|Date of Birth||August 3, 1888|
|Place of Birth||Peterborough|
|Next of Kin||Betsy A. Hales, 92 St Martins St, Peterborough (mother)|
|Trade / Calling||Locomotive Fireman|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Date of Enlistment||October 27, 1914|
|Age at Enlistment||26|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||April 13, 1933|
|Age at Death||44|
|Buried At||Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario|
On 03 August 1888 Wilfred Hales was the 2nd born of 8 children in Peterborough, England to John Hales and Betsy Anne Peacock. ‘Billy’, as he was known to friends, immigrated to Canada in 1911. He joined the group of young men in Kenora that were from his home town in England. They became affectionately known as ‘The Peterborough Boys’.
He became a locomotive fireman with the railway in Kenora where most of his friends from England worked. Life before the war was filled with, not only work but, many community activities such as sporting events, club events, church events and exploring his new home town, Kenora, and the surrounding Lake of the Woods. The group of young men, the boys from ‘Peterborough’, was well known in town. Life changed drastically as most of them signed up for World War One.
Billy’s brother, Sidney, back in England joined a British Regiment. He was wounded 3 times by shrapnel in a battle at Aubers Ridge on May 9, 1915. Their other siblings were Mary, Daisy, Florence, William, Edith and Eric.
During WW1 the 27th Battalion recruited in Brandon, Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg, Manitoba and Kenora and Rainy River, Ontario and was mobilized at Winnipeg.
After completing his medical examination in Winnipeg, Manitoba a month before, Billy signed his attestation papers December 27, 1914. Private Wilfred Hales was placed with the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion. This was the first independent Battalion to be raised out of Manitoba and with the rank of a Private, Billy could expect to earn $1.00 a day.
The 27th Battalion (City of Winnipeg), CEF was an infantry battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the Great War. The Battalion was authorized on 7 November 1914 and embarked for Great Britain on 17 May 1915. It disembarked in France on 18 September 1915, where it fought as part of the 6th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division in France.
Billy was appointed to the rank of Lance Corporal on September 11, 1915 before embarking for France. By July 14, 1916 he was admitted to #5 field ambulance clearing station with acute gastritis. This was the beginning of his medical problems. He was then sent back to duty several times but they were short lived. Billy was evacuated back to England and admitted into several army hospitals where he was eventually diagnosed with epilepsy. In this time he had been promoted to Corporal. It was also determined by some doctors as not being epilepsy but a result from duty in the field of war. It was further determined that Wilfred Hales was not fit for war duty and the doctor advised he be sent back to Canada. On December 23, 1917 Billy was on board the S. S. Metagama; destination was Canada.
Wilfred ‘Billy’ Hales arrived back in Winnipeg in February for a short stay before returning to Kenora. On February 15, 1918 Billy received his discharge from the army.
On the 17th September, 1919 Wilfred Hales married Amelia George Lang in Kenora, Ontario.
By the census taken on June 2, 1921, Billy and Amelia were renting a home on 3rd Street North, just a short walk to work as a clerk for the C.P.R. They had a daughter, Mary just 1 month old. In 1933 the family was living at 217-2nd Street North in Kenora and Billy was working as a customs officer. On March 30 of that year he had a heart attack and was taken to the local hospital. Since the war he had suffered with epilepsy and this was a contributing factor. Billy died in the General Hospital in Kenora, Ontario on April 13, 1933.
At 44 years old Wilfred ‘Billy’ Hales was laid to rest in the Teardrop Block of the Lake of the Woods Cemetery at Kenora, Ontario. Billy left behind to mourn his loss his wife Amelia and his 12 year old daughter Mary.
By Linda Pelletier
Veteran death card courtesy of Library and Archives Canada
Photographs of Wilfred with the 27th Battalion are from the commemorative book of the 27th Battalion, Military District No. 10, 1915