Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 4, 1885
Place of BirthOldbury, Worcestershire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinHenry Butler, father, 19 Queen Street, Oldbury, England
Trade / CallingAuditor
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number47323
Service Record
Battalion13th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentOctober 1, 1914
Age at Enlistment29
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Decorations and MedalsMilitary Cross
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 13, 1932
Age at Death47
Buried AtNational Field of Honour Cemetery, Pointe Claire, Quebec

Butler, Frank

Frank Butler was born on 4 September 1885 in Oldbury, Worcestershire in England. His father Henry Butler, a gas stoker, was from nearby Birmingham, Warwickshire, the cities about ten kilometres apart. His mother Mary Ann Farley was from Bredon, Worcestershire, the couple marrying on 9 August 1874 in Asted, Birmingham. For the first years of the marriage they lived in the registration district of Forest of Dean, Westbury-on-Severn, in Gloucestershire. Children born there were Albert (1875), Fanny (1877), and Ernest (1880). By the time of Frank’s birth the family had moved to Oldbury, later giving birth to son Harry in 1887. Sadly, Mary Ann died in 1891, death registered during the second quarter. By the time of the 1901 census for Oldbury, household members were father Henry, and Fanny, Frank, and Harry.

It appears that Frank immigrated to Canada in 1906, an age appropriate Frank Butler from Worcestershire found on the passenger list of the Ionian that arrived in Montreal on 26 May. At the time his occupation was given as ironmonger and destination as Kingston, Ontario. By the time of the outbreak of the war Frank was living in Kenora, Ontario, his name listed in a couple of local newspaper articles in late 1914 along with other volunteers for the first contingent from Kenora who were leaving/had left for Valcartier camp in Quebec on their way overseas.

Frank signed his attestation papers on 1 October 1914 with the 17th Battalion aboard the Ruthenia, one of the ships in the first Canadian convoy to cross the Atlantic. His occupation was given as auditor and his father Henry on Queen Street in Oldbury as next of kin. Previous military service was given as three years with the Coldstream Guards of England and six years absent reserve.

Upon arrival in England, the battalion was redesignated as the 17th Reserve Battalion. Shortly after arrival Frank was promoted to Corporal. On 26 December 1914 in Smethwick, Staffordshire, Frank married Beatrice Eliza Bills. Born on 20 March 1887 in Smethwick, Beatrice was the daughter of James Bills, an iron worker, and Harriet Daniels. By the time of the 1901 census she had been living with her family in Oldsbury although was back in Smetwick when they married.

In August of 1915 Frank was attached to the Divisional Ammunition Company until 5 October and was appointed Company Sergeant Major upon his return to the 17th Reserve Battalion. In July of 1916 he was transferred to the 13th Battalion for duty overseas, reverting to ranks on arrival but promoted to Sergeant and appointed Pioneer Sergeant on the 11th. A short time later, on 4 September during the Battle of the Somme, Frank sustained multiple shrapnel wounds. Invalided to England, he was admitted to the 1st Southern General Hospital in Birmingham on the 7th. Discharged on 17 October and serving first with the 92nd Reserve Battalion before transferring to the 17th Reserve Battalion, Frank was promoted to Regimental Sergeant Major on 13 November. In early February of 1917 he was struck off strength to the 20th Reserve Battalion for purpose of proceeding overseas to the 13th Battalion. In March he was promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1 with effect. That December he was granted a two week leave, returning in early January 1918 and a second two week leave in late December of 1918, returning on 19 January 1919. Proceeding to England that March, Frank embarked for Canada on the Carmania on 10 April and was discharged from service on demobilization on the 24th in Montreal.

Over the course of his service with the 13th Battalion, Frank was Mentioned in Dispatches, and was awarded the Military Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Bar to the DCM.

Shortly after discharge Frank returned to England, arriving in Liverpool on 24 June 1919 aboard the Tunisian. Occupation given as storekeeper on the passenger list, he was on his way to Oldbury where his wife Beatrice was living. In April of 1920, in Oldbury, the couple gave birth to daughter Beatrice Maud. A return passenger list was not found for Frank although a later newspaper report about his death suggested that he moved to Montreal in 1920 to work for the AE Ames and Company Ltd, investment brokers. His wife Beatrice and daughter immigrated to Canada in 1927, arriving in Quebec on the Regina on 24 September. Son Victor Carl was born on 1 September 1930 in Montreal. In 1931 Beatrice and the children returned to England for a visit, arriving back in Canada on the Duchess of Atholl on 25 September. The next year Frank was appointed Sergeant Major of the McGill contingent, Canadian Officers Training Corps.

In the early morning hours of 13 November 1932, Frank was struck and killed by a car while crossing Decarie Boulevard near Lucie Place. A funeral was held for Frank in the Church of St Andrew and St Paul in downtown Montreal. The next year Beatrice and the two children returned to England, arriving in Liverpool aboard the Duchess of Bedford on the 19th of March. Their proposed residence given on the passenger list was 77 Abbey Crescent, Warley, Birmingham. Never remarrying, Beatrice died in 1972, her death registered in the 1st quarter in the Registration District of Seisdon in Staffordshire. Their daughter Beatrice (Cecil) Viles died in 1996 in Kidderminster, Worcester and son Victor in 2003 in the Registration District of Pershore, Worcestershire.

Frank is interred in the National Field of Honour Cemetery in Pointe Claire, Quebec.

By Judy Stockham

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Grave marker photograph provided by Graceti,

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