Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 12, 1900
Place of BirthHolland, Manitoba
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Jessie Tew (mother), Carman, Manitoba
Trade / CallingStudent
Service Details
Regimental Number291574
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionYoung Soldiers' Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentHolland, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentHolland, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentMarch 22, 1916
Age at Enlistment15
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 12, 1968
Age at Death68
Buried AtAltona Community Cemetery, Altona, Manitoba

Anderson, Robert Allan

Private Robert Allan ‘Andy’ Anderson enlisted in March 1916 at age 15 and served in the UK for two years, most of that time with the Young Soldiers’ Battalion.

Robert was born on 12 October 1900 in Holland, Manitoba. He was the son of Mrs. Jessie Ann Tew (née Miller) and her first husband Adam George Anderson. Adam and Jessie were married in the RM of South Norfolk, Manitoba in December 1895. They farmed near Holland and they had four children: Adam George Jr. (1897), Robert (1900), Archibald (1902, died at age one month) and Arthur Alexander (1905). Adam was a widower and he also had a son, William John, from his first marriage (to Margaret Creighton). Adam died when Robert was about five years old and Jessie continued to farm on her own for several years. By 1916 she had remarried and moved to the nearby town of Carman with her second husband, George Tew.

Robert enlisted in Holland on 22 March 1916, at age 15, passing himself off as one year older. He was a student at the time, 5’7″ and 140 lb. with brown eyes and black hair. He signed up with the 222nd Battalion and his medical found him fit for overseas service. After training in Manitoba during the summer the battalion headed overseas late that fall, embarking from Halifax on 15 November on the SS Olympic and arriving in England about six days later. In December Robert was assigned to the 19th Reserve Battalion. He trained with them for three months before being transferred to the Saskatchewan Regiment Depot in March 1917, due to being underage. In July 1917 the Boys’ Battalion for underage soldiers was organized at Bexhill and Robert was transferred to the new unit on 3 August. A month later it was re-designated as the Young Soldiers’ Battalion and moved to Bramshott. The boys were given a graduated program of training and they also had a schoolmaster so they could continue with their education.

Soldiers could be sent to the front when they turned 19 years old and this was lowered to 18-1/2 late in the war. In June 1918 Robert’s birth certificate arrived from Canada, showing he was only 17. In October the Young Soldiers’ Battalion moved to Kinmel Park in Wales and Robert continued to serve with them until a month after the Armistice. He arrived back in Halifax on the SS Olympic on 14 December and he was discharged on demobilization on 21 January 1919 in Winnipeg. His final medical shows that he grew 3″ and gained 20 lb. during his time in service.

Robert returned to Carman, where his mother lived, and in 1920 he was hired as an assistant agent for the Canadian Pacific Railway. He went on to have a 45-year career with the company, working at first in locations in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. He was married in Winnipeg on 2 July 1929. His wife, Agatha Kehler, was two years younger than him and she’d grown up in Altona, Manitoba. In 1937 they moved to Kenora, Ontario and they spent the next twelve years in Kenora and the neighbouring town of Keewatin. Robert was a member of the Canadian Legion (Kenora branch), the Order of Railroad Telegraphers, the Eastern Star Lodge, the CPR Curling Club, the Kenora Curling Club and the Kenora Golf and Country Club. He became the agent in Dryden in 1949, returning to Kenora in 1963 and retiring two years later.

In 1967 Robert and Agatha moved to Victoria, British Columbia. Robert passed away in the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria on 12 November 1968, at age 68. His wife died the following spring and they are both buried in the Altona Community Cemetery in Altona, Manitoba. Robert’s older brother Adam had a long career with the Canadian National Railway. He passed away in 1965 and he’s buried in Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg.

By Becky Johnson

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Grave marker photo courtesy of Mgbraun on

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