Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 5, 1893
Place of BirthDailly, Ayshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs A Hutchison, mother, Crosshill, Maybole, Scotland
Trade / CallingMiller
Service Details
Regimental Number439024
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion3rd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentDecember 19, 1914
Age at Enlistment21
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 5, 1973
Age at Death80

Hunter, James

James Hunter was born on 5 December 1893 in Dailly, Ayrshire in Scotland. His father James Hunter, coal miner, was from Dailly as was his mother Elizabeth Jones. The couple had married on 2 August 1889 in Dailly. The next year they gave birth to their first child, daughter Rosina, followed by daughter Margaret (Maggie) in 1891, and then James. At some point the family moved to nearby Crosshill where James Sr died in 1895. In 1898 Elizabeth married blacksmith Allan Hutchison and two more children were added to the family, Elizabeth in 1900 and Mary in 1901.

Along with Samuel Harvey, another young lad from Crosshill, James was found on the passenger list of the Letitia that arrived in Canada on 12 March 1913. Samuel’s brother Robert had immigrated to Canada in 1910, bringing his wife and child over the next year, and had settled in the town of Keewatin in northwestern Ontario where he found work at the local flour mill. Samuel and James too were to find work at the mill.

With occupation given as miller and his mother back in Scotland as next of kin, James signed his attestation papers in nearby Kenora on 19 December 1914. Organized in March of 1915 under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel AW Hay with recruitment in Port Arthur, Kenora, Fort William, Fort Frances, and Dryden, the 52nd Battalion was mobilized at Port Arthur. With the 2nd Reinforcing Draft of the 52nd Battalion, Private James Hunter embarked from Montreal aboard the Missanabie on 4 September 1915.

Once in England James was taken on strength with the 12th Battalion and appointed Lance Corporal that December. In late May of 1916 he was on command to the 6th Canadian Training Battalion as Instructor, returning to duty on the 10th of June. In mid September James was seconded to the Bearwood Canadian Convalescent Hospital, attached for duty as a Physical Training Instructor. In May of 1917 he was sent to Bushy Park, doing duty at Kings Canadian Red Cross Hospital as of that August. That September James was granted permission to marry nurse Nellie Leach, marriage registered during the 3rd quarter of 1917 at Kensington in Essex. The daughter of William and Sarah Leach, both from Oxfordshire, Nellie was born in Cirencester, Gloucestershire on 11 October 1897.  In March of 1918 James reverted to the rank of Private, proceeding overseas to join the 3rd Battalion in the field on the 7th of April.

On 9 August 1918 at Amiens, James sustained a number of gunshot wounds to his legs and arms. A cable was sent to his next of kin on the 16th, informing that he was seriously ill and had been admitted to the No 10 General Hospital in Rouen. Unfortunately gangrene set in to the wound on his right leg, requiring amputation above the knee. In late January of 1919 James spent a few days at the Military Convalescent Hospital Woodcote Park before being transferred to the Granville Canadian Special Hospital (Orthopaedic) in Buxton where he was to stay until the 8th of May. After then spending a couple of weeks at the No 5 Canadian General Hospital at Kirkdale, it was decided that James be invalided to Canada for further recuperation.

Arriving back in Canada in May of 1919, James was to spend time at the Dominion Orthopaedic Hospital in Toronto and it would be the end of April of 1920 before he was discharged from service as medically unfit. His proposed residence after discharge was given as Theals, Berkshire in England where his wife Nellie had been living during the war.

James and Nellie gave birth to three children, Richard, Albert, and Jeanette. Following in his father’s footsteps, Richard served in the Royal Navy in WW2 in both the Atlantic and Pacific, also assisting in the D-Day landings in Normandy. Predeceased by Nellie in 1966, James died on 5 October 1973, death registered in the District of Winchester in Hampshire.

In August of 1919 the town of Keewatin held a demonstration to honour those of the town who had served, presenting each with a badge and medal. On the list of recipients noted in the Kenora Miner and News was James Hunter. James is commemorated for his service during the war on the Town of Keewatin Roll of Honour, the Municipality of Keewatin for King and Country plaque, and on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plaque.

James’ friend Samuel Harvey went overseas in April of 1916 with the 53rd Battalion, transferring to the 28th. He was killed in action on 6 November 1917 at the Second Battle of Passchendaele.

by Judy Stockham and Helen Adams

Hunter-James-2 Hunter-James-3 Hunter-James-4 Hunter-James-5 Hunter-James-6 Hunter-James-7

Photograph of James provided by his great granddaughter Helen Adams.

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