Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 21, 1884
Place of BirthCounty Down
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinSarah Hives (mother), 11 Merton Road, Kensington, London, England
Trade / CallingLocomotive Engineer
Service Details
Regimental Number216404
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion78th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 5, 1916
Age at Enlistment31
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarYes
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 19, 1976
Age at Death92
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
Plot53E-20-3, Elmwood Circle Block

Hives, Harry

Private Harry Hives enlisted in the spring of 1916 and served for three years, with two of those years spent as a German prisoner of war. He survived the war and returned to Canada in April 1919.

Harry (Henry) was the son of Hans Edgar Hives and Sarah Harper of Kensington, London, England. Hans and his wife were both born in Ireland. They were married in Belfast in 1879 and their first child, John Harper Hives, was born there in February 1880. By 1881 Hans and Sarah had moved to Glasgow, Scotland and Hans was working as a gentleman’s butler at Kelvindale House. A second son, Hans Edgar Jr., was born in April 1882 while they were living in Glasgow. When Harry was born on 21 May 1884 the family was back in Ireland. His birthplace was listed as County Down, which includes part of the city of Belfast plus the area to the southeast. The fourth and youngest son, Herbert William, was born in 1891 in either Belfast or Saintfield, a small village to the southeast. Within a few years the family had moved to London, England where Hans found work as a butler and Sarah as a cook. Their oldest son John died of tuberculosis in London in November 1897, at age 17.

At the time of the 1901 census Harry’s parents were living in Kensington, London, listed as boarders at 2 Merton Road. Harry, age 16, and his brother Herbert, age 9, were living at 11 Merton Road, also listed as boarders, and Harry was working as a porter. Hans Edgar Jr. had enlisted in the British army and he was with the 18th Hussars in South Africa, where he served for two years in the Boer War (1899-1902).

Harry and Herbert both immigrated to Canada, Herbert in 1910 and Harry probably a few years earlier. They settled in the town of Kenora in northwestern Ontario where they found work with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Harry returned home for a visit in 1911 and he was staying with his mother in Kensington when the 1911 census of England was taken in April. His occupation was locomotive fireman for the CPR and he was listed as a visitor, age 26 and single. He returned to Canada that May on the Empress of Ireland. Two years later his parents came to Canada for an extended visit, arriving via New York in September 1913 and returning home to England in January 1914. The war started later that year and Herbert and Harry both enlisted.

Herbert signed up first, joining the 11th Battalion in September 1914 at Valcartier, Quebec. Harry continued working for the CPR for another year but by late 1915 there was a push on for more recruits, to replace casualties at the front. He enlisted in February 1916 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, joining the 100th Battalion. The battalion trained in Winnipeg that winter, on the grounds of the old Agricultural College, and in April Harry was transferred to another Winnipeg-based unit, the 78th Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers). He embarked from Halifax with the 78th on 22 May 1916 on the Empress of Britain and they landed at Liverpool a week later. The unit was sent to France that summer, as part of the 12th Brigade in the new 4th Canadian Division.

The 78th Battalion landed at Le Havre on 13 August 1916 and entrained for Belgium two days later. On 27 August they went into the front lines for the first time, and they were given orientation and instruction in trench warfare by a British unit. Over the next month the battalion had several rotations in the front lines and they also provided troops for work parties, went on patrols, repaired and dug trenches and carried on with routine training. The unit had its first fatality on 13 September when a corporal was killed by a trench mortar bomb. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Canadian Divisions had been at the Somme Offensive in France since early September and in October the new 4th Division was sent there to relieve them. The 78th Battalion left Belgium towards the end of September and arrived near the town of Albert, France two weeks later, where the men were billeted in tents. The weather was wet and very cold and on the night of 26 October Harry’s unit was sent into the front lines.

From the War Diary of the 78th Battalion, 27 October 1916: Trenches in bad shape owing to continued rains. Line held.

28 October 1916:   Patrol of 1 officer (Lieut Croucher) and six other ranks detailed to obtain information re German activities. Party discovered by German covering party. Reports show six of patrol missing and Lieut. Croucher wounded.  

Private Harry Hives was one of the men missing from the patrol, and in December 1916 he was unofficially reported as a Prisoner of War.

Frank Iriam, who later became Harry’s brother-in-law, mentioned him in his memoirs (published as ‘In the Trenches: 1914-1918’): ‘I heard that some new battalions from home had arrived. There was a man from Kenora in one of these units. I think it was the 78th. Harry Hives who had boarded with me at home before I enlisted. I went over to their lines one day to see him and was just in time to see him falling in to go up the line with a working party. I did have a word or two with him before he marched off. He was captured by the Germans a few days later while out with a patrol ” (p.173).

Over the next two years Harry was moved between several German POW camps, starting at Wahn then going to Limburg an der Lahn, Friedrichsfeld Bei Wesel and Schneidemuhl Posen. The camp at Limburg was mainly for Irish prisoners and Schneidemuhl, where Harry spent his last year, was a very large work camp centre holding 40,000 to 50,000 men. The Armistice ended hostilities on 11 November 1918 and about four weeks later Harry was repatriated to England, arriving in Ripon, North Yorkshire on 14 December. He served for two months with the Manitoba Depot Regiment then another month with the 18th Reserve Battalion. On 23 March 1919 he embarked for Canada on the Empress of Britain and he was discharged in Winnipeg on 4 April.

Harry returned to Kenora and 2-1/2 weeks after his discharge he married Ethel Annie Reid at her parents’ home in Lakeside. Harry and Ethel raised four daughters: Kathleen (Mrs. Kay Carlson), Thelma (Mrs. James Mableson), Mildred (Mrs. Carl Anderson) and Alice (Mrs. Jim Duffus). Sadly Ethel died in August 1942, at age 47. Harry’s second wife Nellie (née Streets), also known as Trixie, was a war bride who had come to Canada with her first husband Robert Neale. She had two children with Robert, Godfrey and Shirley.

Harry and Nellie continued to make their home in Kenora. He passed away on 19 August 1976. at age 92, and he’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, his four daughters, Nellie’s son Godfrey, all of Kenora, and his brother Herbert of Winnipeg. Nellie died in April 1991 and she’s buried in the Neale family plot in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

Harry’s brother Herbert Hives survived the war and settled in Winnipeg, where he had a long career with the CNR. He married Edith Johnson and they raised four children. Herbert passed away in February 1995 at the age of 103.

Their brother Hans Edgar Jr. finished his regular service with the British army in 1906 and the following year he immigrated to New South Wales, Australia, where he settled in the town of Coffs Harbour. He married Sophia Grant in 1912 and they had at least two sons, John Edgar (Jack) and Len. Both of them served with the Australian forces in the Second World War. Jack died of war injuries in 1942 and he’s buried in El Alamein War Cemetery in Egypt. Hans Edgar Jr. passed away in 1972, at age 89, and he and his wife are buried in Coffs Harbour Historic Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

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Family photos provided by Harry’s daughter Kay.

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