Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthAugust 3, 1888
Place of BirthPeterborough
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinBetsy A. Hales, 92 St Martins St, Peterborough (mother)
Trade / CallingLocomotive Fireman
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number71277
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion27th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentOctober 27, 1914
Age at Enlistment26
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathApril 13, 1933
Age at Death44
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Hales, Wilfred

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

Bradley-Ernest-97 Hales-Wilfred-90 Hales-Wilfred-91 Hales-Wilfred-92 Hales-Wilfred-96 Hales-Wilfred-95 Hales-Wilfred-94

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

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