir. He also sang in the choir for the Congregational Church. The 1911 Census for England shows Christopher still living with his parents in Peterborough. His occupation was ‘assistant grocer’.

In 1912, Charles Clark, a former friend of Charlie, returned to Peterborough for a holiday. Charles had immigrated to Canada and was making good wages working on the railway. Charlie made arrangements to return to Canada with him. They sailed from Liverpool on the Empress of Britain on 19, April 1912, just one week after the tragic Titanic disaster. After landing in St. John, New Brunswick eight days later the two friends boarded the train that took them halfway across Canada to the town of Kenora, Ontario.

Charlie first got work at the Maple Leaf flour mill in Keewatin. He worked the night shift on the packing floor. This proved to be hard, fast work that was not to Charlie’s liking so he became an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company in the grocery department of their general department store in Kenora. He enjoyed this time in Kenora. He joined the Zion Methodist choir; swam, canoed and boated on beautiful Lake of the Woods; hunted rabbits and partridge in the bush; and went skating, sleighing and snowshoeing in the winter. There were a group of fellows from his home town working in Kenora and they became known as ‘The Peterborough Boys’.

In the spring of 1913 Charlie left Kenora and went to Vancouver. His older brother, Sidney, had come to Canada and was planning to start a cattle ranch in the Caribou country of BC. Charlie worked in the butter department of the Swift Canadian Company in Vancouver and saved his money so he could join his brother. He traveled to Quesnel in the spring of 1914 and joined his brother on his homestead at Goose Lake. For two years he lived the life of a pioneer.

With the war going on over in France, Charlie decided to enlist. He signed up in Quesnel on 17 May 1916 and was sent down to Vancouver. He joined the Canadian Field Artillery as a driver and became attached to the 68th Battery, C.F.A. overseas depot stationed in the barracks at Hastings Park. For three months he remained in Vancouver, drilling with wooden guns and exercising the horses until he was shipped over to England. The journey was made safely in a convoy accompanied by destroyers and he arrived in Liverpool on 24 August 1916. His group was immediately transferred to Shorncliffe and settled into their tents.

Charlie was given seven days leave so he went to London to meet a girl, Florrie Farrow, he had known in Peterborough and with whom he had been corresponding since his departure in 1912. He proposed to her and they were married on 26 December 1916 in the Congregational Church in Peterborough where they had first met.

Charlie was sent to France to join the 6th Brigade of the 2nd Division. This is how he described his war experiences:

I shall not dwell on my war experiences, which were neither spectacular nor heroic, and everyone knows of the mud, the lice, the gas and the terrible slaughter of the First World War. We took part in the battle of Vimy Ridge and three months later I was wounded by shellfire at a place called Levin, not far from Lens, and was evacuated to England. Due to a rather long period of hospitalization (some of which was for treatment of venereal disease), I was not sent back to France until 01 October 1918, just in time for the last ‘big push’ as it was called. We reached Mons on November 11, the day of armistice, and after a few days rest we marched into Germany, crossing the Rhine at Bonn, and were stationed at the small town of Filich-Muldorf. It was December 15 when we arrived at Muldorf and our sojourn there lasted for three months. We were billeted in German homes and altogether spent a very enjoyable three months there. The people were very friendly, especially as we were able to slip them a can of bully beef occasionally to supplement their meagre supplies of food. On March 21 we were sent back to England to await our turn to be sent home to Canada.’

Florrie and Charlie sailed to Canada on 11 July 1919 on the SS Melita. They first went to Vancouver and then, taking advantage of a loan from the Soldier Settlement Board they bought a quarter section of land near Quesnel, BC. The next five years were spent clearing the land, building a log house and barn. A daughter, Audrey was born in January of 1921 and a son, George, in August of 1925.

In 1926 Charlie and his family left BC and moved to Manitoba where they first lived on a farm and then, in 1927, moved into Winnipeg and then to Kenora. Here he worked for a grocer during the summer and in the winter took odd jobs with the C.P.R. and bush cutting the right-of-way on the new highway 71 to Fort Frances. When the Safeway store opened in Kenora in January 1930, Charlie was taken on staff. A second son, Ted, was born in April 1930. After eight years at Safeway, Charlie started working at the Post Office. He was employed there until his retirement in 1951. He was a Past Grand Master of the Masons and a member of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Florrie died on 25 December 1976 and at the age of 101, Charlie passed away on 06 March 1992 at the Pinecrest Home in Kenora.

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