Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthAugust 27, 1884
Place of BirthAllan Park, Grey County, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Rhoda Philbin (stepmother), Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingAssistant manager of timber company
Service Details
Regimental Number2152374
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion5th Brigade, 20th Battery
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Field Artillery
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentMontreal, Quebec
Address at Enlistment52 Pine Avenue, St. Lambert, Quebec
Date of EnlistmentMarch 5, 1917
Age at Enlistment32
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathSeptember 25, 1963
Age at Death79
Buried AtBelleville Cemetery, Belleville, Ontario
PlotSection L

Philbin, Richard Thomas

Gunner Richard Thomas Philbin enlisted with the Canadian Field Artillery in March 1917 and served overseas for two years. He suffered gas poisoning at the Battle of Passchendaele but he survived the war and returned to Canada in May 1919.

Richard was the only child of John Fairbairn Philbin and Margaret Hazlett of Rat Portage, Ontario. John was a merchant, baker and confectioner and he and his wife were both from Montreal. They were married in Rat Portage in 1883. They lived in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) but Richard was born on 27 August 1884 in Allan Park, Grey County, Ontario. Sadly, Margaret died in Montreal in April 1887, at age 25. She’s buried in Mount Royal Cemetery (Cimetière Mont-Royal) in Outremont, Montreal. John was married again in Rat Portage the following year, on 5 September 1888. His second wife, Rhoda Dulmage, was the daughter of Augustus Frederick Dulmage and Elizabeth Ann Oliver. Augustus was the first crown timber agent for the Rat Portage area and he and his family had moved there in the early 1880s.

John and Rhoda had a daughter, Rhoda Jane, who was born in 1889. She died at age ten months and she’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery. When the 1891 census was taken Richard was living in Rat Portage with his father and stepmother. Another daughter, Mae, was born later that year. Sadly, John died in Rat Portage in June 1895, at age 36. The cause of death was electric shock and he’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery. When the next census was taken in 1901 Richard was living in Montreal with his grandmother, Jane Philbin, and two of his unmarried aunts, Sophia and Margaret Jane. By 1911 he had moved to Vancouver where he was working for a wholesale grocer. When he enlisted in 1917 he said he was the assistant manager of a timber company in British Columbia.

Richard enlisted in Montreal on 5 March 1917, at age 32. He gave his address as 52 Pine Avenue, St. Lambert, Quebec, which was the home of his aunt Margaret Jane Philbin (Mrs. Joseph Bert Findlay). Next of kin was his stepmother Rhoda Philbin in Kenora. Richard signed up with the 7th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery. He went overseas with the unit’s first reinforcing draft, sailing on the SS Missanabie in late March and arriving in England on 7 April. Once there he was posted to the Reserve Brigade and he trained with them for two months. On 20 June Richard was drafted to the 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column and sent to France. He arrived there the next day and he was transferred to the 20th Battery in the 5th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery.

The Canadians had captured Vimy Ridge in April and they stayed in the Vimy area for several months. In August they took part in the Battle of Hill 70 and in October they moved to the Ypres Salient in Belgium for the assault on Passchendaele Ridge. The offensive took place in several stages starting on 26 October. Richard suffered mustard gas poisoning on 29 October and the following day he was admitted to a field ambulance. On 2 November he was moved to No. 11 Canadian Stationary Hospital in Rouen and a week later he was evacuated to England. He recovered for almost two months at No. 15 Canadian General Hospital in Taplow and was discharged to duty on 3 January 1918.

After several months with the Canadian Field Artillery Reserve Brigade Richard was sent back to France, arriving there in early April. He served in the Artillery Pool for four months and rejoined the 5th Artillery Brigade on 3 August. The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started on 8 August with the Battle of Amiens. The Canadians were heavily involve in operations in those last three months. After the Armistice Richard’s unit stayed in Belgium and France and he had two weeks leave in January 1919, which was extended to mid-February. He returned to England with the 5th Brigade on 15 April and embarked for Canada on the SS Cedric a month later, arriving in Halifax on 27 May. He was discharged on demobilization on 29 May in Montreal.

After the war Richard’s address was St. Lambert, Quebec but by the time of the 1921 census he had moved to Belleville, Ontario. His aunt Margaret Jane and her husband Joseph Findlay were also living in Belleville and he was lodging with them. Richard was married in Belleville on 4 June 1925. His wife, Helen Mary Lazier, was born in Belleville in 1896, the daughter of Robert Lazier and Kathleen Bell. Her brother Robert Bell Lazier had enlisted in 1918, at age 19, and he served in Canada with the Canadian Army Service Corps.

Richard and his wife made their home in Belleville and he had a long career as a salesman. They had two daughters, Margaret Kathleen (born 31 December 1925) and Nancy. Margaret married Douglas Horman in 1942 and sadly she died of tuberculosis three years later at Mountain Sanatorium in Hamilton. Nancy married Charles Keegan and they lived in Belleville. Richard’s aunt Margaret Jane Findlay died in Belleville in June 1945 and his wife Helen in July 1953. After being widowed Richard worked as a caretaker for the Corby public library for about nine years. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club, Moira Lodge, the Belleville White Cane Club and the Royal Canadian Legion.

Richard passed away in the Veteran’s Pavilion at the Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston on 25 September 1963, at age 79. He and his wife are buried in Belleville Cemetery along with their daughter Margaret, Helen’s parents, Richard’s aunt and uncle Margaret and Joseph Findlay and other family members.

By Becky Johnson

Marriage notice and obituaries courtesy of Quinte Branch, OGS.

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