Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJanuary 19, 1890
Place of BirthDerby, Derbyshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMaria King (mother), Winshill, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England
Trade / CallingClerk
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number439041
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion52nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentDecember 22, 1914
Age at Enlistment25
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Decorations and MedalsDistinguished Conduct Medal
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 22, 1926
Age at Death36

King, Joseph Harold

Regimental Quarter-Master Sergeant Joseph Harold King, DCM, enlisted in Kenora, Ontario in December 1914 and served with the 52nd Battalion for four years. He stayed in England after the war and died young, at age 36.

Joseph was the son of William King and Maria Barfoot of Winshill, Burton-on-Trent, England. William and Maria were married in Burton-on-Trent in 1880 and over the next fifteen years they had five children: daughter Minnie and sons William Jr., Araunah, Joseph and Victor. Joseph was born on 19 January 1890 in Derby, which was about 15 miles from Winshill. At the time of the 1891 census his family was living in Derby, where his father worked as a general smith. By 1901 they had moved to Winshill and William was a publican. Victor, the youngest child, was born in Winshill in 1895 and William passed away in 1903, at age 55. When the 1911 census was taken Maria was still living in Winshill, where she was innkeeper of The Traveller’s Rest at 36 Church Hill Street.

Joseph said he served in the British army for four years with the South Nottingham Hussars, a mounted regiment. Afterwards he immigrated to Canada and settled in the town of Kenora in northwestern Ontario, finding work there as a clerk. He enlisted in Kenora on 22 December 1914, just a few months after the war started, when volunteers were being recruited for a third overseas contingent. The men were briefly attached to the 44th Battalion but in March 1915 the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion was organized and they were transferred to the new unit. The 52nd was based in Port Arthur and Joseph was sent there in June along with the rest of the Kenora volunteers. By then he had been promoted to Sergeant and appointed as the Company Quarter-Master Sergeant.

The battalion headed overseas that fall, embarking from St. John, New Brunswick on 23 November on the SS California. Joseph was married at St. Mark’s Church in Winshill on 27 December 1915. His wife, Edith Rouse, was the second of four daughters of John Rouse and Sophia Perrin. Her mother had died in 1910 and her father was a Sergeant with the Nottingham Police Force. Joseph’s best man was Francis Shorthose, who was also from Kenora. After the wedding Edith settled into a home at 9 Eldon Street in Winshill, about a block from where Joseph’s mother lived. Joseph’s unit was sent to France on 20 February 1916 then on to Belgium. On 23 February they became part of the 9th Brigade in the new 3rd Division of the Canadian Corps.

Joseph served with the 52nd Battalion for the next three years, the entire time the unit spent in France and Belgium. A fellow soldier from Kenora who was also with the 52nd referred to him as “Genial Joe King.” In November 1916, after the Somme Offensive, Joseph had a ten day leave of absence. The following spring the Canadians captured Vimy Ridge and stayed in the Vimy area holding the new front line. On 2 June 1917 Joseph was promoted to Warrant Officer Class II and appointed as the Regimental Quarter-Master Sergeant. In November 1917, following the Battle of Passchendaele, he had two weeks leave in the UK.

The Canadians were heavily involved in the last three months of the war, a period known now as the Hundred Days Offensive. Joseph’s youngest brother Victor had joined the British army and he died in Salonika, Greece on 27 September 1918, six weeks before the war ended. On 22 October Joseph was given two weeks leave and he rejoined his unit just before the Armistice. The battalion spent another three months in Belgium and on 8 January 1919 Joseph was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The citation reads:

‘For courage and devotion to duty during nearly three years’ service in the field. As company quartermaster-serjeant for over a year in France, and since that time as battalion quartermaster-serjeant he has constantly set a fine example of courage under most trying conditions, and has shown great resource and unflagging energy in seeing that his battalion always had the necessary supplies and equipment, in particular during the open fighting of 1918, when he was constantly in the forward area, supervising and maintaining supply under fire’ (LG 31534/p87, 02 September 1919).

Joseph had another two-week leave in the UK at the end of January and when it expired he was kept in England as his unit had just returned from France. The 52nd Battalion left for Canada on 17 March but Joseph chose to stay in the UK. He was discharged on 27 March with his residence listed as 9 Eldon Street, Winshill, Burton-on-Trent, where Edith was living.

Burton-on-Trent was a major centre for breweries and after the war Joseph worked as a brewery clerk. He and his wife had four children: Josephine Marie (born 1916, married Jack Hillier, died in 1984), Margaret Edith (born 1919, married Jacob Hollin, moved to the U.S. as a war bride, died in 2005), John (born 1921, lived in Leeds, England) and Rita (born 1925, married Jack Clews, lived in Stretton near Burton-on-Trent).

Sadly, Joseph contracted pulmonary tuberculosis and he passed away at home on 22 November 1926, at age 36. His mother was still living on Church Hill Street in Winshill when she died in January 1935, at age 74.

By Becky Johnson

Photos and family information kindly provided by his great-grandnephew Gareth Rawlings. Wedding article provided by James Drury.

52nd-1914-12-26 52nd-1914-12-30 52nd-1915-02-13 52nd-1915-03-17 52nd-1915-06-16 52nd-1915-12-08

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