Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 4, 1891
Place of BirthGyland, Flekkefjord
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinKnut (Eliassen) Knutson, father, Flekkefjord, Norway
Trade / CallingLabourer
Service Details
Regimental Number2383478
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion43rd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedConscripted
Address at EnlistmentPort Arthur PO, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentNovember 16, 1917
Age at Enlistment26
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 25, 1945
Age at Death54
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Knutsen, Ole Bertin

Ole Bertin Knutsen was born on 4 May 1891 in Gyland, a village in the municipality of Flekkefjord in Vest-Agder county in Norway. He was likely the last born child of parents Knut Eliassen (b 1836) and Joren Larsdatter (b 1841), both from Gyland. Bertin had at least three older brothers, Elias (1875), Ole (1878), and Gustave (1885) although there were likely more children born to the family. By the time of the 1910 Norway census Knut and Joren had passed the family farm on to Elias and his wife Anna Jakobsdatter although they were living at the farm in the census along with Gustave and Bertin who was working as a carpenter and two farm workers. The census indicated that Ole had already immigrated to ‘Amerika’.

It appears that Bertin immigrated to Canada in 1914, with a border crossing record showing his arrival in Montreal that August. With the onset of conscription during the war, Bertin had his medical examination on 16 November 1917 in Sioux Lookout in northwestern Ontario. At the time he was working as a labourer at nearby Smith. On his recruitment papers signed on 10 January 1918 in Port Arthur, he gave his father Knut back in Norway as next of kin. His date and place of birth was recorded as 10 May 1891 in ‘Fleetfiord’, Norway and his current address as Port Arthur PO. Bertin named his brother Ole in Port Arthur, Ontario as beneficiary in his will.

With the 3rd Draft of the 1st Depot Battalion Manitoba Regiment, Private Bertin Knutsen embarked from Halifax aboard the Cretic on 19 February 1918. Once in England he was taken on strength with the 11th Reserve Battalion. However by 10 March Bertin had been admitted to the Folkstone Isolation Hospital with a case of the mumps. He was transferred to the No 11 General Hospital Moore Barracks in Shorncliffe on 22 April, the mumps later complicated with pneumonia. Bertin was discharged on 23 May, admitted to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital Woodcote Park, Epsom the next day. Later discharged on 21 June, by October Bertin had arrived in France to join the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders of Canada), arriving at the unit on the 11th.

The 43rd Battalion had disembarked in France on 22 February 1916, where it fought as part of the 9th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division in France and Flanders until the end of the war. Bertin arrived in time to participate in the Pursuit to Mons. The morning of Armistice Day, 11 November 1918, found the 43rd Battalion on the western outskirts of Mons. At 1450 hours the Battalion marched proudly through her streets to pass in review before their Corps Commander, and the cheering citizens of Mons. Following brief stops in Belgium and returning to England on 10 February 1919, the Camerons embarked from Liverpool aboard the Baltic on 12 March 1919. They arrived in Winnipeg on 24 March and following a parade held in their honour, they marched to Minto Armoury where each man received his discharge, including Bertin.

Upon discharge Bertin gave his intended residence as Port Arthur. However it appears that he had settled in the Kenora area by the early 1930’s, working for the Forestry Branch of Lands and Forest. A notation in his service record indicated that he was living in nearby Sioux Narrows in 1943. Bertin died on 25 March 1945 at the Ottawa Hotel on Matheson Street in Kenora. At the time he was survived by his brother Ole in Port Arthur and two brothers back in Norway. Ole later died in August 1949 in Port Arthur, occupation at the time given as camp cook. Bertin is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. Unfortunately his year of death is incorrectly inscribed as 1948 on his gravemarker.

Judy Stockham

Knutsen-Bertin-1 Knutsen-Bertin-2 Knutsen-Bertin-3

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