Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 26, 1892
Place of BirthManchester, Lancashire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMartha Hulmes, mother, Box 383, Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingWiper
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number439088
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion15th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 1, 1915
Age at Enlistment23
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathAugust 22, 1955
Age at Death63
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Hulmes, William

The Hulmes family was from Manchester, Lancashire in England where parents Thomas and Martha (Pennington) had married on 24 March 1883. Thomas was listed as a coal wharfinger (takes custody of and is responsible for goods delivered to the wharf) in the 1891 census and as a coal dealer in later censuses. Children born to the family were Thomas (1884-1961), Jane (1885-1958), Frank (1888-1949), Martha (1890-1959), William (1892-1955), Lucy (1894-1953), Harry (1897-1971), and Edward (1899-1920). By the 1911 census Frank, William, and Edward were listed as assistants to their father in the coal business.

Although Frank, along with George Stubbins, had travelled to Canada in 1911, they both  returned to England. With the death of Thomas Sr in 1912, the family, except for Thomas Jr who had married and started a family of his own, immigrated to Kenora, Ontario in 1913: Frank aboard the Hesperian in February, Martha Sr aboard  the Teutonic and Lucy and William aboard the Victorian in March, and Martha Jr, Harry, and Edward aboard the Tunisian in May.

With the outbreak of the war, all five Hulmes sons responded to the call. Giving his occupation as wiper, William signed his attestation papers in Kenora on 1 February 1915. Fair haired with blue eyes, William listed his mother Martha as his next of kin. Although he did not list any previous military experience, a British service record for the Royal Army Medical Corps ‘T’  for William was found with enlistment in January of 1911 and service until he left the country in 1913.

The 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion had been raised in northern Ontario during the spring of 1915 with its headquarters in Port Arthur. Although the battalion was still training, Colonel Hay had been required to provide a draft of about 250 troops to act as reinforcements for the 1st and 2nd Divisions already in Europe. With the 2nd Reinforcing Draft of the 52nd Battalion, Private William Hulmes embarked from Montreal aboard the Missanabie on 4 September 1915. Also on board was  William’s brother-in-law George Stubbins; George had married Martha Hulmes in 1914 in Kenora.

Once in England, William was transferred to the 15th Battalion, arriving in France in February of 1916 and joining the unit in the field in early March. The 15th Battalion was one of three battalions raised for service during World War 1 by the 48th Highlanders. Authorized in September of 1914, the 15th Battalion had arrived in France in mid February of 1915. Major battles included Ypres 1915, 1917, Mount Sorrel, Somme 1916, Arras 1917, 1918, Vimy 1917, Hill 70, Passchendaele, Amiens, Canada du Nord and others.

William was granted a ten day leave to the UK in late August of 1917, and a fourteen day leave in early October of 1918. His record notes only two days of sick leave  during his service. The 15th Battalion returned to England in late March of 1919 and disembarked in Canada on 7 May 1919. William was discharged on the 1st of July in Toronto.

Returning to Kenora, William, working as a wiper at the local round house, was found on the 1921 census living with his parents and brother Harry on 2nd Street North. On 27 June 1923, in Kenora, William married Annie Beatrice Park. The daughter of William and Isabella Park, Annie had been born in Cardiff, Wales although by the 1911 England census she was living in South Manchester with her parents and siblings. Annie had arrived in Canada aboard the Montcalm just days before her marriage.

William worked as a tinsmith for twenty-eight years with the Ontario Minnesota Pulp and Paper Company Ltd in Kenora. He and Annie gave birth to three children: Eric, Ivor, and Russell. Members of St Alban’s Pro Cathedral, William is listed on the church’s WW1 Roll of Honour.

Following a lengthy illness, William died on 22 August 1955 in Winnipeg. He was survived by his sons Eric and Ivor of Kenora and Russell of San Francisco, his brothers Thomas of Manchester and Harry of Kenora, and sisters Jane Stavely and Martha Stubbins, also of Kenora. He had been predeceased by his wife Annie in 1949. William and Annie are interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.

Back in England, William’s brother Thomas served with a number of different battalions; a Kenora newspaper article of March of 1916 suggested he was with Kitchener’s Army. Brothers EdwardHarry and Frank all enlisted in Kenora with the 94th Battalion although Frank did not go overseas. Edward, enlisting at age 16, after serving for a short time with the 31st Battalion in France, was sent back to Canada in June of 1917 when his age was discovered. Harry transferred to the 16th Battalion once overseas and was wounded at Vimy Ridge in April of 1917. Found medically unfit, Harry returned to Canada the following February.

by Judy Stockham

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Photograph of William and the 1916 newspaper article about the Hulmes family provided by  Gail Hulmes-Backsai.

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