Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 28, 1888
Place of BirthEdinburgh
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinSister: Jeannie Silver Dumma, 71 Ashley Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland
Trade / CallingClerk for CPR
Service Details
Regimental Number439137
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion52nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentMay 12, 1915
Age at Enlistment26
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 8, 1918
Age at Death29
Buried AtHourges Orchard Cemetery, Domart-Sur-La-Luce, France
PlotA. 71.

Dumma, William Silver

William Silver Dumma was born to William Dumma and Janet (Silver) Dumma on December 20th, 1880 in the city of Edinburgh, Scotland.  His father William Senior was listed as a Superintendent of Housing in Edinburgh in 1881. There were seven children, including: Margaret (1866-71); Helen Hay (1867-1852); James (1868-1953, came to Canada in 1894, worked as a broker in Calgary, he lived in Victoria B.C. at the time of his death, no children); Alexander Grey (1870-1920); Janet (1872-1949); (Margaret 1874-1949), and William. In the 1901 and 1911 censuses William  was still residing with his widowed mother and sisters in Edinburgh, and his occupation  was a grocer.

William Silver Dumma enlisted in Kenora on May 12, 1915 where he was working for the Canadian Pacific Railway as a clerk. According to the local newspaper, the Kenora Daily Miner and News, Private Dumma and his contingent of the 52nd Battalion left for Port Arthur by train on June 16, 1915. At 5’6″, he was of average height and size for men joining his unit.

In Fort William and Port Arthur, the men  were billeted in private residences, but by June they were in tents in Gresley Park undergoing basic training.  On November 4th, the  Battalion moved by train to St. John, New Brunswick, arriving four days later. They sailed for Plymouth, England onboard the S.S. California on November 22, 1915, arriving on December 3rd.

The battalion moved directly to  Whitley Camp for six weeks of training under British instructors. In a letter home from the camp, Charles Hilliard mentions  Dumma as being part of the Kenora group in the camp (see news article listed above). Often William is referred to as W. F. Dumma.

From Whitley Camp, the 52nd moved to Bramshott for two more weeks of training, and on February 20, 1916, they sailed from Southampton, England to Le Havre, France, arriving in a snow storm.  They were then moved by train to Belgium, where they joined the 9th Brigade, under command of Major General M.S. Mercer, 3rd Canadian Division.  The 43rd Battalion was also part of the brigade.

On May 10, 1916, William became Lance-Corporal Dumma, and on July 1st was promoted to Corporal. They then took part in action in the  Ypres, Netherlands area, mostly trench warfare.  On William’s medical card, he was noted to be ill in October 1916 with ‘trench fever’ and sent to a hospital in Boulogne. His battalion by this time was stationed near Courcelette, France. He was sent back to  his unit  on November 12, near Bray-sur-Somme.

During that winter of 1917, the 52nd was moved from Bray, to Marles-les-Mines, then Villiers-au-Bois, Hallicourt  and Ruitz, then back to Villiers au Bois, and finally in April mustered for the attack on Vimy Ridge; the Canadian 3rd Division’s attack was successful.  In Dumma’s records, it was noted he went on course on April 7th.

In June, 1917 they  were still in the Villiers au Bois section, where on the 18th Dumma suffered a gunshot wound to his left arm. He was sent to 11th Field Hospital in Camiers where the  bullet was removed. He was then transferred to Northumberland War Hospital in Gosforth England, thence to Dibgate, and finally to the Military Convalescent Hospital in Epsom on  September 26.

He returned to France on  March 30, 1918 to the 52nd Battalion. The troops were moved to various locations in France: Lens, Lozinghem, Fontes, Hazebroucke, Liencourt. From Liencourt, the 52nd was moved to the front line in  July. This was the beginning of the Battle of Amiens, where Corporal Dumma was Killed In Action.

The War Diary for the 52nd Battalion, near Hourges, 8 August 1918: ‘Very foggy in the early morning. In connection with the Anglo-French offensive, the 9th Infantry Brigade attacked the enemy position near Hourges with the 43rd, 116th and 58th Bats in the line, and the 52nd Batt in immediate support. The 52nd’s duty was to follow immediately the attacking line and support whatever needed in the attacking battalions of the Brigade ‘Zero hour was at 4:20 A.M. and very soon after, the Battalion commenced to move forward through a very heavy enemy barrage…. During the attack the Battalion’s casualties were, unfortunately, fairly heavy.’

There were 6 Officers killed or wounded, Other Ranks – 8 killed, 4 died of wounds, 86 wounded and 6 missing. Corporal Dumma’s KIA report says: During an advance in the vicinity of Hourges, he was killed instantly by an enemy shell just   before leaving the Jumping Off place. He is buried in Hourges Orchard Cemetery, Domart-Sur-La-Luce, Somme, France.

‘Battle of Amiens took place 8-11 August 1918, west of Amiens, France. A co-ordinated assault, spearheaded by the Australian and Canadian Corps, involving aircraft, tanks, artillery, cavalry and infantry, it was subsequently characterized by the German General Erich Ludendorff as ‘the black day of the German army.’ The Allied forces won a major victory. The 4 Canadian divisions defeated parts of 15 German divisions, routing 4, at a cost of some 9000 casualties. Their success initiated the ‘hundred days’ which saw the Germans repeatedly driven back all along the Western Front, and which culminated in the armistice of 11 November 1918.’

Corporal William Dumma is commemorated on page 401 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Kenora Cenotaph, and on the Kenora Legion War Memorial.

by Penny Beal

William’s grave marker photograph provided by David Robinson.



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