Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 24, 1892
Place of BirthBoston, Lincolnshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJoe Bray (father), 648 Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England
Trade / CallingLocomotive Fireman
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number86399
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion12th Brigade
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Field Artillery
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentRailway YMCA, Kenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentNovember 7, 1914
Age at Enlistment22
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathSeptember 7, 1964
Age at Death71

Bray, Sidney Joseph

Gunner Sidney Joseph Bray joined the Canadian Field Artillery in November 1914 and served for almost four years in Canada, England, France and Belgium. He was seriously wounded in September 1918 and he spent a year recovering in hospitals.

Sidney was the oldest child of John Joseph Bray and Mary Ann Southam Shelbourne of Peterborough, Northamptonshire, England. John and Mary Ann were married in 1891 amd Sidney was born on 24 October 1892 in Boston, Lincolnshire. He had a brother Cecil (1895) and a sister Gertrude Doris (1899). His parents moved from Boston to Peterborough in the late 1890s and his father worked for a railway company as a fireman and later as an engine driver.

A few years before the war started a group of young men from Peterborough immigrated to Canada and settled in the town of Kenora, Ontario. They became known locally as the ‘Peterborough Boys’ and the group included both Sidney and his brother Cecil. Most of the lads found work with the Canadian Pacific Railway and lived at the Railway YMCA, which was close to the station.

The war started in August 1914 and Sidney enlisted three months later. He was working as a locomotive fireman at the time and living at the YMCA in Kenora. He signed up in Winnipeg on 7 November, joining the 17th Battery of the 5th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery. After training in Canada over the winter he was sent to England in June 1915 as part of the 1st reinforcing draft for the 20th Battery. In July Sidney was attached to the 2nd Reserve Battery of the 5th Brigade and in November he was transferred to the headquarters staff, where he served until April 1916. He spent another seven months in England on duty with the 3rd Battery.

In November 1916 Sidney was sent to France and posted to the 12th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery. He served with them in France and Belgium for almost two years. During that time the artillery supported the Canadian Corps in all their major battles and they were also used in British operations. The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started with the Battle of Amiens in August 1918 and ended three months later with the Armistice. After their success at Amiens the Canadians were moved north to take part in the 2nd Battle of Arras and at the end of September they crossed the Canal du Nord. On 30 September Sidney was seriously injured when he was hit by shrapnel. He suffered wounds to both legs and a compound fracture of his right femur. He was evacuated to No. 7 Canadian General Hospital in Г‰taples and his right leg was amputated at the thigh.

In mid-October Sidney was sent to England and admitted to St. Anselm’s Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospital in Walmer, Kent. His right thigh required re-amputation and shrapnel was removed from his left leg. In January 1919 he was transferred to Moore Barracks Hospital at Shorncliffe. After a month there he was sent to Granville Canadian Special Hospital at Buxton then to the Military Hospital in Kirkdale. Sidney was released from the hospital on 6 August and discharged from the army on 7 August. On 8 August he was admitted to the Canadian General Hospital in Orpington, due to continuing problems with his legs, and he was a patient there until 18 September.

Sidney’s brother Cecil Bray had returned to England in December 1914 and enlisted with the Royal Engineers. After the war they both decided to live in England again. Sidney made his home in Peterborough, staying with his parents at first. In 1924 he married Dorothy Irene Barfoot and they had two children, Dorothy in 1925 and Mavis in 1930. Sidney passed away in Helpston, Northamptonshire on 7 September 1964, at age 71. He was a retired nurseryman at the time, living at Heath Road Nursery in Helpston. His wife survived him by ten years and she died in May 1974.

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

By Becky Johnson

baj-YMCA-image Bray-Cecil-90

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