|Date of Birth||October 6, 1886|
|Place of Birth||Swalwell, Durham|
|Next of Kin||Mrs Bernice Nellie Gertrude Marr, 717 41st Avenue East, South Vancouver, BC|
|Trade / Calling||Salesman|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Vancouver, British Columbia|
|Date of Enlistment||March 24, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||29|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||May 18, 1963|
|Age at Death||76|
|Buried At||Maple Ridge Cemetery, Maple Ridge, BC|
Private William Marr joined the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles in the field in June 1917 and only ten days later he sustained a severe wound to the face, ending in his early return to Canada.
The son of Jane Ann Noble, William Noble was born on 6 October 1886 in Swalwell, Durham in England. Although his mother was born in Rickerton (Riccarton) Junction in Scotland, she grew up in Swalwell in Durham. Jane Ann married Henry Marr during the last quarter of 1888 in the registration district of Newcastle Upon Tyne, Durham. Born in Manchester, Lancashire, Henry was a railway booking clerk. With William assuming the surname of Marr, Henry and Jane Ann gave birth to three other children, Ada Jane (1890), Henry Ernest (Harry) (1894) and Ethel May (1897). At the time of the 1891 census the young family was living with Jane Ann’s parents and siblings in Swalwell and by 1901 were living in Gateshead, Durham where William was working as a fruiterer’s errand boy.
It appears that Henry immigrated to Canada first, an age appropriate Henry Marr found on the passenger list of the Tunisian that arrived in Montreal on 20 June 1903. The list indicated that he was on his way to Winnipeg although his obituary states that he lived for a short while in Ignace, Ontario before settling in Keewatin, a small town just west of Kenora in northwestern Ontario. At the time Keewatin was a huge drawing card for immigrants due to the local flour mill and its spinoff. Jane Ann and the children arrived in Canada the following May, landing in Quebec aboard the Lake Manitoba on the 21st. The family was to make Keewatin their home where for a number of years Henry worked as a railway freight office cashier and after his retirement served with the Department of Lands and Forests. At the time of the 1911 census William was working at the local flour mill as a purifier.
On 7 October 1911, in Keewatin, William married Bernice Gertrude Nellie Baker. Born on 15 August 1889 in the registration district of Petworth, Sussex, England, Nellie was the daughter of Charles and Constance Mary Eleanor Elda (née Puttock) Baker. She had immigrated to Canada around 1907 and at the time of the 1911 census was living in Keewatin with her sister Alice and husband George Eastwood. She was listed as a sister-in-law on the census and was working as a saleslady. By 1914 William and Nellie had moved to Vancouver where William found work as a salesman with the Edward Chapman clothing store. During the same time period that William was living in Keewatin, a William Marr was known as a photographer, having a number of his local images of the Keewatin area reproduced on post cards.
William signed his attestation papers on 24 March 1916 in Vancouver. His occupation was given as salesman and his wife Nellie in South Vancouver as next of kin. The 143rd (BC Bantams) Battalion, CEF was a unit in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. Based in Victoria, British Columbia, the unit began recruiting in 1916 throughout Western Canada. Bantam units were organized to recruit men who were shorter than the standard 5-foot-4-inch (163 cm) height required for joining the army. By the time they were fully formed, however, only about half of the men were under that standard height as they could not find enough short men to enlist. William measured in at 5 foot, 4 inches at the time of attestation. The battalion had barracks at Beacon Hill Park and trained for the months of July through October 1916 at Sidney Camp. As a Private with the 143rd Battalion, William embarked from Halifax aboard the Southland on 17 February 1917.
Once in England William was taken on strength with the 24th Reserve Battalion before proceeding overseas for service with the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles in mid May. He arrived at the unit for duty on 8 June and just ten days later at Vimy Ridge, near Lens, he sustained a severe gunshot/shrapnel wound to the face causing compound fractures to the lower mandible. He was first admitted to the No 9 Field Ambulance and then a Casualty Clearing Station before being admitted to the No 11 General Hospital in Camiers the next day where surgery was later performed to remove bone fragments and to extract fractured teeth. He was invalided to England to the No 2 Military Hospital in Old Park, Canterbury on 21 July. After a week there, followed by a few days at the Canadian Convalescent Hospital Woodcote Park in Epsom, William was transferred to the Ontario Military Hospital in Orpington, Kent where he remained until mid March of 1918. It was noted that x-rays confirmed that a considerable portion of the mandible was missing. From there he was moved to the No 5 Canadian General Hospital in Liverpool until it was decided that he was to be invalided to Canada in mid April aboard the Araguaya. William was discharged from service as medically unfit on 31 May 1918 in Victoria.
William’s brother Harry enlisted in October 1914, going overseas with the 27th Battalion. He sustained a gunshot wound to the jaw while repairing a trench parapet south of Ypres near the town of Kemmel in mid November 1915. He was invalided to Canada the following September 1916, discharged as medically unfit on 14 February 1917.
After the war William and Nellie remained in Vancouver where William resumed work with the Edward Chapman Company. They eventually moved to the Fraser Valley, found on a 1943 Voters List living just outside of Hammond near Maple Ridge. It appears that the couple did not have any children. Predeceased by Nellie on 1 November 1962 in the Maple Ridge Hospital, William died on 18 May 1963 in Shaunessy Hospital in Vancouver. At the time of his death he was survived by his sister Ethel Whatmough of Victoria who signed his British Columbia death record and was also given as William’s next of kin on his Veteran’s Death card. His mother Jane Ann died in December 1948 and his father in March 1953, both interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora while his sister Ada Jane Cummer died in 1955 in Powell River. William and Nellie are interred in the Maple Ridge Cemetery.
By Judy Stockham
Gravemarker photo: courtesy of Scott Hayes, findagrave.com