Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 14, 1885
Place of BirthPattishall, Northampton
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinLucy Cory (mother), 41 Kettering Road, Northampton, England
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number199261
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion16th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentApril 3, 1916
Age at Enlistment31
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 29, 1917
Age at Death32
Buried AtBilling Road Cemetery, Northampton, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom
PlotGrave No. 13903

Cory, William Roger

Private William Roger Cory grew up in England and served with the British army for eight years, from 1901 to 1909. Afterwards he immigrated to Canada and when the First World War started he enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He suffered severe wounds at the Battle of the Somme and died from his injuries a year later.

William was the son of William Henry Cory and Lucy Ann Freeman of Northampton, Northamptonshire, England. William and Lucy were married in 1877 and they had seven children, five sons (Harry, William, George, Charles and Philip) and two daughters (Olive and Dora). William, the third oldest, was born on 14 January 1885. Northamptonshire was known as the ‘Land of Shoe Makers’ and William, his father and other members of his family worked in the boot and shoe industry. His father died in 1898 when he was 13 years old and at the time of the 1901 census all seven children were living with their widowed mother in the parish of St. Giles in Northampton. William, age 16, was employed as a boot and shoe clicker, a skilled worker whose job was to cut leather for the different parts that make up footwear.

William enlisted in the British army on 28 May 1901, joining the 3rd Battalion Bedford Regiment in Bedford, Northamptonshire. He was only 16 and although he was just 5’3″ and 108 lb. he passed himself off as a year older. After a few months of training he was assigned to the 17th Battalion Leicester Regiment and he served with them for eight years, from 1901 to 1909, followed by four years in the reserves. Reservists were allowed to emigrate on the understanding they would return to England and re-enlist in the event of war. William immigrated to Canada in March 1911, arriving in Halifax on the SS Hesperian, listed as age 26, single, ex-army, his destination Kenora, Ontario. His older brother Harry was already living in Kenora with his wife and children and George and Philip joined them there later.

The war started in August 1914 and William enlisted in Kenora on 3 April 1916, joining the 94th Overseas Battalion. The 94th was based in Port Arthur and recruited in towns throughout northwestern Ontario. The Kenora volunteers were sent to Port Arthur in May to train with the rest of the unit. On 9 June they left for Quebec where they spent a short time at Valcartier before embarking from Halifax on 28 June 1916 on the SS Olympic. In England the men were absorbed into reserve battalions to be used as reinforcements for other units.

William was transferred to the 32nd Reserve Battalion in July then, a month later, to the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish). He was sent to France and he joined his new unit in the field in September, during the Battle of the Somme. The 16th Battalion lost over 100 men in the last few days of September and just over a week later they were back in action, taking part in the attack on Regina Trench. The assault began in a cold rain at 4:20 am on 8 October. During their advance the men in William’s unit were held up by uncut barbed wire and they faced heavy rifle and machine gun fire. Piper James Richardson, who was just 18 years old, marched up and down the line playing his bagpipes to encourage the troops. Some of them were able to advance to the objective but by the end of the day counter attacks had forced the battalion back to its starting position. William was one of the wounded, suffering gunshot wounds to both thighs and one arm and a compound fracture of his leg. On 14 October he was admitted to a hospital in Rouen, France. From there he was evacuated to England and sent to the 3rd Western General Hospital in Cardiff, Wales.

William’s leg never healed properly but by the spring of 1917 he was well enough to return to a military depot in Shorncliffe, England. He became seriously ill again in the fall and he was admitted to the War Hospital in Whitchurch, Glamorgan, Wales. William had an operation on his fractured leg on 27 October 1917 and he died two days later of severe surgical shock. He is buried in Billing Road Cemetery in Northampton, England. The cemetery is just a few blocks from 41 Kettering Road, where his mother still lived at the time.

His brother George Herbert worked as a railroad brakeman and he enlisted in Winnipeg in February 1917. He served overseas with the Canadian Railway Troops and survived the war. His younger brothers Philip and Charles enlisted in the British Army and Charles was wounded at Gallipoli.

William is commemorated on the Kenora Cenotaph, the Kenora Legion War Memorial and the St. Alban’s Pro-Cathedral Memorial plaque. He is also remembered on the war memorial in Billing Road Cemetery in Northampton.

By Becky Johnson

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