Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 1, 1875
Place of BirthLiverpool, Lancashire, England
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinWife - Eleanor Boswell
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number477047
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionRoyal Canadian Regiment
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKeewatin, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentAugust 10, 1914
Age at Enlistment39
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 18, 1936
Age at Death60
Buried AtBrookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba
PlotMilitary 3, 1127

Boswell, John

John Boswell was one of the early volunteers to answer the call to duty in the Kenora area, being on a list of eight men stepping forward between August 10 and August 11 as Kenora signed up men for the 1st Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Prior to coming to Canada in 1906, he’d served 12 years with 8th (Bengal) Lancers, part of the British Indian Army. He’d also served for three months with Kenora’s 98th (Militia) Regiment. When he boarded the train to Valcartier on Aug. 22 as part of Kenora’s commitment of 44 men to the 1st Contingent he left behind his wife, Eleanor, his daughter Margaret, born in 1910, a son, John, Jr. born in 1911 and his father, John Boswell, Sr. who had joined the family in Canada in 1911. He would not see them again for almost six years.

On arrival in Valcartier, John Boswell, likely because of his previous regular British Army service, was among some 400 of the Valcartier volunteers to answer a call for men to join Canada’s regular army for service with the Royal Canadian Regiment, rather than being assigned to the 8th Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force (90th Winnipeg Rifles) as most of the Kenora/Keewatin men were.

The RCR, formed in 1883, was Canada’s only permanent army infantry regiment at the time, and rather being sent to England as part of the war effort, was headed to Bermuda for garrison duty, replacing a regular British Army unit on station there. It needed the additional troops to bolster its strength from 650 officers and men to 1,100, the new standard set for Canadian infantry battalions at the outbreak of the war.

The RCR stayed in Bermuda from September 1915 to August 1915, when its officers and men were relieved by the 38th Battalion (CEF). The RCR returned to Canada for a brief period of refitting of uniforms and equipment for European duty with the men signing new attestation papers at Halifax for overseas duty with the CEF in Europe, and finally arriving in France in October of 1915 where it became part of the Canadian 3rd Division for the balance of the war

Service in the trenches of the France was far more rigorous than John Boswell’s service in India and at age 42 the effects were noticeable. His medical file notes he suffered from bronchitis throughout most of 1916 and he was hospitalized in England from two weeks in early 1917 while on leave there. In 1917 he suffered from several attacks of sciatica, again related to service in the field and his fitness class was reduced to B2 (suitable for garrison duty in Canada) at the end of 1917. ¬†He was furloughed to Canada in May of 1918 and transferred to the 10th Battalion Canadian Garrison Regiment. He was discharged from the army on Dec. 31, 1918 in Winnipeg. He returned to Keewatin where he resumed work as a labourer and later moved to Winnipeg.

John died in Deer Lodge Hospital, Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1936.  Because his death was attributed to poor health related to his military service his widow was awarded a Silver Cross. He is buried in the military section of Brookside Cemetery, Winnipeg.

by Bob Stewart

Boswell-John-2 Boswell-John-3 Boswell-John-5

Photograph of John courtesy of Mildred Smith
Veteran Death card from Library and Archives Canada
Death notice from Winnipeg Free Press

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