Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJune 9, 1903
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Alfred Mellish (mother), 937 Hornby Street, Vancouver, British Columbia
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number2760069
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion11th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Garrison Regiment
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentVancouver, British Columbia
Address at Enlistment937 Hornby Street, Vancouver, British Columbia
Date of EnlistmentApril 20, 1918
Age at Enlistment14
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 9, 1979
Age at Death76
Buried AtNorth Shore Crematorium, North Vancouver, British Columbia

Mellish, Charles Alfred

Private Charles Alfred Mellish enlisted underage when he was just 14 years old and he served in garrison regiments in Canada for ten months.

Charles was the son of Alfred Mellish and Rosa Derry of Vancouver, BC. Alfred was born and raised in Galt, Waterloo County, Ontario and he was a tinsmith and metalworker. Rosa was born in Massachusetts and moved to Canada with her family around 1877, when she was six years old. They settled in the town of Rat Portage in northwestern Ontario where her father worked for the railway. Alfred and Rosa were married in Rat Portage in November 1888 and Charles was the sixth of their nine children, all born in Rat Portage (later called Kenora): Delia Louise (1891), Beatrice (1895), George Robert (1897), Emily (1899), Charlotte (1901), Charles Alfred (9 June 1903), Frederick (1905), Edith (1908) and Alberta (1910). Alberta was born in July 1910 and by the following spring, when the 1911 census was taken, the family had moved to Vancouver.

The war started in August 1914 and Charles’ older brother George Robert enlisted with the Canadian Field Artillery in 1916, at age 19. Charles was too young to serve but he signed up in Vancouver in April 1918 when he was only 14, passing himself off as four years older. He was 5’6″ and just 125 lb but the medical officer recorded his apparent age as 18. Charles said he had experience in the Railway Service Guard and he was assigned to the Special Service Unit for Guard Duty, Military District 11 (BC). A short time later he was sent to Quebec and transferred to Company A of the 5th Canadian Garrison Regiment. Not long after arriving he became ill with tonsillitis and he spent almost a month in the hospital, from 8 June to 2 July. On 27 September, after five months of service, Charles was discharged in Quebec ‘by reason of being underage.’ He was still 14 at the time and his intended place of residence was his parents’ home at 937 Hornby Street in Vancouver.

The following spring when he was 15 years old Charles enlisted a second time, passing himself off as 18 again. He signed up in Vancouver on 3 March 1919 and by then he was 5’7″ and 145 lb, with his occupation listed as fireman. He was assigned to the 11th Battalion, Canadian Garrison Regiment (Military District 11). In mid-April Charles wrenched his knee while playing football at West Point Barracks. He was admitted to Esquimalt Military Hospital then transferred to Resthaven Hospital where he was treated for the next three months. His knee continued to bother him and he was transferred to No. 11 District Depot on 26 July then discharged on 4 August, ‘by reason of medical unfitness.’ His uncle Willard John Derry of Kenora also served in the war.

When the 1921 census was taken Charles was living with his parents at 937 Hornby in Vancouver. All of his siblings were at home except his oldest sister Delia, who was living in Kenora with her husband Harry Holden. Charles was 18 at the time and working as a labourer in a lumber camp. He married Vera Looney on 6 May 1931 in Vancouver. They made their home in North Vancouver where Charles worked as a boilermaker, steel worker and rivetter at shipyards. They had five sons: Peter, Roland Andrew (1933-1996), Jerald Allen (1939-1983), Robert and William. Charles’ mother died in 1926 and his father in 1947. His sister Delia (Mrs. Harry Holden) died in 1957 and she’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

Charles passed away in Lions Gate Hospital on 9 November 1979, at age 76. He was survived by his wife and one sister, Edith (Mrs. Jesse Smithson). Vera died in North Vancouver on 17 December 1998, at age 88.

By Becky Johnson

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