|Date of Birth||November 11, 1881|
|Place of Birth||Dawlish, Devon|
|Next of Kin||Rose Stokes (wife), 603 Third Street South, Kenora|
|Trade / Calling||Labourer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||No. 38 Company|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Forestry Corps|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||603 Third Street South, Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||March 22, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||34|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||March 23, 1954|
|Age at Death||72|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
Private Charles Stokes of Kenora, Ontario enlisted in March 1916 and served overseas with the Canadian Forestry Corps for three years.
Charles was born in November 1881 in Dawlish, a coastal town in the county of Devon in southwest England. His parents, William Elias Stokes and Emma Morrish, were both born in Devon. They were married in 1879 and they had three sons and five daughters: Minnie (Morrish), Bessie, Frances, Charles, Alice, Frederick, Frank and Olive. Charles’ mother died in 1895 when he was 14 years old. At the time of the 1901 census he was living in Dawlish with his widowed father and two sisters, Bessie and Olive, but just weeks after the census was taken his father died too, at age 52. After his father’s death Charles moved to Bridgwater, Somerset, where his uncle George Stokes lived. Charles worked there as a sawyer in a sawmill and his brother Frederick was a timber feller. In January 1902 both of his brothers, Frederick and Frank, enlisted in the army, naming their uncle George as next of kin. They served eight years in the regular army and four years in the reserves.
In November 1902, a week after his 21st birthday, Charles was married in Bridgwater to Rose Hosgood. Charles and Rose decided to immigrate to Canada, Charles going first in September 1907 and his wife joining him a short time later. They settled in the town of Kenora in northwestern Ontario where Charles worked as a carpenter, builder and contractor. He bought a lot at 603 Third Street South in Lakeside and built a home for him and his wife. In January 1910 his brothers finished their eight years of regular army service and they were transferred to the reserves. That same month they both immigrated to Canada and joined Charles in Kenora. They lived with Charles and Rose and in December 1912 Frederick purchased the lot next door at 601 Third Street South.
The war started in August 1914 and Charles and Frederick both enlisted. Frederick signed up in December 1914 in Kenora, joining the 52nd Battalion, and by February 1916 he was in Belgium. Charles enlisted in Winnipeg in March 1916. At first he was with the 203rd Battalion but in May he was transferred to the 224th Forestry Battalion and he embarked for the UK that same month, arriving on 30 May on the SS Adriatic. In England Charles was assigned No. 15 Company, Canadian Forestry Corps, and after six months of training his unit was sent to France on 7 December. The Forestry Corps served in both England and France where they cut timber, ran sawmills, prepared railway ties and helped to build airfields. Other work included ‘clearing sites, ditching, draining, hauling gravel, levelling, making culverts and drains, earthing, grading, ploughing, scraping, filling depressions, uprooting hedges, re-sodding, cutting pickets and stripping turf’(from the War Diary of No. 12 Company Canadian Forestry Corps).
In June 1917 Charles was transferred to No. 38 Company of the Forestry Corps and in October he had two weeks leave. He spent another seven months in France and late in May 1918, suffering from illness, he was sent to a hospital in Rouen then evacuated to England. He recovered in a convalescent centre for another six weeks and spent the remainder of his war service in England. He arrived back in Canada with his unit in May 1919 and he was discharged in Winnipeg on 26 May.
Charles returned to Kenora where he lived for the next 35 years. In 1951 he sold his house at 603 Third Street South, which he had been renting out. He passed away on 23 March 1954 after an illness of a few months. He was living at 421 Second Street South at the time. His brother Frederick had moved back to England and he died in Cheshire on 2 March 1954, three weeks before Charles. Charles (1881-1954), his wife Rose (1875-1961), his sister Minnie (1874-1959), his brother Frank (1885-1981) and Frank’s wife Ethel (1882-1955) are all buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.
Charles is commemorated on the St. Alban’s Pro-Cathedral First World War Roll of Honour.
By Becky Johnson