Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthNovember 19, 1892
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJoseph Gagnon, father, Keewatin, Ontario
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number439535
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion52nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKeewatin, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentAugust 4, 1915
Age at Enlistment22
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 9, 1919
Age at Death26
Buried AtGrayshott (St. Joseph) Roman Catholic Churchyard, Hampshire, United Kingdom
PlotB. 19.

Gagnon, Charles Joseph

Charles Joseph Gagnon, the  oldest of six sons of Joseph Gagnon and Victoria Madore, was born in Keewatin, Ontario on 19 November 1892. He was raised in Keewatin.

The 1911 Canada census shows Charles  living with his family on 10th Street in Keewatin. He was sewing bags for Lake of the Woods Milling Company.

Charles enlisted with the 52nd Battalion on 04 August 1915 in Kenora.  When he left for training in Port Arthur it was the last time he would see his family. On 4 November 1915 the 52nd Battalion moved by train to St. John, New Brunswick arriving on 8 November 1915. Prior to arriving in St. John, the Battalion stopped in Ottawa and was inspected by the Governor General of Canada, the Duke of Connaught.

Charles embarked for Plymouth, England with his unit from St. John on 23 November 1915 aboard the S.S. California. They arrived in  England on 03 December 1915, trained at Witley Camp and in Bramshott for  eight weeks before landing in France on 21  February 1916. The Battalion joined the 9th Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division on 23 February 1916 and thus began the trial by fire for the men of the north in the trenches of France and Belgium.

Near the end of June 1917 Charles was  injured and admitted to No 22 General Hospital, Camiers with wounds to his right leg and left arm. His Canada Military Honours and Awards Citation Card (dated September 1917)  describes the incident:

‘While in charge of a limber loaded with detonated Mills Grenades, a shell exploded nearby blowing away the tailboard of the limber. His mules bolted and though his right arm was shattered, he stuck to his post and eventually succeeded in bringing his team to a standstill, thus probably saving the lives of soldiers who were in the vicinity at the time. His arm has since been amputated.’

Charles was sent to England for treatment of his injuries, spending a month in the 2nd Southern General Hospital in  Bristol, almost two weeks in the Canadian Convalescent Hospital in Bearwood, Wokingham and finally, another month in the Military Convalescent Hospital in Woodcote Park, Epsom. While there he was transferred to the 18th Reserve Battalion. Upon discharge from the hospital he was awarded the Military Medal and drafted back into the 52nd Battalion. He returned to France on 09 November 1917 and reported for duty with his unit on 01 December 1917.

Charles served in France and Belgium until 13 February 1919. On the 24th of February he was admitted to No 12 Canadian General Hospital in Bramshott, England  suffering from influenza. He died on  09 March of bronchial pneumonia complicated by influenza. He was only 26 years of age. He is buried in St. Joseph Roman Catholic Churchyard at Grayshott, Hampshire, England.

Charles is commemorated on p. 534 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Town of Keewatin Plaque and the Lake of the Woods Milling Company Plaque, both formerly located in the Keewatin Legion, and on the Keewatin Cenotaph.

Two of Charles’ brothers, William and Adelard, also served overseas during World War 1, but they were fortunate enough to return to Canada.

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Gravemarker photo provided by Cliff Forsythe.

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