Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 25, 1889
Place of BirthWithern, Lincolnshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMartha Stephenson, mother, Railway Cottages, Winestead, Yorkshire
Trade / CallingCarpenter
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number420297
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion43rd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentDecember 18, 1914
Age at Enlistment25
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathApril 6, 1966
Age at Death76
Buried AtGananoque Cemetery, Gananoque, Ontario

Houlden, Sydney Johnson

Sydney Johnson Houlden was born on 25 December 1889 in Withern, Lincolnshire, England. His birth was registered in the 1st quarter of 1890 in Louth and while in England his forename was spelled as Sidney. His father, a brewer’s labourer, was Alfred Silvester Houlden, born in Utterby, Lincolnshire. His mother was Martha Glentwirth, born in Gayton Le Marsh, Lincolnshire. The couple married during the 2nd quarter of 1873 in the registration district of Louth. Sydney’s siblings, all older, were Robert (1871), Sarah (1874), Herbert (1875), Alfred (1877), Alice (1878), William (1880), Fred (1885), and Harry (1886). Sadly Sydney’s father died in 1889 near the time of Sydney’s birth, death registered during the last quarter. The 1891 census found Martha, living on widow’s relief, and the children in South Reston, Lincolnshire. During the 3rd quarter of 1897 Martha married widower Joseph Stephenson. The 1901 census found Martha and Joseph, brick yard foreman, and children Fred and Sydney living in Goxhill, Lincolnshire. By the time of the 1911 census Sydney was working as a brick maker’s labourer in Patrington, Yorkshire, living with Martha, Joseph, and his brother Harry.

Sydney immigrated to Canada in 1913, arriving in Halifax aboard the Empress of Ireland on February 28th. His brother Harry had immigrated in 1911, with both living in Winnipeg and working as carpenters when they signed their attestation papers on 18 December 1914. He gave his year of birth as 1890. Sydney’s next of kin was given as his mother Martha Stephenson, Railway Cottages, Winestead in Yorkshire while Harry, recently married, gave his wife Mabel in Winnipeg as his next of kin. According to his attestation papers, Sydney had served with the 5th East Yorkshire Regiment for four years. As Privates with the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders of Canada), Sydney and Harry embarked from Montreal aboard the Grampian on 1 June 1915.

That fall while training in England Sydney was docked three days pay and awarded 6 days field punishment #2 in early September followed by a further loss of pay of 2 days and 3 days of field punishment # 2 (absence) at the end of the month. Suffering from influenza, in mid January of 1916 he was admitted to the Moore Barracks Military Hospital in Shorncliffe and then transferred to the Barnwell Military Hospital in Cambridge a few days later. Discharged in late February and after going through a series of transfers, Sydney arrived in France in September of 1916, taken on strength in the field with the 43rd Battalion on the 12th. Less than a month later he sustained shrapnel wounds to the chest and was admitted to the No 2 Australian Hospital in Boulogne on the 9th. Invalided to England, he spent just over a month at the 1st West General Hospital in Liverpool where he had surgery to remove shrapnel before being transferred to Woodcote Park Convalescent Hospital in Epsom on December 16th, discharged on 12 January 1917. That May Sydney was admitted to the Canadian Hospital Etchinghill at Lyminge in Kent. Discharged in early August he was awarded a Good Conduct Badge in early October. In November Sydney returned to France, rejoining the 43rd Battalion. He was granted a leave to the UK in December 1918 and with the end of the war proceeded to England in February of 1919. He embarked for Canada aboard the Baltic on 12 March and was discharged from service on March 24th in Winnipeg. After suffering mustard gas poisoning in December of 1917, his brother Harry was returned to England where he served with the Canadian Army Medical Corps for the latter part of the war. He returned to Canada in June of 1919 and died in Terrace, British Columbia in 1963.

On 22 March 1920, in Dauphin, Manitoba, Sydney married Victoria Edna Montgomery. Born in 1904, Edna was the daughter of William and Victoria (Pyrne) Montgomery who had married in 1897 in Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario. By the time of the 1921 census Sydney and Edna were living in the East Kildonan area of Winnipeg, Sydney working as an electrician. Later Voters Lists give his occupation as mechanic and labourer. It appears that Sydney and Edna raised their family in the St James area of Winnipeg before moving to Keewatin in northwestern Ontario in the mid 1940’s. Known children born to the couple were Eric (1925-1944), Clifford (1926-2017), William (1930-1930), Bernice (1932), Vera (1933-2005), Fred, and Harry.

According to his Keewatin Legion application card, Sydney served during WW2 from August 1940 to October 1946 with the Princess Pats (Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry). His son Eric, Flight Sergeant (Air Gunner) Eric Houlden, age 19, was killed in action on 4 May 1944. He had enlisted in 1942 and went overseas in 1943, serving with the 50th (RAF) Squadron. As per Eric’s death notice, his father and three brothers were also on active service at the time. Eric is interred in the Trouan-le-Petit Cemetery in Aube, France.

Sydney and Edna eventually moved to Gananoque, Ontario where some of their children were living. Sydney died on 6 April 1966 followed by Edna on 30 April 1996. They are interred in the Gananoque Cemetery.

Sydney was a noted solo cornet player and also played the euphonium, bass, and clarinet. Playing in army bands in WW1 and WW1, once in Gananoque he played a variety of instruments with the town band.

by Judy Stockham

grave marker photograph by Chris Andrew, OntarioGenWeb
photograph of son Eric as found on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial website


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