|Date of Birth||February 12, 1876|
|Place of Birth||Renfrew|
|Next of Kin||Margaret Battersby, wife, Keewatin, On|
|Trade / Calling||Flour packer|
|Regimental Number||199060 / 820935|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Keewatin, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||March 3, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||40|
|Theatre of Service||Canada|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||June 11, 1949|
|Age at Death||73|
|Buried At||Riverside Cemetery, Thunder Bay, Ontario|
David Battersby was one of an estimated 25,000 men who wanted to do their duty in the Great War, but were declared medically unfit. In Battersby’s case it wasn’t for lack of trying as he enlisted twice in an attempt to serve king and country.
Born in Renfrew, Scotland, Feb. 12, 1876 to Robert Battersby (1831-1886) and Susan Dick Bowman (1840-1923), David and his older brother Robert both immigrated to Canada – Robert in 1902 and David in 1903.
David married Margaret Lamont on Oct. 4, 1899 in Scotland. Margaret was pregnant with their first child Harold, when David arrived in Canada in April 1903. She and Harold would follow in 1905. The family settled in Keewatin where David was employed with the Lake of the Woods Milling Company as a shipper and later as a flour packer.
A daughter Margaret was born in 1906, and a third child was stillborn in 1908. Canadian passenger ship lists record Margaret and the children made a return visit to Scotland in the summer of 1910, returning that September.
In the spring of 1916, during the final recruiting push for the region’s 94th (New Ontario) battalion, David, age 40 at the time, enlisted in Kenora on March 3. He noted on his attestation papers he’d served six years with the Black Watch in Scotland. Due to the length service he gave, it was most likely with one of the regiment’s reserve, or militia units.
The 94th Battalion was the second to be raised in the region for the war effort, and while there is no record of it, he may have attempted to enlist earlier in the war with the 52nd Battalion, raised from the region’s militia units and volunteers, but due to his age was rejected.
David Battersby’s Canadian army career with the 94th Battalion was short-lived. During final training in Valcartier later in the spring he was diagnosed with varicose veins and just days before the battalion sailed for England on June 28 was discharged from service as medically unfit.
Undaunted, upon returning to Kenora he immediately enlisted in the 141st (Bull Moose) Battalion, the third battalion to be raised in the region for the war effort. On his attestation papers signed on July 27, 1916, he again noted his Black Watch service, but made no mention of his four months with the 94th Battalion.
David’s second stint in the army lasted longer, and he was promoted to Lance Corporal in October of 1916 while the battalion was training in Manitoba. However, by the spring of 1917 his medical problems had surfaced again and he was once again discharged as medically unfit, receiving his final military discharge effective June 30, 1917.
In 1918 the Battersby family settled in Port Arthur, now Thunder Bay, Ontario, where David took a job at the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Co. He later worked at the city’s grain elevators.
Margaret passed away Dec. 20, 1926 and was buried at Riverside Cemetery.
David remarried and continued to live in the city, as did his son Harold, who worked as a millwright at the city’s grain elevators. His daughter married John Rivais and they moved to Sioux Lookout.
David Battersby passed away June 11, 1949 and is buried at Riverside Cemetery with his wife Margaret. His obituary noted he was a bagpiper, and was with the Macgillivray pipe band for many years.
Also interred at Riverside Cemetery are David’s son Harold (1903-1968), Harold’s wife Annie Andrews (1907-1990) and their infant daughter Margaret (1934-1936).
David’s daughter Margaret passed away in 1987 in Kingston, Ontario.
by Bob Stewart