Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 13, 1891
Place of BirthBelfast, County Antrim
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinHarry Hives (brother), Box 219, Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingLaborer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number21288
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion10th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 24, 1914
Age at Enlistment23
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathFebruary 20, 1995
Age at Death103
Buried AtChapel Lawn Memorial Gardens, Winnipeg, Manitoba
PlotGarden of the Good Samaritan, Plot 126 A1

Hives, Herbert William

Sergeant Herbert William Hives enlisted six weeks after the war started and served for 4-1/2 years in England, France and Belgium. He was wounded twice but he survived the war, returning to Canada in June 1919.

Herbert was the youngest son of Hans Edgar Hives and Sarah Harper of Kensington, London, England. Hans and his wife Sarah 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 a place called Kelvindale House. A second son, Hans Edgar Jr., was born in April 1882 while they were living in Glasgow. When the next son Harry was born in 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. Herbert William, the fourth and youngest son, was born in 1891 in either Belfast or Saintfield, a small village to the southeast. Within a few years the family moved to London, England where Hans found work as a butler and Sarah as a cook. Their oldest son John died in London in November 1897 of phthisis (tuberculosis), at age 17.

At the time of the 1901 census Herbert’s parents were living in Kensington, London, listed as boarders at 2 Merton Road. Herbert, age 9, and his brother Harry, age 16, were living at 11 Merton Road, also listed as boarders. Harry was working as a porter. Hans 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.

Harry and Herbert both immigrated to Canada, Herbert arriving in April 1910 on the SS Pomeranian, his occupation butcher, destination Kenora, Ontario, and his intended occupation railway work. Harry had probably arrived a few years earlier and they both settled in Kenora where they were taken on by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Harry returned home for a visit in 1911 and two years later their parents Hans and Sarah came to Canada for an extended stay, arriving via New York in September 1913 and returning home to England in January 1914. The war started later that same year and Herbert and Harry both enlisted

Mobilization orders were issued in Canada on 7 August 1914, three days after Britain declared war. Officers and volunteers were told to join their local militia unit then go to Valcartier, an area northwest of Quebec City that would become the site of a large military camp. Herbert went to Winnipeg where he signed up with the 100th Winnipeg Grenadiers. From there he travelled to Quebec by train with other volunteers and at Valcartier they underwent training, medical tests and inoculations. Herbert’s medical exam on 24 September tells us he was 5’9″ with brown eyes and dark brown hair. He was declared fit for service and he enlisted with the 11h Battalion, a unit made up of recruits from Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The battalion embarked for England on 2 October, leaving from Quebec City on the SS Royal Edward. They were part of a convoy of 32 transport ships protected by a Royal Navy escort because of the danger from German submarines. The convoy arrived safely in Plymouth, England on 14 October.

The Canadians were sent to Salisbury Plain in southern England where they trained for several months. In January 1915 the 11th Battalion became part of the Canadian Training Depot. In April Herbert was transferred to a new unit, the 10th Battalion (the Fighting Tenth), and sent to France. The 10th had arrived in France with the 1st Canadian Division in February 1915 and when Herbert joined them they had just been through the Battle of St. Julien (2nd Ypres), where they suffered heavy casualties. Herbert was probably in a draft of 350 reinforcements that joined the battalion on 6 May. Less than two weeks later they were at the Battle of Festubert (17-25 May 1915). On 21 May the 10th took part in an operation that started at dusk and the men advanced against very intense machine gun fire. The next day and their position was heavily bombarded by German artillery and they fought off four counter-attacks. Herbert was wounded in the left leg on the second day of the battle, 22 May, one of over 350 casualties suffered by his unit. He was evacuated to England where he spent three months recovering in hospitals and convalescent centres.

After his recovery Herbert was kept in England for another year, most of that time at the Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre and with the 9th Reserve Battalion. In August 1916 he was sent back to France to rejoin the 10th Battalion. That fall all four Canadian Divisions were at the Somme Offensive and the 10th took part in battles near the villages of Courcelette and Thiepval. In less than three months at the Somme the Canadian units suffered 24,000 casualties. The 10th Battalion was relieved early in October and they moved back north to an area near Lens, opposite the village of Vimy. Their next big operation would be the Battle of Vimy Ridge (9-14 April 1917).

Over the winter of 1916-17 the battalion continued with routine training and had regular rotations in the front lines. The men also provided work parties, repaired and improved trenches and carried out raids and patrols. In March they began intensive preparations for the upcoming attack on Vimy Ridge. The 10th Battalion moved into the assembly area very early in the morning on 9 April and by 4 am all the Canadian units – 21 battalions – were in position. The assault began at 5:30 am with a massive artillery barrage and the infantry advanced in a sleet and snow storm, making their way around shell holes, shattered trenches and wire entanglements. When the 10th Battalion reached their objective they dug in and held on until being relieved late in the day. Herbert was one of the casualties during the operation, suffering a serious shell or gunshot wound. On 10 April he was admitted to a Red Cross Hospital in Wimereux on the coast of France. Two days later he was evacuated to the UK where he spent the rest of the war. He was entitled to wear two casualty stripes.

Herbert was treated in several hospitals and convalescent centres in England. In June 1917, when he had recovered, he was assigned to the 2nd Canadian Corps Depot at Hastings. Over the next two years he was based at different camps in England and Wales, serving with the 1st, 6th, 9th and 21st Reserve Battalions as well as the Canadian Army General Staff. The Armistice ended hostilities in November 1918 but it was June 1919 before he returned to Canada, sailing from Liverpool to Halifax on the SS Aquitania. He was discharged on 24 June in Winnipeg.

After the war Herbert settled in Winnipeg. He worked for the Canadian National Railway Company for 36 years, from 1920 to 1956. He was married in Winnipeg in 1926 to Edith Johnson and they raised three daughters and one son: Ruby (Mrs. William Bagot), Ina (Mrs. Gustav Panz), Bertha and Norman. After retiring from the CNR Herbert spent twelve years with the Commissionaires, a security firm that hires war veterans. Herbert passed away at Deer Lodge Centre on 20 February 1995, at the age of 103. He was predeceased by his daughter Bertha in 1990 and his son Norman in 1993. His wife Edith passed away in Edmonton in 1999, at age 98. Edith and Herbert are both buried at Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens in Winnipeg.

His brother Harry Hives enlisted in February 1916 and he survived two years as a German prisoner of war, returning to Canada in April 1919. He made his home in Kenora where he married and raised his family. He passed away in 1976, at age 92, and he’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

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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Photo at top of Herbert (seated) and his brother Harry kindly provided by Harry’s daughter Kay.

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