|Date of Birth
|August 11, 1895
|Place of Birth
|Next of Kin
|Mary Elizabeth Bunting (mother), 653 - 6th Street East, North Vancouver, B.C.
|Trade / Calling
|Link to Service Record
|Canadian Expeditionary Force
|Enlisted / Conscripted
|Place of Enlistment
|Vancouver, British Columbia
|Address at Enlistment
|c/o Vancouver Power Co., Lake Buntzen, British Columbia
|Date of Enlistment
|November 3, 1917
|Age at Enlistment
|Theatre of Service
|Prisoner of War
|Date of Death
|June 3, 1950
|Age at Death
|Capilano Cemetery, West Vancouver, B.C.
Private Joseph Robert Bunting was called up in January 1918 and he served in France with the 72nd Battalion. He was wounded twice but he survived the war and returned home in January 1919.
Joseph Robert was the youngest son of Joseph and Mary Elizabeth Bunting of North Vancouver, British Columbia. His parents were both born in Derbyshire, England, Joseph in Andover and Mary (née Piggin) in the small village of Crich. When the 1881 census was taken Joseph was living at home in Andover, working as a stone mason, and Mary was employed as a domestic servant in the same neighbourhood. Later that year Joseph immigrated to Canada and settled in Rat Portage (now called Kenora), in northwestern Ontario. Mary joined him in 1887, arriving in Halifax on 17 December on the Peruvian. They were married in Rat Portage a week later.
Joseph found work as a mason and he and his wife had four children, all born in Rat Portage: John Benjamin (1889), Harold Charles (1891), Mary Eileen (1893) and Joseph Robert (11 August 1895). Around 1910 Joseph Robert moved to Vancouver with his parents, his sister and his brother Harold. His oldest brother John chose to stay in Kenora. When the 1911 census was taken Joseph Robert was living with his family on St. David Street in North Vancouver and working as a storekeeper for the British Columbia Electric Railway (BCER).
Conscription started in Canada in 1917 and single men aged 20 to 34 were required to register by October. Joseph had his medical exam in Vancouver on 3 November and he was found fit for overseas service. He was working as an electrician for the Vancouver Power Company at the time and he named his mother as his next of kin. His father passed away a week later, on 11 November, at age 62. Joseph was called up for service on 10 January 1918 and assigned to the 1st Depot Battalion, B.C. Regiment. In February his unit left for the east coast, embarking from Halifax on 27 February on the SS Metagama and landing at Glasgow on 11 March.
Joseph was transferred to the 1st Canadian Reserve Battalion at Seaford, where he trained for three months. He was drafted to a front line unit, the 72nd Battalion (Seaforth Highlanders), on 6 June and he arrived in France the following day. He spent two weeks at the Infantry Base Depot in Г‰taples followed by six weeks at the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp. It was mid-August when Joseph joined his unit in the field. They had just taken part in the Battle of Amiens (8-11 August 1918), the first operation in what would be the final period of the war. The 72nd Battalion had suffered about 170 casualties over the four days and Joseph arrived in a draft of 60 reinforcements. They had one rotation in the front line before moving north at the end of the month to join the rest of the Canadian Corps near Arras.
At the end of August and in early September the Canadians were involved in heavy fighting as they moved east from Arras toward the Drocourt-Quéant Line. Joseph was one of the casualties in his unit, suffering a wound to his neck, and he was admitted to a field ambulance on 4 September. Two days later he was evacuated to No. 16 General Hospital in Le Tréport. His injury wasn’t serious and after a week on base details he rejoined his unit on 19 September. The Canadians crossed the Canal du Nord on 27 September and in five days on intense fighting they captured Bourlon Wood and other German defences on the east side. The 72nd Battalion suffered heavy casualties and Joseph was wounded again, this time with a shell or gunshot wound to his head and shoulders. He was admitted to No. 6 General Hospital in Rouen on 28 September and two days later he was on his way to England on the hospital ship Formosa.
Joseph spent 16 days at Bath War Hospital followed by a week at the convalescent centre in Epson. He was given leave from 23 October to 2 November, and on 3 November he was attached to the 3rd Canadian Convalescent Depot. On 23 November he was transferred back to his old unit, the 1st Canadian Reserve Battalion. By then the Armistice had been signed and six weeks later Joseph sailed for Canada. He embarked from Liverpool on the Empress of Asia and arrived in Victoria on 24 January 1919. He was discharged on demobilization on 4 February in Vancouver. His brother John Benjamin had joined the Royal Engineers in 1917 and he served in Mesopotamia with the Inland Water Transport section.
Joseph returned to his home in North Vancouver and he married a local girl, Elizabeth Laird Polonis. Elizabeth was born in Greenock, Scotland and she immigrated to Canada with her family in 1912, joining her father Hugh who had come a year earlier. They settled in North Vancouver, in the same neighbourhood as the Buntings. Joseph and Elizabeth were married on 24 August 1920 and their only child, Ethel Elizabeth, was born two years later. Around 1925 Joseph was hired by his previous employer, BCER. Elizabeth suffered from arthritis and sadly she died of surgical shock on 14 January 1928, at age 32, after an operation on her hips. Joseph lived with his mother afterwards and he had a long career with BCER, working for them for 25 years. His mother died in March 1950 and he passed away on 3 June 1950, at age 54. Joseph is buried in Capilano View Cemetery in West Vancouver. His daughter Ethel (Mrs. Robert Wilson) died in July 2006 in Chemainus, on Vancouver Island, at age 83.
By Becky Johnson