|Date of Birth||December 1, 1895|
|Place of Birth||Söderhamn, Gävleborg|
|Next of Kin||Maria Begstrom, 286 Rietta St, Winnipeg Manitoba|
|Trade / Calling||Carpenter|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||2nd Battalion, Canadian Machine Gun Corps|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||286 Rietta St, Winnipeg Man|
|Date of Enlistment||November 12, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||20|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||August 19, 1953|
|Age at Death||57|
|Buried At||Brookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
Karl Oskar Bergström was born on 1 December 1895 in Söderhamn, Gävleborg, Sweden as supported by his Swedish birth record. His parents Lars Magnus Bergström and Maria Kajsa Larsdotter had married on 11 December 1886 in Söderhamn. Other children born to the family in Sweden were Johanna Elizabeth (1888), Johan Magnus (1890), Emma Amalia (1892), and Signe Louisa (1899). Over the years Lars’ occupation was given as arbetare (worker, labourer).
Karl’s father Lars was found on the passenger list of the Corinthian that arrived in Montreal on 12th August 1900. He was listed as a labourer with Winnipeg, Manitoba given as his final destination. For the 1901 Canada census he was found as a farmer in the RM of Rockwood north of Winnipeg. Along with his mother Maria and siblings, Karl left Liverpool, England for Canada aboard the Tunisian on 15 August 1901. By the next year another child, George Edward, joined the family on the 24th of September in Rockwood.
Once in Canada Karl went by the name of Charles Oscar Bergstrom as evidenced when he signed his attestation papers in Winnipeg on 12 November 1915. He gave his birth date as 1 December 1896 and his mother Maria of Reitta Street in Winnipeg as next of kin. At the time he had been working as a carpenter. With light brown hair and blue eyes, Charles was declared fit on his medical examination the same day.
Recruited and mobilized at Winnipeg, the 90th Battalion embarked from Halifax aboard the SS Olympic on 31 May 1916. On board was Private Charles Bergstrom. Once in England the battalion was absorbed by the 11th Reserve Battalion. By the end of August Charles had been transferred to the 27th Battalion, joining the unit in the field on the 15th of December.
In March of 1917 Charles was admitted to the No 3 Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne suffering from interconnective tissue problems with a toe. In May he was transferred to the No 7 Convalescent Depot in Boulogne followed a stay at the No 10 Convalescent Depot at Ecault in June. Later that month he was discharged to the No 3 Rest Camp, Marlboro, Boulogne. By the end of August Charles had rejoined the 27th Battalion in the field and was awarded a Good Conduct Badge on the 12th of November. He was granted a fourteen day leave later that month, returning on the 16th of December
In late April of 1918 Charles was struck off strength to the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Machine Gun Corps, joining the unit on the 1st of May. That August Charles was the victim of shell gas poisoning, admitted to the No 49 Casualty Clearing Station on the 17th. Invalided to England, he arrived at the 2nd West General Hospital in Manchester on the 21st. Later that month he was transferred to Bank Meadow Hospital, a sub branch of the 2nd West and by the 30th he was convalescing at Woodcote Park in Epsom. Upon discharge from the hospital in late September Charles was later taken on strength with the Canadian Machine Gun Corps Depot at Seaford on 1 March 1919. Charles embarked for Canada aboard the SS Lapland on 8 April 1919 on the first leg of the journey back home.
Back in Winnipeg Charles married Daisy Maria (née Mouser) Courtney on 16 October 1920. The daughter of Samuel Mouser and Mary Robinson, Daisy was born in 1885, birth registered in the district of Croydon in Surrey, England. She had arrived in Canada in January of 1909, marrying her first husband Harold Courtney the next day in Montreal. Harold, born in England, had been living in Winnipeg and working as a railway parlour car steward. The 1921 Canada census found Charles and Daisy living in Gimli, Manitoba with Charles’ occupation given as carpenter. He later lived in Kenora where he joined the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion. At some point Charles and Daisy divorced.
Charles served during WW2 and although his records would be needed to confirm, it appears that he went overseas with the Royal Canadian Air Force, likely serving as a cook. During the first quarter of 1943 Charles married Gladys Gleave in Christ Church in Warrington, Lancashire. The daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (née Molyneux) Gleave who had married in 1910 in Warrington, Gladys’ birth was registered during the first quarter of 1913 in Warrington. Charles and Gladys gave birth to their first child, daughter Thora, the next year in Warrington, followed by son Brian in 1945, birth registered in Bulmer, Yorkshire North Riding. Along with a number of war brides and their children, Gladys and the children were found on a passenger list of the Mauretania that arrived in Canada in 1946. Charles, Gladys, and the children were to make Winnipeg their home.
Likely having permanent damage to his lungs from the gassing during the war, Charles died in Deer Lodge Hospital on 19 August 1953. He was predeceased by his father Lars in 1938 in the RM of St Andrews and his mother Maria in 1944 in Winnipeg. Charles is interred in the military section of Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg.
Gladys later married Paul Plesh, Paul also serving during WW2, with the armed forces. Gladys died on 1 December 1997 in Winnipeg. At the time of her death she was survived by her daughter Thora of Morden, Manitoba, son Brian of Winnipeg, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Giving a birth year of 1899 to appear older, Charles’ brother George enlisted in Winnipeg in June of 1916, his actual age being only 13. His attestation papers indicated that he was fit to serve as a bugler with the 223rd Battalion. He trained for a period at Camp Hughes but when his real age was discovered George was discharged as medically unfit for service due to his age in late February of 1917.
by Judy Stockham
photographs of Charles courtesy of Jennifer Siemens, granddaughter