Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 14, 1884
Place of BirthEdinburgh
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Jessie Liddle (mother), West Kildonan, Manitoba
Trade / CallingMusician
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number622828
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion16th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentCamp Sewell, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentWest Kildonan, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 13, 1915
Age at Enlistment30
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathApril 5, 1951
Age at Death66
Buried AtSt. James Crematorium, Toronto

Liddle, Bruce

Private Bruce Liddle enlisted in September 1915 and served for four years in the UK, France and Belgium. He returned to Canada in September 1919 and his British war bride joined him the following spring.

Bruce was the oldest of four children of Robert Liddle and Jessie Ann Park. Jessie was born in Newcastle, Northumberland, England but her parents were Scottish and she grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland. Robert was born and raised in Edinburgh and he and Jessie were married there in 1883. They had four children, all born in Edinburgh: Bruce (14 October 1884), Mary Murray (1885), Elizabeth Craig (1888) and Charles Desson (5 January 1895). Robert was the first to immigrate to Canada, arriving in Montreal from Glasgow in July 1907. Bruce followed two years later, sailing in May 1909 on the SS Cassandra, his destination listed as Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Jessie, Charles, Mary and Elizabeth arrived in May 1911, on their way to Winnipeg to join their husband/father. The family lived in Winnipeg at first then settled in West Kildonan, on the outskirts of the city. Bruce was a musician and he became the organist at Kildonan Church.

When the war started Charles volunteered early and went overseas in October 1914 with the First Canadian Contingent. Bruce enlisted a year later, signing up on 13 September 1915 at Camp Sewell (later renamed Camp Hughes). He joined the 44th (Manitoba) Battalion, ‘A’ Company, with his occupation listed as musician and next of kin his mother in West Kildonan. He said he had served for eight years in the British army with the Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment). About a month after enlisting he was on his way overseas with his unit. On 18 October, as they headed to the east coast, they had a brief stop in Kenora, where Bruce would live after the war. The battalion embarked from Halifax on the SS Lapland on 23 October and arrived in England a week later.

After about five months in England Bruce was sent to France in mid-April 1916 and transferred to the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion. He apparently was the organist at a memorial service held for Lord Kitchener, who died at sea on 5 June 1916. The Canadians took part in the Battle of the Somme that fall and afterwards Bruce spent three months at the Base Depot, from November 1916 to February 1917. During that time he conducted a band and took part in concert parties at the base. He spent a month with an entrenching battalion and when he rejoined the 52nd Battalion in mid-March 1917 he was attached for duty to the theatre at Bruay.

The Armistice ended hostilities on 11 November 1918 and two weeks later Bruce was transferred to the 16th Battalion, the unit in which his brother Charles was serving. Charles had been severely wounded in the back in April 1915 and after recovering he spent almost two years in England before returning to active duty in France. In January 1919 Bruce had two weeks leave in the UK, which was extended to 5 February. He served for another month in France. Bruce and Charles both returned to England with the 1st Canadian Division Concert Party on 9 March 1919. They spent six more months in the UK, most of that time as clerks with the Canadian Records Office.

Bruce was married on 6 September 1919 at the parish church in Kirkheaton, West Yorkshire. His wife, Alice Kathleen Hagues, was born in 1894 in Handsworth, West Yorkshire. Her parents were Tom and Jane Hagues and she was the youngest of at least seven children. Her mother had died in 1904, when she was nine years old. Six days after getting married Bruce was on his way back to Canada along with Charles. They embarked from Liverpool on the SS Regina on 12 September, arriving in Halifax a week later and getting discharged on 23 September in Winnipeg. Both of their brothers-in-law also served overseas. Elizabeth’s husband, William John Bell, was with the cyclists corps. He was invalided to Canada in July 1916, suffering from tuberculosis of the bladder and kidney, and he died in Toronto in 1919. Mary’s husband, Francis Joseph Winch, served with the Canadian Forestry Corps and returned to Canada in December 1918.

Bruce’s parents had moved to Portage la Prairie during the war and he settled there too. His wife Kathleen joined him in May 1920, arriving in Montreal on the SS Grampian, her destination Portage la Prairie. Around 1927 they moved to Kenora, Ontario, where Bruce was a music teacher and the director of music at Knox Church. He was also the director of the Keewatin Choral Association, the leader of Kenora’s Citizen’s Band and a member of the Canadian Legion, Kenora branch. He and his wife had one daughter, Sheena Elizabeth, born in Longbranch, Toronto in 1928. Bruce’s father died in Toronto in 1930 and his mother in 1932; they are both buried in Prospect Cemetery.

By the early 1930s Bruce and his wife were living in Toronto. He was the organist and choirmaster at St. Cyprian’s Anglican Church for twelve years, retiring due to ill health. He passed away in Sunnybrook Hospital on 5 April 1951, at age 66. His brother Charles died ten years later, on 27 December 1961, in Sioux Lookout, Ontario. After being widowed Kathleen moved to Victoria, British Columbia where their daughter Sheena lived. Sheena’s husband, Robert Henry Jones, was born and raised in Victoria and he had a long career as a medical officer in the Royal Canadian Navy. Kathleen passed away in Victoria in 1977, at age 82, Sheena died in 2009 and Robert in 2012.

By Becky Johnson

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