Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 27, 1880
Place of BirthSeaforth, Ontario
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinGertrude Horan, wife, Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingAgent
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental NumberNA
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion46th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentDryden, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 15, 1916
Age at Enlistment35
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 25, 1916
Age at Death35
Buried Atno known grave/Vimy Memorial

Horan, James Ambrose

James Ambrose Horan was born on 27 December 1880 in Seaforth, Huron, Ontario. His father John Horan was born in Ontario, with his father, James’ grandfather, born in Ireland. James’ mother Mary Ann McFadden was born in Ontario with her parents also from Ireland.

James was the second born, having an older brother John Joseph, and by the 1891 Canada census two younger sisters Catherine and Johannah Celia, and a younger brother William. John’s occupation was listed as labourer. In the 1901 Canada census the family was still living in Seaforth but with changes in the family as  children listed were John, working as a dry goods clerk, James, listed as a student, Catherine, working as a milliner, and other children, William, Mary, Celia, and Margaret.

By 1907 James was living in Kenora, Ontario where he married Gertrude McMurdie, daughter of Charles and Catherine (née Sullivan) McMurdie on 4 June 1907. His occupation at the time was clerk as was Gertrude’s. In the 1911 Canada census James and Gertrude were living at 525 1st Street in Kenora and their family had grown as by then they had had two children, Marion and James. Living in the household was James’ sister Catherine and a domestic, Mabel Dadesell. Living next door were Gertrude’s parents and family. James was working as a merchant of clothing. He had managed the dry goods department of the Gardner, Rice McLeod Company Ltd, and then went into business for himself.

James Ambrose Horan officially signed his Officers’ Declaration papers on 15 January 1916 in nearby Dryden, Ontario, occupation given as Agent, working in real estate in his later years in Kenora. However his intentions must have been known as he was part of a Kenora Miner and News article dated 12 January 1916 entitled Many Young Men Joining the 94th. Before the war he had for several years served as a Lieutenant with the 98th Militia Regiment.

‘On May 25, 1916, the men of ‘C’ an ‘D’ Companies from Kenora and Fort Frances were moved to the Lakehead and on June 9, 1916, the Battalion left for Valcartier, Quebec for ‘Summer Camp’ as it was called. For two hundred and five of these men it was the last time they were to see their families and friends. The 94th trained at Valcartier for a period until June when they sailed from Halifax for England on the RMS Olympic. Although the 94th remained a battalion on paper until July 27th, 1918, with an office at East Sandling, if actually ceased to exist on July 13th, 1916 when it was broken up and the men were transferred to the 17th and 32nd Reserve Battalions to be used as replacements for casualties in front line units.’  (from the now defunct 94th Battalion website)

Lieutenant James Ambrose Horan embarked from Halifax with the 94th Battalion on 28 June 1916. Once overseas he was transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion on 13 July, and then taken on strength with the 46th Battalion in September. He spent the first  seventeen days in October with the 4th Entrenching Battalion, joining the 46th on the 17th. Just eight days later, less than four  months since leaving Canada, Lieutenant James Ambrose Horan was reported as killed in action. According to the CEF Burial Register for James, he was killed in action when his unit was in the trenches at  Courcelette. From the War Diary for the 46th Battalion, the operation for 25 October 1916 was to cooperate with the 44th Battalion in their attack upon Regina Trench by means of a covering rifle and machine gun fire. In the casualty list was, ‘Lieut. Horan J.A. Killed in action.’

According  to the 1926 46th Battalion reunion booklet: ‘The 46th Battalion served during the Great War of 1914-1919 with the 10th Infantry Brigade of the 4th Canadian Division of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). The unit has come to be known as ‘The Suicide Battalion’. The 46th Battalion lost 1,433 killed and 3,484 wounded – a casualty rate of 91.5 percent – and won 16 battle honours in 27 months.’

As  Lieutenant James Ambrose Horan’s body was never recovered, he is listed on the Vimy Memorial in Pas de Calais, France along with the names of over 11 000 Canadians who were posted as missing, presumed dead.

Gertrude and the children Marion, James, and Joseph remained in Kenora. Gertrude died on 16 November 1959 and she is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora. Son Francis Joseph Horan died 31 May 1989. He is also interred in Kenora.

Lieutenant James Ambrose Horan is commemorated on page 105 in the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Kenora Cenotaph, on the Kenora Legion War Memorial, and on the Notre Dame du Portage Roman Catholic Church Memorial in Kenora.

by Judy Stockham

Horan-James-Ambrose-2 Horan-James-Ambrose-3 Horan-James-Ambrose-4 Horan-James-Ambrose-5 Horan-James-Ambrose-6 Horan-James-Ambrose-7 Horan-James-Ambrose-8 Horan-James-Ambrose-9

photo of inscription on the Vimy Memorial, France: J. Elliott/J. Rutledge, The Men of Huron WW1 Project


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