Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthFebruary 25, 1890
Place of BirthPilot Butte, Saskatchewan
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJohn Oleski (stepfather), Pilot Butte, Saskatchewan
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number1013310
Service RecordLink to Service Record
BattalionNo. 133 Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Forestry Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 15, 1917
Age at Enlistment26
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details

Williams, Bill (aka Bill Oleski)

Private Bill Williams (aka Bill Oleski) was living in Kenora, Ontario when he enlisted on 15 January 1917. According to his attestation, he was born on 25 February 1890 in Pilot Butte, Saskatchewan and next of kin was his stepfather John Oleski in Pilot Butte. Bill joined the 230th Battalion which was a forestry unit raised in Ontario and the western provinces. The battalion headquarters were in Brockville, Ontario and Bill was sent there two weeks after he enlisted, passing through Kenora by train on 3 February. Drafts of men were shipped overseas as needed and Bill went in the 3rd Draft, embarking from Halifax on 3 March and arriving in England about ten days later. On 15 March he was assigned to Canadian Forestry Corps District No. 3 in Egham, on the outskirts of London, and he served there for six months.

On 1 September Bill was transferred to District No. 4 (later renumbered 54) at Southampton and he spent almost two months there. Following that he was at the Canadian Forestry Corps Base Depot at Sunningdale for two weeks before being transferred to a new unit, Company No. 133 in District 52, on 9 November. District 52 was based at Carlisle in northern England, near the Scottish border, and Bill served there for the next thirteen months. Men in forestry units cut timber, laid railway track as needed, hauled the logs to the saw mill, operated the mill and transported lumber to the nearest railway. Company camps had sleeping huts, a dining room, a recreation hut, canteens, various officers’ quarters and messes, a workshop and garage, bath houses, stables and a hospital. Some camps had large farms where grain and vegetables were grown for their own use.

No. 133 Company was employed at Penrith, south of Carlisle, until August 1918 when they were moved to Durham. Late in 1918 Bill was married in Easington District, Co. Durham to 19-year-old Esther Hind. His service file records the approval of his marriage on 24 December. Forestry operations were winding down by then and on 11 December Bill had been transferred to the Canadian Forestry Corps Base Depot. On 22 February 1919 he was put on command with the Canadian Discharge Depot in Buxton, to await his return to Canada. Bill and his wife embarked for Canada together on 15 March on the SS Metagama, arriving at St. John, New Brunswick nine days later. He was discharged on 29 March in St. John and he said he planned to live in Pilot Butte, Saskatchewan. The last address recorded for him in his service file was GPO Regina.

No further information has been found on Bill and his family, and his date of death and place of burial are not known.

By Becky Johnson


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