Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 14, 1891
Place of BirthWhirlow Bridge, Sheffield
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinHelena Vaughan Morris (wife), Box 363, Norman, Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingSchool Teacher
Service Details
Regimental Number892199
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion6th Brigade
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Field Artillery
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentApril 15, 1916
Age at Enlistment24
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathApril 26, 1959
Age at Death67
Buried AtSt. James Cemetery, Winnipeg

Morris, John William

Gunner John William Morris was a married teacher with his first baby on the way when he enlisted in April 1916. He served in Great Britain, France and Belgium for two and a half years, returning to Canada in January 1919.

John was the oldest son of John William Morris (Sr.) and Sabina Thickett of Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. John (Sr.) was born in Sheffield and his wife was from Derbyshire. They were married in Sheffield in 1882 and they had five sons and five daughters, all born in Sheffield: Mary, Sarah, Laura, Winifred, John William (14 July 1891), George, Alex, Reginald, Edith and Arthur. Arthur was the youngest and he died in 1908 at age two. John’s father worked as a coachman and vanman. At the time of the 1911 census John was 19 years old, living at home and attending Sheffield University. All eight of his siblings were still at home and two of his older sisters worked as assistant teachers.

After graduating from university John immigrated to Canada in 1912 and became a school teacher. For the first three years of his career he taught at a school in the village of Stony Mountain, Manitoba. He was married on 4 August 1915 in Kenora, Ontario, although his address was still Stony Mountain. His wife, Helena Vaughan Ritchie, was the daughter of Holden and Jane Ritchie of Kenora. She was born in Belfast, Ireland and immigrated to Canada with her family in 1903. After their marriage John worked as a school teacher in Kenora for about eight months.

John enlisted in Winnipeg on 15 April 1916. On his attestation his place of birth is Whirlow Bridge, Sheffield, England and next of kin was his wife Helena in Kenora. He said he had served for three years with the Royal Army Medical Corps and he had a Lieutenant’s Certificate from his two years in Sheffield University Officers’ Training Corps. He joined the 190th Battalion (Winnipeg Rifles) but on 1 August he transferred to the 76th Depot Battery, Canadian Field Artillery. Two weeks later he was on his way overseas with the 1st draft of the 76th Depot Battery. He embarked on the SS Grampian on 15 August and arrived in England about nine days later.

In October John was sent to France and transferred to the 6th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery. On 1 January 1917 he was attached to the First Army Artillery School as a servant to an officer. At the end of January he became ill and he was taken to a casualty clearing station and diagnosed with rheumatic fever. He rejoined his unit about two weeks later. The Canadians were at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April and in June John was transferred to the 2nd Canadian Divisional Signal Company. He had two weeks leave in December and was back with his unit on 1 January 1918. Later that month, while on duty, his horse slipped and fell on top of him. John suffered a sprained ankle and slight fracture and he was taken to a field ambulance then to No. 18 General Hospital in Camiers. A few days later he was evacuated to the UK.

John spent about six weeks at the East Suffolk and Ipswich War Hospital then two months at Woodcote Park Convalescent Hospital, from 12 March to 10 May. From there he was sent to No. 3 Canadian Convalescent Depot, where soldiers were given physical training in order to return to the field. In late August John was fit for duty and he spent the rest of the war in the UK with the Canadian Field Artillery Training Depot and Reserve Brigade. He embarked for Canada in mid-January 1919 on the Empress of Britain, arriving in Halifax on 22 January. On 1 February the Kenora Miner and News noted that he had returned from overseas. He was discharged on demobilization on 18 February in Winnipeg.

While John was away in service his wife lived in Norman, a neighbouring town to Kenora, and their daughter Helena Vaughan was born in October 1916. After the war John returned to teaching. He spent two years in Miami, Manitoba (1919-21), a year at Newdale High School (1921-22) and seven years in Boissevain (1922-29). His son, John Alexander Morris, was born in 1924. After his teaching career John spent twenty years working with the McColl-Frontenac Oil Company. From 1949 until his retirement in 1958 he was an auditor in the Manitoba Department of Health. He was a member of the masons, the Royal Humane Society and the Manitoba Teachers’ Federation. During the Second World War his son served as a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Canadian Navy.

John passed away in the Winnipeg General Hospital on 26 April 1959, at age 67. His wife Helena died in June 1987 and they are both buried in St. James Cemetery in Winnipeg. Their daughter Helena (Mrs. Arne Myrvold) passed away in Toronto in 2002 and their son John died in Edmonton in 2013.

By Becky Johnson

Photo at the top is St. James Church and Cemetery.

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