Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 3, 1876
Place of BirthHorbury, Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinJosephine Chappell (wife), Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingHotel propietor
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number198231
Service RecordLink to Service Record
BattalionCanadian Corps Infantry School
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentPort Arthur, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentNovember 12, 1915
Age at Enlistment39
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 2, 1938
Age at Death61
Buried AtTirinity Lutheran Cemetery, Perkasie, Pennsylvania

Chappell, Wilfred

Private Wilfred Chappell enlisted in Port Arthur, Ontario in November 1915. He served for three years in Canada, Great Britain and France and returned to Canada in October 1918 due to illness.

Wilfred was born on 3 September 1876 in Horbury, West Yorkshire, England. His parents, William Chappell and Martha Stones, were both born in Yorkshire. They were married in 1858 and Wilfred was the youngest of at least eight children: Eliza (1859), Alice (1861), Stephen Hartley (1862), Kate Amelia (1867, died at age two), Thomas (1869), Mary Ann (1871), Fred (1873) and Wilfred. Their father worked as an agricultural labourer for many years but by the time Wilfred was born he was an engineer in a woolen factory. He passed away sometime in the 1890s.

When the 1901 census was taken Wilfred was lodging with a family in Horbury and working as an insurance salesman. He immigrated to the U.S. the following year, arriving in Philadelphia on 14 September 1902 on the SS Haverford. His brother Thomas had immigrated in the 1890s and made his home in Philadelphia. Wilfred settled in Minnesota and in 1904 or 1905 he married Josephine Johnson, a school teacher who was born in 1880 in Sweden. She was one of six children of Charles and Louise Johnson of Parkers Prairie, Otter Tail County, Minnesota. The family had immigrated to the U.S. around 1882. At the time of the 1905 state census, taken in June, Wilfred and his wife were living in Parkers Prairie and he was employed as a lumberman. They had one daughter, Lucille, who was born on 10 June 1906 in Otter Tail. By 1910 they had moved to Minneapolis where Wilfred worked as an agent for a chemical company.

Around 1913 Wilfred and his wife moved again, this time to Canada. The war started the following year and Wilfred enlisted in Port Arthur, Ontario on 12 November 1915. His address at the time was Kenora, Ontario, his occupation was hotel proprietor, and next of kin was his wife Josephine in Kenora. He passed himself off as 35 years old but he was actually 39. Wilfred joined the 94th Battalion, which was based in Port Arthur and recruited in towns throughout northwestern Ontario. He was appointed as Company Quartermaster Sergeant while training in Port Arthur. The battalion left for Quebec on 9 June 1916 and the recruits spent a short time at Valcartier Camp before embarking from Halifax on 28 June on the SS Olympic. They arrived in England on 6 July and the men were transferred to reserve battalions to be used as reinforcements for other units.

Over the next 15 months Wilfred served in the UK with the 32nd Reserve Battalion, the 30th Reserve Battalion, the 1st Reserve Battalion and the BC Regiment Depot. In June 1917 he reverted to the rank of Private and starting that summer he was on duty at the segregation camp in Seaford for several months. In mid-October Wilfred was transferred to the 4th Labour Battalion and sent to France. Shortly after arriving in France he was assigned instead to Mess Duties at the Canadian Corps Infantry School, where he served until June 1918. Around the end of June he suffered a nervous breakdown and he was sent to a casualty clearing station then admitted to No. 26 General Hospital. He was diagnosed with mania/manic depression and on 9 July he was invalided to the UK on the hospital ship Jan Breydel.

Wilfred was treated at the Lord Derby War Hospital in Warrington but a medical board recommended that he return to Canada. He sailed from Liverpool on 14 October on the ambulance transport Araguaya, arriving in Halifax two weeks later. He was admitted to Cobourg Military Hospital in Ontario and discharged from the army on 31 December 1918 in Winnipeg. His wife and daughter had moved back to Parkers Prairie and Wilfred said he intended to return there too.

When the 1920 U.S. census was taken Wilfred and his family were living in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota where he was a hotel proprietor. According to his death certificate he retired about two years later and moved to Perkasie, Pennsylvania around 1925. Lucille became a school teacher and in 1930 she was living in New Jersey. She married Ingvald Opsahl on 17 November 1933 in Philadelphia. Ingvald was born on 20 June 1904 in Norway. He grew up on a tree farm near Rakkestad, southeast of Oslo, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1924. After a few years in Wanamingo, Minnesota he moved to Minneapolis. Sadly, Lucille died just three months after they were married, on 19 February 1934. She was 27 years old. Lucille is interred at Perkasie Mausoleum in Perkasie, Buck’s County, Pennsylvania.

Wilfred passed away at his home in Perkasie on 2 March 1938, at age 61. His funeral was held three days later and he’s buried in Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in Perkasie. At the time of the 1940 census Josephine was living in Parkers Prairie with her widowed mother. She died in Wisconsin in 1975 and she’s buried beside Wilfred. Wilfred’s brother Thomas (1869-1939) and his wife Martha (1876-1963) are also interred in the same cemetery.

Ingvald Opsahl remarried in 1939 and he and his second wife Helen Harden had two children, Randi Mildred (24 July 1940 to 18 November 2018) and George Ingvald (born 2 December 1941). When they were growing up George and Randi visited Josephine in Parkers Prairie, and called her Grandma Chappell. Ingvald (d. 1968) and Helen (d. 2005) are buried in Clove Cemetery, Sussex, New Jersey. Randi passed away in 2018 and her ashes are at rest on a mountain in Colorado.

By Becky Johnson

Family information kindly provided by George Ingvald Opsahl.

Grave marker photos courtesy of

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