Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 6, 1894
Place of BirthRat Portage (Kenora), Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs AS (Nona) Jones, sister, 1046 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC
Trade / CallingStage Hand/Carpenter
Service Details
Regimental Number116720, 231792
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion31st Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentOctober 6, 1915 and October 2, 1916
Age at Enlistment21
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 24, 1950
Age at Death56
Buried AtMountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, BC
PlotBlk 17, Plot 18, Lot 2

Hughes, Arthur John

Arthur John Hughes was an alias used by Fenton John Hughes to reenlist for service in WW1 after previously deserting following surgery to remove his appendix.

Fenton John Hughes was born on 6 January 1894 in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), Ontario, date and name confirmed by his Ontario birth record. Both of his parents William Hughes, a railroad conductor, and Mary McClusky were from Ireland, marrying in Keewatin, a small town near Rat Portage, on 21 September 1887. John had two known older siblings, William Arthur and Maude Margaret, both born in Rat Portage, and a younger sister Dorothy Nona, born in New York State according to her BC marriage record. The family could not be found on the 1901 or 1911 Canada censuses.

As John Fenton Hughes, John signed his attestation papers on 6 October 1915 in Vernon, BC. His occupation was given as stage hand, his mother Mary Hughes, Capilano PO in British Columbia as next of kin, and his birth date as 6 January 1893 in Kenora. He gave previous military service as one year with the US Army. According to John’s service record he served with the 102nd Regiment (Rocky Mountain Rangers) from 7 September-27 September 1915 before being transferred the 62nd Battalion based in Vancouver. In January 1916 he was transferred to the 10th Artillery Brigade and then to the 11th Canadian Mounted Rifles on 8 February. He was hospitalized from 8 February-26 February 1916 and then struck off strength as a deserter on 1 March 1916.

Using the name of Arthur John Hughes, the name he was to go by for the rest of his life, John reenlisted on 2 October 1916 in Medicine Hat. His occupation was given as stage carpenter, his next of kin as his sister Mrs AS (Nona) Jones of Vancouver, date and place of birth as 6 January 1892 in Kenora, and previous military service as three years with the 15th Light Horse. It was noted that John had a recent scar from an appendix operation, having had the surgery in Vancouver that spring. As a Private with the 202nd Battalion, John embarked from Halifax aboard the Mauretania on November 24th.

Upon arrival in England John was admitted to the Seaforth Military Hospital in Liverpool suffering from PUO (fever of unknown origin). On 12 December he was transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital Woodcote Park, discharged on 24 January 1917. That May he proceeded overseas for service with the 31st Battalion, joining the unit in the field on 16 June. In early September John was sentenced to 21 days Field Punishment No 1 for being absent from parade and for using disrespectful language to a NCO.

On 21 October 1917 John was admitted to the No 42 Casualty Clearing Station near Lens, once again suffering from PUO (fever of unknown origin). A few days later he was transferred to the No 1 General Hospital in Etretat and then on to the Reading War Hospital in England on 6 November. John was diagnosed with trench fever, an infectious disease transmitted by body louse with symptoms including fever, headache, sore muscles, bones, and joints, and outbreaks of skin lesions on the chest and back. In mid December John was transferred to the No 4 Canadian General Hospital in Basingstoke, discharged on 14 January 1918. Posted to the 21st Reserve Battalion while in England John was struck off strength to the 31st Battalion in March.

Once back overseas, John served with the Fort Garry Horse from 14 March until 30 September, returning to the 31st Battalion for the duration of the war. After initial training in England, the battalion fought in Belgium and France, and was often at the forefront of the fighting at St. Eloi Craters, the Ypres Salient, Vimy Ridge (Thélus Village), Fresnoy, the Somme, Passchendaele Village, the Battle of Amiens, the Battle of Arras, Drocourt-Quéant Switch, Valenciennes, Mons, and the occupation of the Rhine. In late January of 1919 John returned to the UK and was granted permission to marry that March.

On 5 April 1919 in Golders Green in London, John married Olga Annie Birtwistle. Born in 1884 in Brierfield, Lancashire, Olga was the daughter of William and Mary (née Shields) Birtwistle. John and Olga arrived in Canada on 22 August 1919 aboard the Melita. John was discharged from service on 28 August in Quebec with Calgary given as his intended residence.

John and Olga gave birth to at least one child, daughter Mary (Molly). By the 1940’s the family was living in Hamilton, Ontario with John self employed as a taxi cab owner. By the end of the decade they moved to British Columbia, taking up residence on Imperial Street in Burnaby.

John died on 24 May 1950 in the Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver. His British Columbia death record gave his date of birth as 6 January 1894, further confirmation of his true identity of Fenton John Hughes. His Veteran Death card gave his next of kin as his wife Mrs OA Hughes of 3607 Imperial Street in Burnaby. At the time of his death John was survived by his wife Olga and daughter Molly. John is interred in the Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver. Olga later died on 7 July 1963 in Salmon, Arm, British Columbia, informant on her BC death record Mrs Mary Cooper (daughter) of Prince George. Olga is interred in the Mount Ida Cemetery in Salmon Arm.

By Kenora Great War Project

Obituary provided by Mike Melen
Grave marker photograph courtesy of Islandergirl on

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