|Date of Birth
|October 21, 1874
|Place of Birth
|Next of Kin
|Mary Gudgeon, mother, 38 Spital Road, Lincoln, England
|Trade / Calling
|Church of England
|Link to Service Record
|Canadian Expeditionary Force
|Enlisted / Conscripted
|Address at Enlistment
|Date of Enlistment
|February 22, 1915
|Age at Enlistment
|Theatre of Service
|Prisoner of War
|Date of Death
|March 10, 1961
|Age at Death
|Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
Thomas Gudgeon was born on 21 October 1874 in Lincoln, Lincolnshire in England. His father Robert Gudgeon was from Northampton, Northamptonshire while his mother Mary Hooton was from Saxilby in Lincolnshire. The couple married in June of 1866 in Lincoln. Over the years Robert’s occupation was listed as brass polisher or brass finisher. Children born to the family in Lincoln were George William (1868), Annie (1870), Sarah Kitty (1871), Thomas (1874), and Benjamin (1876). By the time of the birth of their next child, Ellen who was born in 1880, the family had moved to Southwark St Saviour in London. Children born in Southwark were Alexander (1882), Mary (1884), Maria (1886), Frederick (1888), and Kate (1893). Within months of Kate’s birth, father Robert died in Southwark.
On 22 July 1910 in Lincoln, Thomas married Maria Williams (née Isaac). Born in 1862 in Chittlehampton, Devon, Maria was the daughter of John Isaac and Emma Towell. The 1911 England census found the couple living in Lincoln where Thomas was working as a brass finisher. Sadly, Maria died in October of 1913 in Lincoln.
Thomas’ sister Mary had married Sidney Weston in 1905 and immigrated to Canada in 1907, settling in the town of Keewatin, about 5 kilometres west of Kenora in northwestern Ontario. Sidney found work at the local flour mill and in 1907 Alexander moved to Keewatin to work in the mill, followed by Thomas in 1914, arriving in September aboard the Royal Edward.
Thomas signed his attestation papers in Kenora on 22 February 1915. His occupation was given as engine fitter and his next of kin as his mother Mary back in Lincoln. Organized in March of 1915 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel AW Hay with recruitment in Port Arthur, Kenora, Fort Frances, Fort William and Dryden, the 52nd Battalion was mobilized at Port Arthur. Along with a number of other fellows from Kenora and Keewatin, Private Thomas Gudgeon embarked from Montreal aboard the Missanabie with the 2nd Reinforcing Draft of the 52nd Battalion on 4 September 1915. After training in England with the 12th Battalion, Thomas was transferred to the 31st Battalion, taken on strength in the field on 9 March 1916.
The 31st Battalion (Alberta), CEF was authorized on 7 November 1914 and embarked for Britain on 17 May 1915. On 18 September 1915 it disembarked in France, where it fought with the 6th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division in France and Flanders until the end of the war. The battalion was disbanded on 30 August 1920. The battalion commander until late in the war was Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Henry Bell of Calgary. On 17 May 1915, the battalion sailed for England on the Carpathia, with a complement of 36 officers and 1033 other ranks. After initial training in England, the battalion fought in Belgium and France, and was often at the forefront of the fighting at St. Eloi Craters, the Ypres Salient, Vimy Ridge (Thélus Village), Fresnoy, the Somme, Passchendaele Village, the Battle of Amiens, the Battle of Arras, Drocourt-Quéant Switch, Valenciennes, Mons, and the occupation of the Rhine.
In mid May of 1916 Thomas was admitted to the No 11 General Hospital in Camiers suffering from varicocele. A couple of days later he was discharged to the Convalescent Depot, and then on to the Canadian Base Depot, rejoining the unit on the 6th of June. From 11 August until 7 November 1916 Thomas was temporarily attached to the 6th Brigade Machine Gun Section. After returning to the 31s Battalion, Thomas spent time at the No 6 Canadian Field Ambulance suffering from gastroenteritis. On 12 March 1917 he was awarded a Good Conduct Badge. From mid July until mid September of 1917 Thomas was appointed to the 2nd Canadian Division for Traffic Control. Upon rejoining the 31st Battalion, he was granted a ten day leave to England on the 16th. In December he once again was on Traffic Control, rejoining the 31st in early January of 1918.
With the end of the war Thomas returned to England. On 19 March 1919 at St George Hanover Square, London, he married Alice Maude Watson who had been born in Derby in 1896. In June Thomas was struck off strength to Canada and Alice followed, leaving Liverpool in mid October aboard the Melita.
Thomas and Alice were to make Keewatin their home where Thomas worked as a packer for the Lake of the Woods Milling Company until his retirement in 1945. Thomas was a member of the St Andrew’s United Church in Keewatin, the Keewatin Branch of the Canadian Legion (past president), and a member of the Orange Lodge. Alice was an accomplished musician and for a period of time was the organist at St Andrew’s United Church.
Thomas died on 10 March 1961 in Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba. At the time he was survived by his wife Alice in Keewatin and sister Kate Brown in London. Alice died on 23 August 1974 in the Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora. Thomas and Alice are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.
In August of 1919 the town of Keewatin held a demonstration where those who had served during the war were presented with medals and badges by the mayor, both Thomas and his brother Alexander‘s names on the list. Thomas is commemorated for his service during the war on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plaque, the Municipality of Keewatin for King and Country plaque, and the Town of Keewatin Roll of Honour plaque. Thomas’ brother-in-law Sidney Weston went overseas with the 141st Battalion, transferring to the 52nd Battalion. He died of his wounds on 1 December 1917.
By Judy Stockham