|Date of Birth||August 9, 1872|
|Place of Birth||Bristol|
|Next of Kin||Mrs Susannah Burnett, mother, 233 Stapleton Rd, Bristol, England|
|Trade / Calling||Postal Clerk|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Date of Enlistment||September 20, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||43|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||October 11, 1933|
|Age at Death||61|
|Buried At||Riverside Cemetery, Port Arthur, Ontario|
Francis Henry Burnett was born on 9 August 1872 in Bristol, England. His father Henry Burnett, mason, was from Minehead in Somerset while his mother Susannah Williams was from Turnham Grove in Middlesex. The couple married in 1865 in Bristol. Francis had an older sister Alice Maud (1870-1872) and a younger brother Ernest Thomas (1875-1942). By the 1891 England census Francis was working as a post office distribution clerk and by 1911 as a telegraphist.
Francis arrived in Canada aboard the Royal George on 21 September 1910, destination given as Toronto and occupation as civil servant. He later moved to Port Arthur, Ontario where he found work as a postal clerk. He signed his attestation papers on 20 September 1915 in Port Arthur, giving his mother Susannah back in Bristol as next of kin. He had previous military experience with the 96th Regiment of Lake Superior.
Upon enlistment Francis served for a short time with the 52nd Battalion out of Port Arthur before being transferred to the 94th Battalion, also headquartered in the Lakehead. As a Private with the 94th, he embarked from Halifax aboard the Olympic on 28 June 1916.
Once in England Francis was transferred to the 32nd Reserve Battalion and then on to the 30th Battalion in August. In November he was transferred to the 37th Battalion and then to the 1st Canadian Labour Battalion at Shoreham in December. Organized at Shoreham that December the 1st Canadian Labour Battalion arrived in France on 11 January 1917, strength 13 officers and 1010 other ranks. The battalion was to work mainly on broad gauge railways, roads, light railways, water services, trench cables, and salvage. It was redesignated as 1st Canadian Infantry Works Battalion on 28 March 1918.
In January of 1918 Francis was granted a fourteen day leave to the UK. In July he was transferred to the 8th Canadian Area Employment Company due to his myalgia and in December he was posted to the Canadian General Depot at Witley. He returned to Canada aboard the Caronia that embarked from Liverpool on 14 May 1919.
Francis returned to Port Arthur where he was discharged later that month, his place of contact listed as the Soldiers Aid Commission in the city. In 1922 he was listed as residing at the Red Shield Hostel on Pearl Street, Port Arthur. At some point he moved to Kenora where he applied for membership in the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion in April of 1930.
Francis died on 11 October 1933 in the Port Arthur General Hospital of cardiac asthma. He had been working as a hospital orderly and living at the Salvation Army Hostel. Commandant W Marshall of the Salvation Army conducted the service at the funeral home and a Canadian Legion service was conducted at the graveside by G Russell. Francis is interred in Riverside Cemetery, Port Arthur, Ontario.
by Judy Stockham
Gravemarker photo: courtesy of Lynda Piilo
Obituary: courtesy of Thunder Bay Public Library