Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 15, 1897
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinEdward Aymer (father), 936 Lillooet Street, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Trade / CallingOiler/mechanic
ReligionPresbyterian
Service Details
Regimental Number781594 and 115594
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion10th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentMoose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Address at Enlistment936 Lillooet Street, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Date of EnlistmentDecember 29, 1915
Age at Enlistment18
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 16, 1989
Age at Death92
Buried AtMount Pleasant Cemetery, London, Ontario
PlotVeterans Section

Aymer, Robert Leslie

Private Robert Leslie Aymer enlisted in December 1915 and served in France and Belgium with the 10th Battalion. He was wounded twice, at Passchendaele and Amiens, and he returned to Canada in January 1919.

Robert was the son of Edward Albert Aymer and Caroline Watson of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Edward was a carpenter and joiner and he was born in Smiths Falls, Ontario. Caroline was born in Russell County, Ontario. They were married in 1887 in the village of Rochesterville, on the outskirts of Ottawa. Their first child, George, was born in Ottawa and he was followed by three daughters: Ethel, Emily and Eva. At the time of Robert’s birth, on 15 October 1897, the family was living in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in northwestern Ontario. By 1901 they had moved to Whitewood, Saskatchewan, which was part of the Northwest Territories at that time. They lived in several towns in Saskatchewan before settling in Moose Jaw. The three youngest children were born in Saskatchewan: Nellie (1900 in Meadow Lake), Thomas Frederick (1904 in Moosomin) and Mary (1906 in Broadview).

Robert’s older brother George Aymer enlisted in July 1915 and went overseas the following spring. Robert signed up in Moose Jaw on 29 December 1915, joining the 128th (Moose Jaw) Battalion and getting assigned reg. no. 781594. He was 18 years old, living at home and his occupation was oiler/mechanic. On 31 March 1916 he was transferred to a new unit, the 10th Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles, and assigned reg. no. 115594. The 10th Regiment headed to the east coast in April and embarked from Halifax on 1 May on the SS Olympic. Robert’s brother George was on the same ship and they arrived in England about ten days later.

Robert spent several months training with the Fort Garry Horse Reserve Regiment. In late September 1916 he was drafted to the 10th Battalion (10th Canadians) and sent to France. He joined his new unit around mid-October. The battalion had left the Somme by then and along with the rest of the Canadian Corps they spent the winter in the Lens-Arras area. In April 1917 they took part in the Battle of Vimy Ridge and in August they fought at Hill 70.

In October all four divisions of the Canadian Corps moved to the Ypres Salient in Belgium for the Battle of Passchendaele (26 October-10 November 1917). Even before it began the battlefield was a wasteland of swamp, mud and water-filled craters and sometimes the men were knee-deep and even waist-deep in mud and water. Robert was wounded at Passchendaele Ridge on 10 or 11 November, suffering a bullet or shrapnel wound to his throat. He was taken to No. 16 (U.S.A.) General Hospital on 12 November and evacuated from there to England on the hospital ship Carisbrook Castle.

On 16 November Robert was admitted to Bath War Hospital, where he recovered for almost two months. In early January 1918 he was moved to Bearwood Convalescent Hospital and two weeks later he was discharged to duty. He was attached to No. 2 Canadian Convalescent Depot, where soldiers were given physical training in order to return to the field. In March he was transferred to the 2nd Reserve Battalion and on 24 April he was on his way back to France to be posted to the 10th Battalion again. He joined them in the field in early May.

That summer the Canadians were given several weeks of intensive training in open warfare. The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started with the Battle of Amiens on 8 August. Robert was wounded that first day when he was hit in the right thigh by a machine gun bullet. He was sent to the 3rd Australian General Hospital and evacuated to England on the hospital ship Princess Elizabeth. On 18 August he was admitted to No. 16 Canadian General Hospital in Orpington. At the end of the month he was moved to Princess Patricia’s Canadian Red Cross Hospital and on 20 September he was discharged to duty.

Robert served for two months with the 21st Reserve Regiment before being transferred to the Albert Regiment Depot to await his return to Canada. He embarked in early January 1919 on the SS Olympic, sailing from Liverpool and arriving at Halifax on 18 January. He was attached to the Casualty Company in Regina and given leave from 23 January to 6 February. He was discharged on demobilization on 10 February in Regina with his intended residence listed as Moose Jaw.

Not much is known of Robert’s life after the war. In 1920 he was living in Seattle, Washington and working as a truck driver. Over the next few years he also worked in Michigan and Illinois. At some point he married Aretha Duquette and moved to London, Ontario. In 1977, when he applied for his war medals, he was a patient at London’s Westminster Hospital. Robert passed away at Parkwood Hospital in London on 16 December 1989, at age 92. He was survived by his wife Aretha and a nephew in Toronto. Robert is buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in London.

By Becky Johnson


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