Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Place of BirthProvincia Leon La Basilica Sopenia
CountrySpain
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinAlarina Gomez, Provincia Leon La Basilica Sopenia, Spain
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number61940
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion22nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentQuebec, Quebec
Date of EnlistmentNovember 5, 1914
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJune 10, 1975
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
Plot33E-5-3

Gomez, John Orton

According to his attestation papers, Jean (later known as John Orton) Gomez was born on 12 July 1893 in Provincia Leon La Basilica Sopenia in Spain. However his later obituary and grave marker gave the date of birth as 12 June 1888. With the year of birth as 1893, Jean arrived in Quebec aboard the Ionion on 6 July 1914, occupation given as miner on the passenger list and final destination as Quebec.

Jean enlisted with the 22nd Battalion on 5 November 1914 in Quebec. His occupation was given as labourer and Alarina Gomez back in Spain as next of kin. As a Private with the battalion he arrived in England aboard the Saxonia on 29 May 1915. After training in England, by mid September the battalion had arrived in France.

“As the only combatant unit in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) whose official language was French, the 22nd (French Canadian) Infantry Battalion, commonly referred to as the “Van Doos” (from vingt-deux, meaning twenty-two in French), was subject to more scrutiny than most Canadian units in the First World War. Known for its rowdiness and, at times, indiscipline, the battalion was also one of the CEF’s fiercest fighting units. To its commander, Lt. Col. Thomas-Louis Tremblay, the 22nd was more than a mere battalion: it represented all of French Canada. The reputation of French Canada was at stake, and Tremblay worked hard to ensure that the 22nd acted with poise and bravery throughout the war.” Further information about the battalion and its contribution during the war, including the various battles, can be found here .

Over the course of his service Jean was hospitalized for myalgia (November-December 1915), impetigo (November-December 1916), synovitis left knee (December 1917), and contusions to his ankle from being kicked by a horse (February 1918). He also had bouts of trench fever and bronchitis. He was granted a ten day leave of absence in January of 1917 and two fourteen day leaves, January 1918 and March 1919. The battalion returned to England in April 1919 and embarked for Canada aboard the Olympic on 10 May. Jean was discharged from service on demobilization on 19 May 1919 in Montreal, rank of Private.

Although Jean’s intended place of residence after discharge was given as Montreal, by the mid 1920’s he was living in Red Lake in northwestern Ontario, now going by the forename of John. Various Voters lists over the years gave his occupation as prospector. At some point John married, with he and his wife Edna Winnifred giving birth to two children, daughter Faye Rosalie on 7 October 1931 followed by son Geoffrey Donald on 27 April 1937. Sadly, Edna died sixteen days later on 11 May 1937 in Winnipeg. She is interred in Brookside Cemetery on the outskirts of the city.

While in Red Lake, John was a member of the local branch of the Canadian Legion, with his later obituary stating that he was a veteran of both WW1 and WW2. By the 1963 Voters list for Red Lake John had retired. In February of 1975 he moved to Pinecrest Home for the Aged in Kenora, Ontario.

John died on 10 June 1975 at Pinecrest. At the time of his death he was survived by his daughter Faye Jules of Kamloops, British Columbia and son Geoffrey of Winnipeg. Faye later died on 15 August 2005 in Kamloops and Geoffrey on 21 January 2011 in Winnipeg. John is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

By Judy Stockham

 


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