Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 7, 1891
Place of BirthBredbury, Cheshire
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinAlice Burchall, wife, Kenora, Ontario
Trade / Callingcar inspector, Canadian Pacific Railway
Service Details
Regimental Number198962
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion28th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 15, 1916
Age at Enlistment24
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Decorations and MedalsMilitary Cross
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 12, 1918
Age at Death26
Buried AtLigny-St. Flochel British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France
PlotI. B. 18.

Burchall, Douglas

Douglas Burchall was born on 7 October  1891 in Bredbury, Cheshire, England. His parents were William James and Margaret (née Ballantyne) Burchall who had married during the last quarter of 1873 in Ashton under Lyne, Cheshire.

By the 1901 England census the family was living in Bredbury, Cheshire, occupation of William listed as a teacher at a PE School. Other  household members included mother Margaret (birth place given as Scotland), William, age 26, who was working as a boiler and engine inspector, Thomas, age 21, who was a traveller for a provisions merchant, Mary, age 17, Torfrida, age 14 , and Douglas, age 9. William James Burchall died on 9 August 1906 in Bredbury, the effects of his will of just over 493 pounds going to Margaret.

Thomas, wife Mary (Robertson) and son William immigrated to Canada, arriving on 1 July 1906 aboard the Lake Erie.  They later settled in northwestern Ontario. In 1907 Margaret and Douglas set sail from Liverpool aboard the Tunisian, arriving in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on 7 June 1907. Their destination was Oxdrift, Ontario. William and Torfrida arrived in Canada on 2 November 1908 aboard the Lake Manitoba, destination nearby Wabigoon, Ontario. Torfrida married Thomas Robinson on 23 May 1910 in Wabigoon.

By the 1911 Canada census Douglas was living in Ignace, Ontario, working as a car repairer, probably  for the Canadian Pacific Railway as was Thomas. Taken to Kenora, Thomas died of an embulus (sic) on 19 July 1912. On 3 May 1913 Douglas married Alice Winterbottom in Ignace, Ontario although at the time he was living in Kenora. Alice, daughter of Robert and Elizabeth (née Newton) Winterbottom  was born in 1893 in Glossop, Derbyshire, England. For  the 1901 England census her family was living in Whitfield St James, Glossop, Derbyshire. Family members listed on the census were Robert, widower stone mason, Harriet, age 10; Alice, age 8; Rachel, age 5; and Matthew, age 3. An older sister, Mary was not with the family. For the 1911 England census  the family was living in Kershaw, Glossop, household members Robert, Harriet, Alice, and Rachel.  Alice’s occupation was listed as cotton operative. Mary and Matthew were living with William Newton also in Kershaw.  Alice immigrated to Canada in 1912, arriving in St John New Brunswick aboard the Empress of Ireland on 17 February 1912. On the passenger list her occupation was given as domestic and her destination given as Ignace, Ontario. After the marriage the family settled in Kenora where Douglas continued to work as a car repairer/inspector. Their first child, Robert William, was born on 7 December 1913, followed by a daughter, Margaret, a year or two later.

Douglas Burchall enlisted on 15 February 1916 in Kenora, Ontario. Standing 5 feet, 7 inches, he was only 24 years old. As reported in the Miner and News, Douglas was a member of the Kenora detachment of the 94th Battalion that left for Port Arthur by train on 25 May 1916. ‘On 9 June 1916, the Battalion left for Valcartier, Quebec for ‘Summer Camp’ as it was called. For 205 men this was the last time they were to see their families and friends. The 94th trained at Valcartier for a period until 13 June 1916 when they sailed from Halifax for England on the RMS Olympic. Although the 94th remained a battalion on paper until 27 July 1918, it actually ceased to exist on 13 July 1916 when it was broken up and the men were transferred to the 17th and 32nd Reserve Battalions to be used as replacements for casualties in the front lines.’(from the now defunct 94th Battalion website)

Once overseas Douglas was first transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion on 13 July 1916, taken on strength at East Sandling. He embarked for France on 24 August 1916, taken on strength in the field the  next day with the 28th (Northwest) Battalion. Recruited in Manitoba  and Saskatchewan as well as Fort William and Port Arthur in Ontario, the battalion went overseas in June of 1915 as part of the Second Contingent. There it joined the 6th Brigade, 2nd Division of the Canadian Corps and was sent to the front lines in September.

On 28 September 1916 Douglas was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal. By January of 1917 Douglas was hospitalized as sick for ten days, rejoining the unit on 9 February 1917. Suffering from influenza, on 30 March 1917 he was admitted to the No 2 Canadian Field Ambulance, then on to the No 42 Casualty Clearing Station, admitted to the No 6 Convalescence Depot on April 4th in Etaples, and then to the No 5 Convalescence Depot in Cayeux. Discharged on 9 July 1917, he rejoined the unit that day. In November he was granted a 14 day leave to England. According to a newspaper article from England, upon his return from the leave, he was scouting for the battalion.

On 12 May 1918 it was first reported that Private Douglas Burchall had been dangerously wounded but then later reported as having died at the No. 7 Casualty Clearing Station of a  gunshot wound to the face.

Douglas is interred in the Ligny St Flochel British Cemetery in Averdoingt, Pas de Calais, France. One of the newspaper articles reporting his death stated that he served in the Battle of the Somme and later at Vimy Ridge and Lens.

From the War Diary of the 28th Battalion: A very successful planned raid on the enemy trenches took place in the early hours of 3 May 1918. Scouts were sent out the night before ‘to prevent any enemy patrol discovering the preparations.’ Casualties in the raid were 4 ORs killed and 41 wounded. Afterwards the men went into reserve for a week then on 10 May 1918 they returned to the front trenches, at Neuville-Vitasse just south of Arras. Each night the scouts patrolled the front from dusk to dawn. Casualties between 10 May and 13 May were 19 ORs wounded, 1 killed in action and 1 died of wounds.

After the war Douglas’ wife Alice and two children returned to England in September of 1920, returning to Canada 22 August 1924. They had been staying with Alice’s sister Mary Winterbottom  at 1  Freetown, Glossop, Derbyshire.  Douglas’ medals and decorations, plaque and scroll, and Memorial Cross were sent to Alice at that address.

Although their destination on the returning Oceans Arrival form was given as going to a friend living on Clark Street in Montreal, Alice and the two children returned to Kenora. Alice later married Russell Lough, a veteran of the war. Russell also went overseas with the 94th Battalion, eventually transferring to the 85th Battalion.  Alice died in December of 1970 and is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery (Alice Lough).

Douglas and Alice’s son Robert married Violet Rosina Stokes on 07 December 1938  and raised two children, Marolyn and Roy. Following in the footsteps of his father, Robert served as Private with the Saskatchewan Light Infantry in WW2. On 17 January 1948 he was awarded the Military Cross Class 111 ‘in recognition of distinguished services in the cause of the Allies: Decorations conferred by the  Government of Greece’. Robert died in 1988, Violet in 2002 and both are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. Douglas and Alice’s daughter Margaret (Peggy) married David (Barney) Harper and they had one child Anne. Barney died in 1993, Peggy in 1998. Both are also interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

Douglas Burchall is commemorated on page 377 of the first World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Kenora Cenotaph, on the Kenora Legion War Memorial, on the Bredbury War Memorial, and on a plaque hanging in the Hatherlow United Reform (formerly Congregational) Church.

by Judy Stockham

photo of Douglas, Memorial Cross, telegrams, pages from letters: grandson Roy Burchall
All Bredbury and grave marker/cemetery photos: Angela Clark of Bredbury

Burchall-Douglas-1 Burchall-Douglas-2 Burchall-Douglas-3 Burchall-Douglas-4 Burchall-Douglas-5 Burchall-Douglas-6 Burchall-Douglas-7 Burchall-Douglas-8 Burchall-Douglas-9 Burchall-Douglas-10 Burchall-Douglas-11 Burchall-Douglas-12

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