Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 24, 1892
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. G. Faulkner (mother), Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number439564
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion52nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentFort Frances, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentJuly 26, 1915
Age at Enlistment23
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Decorations and MedalsMilitary Medal
Death Details
Date of DeathDecember 16, 1916
Age at Death24
Buried AtMaroeuil British Cemetery, Nievre, France
PlotIII. K. I.

Faulkner, Vincent Harold

During the First World War runners carried messages between the front lines and unit headquarters, often over open ground where they were exposed to enemy artillery and rifle fire. Private Vincent Faulkner was awarded the Military Medal in November 1916 for his bravery as a runner. A month later he was killed in action in France.

Vincent was born on 24 March 1892 in Rat Portage (later called Kenora) in northwestern Ontario, the son of George and Mary Ann Faulkner. George was from England and Mary Ann (née Bamforth) was born in Huron County, Ontario. They had ten children between 1880 and 1900, six sons and four daughters. Two of the boys died as infants and the surviving children were Rosa, Charles, Violet, Eva, Vincent, Reginald, Olive and Clarence. While the children were growing up the family lived in several different towns in Ontario and Manitoba and George worked as a painter. Vincent (1892) and Reginald (1894) were both born in Rat Portage.

When the 1906 census was taken the Faulkners were living in the district of Selkirk in Manitoba. Vincent’s father was admitted to a hospital in Selkirk in August 1907 and he spent the last six years of his life there. He died in August 1913 and he’s buried in the cemetery at St. Clements Mapleton Church near Selkirk. While he was in the hospital Mary Ann and the children moved back to Kenora and Mary Ann worked as a washerwoman to support the family. A year after George died she married Albert Wright, in September 1914 in Kenora. Albert was also a widow and he was originally from Northampton, England. Mary Ann and her family lived in the Rideout Estate in the north part of Kenora.

The war started in August 1914 and Vincent and his brother Reginald both enlisted on 26 July 1915. They signed up in the nearby town of Fort Frances, joining the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion, and they were given consecutive regimental numbers, 439563 and 439564. They named their next-of-kin as Mrs. G. Faulkner although their mother was remarried by that time. The 52nd Battalion trained in Port Arthur. Four months after enlisting Vincent and Reginald left for England with their unit, embarking from St. John, New Brunswick in November on the SS California. The men trained at Witley and Bramshott Camps for 2-1/2 months before being sent to France on 20 February 1916. They spent the first night there in tents in a snowstorm and they were moved to Belgium by train the next day. Early in March the 52nd went into the trenches for orientation and they suffered their first combat fatality on the night of 11-12 March.

Late that month the Canadian Corps took up positions in the south part of the Ypres Salient, between St. Eloi and Hooge, and the 52nd moved into the area on 1 April. On 2 June the Battle of Mount Sorrel started with an intense bombardment of the Canadian lines followed by the explosion of underground mines. After the barrage German infantry advanced and captured Mount Sorrel and nearby areas. The 52nd was involved in the heavy fighting several times over the next two weeks. The weather was cold and rainy and there was a shortage of food and water for the men in the forward positions. Most of the lost ground was recaptured and the battle ended on 13 June with little change to the front lines but at a cost of 8,000 Canadian casualties.

The Somme Offensive started later that summer and the first major battle for the Canadian Corps was at Flers-Courcelette (15-22 September 1916). The 52nd Battalion boarded trains on 7 September and a week later they were in the Somme area. On 16 September they took part in the attack near the village of Courcelette. During the advance the men faced heavy machine gun and rifle fire and they suffered over 200 casualties while crossing open ground to reach the objective. The battalion was involved in further operations in October before being relieved and moved to a quieter sector of the front near Vimy.

It may have been during the Battle of the Somme that Vincent earned his Military Medal, which was awarded to him in November 1916. From the War Diary of the 52nd Battalion, 15 November 1916: ‘The following men have been awarded the Military Medal,- …439564 Pte. Faulkner V.H.‘ From his Awards Citation Card: ‘For great gallantry and devotion to duty. He acted as a runner between Bttn Hdeqrs and the front line and one day made ten trips under heavy shell and rifle fire. Each time he had to cover an open space of 200 yards in plain view of the enemy. His services were of great value to the Battalion.’

In November and December the 52nd Battalion was based in the Thélus sector in France, opposite the village of Vimy. They had the usual rotations in the front trenches and they also trained, supplied work parties and carried out patrols and raids. On 12 December the unit moved into the trenches for what would be a six-day rotation and it was during that time that Vincent was killed. A fellow soldier said he died while carrying messages under shell fire. From the War Diary of the 52nd Battalion, 16 December 1916, ‘Ptes. Douglas, Fisher and Faulkner killed in action and Pte. M.J. Grassie, wounded, shell shock as a result of shell fire. Bodies taken out and sent to MAROEUIL for burial.

Vincent is buried in Maroeuil British Cemetery near the village of Maroeuil in France. He is commemorated on the Kenora Cenotaph, the Kenora Legion War Memorial and the St. Alban’s Pro-Cathedral War Memorial plaque.

His brother Reginald Faulkner was severely wounded in 1916 and after months of treatment in England he arrived back in Canada in June 1917 with a war bride. They lived in Kenora for a few years then moved to Vancouver, where Reginald died in 1952. Their mother Mary Ann passed away in Kenora in 1934 and her husband Albert in 1945. They are both buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

52nd-1915-12-08 Faulkner-Vincent-89 Faulkner-Vincent-91 Faulkner-Vincent-92 Faulkner-Vincent-93 Kenora-Cenotaph-plaque-image
Photo of George courtesy of Faulkner public family tree on ancestry.com.


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