Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 12, 1894
Place of BirthStafford, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJames Angus (father), Fort Frances, Ontario
Trade / CallingRailroad Clerk
Service Details
Regimental Number1409
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion141st Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentValcartier, Quebec
Address at EnlistmentFort Frances, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 23, 1914
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathSeptember 7, 1988
Age at Death93
Buried AtWoodlawn Memorial Gardens, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Angus, James Robert

Lieutenant James Robert Angus enlisted with the first Canadian contingent in September 1914 and served in Great Britain, France, Belgium and Canada for more than two and a half years. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in March 1916.

James was the son of James Angus Sr. and Mary Mathilda Dobson of Fort Frances, Ontario. James Sr. and Mary were both born in Renfrew County, Ontario. They were married in 1885 in the town of Pembroke and they had at least eight children: Jane (Jennie), Mary Esther, George, James Robert, Margaret (Maggie), Minerva, Florence and Sybil. James Robert was born on 12 September 1894 in the Parish of Stafford, which was south of Pembroke. His father worked as a farmer and sawyer before starting a career with the railway. At the time of the 1901 census the family was living in the town of Rossport, on the north shore of Lake Superior, and James Sr. was a railway foreman. By the following year they had moved west to the Rainy River area in northwestern Ontario. Florence was born at Mine Centre in 1902 and Sybil in Fort Frances in 1906. James Sr. was a section foreman by then.

Britain declared war on 4 August 1914 and three days later mobilization orders were issued in Canada. Volunteers were told to enroll with their local militia then go to Valcartier, northwest of Quebec City, where the Canadian contingent would be assembled. James joined his local militia unit, the 98th Regiment, on 16 August then headed to Valcartier with other recruits. Once there he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 23 September and he was assigned to the 8th Infantry Battalion. His occupation was listed as railroad clerk and next of kin was his father in Fort Frances. His unit embarked with the first Canadian contingent in early October, sailing in a convoy of 32 transport ships. They arrived in Plymouth, England about two weeks later.

The Canadian recruits trained on Salisbury Plain in southern England for several months. The 8th Battalion was sent to France in February 1915 as part of the 2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division. The battalion spent a few weeks south of Ypres, in the area between Hazebrouck and Armentières. In April the Canadians were moved north to the Ypres Salient, to a section of the front line near Gravenstafel. The first large-scale use of poison gas by the Germans took place at Gravenstafel Ridge on 22 April, the start of the Second Battle of Ypres. Canadian units, including the 8th Battalion, were brought in to reinforce the front line and they suffered heavy casualties over the next few days. James was wounded in the right thigh on 27 April and taken to No. 15 Field Ambulance the following day. From there he was moved to No. 1 General Hospital and on 10 May he was transferred to the convalescent camp at Le Havre.

After recovering James rejoined his unit in mid-June and served with them for another seven months. In January 1916 he was ordered to proceed to England to be discharged or to receive a commission in Canada. He was back in England at the end of January and sailed for Canada on the SS Missanabie a short time later, arriving at St. John on 22 February. He returned to Fort Frances and was commissioned as a Lieutenant with the 141st (Bull Moose) Battalion on 2 March. The battalion was based in Fort Frances and recruited in the Rainy River area, including the towns of Kenora and Dryden, and during the spring and summer the troops trained locally.

James was in charge of the Dryden detachment for two months starting on 21 June. He returned to Fort Frances in August and a short time later the 141st Battalion was sent to Port Arthur to train. James attended bombing school in Winnipeg in December, returned to Port Arthur then went to the School of Instruction in Winnipeg for six weeks starting on 10 January 1917. The 141st Battalion headed to the east coast in April 1917, on their way overseas, but James was kept in Canada. He was transferred to No. 10 Casualty Clearing Depot on 20 April and discharged in Port Arthur on 20 May, due to being surplus to requirements. During his time as a Lieutenant James would have been known in Kenora and he passed through there several times on his way to and from Winnipeg, Dryden and Port Arthur. Kenora had a large celebration for returned soldiers and nurses on 1 April 1919 and the following day the local newspaper carried an article about the event. The list of soldiers’ names included R. Angus, which was most likely James.

James was married in Fort Frances on 3 June 1920. His wife, Olive May Egan, was 19 years old, the daughter of William Edward Egan and Madge Adamson. William was a Methodist minister and Olive was born in Toronto but grew up in Manitoba. When the 1921 census was taken James and Olive were living in Fort Frances and he was working as a railroad clerk. They had a daughter, Vivian, who was six weeks old at the time and another daughter, Beatrice Louise, was born in 1925. The family moved to the U.S. around 1944 and made their home in Duluth. James continued to have a career with the railway, working as a general agent for the Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Railroad, a subsidiary of CNR.

James passed away in a nursing home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on 7 September 1988, a few days before his 94th birthday. He was predeceased by his wife and survived by their daughter Beatrice (Mrs. Robert Elwood Stoner) of Harrisburg. Two of his sisters also survived him, Florence (Mrs. Charles Bennett) in Maple Ridge, British Columbia and Minerva Smith in Fort Frances. Beatrice’s husband, Robert Stoner, was a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He died one day after James, on 8 September 1988.

James is commemorated on the Canadian National Railway Roll of Service: ‘Canada’s National Railways: Their Part in the War.’

By Becky Johnson

Photo of James’ grave marker is by Greg Keller, Used with permission.

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