Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 29, 1892
Place of BirthHathersage, Derbyshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJ Drew, father
Trade / Callingpacker for Lake of the Woods Milling Company
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number662
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion8th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKeewatin, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 21, 1914
Age at Enlistment21
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Decorations and MedalsMilitary Medal
Death Details
Date of DeathApril 28, 1917
Age at Death24
Buried AtOrchard Dump Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France
PlotPlot 5, Row J, Grave 18

Drew, John

The son of John and Elizabeth (née Page) Drew, John Drew was born on 29 December 1892 in Hathersage, Derbyshire, England. For the 1901 England census the family was living in Gorleston, Norfolk, England, father’s occupation given as engine driver. The children listed with the parents in the census were Elizabeth, Sarah, Ellen, George, and William. Probably because Elizabeth was originally from Wales, by the 1911 census the family was living in Leansamlet, Glamorgan, Wales, occupation for John JR given as tube tester for a steel tube manufacturing company. His father was working as a locomotive driver and brother George was working as a tool boy for the Railway Contractor. Other children had now joined the family: Amy, James, and Albert. Over the years, as evidenced by the birth places of the children, the family had also lived in Crediton, Merionethshire, Wales (Elizabeth); Llanwddyn, Montgomery, Wales (Ellen); Rugby, Warwickshire, England (George), Doehill, Derbyshire, England, (William), Great Bealings, Wiltshire, England (Amy), and Hever, Kent, England (James and Albert).

In May of 1912 John embarked for Canada aboard the Laurentic, destination Keewatin and occupation given as steel worker but intended occupation in Canada as at the flour mills. In June of 1913 his father and brother George immigrated to Keewatin, followed by his mother and siblings Elizabeth, Sarah, Ellen, William, Amy, James, and Albert in December.

John left Kenora on 23 August 1914, enlisting in Valcartier, Quebec on 21 September 1914 at age 21. His occupation at the time was given as  packer, presumably with the Lake of the Woods Milling Company in Keewatin. In October  the 8th Battalion left Quebec City for overseas aboard the Franconia. After arriving in England the men trained for several months at Salisbury Plains. During this time, it appears that John met Lucy Deoene of Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex as his record had her name added as to be notified.

The 8th Battalion arrived in France in February of 1915, and by March John, at his own request, had reverted from the rank of Lance Corporal to the rank of Private.  He was granted an 8 day leave in November.

Private John Drew was with the 8th Battalion at the time of his death on 28 April 1917. Killed in action  while only 24, during military operations in  Arleux-en-Gohelle, France  and while doing duty as stretcher bearer, John was shot through the head and instantly killed by a bullet from the rifle of an enemy sniper. John is interred in the Orchard Dump Cemetery, 5 miles north of Arras, France.

For his bravery, John earned the Military Medal, awarded posthumously on 18 May 1917: During the recent advance against the VIMY RIDGE on April 9th 1917, although this Battalion was in support of the Brigade, he left the trench at zero hour and dressed wounded in No Man’s Land in spite of a heavy enemy barrage. As Company dresser he continued dressing wounded for 36 hours without rest and under heavy shell fire most of the time. During the six subsequent days his work was most assiduous and most useful. In addition to the Military Medal, the CVWM also provides the following citations for John: 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal.

John’s brother George also served during the Great War, enlisting in Keewatin on 5 June 1915, and going overseas with the 141st Battalion. As a trooper, he served with the Canadian  Army Veterinary Corps  and arrived back in Canada in May of 1919. He married Cora Bird and died in 1982 in Vancouver. John’s mother died in Keewatin on 28 January 1945 and his father two years later on 25 November 1947. They are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. The rest of his siblings also stayed in Keewatin/Kenora, most marrying, raising their families, and eventually buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery: Elizabeth (William Boyd), Sarah (Mark Hawkins), Ellen (Earle Brott), William (Jean McLay), Amy (Henry Defoort), James (Olive Moore), and Albert.

Private John Drew is commemorated on page 230 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Keewatin Cenotaph located in Beatty Park in Keewatin, Ontario, on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company Roll of Honour plaque, the Municipality of Keewatin plaque, on the two Keewatin St James Anglican Church plaques, and on the 8th Battalion’s WW1 Roll of Honour. In August of 1919, as next of kin, John’s family would have been presented a medal at a Town of Keewatin demonstration honouring their citizens that had served.

by Judy Stockham

Drew-John-2 Drew-John-3 Drew-John-4 Drew-John-5 Drew-John-6 Drew-John-7 Drew-John-8 Drew-John-9 Drew-John-10

grave marker photo: courtesy of J Stephens, Canadian Virtual War Memorial
St James Memorials photos: courtesy of the church

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