Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthNovember 1, 1894
Place of BirthLondonderry, County Derry
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinGeorge William Atcheson (father), 36 Clarendon Street, Londonderry, Ireland
Trade / CallingElectrician
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number622617
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion52nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentJune 19, 1915
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 25, 1972
Age at Death78
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Atcheson, Charles Reynolds

Private Charles Reynolds Atcheson enlisted in June 1915 and served in France and Belgium with the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion. He returned to Canada in March 1919.

Charles was born on 1 November 1894 in Londonderry, County Derry, Ireland. His parents were George William Atcheson and Letitia Ellis Blair. Letitia was George’s first wife and they had at least twelve children, all born in Londonderry between 1884 and 1904. When the 1901 census was taken George was working as a shirt factory manager. Letitia died in 1904, possibly in childbirth, and George married again the following year. He had at least two more children with his second wife, Lizzie.

At the time of the 1911 Irish census Charles was living at home and working as a writing clerk. Two years later he immigrated to Canada, embarking from Londonderry on the SS Scotian and arriving in Quebec on 31 March. He was 18 years old with his destination listed as Winnipeg, Manitoba, where one of his sisters lived. He found work with the Winnipeg Electric Company, which operated the city streetcars. Charles enlisted in Winnipeg in the summer of 1915, just before the war entered its second year. He signed up with the 44th Battalion on 19 June and three days later he attested at Camp Sewell (later renamed Camp Hughes), which was near Brandon. After training there over the summer the battalion headed to the east coast that fall. They embarked from Halifax on 22 October on the SS Lapland and arrived in the UK eight days later.

Charles spent another five months training in England. On 15 April 1916 he was transferred to the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion and sent to France. His new unit was in the 9th Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division and he joined them in the field in early May. In June they took part in the Battle of Mount Sorrel then stayed in the Ypres Salient for the summer, carrying out raids and patrols and having regular rotations in the front line. In early September the 52nd Battalion was sent south for the Somme Offensive, where the Canadians suffered 24,000 casualties in less than three months. Afterwards they were moved north to the Vimy front, between Lens and Arras, where they would spend the winter.

On 19 March 1917 Charles was awarded a good conduct badge and a week later he was transferred to the 9th Brigade as an Observer. Observers were used at both the battalion and brigade levels to gather information on the enemy. As part of the brigade intelligence section observers were expected to provide ongoing information to commanders and planners and submit daily observation reports. This could include accounts of enemy movements, units and reliefs, equipment and any unusual activity or changes. Extensive information was gathered before battles and the observers often worked in semi-permanent observation posts behind the front lines.

The Canadians captured Vimy Ridge in April 1917 and took part in the Battle of Hill 70 in August. In October Charles had ten days leave in the UK and he returned in time for the Battle of Passchendale. The winter and spring were spent back in the Lens-Arras sector. In the summer of 1918 the Canadians were given several weeks of intensive training in open warfare and they were heavily involved in the final months of the war. In late October Charles had two weeks leave in the UK and while he was away the Armistice was signed.

When Charles rejoined the 52nd Battalion in mid-November they were in Belgium. They stayed there for another three months, leaving for the coast on 5 February 1919. They embarked from Le Havre, France on 10 February and landed in England the next day. The men were sent to Bramshott Camp and most of them were immediately given leave. After five weeks in England they left for Canada on the SS Olympic on 17 March. There was a huge reception when the troops arrived back in Port Arthur and the unit was demobilized there at the end of the month. Charles was discharged on 31 March, with his intended residence listed as Pinawa, Manitoba. His brother Samuel Atcheson served with the British Royal Marines and he immigrated to Canada a few years after the war.

On 27 June 1920 Miss Martha Robinson arrived in Quebec from Liverpool, England. She was 21 years old, born in Letterkenny, Ireland and her destination was Pinawa, Manitoba. Charles and Martha were married on 2 July. When the 1921 census was taken they were living in Pinawa and Charles was working as a power house operator. Around 1924 they moved to Jackson, Michigan for a short while and when they returned to Canada they settled in Kenora, Ontario. Charles worked at both the Kenora and Norman power plants and he later became the electrical superintendent at the local paper mill. His brother Samuel also moved to the Kenora area. Charles and his wife had two children, Patricia (1925) and Charles Frederick (1927). Fred served with the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War and Patricia married a Second World War navy veteran.

Charles had a long career at the paper mill in Kenora. He became a member of the Canadian Legion, Kenora branch and he was very active in his church, St. Alban’s Cathedral. He moved into Pinecrest Nursing Home in 1968 and passed away there on 25 November 1972, at age 78. His wife died in 1993, at age 95. Charles, Martha, their son Fred and their daughter Patricia (Mrs. Malcolm MacDonnell) are all buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

By Becky Johnson

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