Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 27, 1892
Place of BirthFort William, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Alice Chapman, Fort William, Ontario (mother), Mrs Wm Tew (sister)
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number199073
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion43rd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentIgnace, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentMarch 7, 1916
Age at Enlistment24
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 8, 1918
Age at Death26
Buried AtHourges Orchard Cemetery, Domart-Sur-La-Luce, France

Chapman, William John (1892-1918)

William John Chapman was the son of James B. and Alice Maria (Blatchford) Chapman of 625 North Harold St., Fort William, Ontario, at the date of William’s enlistment in March of 1916. Father James died just before on January 7th, 1916 while in Ignace. Mother Alice Marie must have moved to Thunder Bay following James’ death.

James B. Chapman had emigrated from London, England in 1888, with Alice following in 1890. In 1901, the family was located in Wabigoon, Ontario, and James was working as a labourer. In 1916, when he died, his residence was listed as Ignace.

William was born at Fort William, Ontario in 1892, although when enlisting he said he was born in 1891. Also born in northwestern Ontario were siblings including Elizabeth 1894, Harry Charles 1895, Alice Maude 1897, Hilda Kathleen 1898, and Walter Orville 1900. In the 1911 census, the family was located in Southworth subdistrict of Thunder Bay and Rainy River, now known as Dinorwic, and very close to Wabigoon which was named as the children’s birthplace in the census. James was a night watchman, and William (age 18) was a labourer as was his brother Harry (Henry), at the local sawmill. Another child had been born, Margaret L (1902).

At his time of enlistment, William stated he was working as a setter at a sawmill in Ignace, Ontario. He enlisted with the 94th Overseas Battalion. They left Thunder Bay on April 27th, 1916 for Valcartier, with a large contingent, under the command of Major Schnarr. The 94th Battalion sailed overseas in June 1916 and arrived in Sanderling on the 6th of July, 1916 on the S.S. Olympic.

According to his military records (see research notes), part of the 94th Battalion was transferred to the 17th Battalion at East Sanderling on July 12, 1916. On August 24th, 1916 he embarked for France with the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders of Canada), which absorbed some of the men from the 94th. On May 22, 1917 he was promoted to Lance Corporal, following which he enlisted in a course at the 3rd Canadian Division School. He rejoined his unit on June 3rd. He took a second course on June 10th to the 24th. A third course at the 1st Army Rec. Camp took place for July 22 to August 5th.

On September 1st, 1917, William was wounded by gunshot wounds to the arm and face at Lens, France. After the Battle of Vimy Ridge the Canadian units stayed in the Lens area for the summer and into the fall, before being sent to Belgium (Flanders) for the attack on Passchendaele.

William, wounded, was sent to the No. 22 Canadian Clearing Station. Following is the summary of his journey as recorded on the ‘Medical Case Sheet’ in his military record: ‘Patient states that he was wounded on 1st Sept 1917 at Lens, dressed at 1st ADS thence to 9th Canadian Field Ambulance, thence to 22nd CCS where he was operated on. Thence sent to 18th General Hospital Etaples. Was transferred to Canterbury, United Kingdom on 8/9/17, 2nd Military Hospital. Thence to D.M. Hospital on 20/9/17. ‘

Further examination of his records reveals a long convalescence, including a stint in an isolation unit when William contracted mumps, from February 12, 1918 to March 5, 1918. He was sent back to the 43rd Battalion, after being pronounced both cured and fit, on April 8, 1918. On July 16th, 1918, William was promoted to Corporal.

The Second battle of Amiens was commenced in August 1918. The Third Canadian Division, which included the 43rd Battalion, was part of the Allied offensive. William was killed at South-east of Hourges, France on August 8, 1918. He was struck by pieces of shell in the chest and neck and killed at the beginning of an enemy barrage while his battalion was in the assembly position. He had prepared a will on April 5th, leaving his estate to his mother in Fort William, Ontario. In his military records it states he was not eligible for a star, but a Memorial Cross and a Plaque and a Scroll would honour his sacrifice. In Kenora, he is commemorated on the Cenotaph and the Kenora Legion War Memorial. William is buried at Hourges Orchard Cemetery, 2 miles NNE of Moreuil, France in Grave 9, Plot 1, Row A, and can be found in the First World War Book of Remembrance, page 383.

William’s brother Harry (Henry) Charles Chapman (b. 1895) also enlisted on May 20, 1916 in Thunder Bay where he was living at 490 Mark St. N in Fort William. He was working as a grocery clerk and was placed in the 44th Battalion. His death record states that he ‘died on strength-CEF’ Jan. 1, 1920 in a Winnipeg Military Hospital, cause of death listed as parapligiat nephritis. He is buried at the Mountain View Cemetery in Thunder Bay, in the soldiers’ plot. His headstone is suitably inscribed.

William’s third brother, Walter Orville also died in 1920. His death certificate (Walter Orvall Chapman) states he had influenza, and died of pneumonia after one month, on the 26th of January, 1920. This would likely have been the Spanish flu, which came to North America with the returning soldiers and caused such a huge loss of life. Thus, the Chapman family lost all three sons during or shortly after World War 1.

There are records on Ancestry of three of his sisters’ marriages: Naomi Elizabeth (1894) married Norman Hyde on October 12, 1914 in Ignace, where Norman was working as a merchant. Norman enlisted (820717), on May 15 1916. At the time he was working as a car repairman and living at 490 N. Mark St., Fort William Ontario. He died in Guelph Ontario, 17 December, 1984. His record is not currently listed on the Project (820717). Margaret Lorena (1902) married Simon Robert McVeety on 24th of December, 1924. She was working Thunder Bay as a civil servant, while he was an electrician in Ottawa. Alice Maude (1897) married Arthur Francis Tew (10 March, 1895, Winona, Ontario) on June 5th, 1924 in Fort William. He also enlisted (40887). They had two children, as shown on (names not given).

by Penny Beal

Research notes:

First WW Book of Remembrance – William John Chapman page 383
Discrepancy between census birthdate, and date given on attestation papers (1892, 1891)
Units served by Chapman: see
Movie taken at Amiens between Sept. 2-4, 1918, including a clearing station (this is the date when Chapman was killed) (subtitles: wartime-battles- dressing station)
Information on the job of ‘setter’ in a saw mill –

Newspaper articles: Kenora Miner and News

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