Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 15, 1887
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMary Charlotte Brydon (mother), Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingBookkeeper
Service Details
Regimental Number1015039
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion72nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentVancouver, British Columbia
Address at Enlistmentc/o Foley, Welch & Stewart, Vancouver, British Columbia
Date of EnlistmentMarch 20, 1916
Age at Enlistment28
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathSeptember 26, 1956
Age at Death69
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
PlotHush Incline, 23E-34-3

Brydon, John Campton Kerr

Private John Campton Kerr Brydon enlisted in March 1916 and served for a year and a half in Canada, England and France. He was discharged on compassionate grounds in November 1917.

John was the oldest son of John Kerr Brydon and Mary Charlotte Campton of Kenora, Ontario. His father had emigrated from Scotland around 1875, spending some time in Chicago, Winnipeg and Toronto before settling in Rat Portage, Ontario in 1882. He married Mary in Toronto in August 1886 and the couple made their home in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora). They had three children: John Campton Kerr (15 May 1887), Marie Isabella (1888), and Robert George Howie (1891). John (Sr.) was a lawyer and he served as a town councillor for two years and as town clerk from 1887 to 1899. He was also involved in the construction of local buildings including the Brydon Block, a stone building that still stands in downtown Kenora.

The war started in August 1914 and John enlisted on 20 March 1916. He was living in Vancouver at the time, working as a clerk for Foley, Welch and Stewart, a railway contracting firm. He joined the 231st Battalion, which was organized and recruited in the Vancouver area. For the next year the men trained at a military camp on Vancouver Island, near the small town of Sidney.The battalion was sent overseas in the spring of 1917, travelling east by train and embarking from Halifax on the SS Canada on 11 April. John wouldn’t have known it yet but his brother Robert George Howie had been killed at the Battle of Vimy Ridge two days earlier, on 9 April. John arrived in the UK on 22 April and sadly his mother died the following day, after suffering a stroke caused by the shock of losing her son Robert. In England John was transferred to the 24th Reserve Battalion then to the 1st Reserve Battalion, with the rank of Acting Sergeant. A month later he was sent to France to serve with the 72nd Battalion (Seaforth Highlanders), reverting to the rank of Private with his new unit.

Following the Battle of Vimy Ridge the Canadians had stayed in the Vimy sector, holding the front line and taking part in several smaller operations. When John joined the 72nd Battalion   in a large draft of reinforcements they were based near the village of Villers au Bois. At the end of June the battalion took part in the assault on Avion, a fortified German position south of the city of Lens. During July the troops carried on with routine training and patrols and had regular rotations in the trenches. On the night of 27-28 July John’s unit went into the front line again, getting relieved on 31 July and suffering 30 casualties over the three days. John left for England either just before or just after that, arriving at Seaford on 2 August. He was transferred to the British Columbia Regiment Depot pending a furlough to Canada. He left Liverpool on the SS Justicia on 13 September and arrived in Halifax two weeks later. His furlough was scheduled to last until 22 November but John was discharged from service on compassionate grounds on 10 November in Winnipeg.

John may have stayed in Kenora for awhile but by 1919 he was living in Winnipeg. He spent about ten years there, working as a clerk for a candy manufacturer, Walter M. Lowney Company. His sister Isabella had trained as a nurse and she was also living in Winnipeg at the time. In 1930, when his father died, John was working in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and from there he moved east to the Lakehead. He had a long career as a clerk and accountant with Marathon Paper Mills of Canada, working at their head office in Port Arthur and at a camp near the town of Stevens. Over the years he belonged to several masonic lodges in Kenora, Winnipeg and Port Arthur. In the early 1950s he spent about two years in Vancouver before returning to Port Arthur. He passed away at home on 26 September 1956, at age 69. John’s funeral was held in Kenora and he’s buried in the Brydon family plot at Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

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