Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 16, 1885
Place of BirthLondon
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMiss Margaret Macaulay (sister), 2347 Waverley Street, Montreal, Quebec
Trade / CallingClerk
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number29258
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion16th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentValcartier, Quebec
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 23, 1914
Age at Enlistment29
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathJune 4, 1916
Age at Death31
Buried AtRailway Dugouts Burial Ground, Zillebeke, Belgium
PlotSp. Mem. H. 18.

Macaulay, Frank Gordon

Lance Sergeant Frank Gordon Macaulay joined the 16th Battalion in France in June 1915 and a year later he was killed during the Battle of Mount Sorrel. The Germans used massive amounts of artillery and blew up underground mines in their attempt to capture and hold Mount Sorrel and the surrounding area. The two-week battle ended with almost no change to the front lines but it cost the Canadian Corps over 8,000 casualties.

Frank was the only son of Alfred Russell Macaulay and Annie Jones. Alfred and Annie were both born in the county of Lancashire in England. They were married in 1876 and they had at least six children: Annie, Florence, Harriet, Ellen, Margaret and Frank. Frank was born on 16 March 1885 in London, England. His birth was registered as John Gordon Macaulay but he later used the first name Frank. By the time of the 1891 census his family was living in East Ham, Essex, where Alfred was working as a railway clerk. Frank immigrated to Canada around 1903, at age 18. He spent some time in Toronto and served with the 48th Highlanders of Toronto, a militia unit, for two years. When the 1911 census was taken he was living in Keewatin, Ontario and working as a dry goods salesman. By the time he enlisted he was employed as a clerk for the Lake of the Woods Milling Company, a large flour mill located in Keewatin.

Britain declared war on 4 August 1914 and three days later mobilization orders were issued in Canada. Officers and volunteers were told go to Valcartier, an area northwest of Quebec City that would become the site of a large military camp. Frank travelled by train to Valcartier, along with thousands of other volunteers, and at the camp they underwent training, medical tests and inoculations. His medical exam on 7 September tells us he was 5’11’ with blue eyes and fair hair. He was found fit for overseas service and on 23 September he enlisted with the 16th (Canadian Scottish) Battalion. The battalion embarked for England in early October, travelling in a convoy of 32 transport ships protected by a Royal Navy escort because of the danger from German submarines. The convoy arrived safely in Plymouth, England on 14 October.

After several months of training the 16th Battalion was sent to France in February 1915 but Frank was held back in England and transferred to the 30th Reserve Battalion. Four months later, in early June, he was sent to France and he joined the 16th Battalion near Givenchy. At the end of the month they moved to Belgium. In October Frank was ill with influenza and when he rejoined his unit he was promoted to Lance Corporal.   At the end of 1915 the Canadian Corps ‘settled down to a dismal winter in a section of the front between Ploegsteert Wood and St. Eloi [in Belgium]. As steady rain filled the trenches with muddy water the men were forced to fight not only the enemy, but also trench foot, colds, influenza and lice.‘ (from

Frank had a one-week leave in January 1916 and from 14 February to 11 March he attended a School of Instruction for non-commissioned officers. That spring the Canadian Divisions were still in the Ypres Salient in Belgium, holding a section of the front line between St. Eloi and Hooge. In April Frank was appointed Acting Lance Sergeant and in the middle of May the 16th Battalion went into the trenches for an eight day rotation. Two weeks later, on the morning of 2 June, the Germans began an intense bombardment of the Canadian lines, the start of the Battle of Mount Sorrel. Trenches and equipment were destroyed by artillery shells and some companies were almost wiped out by the explosion of underground mines. After the barrage German infantry advanced and captured Mount Sorrel and nearby areas. A counter-attack was planned for 3 June and additional units were brought in. The 16th Battalion had been behind the lines and they were marched to the village of Zillebeke, arriving at 1:30 am. on 3 June. They didn’t take part in the counter-attack, however, and the men dug in at Fosse Way, a communication trench southeast of the village. The following day Frank was killed at Fosse Way by a German artillery shell.

From the Circumstances of Death record for Frank: Killed in Action. While his Battalion was in support previous to an attack, he was instantly killed by enemy shell fire. From the War Diary of the 16th Battalion, 4 June 1916: ‘Artillery active. Work party at night digging new front line. – McAllau [sic] killed by shrapnel in Fosse Way.’

Frank is believed to be buried in Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, just west of the village of Zillebeke. After the war his grave could not be identified and there is a marker for him bearing the inscription ‘Believed to be buried in this cemetery.’ He is commemorated on a family memorial at St. Cuthbert’s Church in Aldingham, Cumbria, England and on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plaque in Keewatin, Ontario. The plaque honours staff and citizens who served in the Great War. Frank is also remembered on the marker erected by Gold Hill and Minnetonka Lodges of Kenora/Keewatin. The marker, in Lake of the Woods Cemetery, is in memory of Lodge members who gave their lives in the war.

When Frank enlisted in 1914 he was carrying on a tradition of military service in the Macaulay family. His father’s older brother, Colonel Charles Edward Macaulay, served with the British army in India and all three of the Colonel’s sons died in conflicts. The oldest, Percy, was killed in India in 1894, and the middle son Kenneth died in South Africa in 1901. Frederic, the youngest, died in the First World War five months before his cousin Frank was killed.

From Cumbrian War Memorials: St. Cuthbert’s Church, Aldingham, Cumbria: At the east end of the south aisle, with its wonderful 12th century pillars, there is an imposing marble memorial set on the wall. It carries the names of the four grandsons of the Rev. Macaulay, all killed in battle for God, King & Empire. Last on the list is Frank Gordon Macaulay, only son of Alfred Russell Macaulay, killed during an intense enemy bombardment at Zillebeke, Flanders on June 4, 1916.

By Becky Johnson

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