Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthOctober 1, 1877
Place of BirthNapanee, Ontario
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinMrs. Kate McCumber (wife), Beausejour, Manitoba
Trade / CallingTrainman
Service Details
Regimental Number721117
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion78th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentSelkirk, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentBeausejour, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentDecember 8, 1915
Age at Enlistment38
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 4, 1962
Age at Death85
Buried AtSt. Clements Anglican Church Cemetery, Selkirk, Manitoba

McCumber, Milton

Private Milton McCumber served in France and Belgium with the 78th Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers). He was wounded in August 1918 at the Battle of Amiens and returned to Canada four months later.

Milton was the youngest son of Daniel McCumber and Hannah Asselstine of Napanee, Ontario. Daniel and Hannah were both born in Ontario and they had at least eight children: William, Angelina, Hattie, Minnie, Perry, John Wesley, Lilly and Milton. Milton, also known as Mike, was born in Napanee on 1 October 1877. His father worked as a day labourer, farmer and gardener. Milton was still at home at the time of the 1891 census, at age 13, but he later moved west, possibly spending some time in Manitoba before settling in Kenora, Ontario.

Milton was married in Kenora on 12 July 1907. His wife, Katherine ‘Kate’ Knaus, was born in 1890 in Winnipeg. Her parents were John and Wilhelmina Knaus and she grew up in Selkirk and Beausejour. Milton and Kate had a daughter, Minnie, who was born in 1905 in Winnipeg and their next three children were born in Kenora: Harold Albert (1908), John Wesley (1909) and Kathleen Viola (1910). John died as an infant and he’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora. By 1911 Milton and Kate were living in Beausejour and Milton was working for the railroad. Over the next ten years they had five more sons: John Martin (1912), Bertram Roy (1913), Milton Perry (1915, died at age two), Milton (1920) and Guy Percival (1921). Their daughter Minnie was raised in Beausejour by Kate’s parents.

Milton enlisted in Selkirk on 8 December 1915. He was 38 years old at the time but he passed himself off as six years younger. His address was Beausejour and his occupation trainman. He listed his wife Kate as next of kin but his service file noted that, in case of casualty, Lieutenant Colonel George Henry Bradbury, M.P., House of Commons should also be notified. Milton’s unit trained in Manitoba over the fall and winter and spent the summer of 1916 at Camp Hughes. Kate and the children moved to Selkirk during that time and they were living there when the 1916 census was taken. Sadly, their youngest son Milton Perry died the following year, while Milton was overseas.

The 108th Battalion headed to the east coast in the fall of 1916 and embarked from Halifax on 18 September on the SS Olympic, arriving in England about a week later. Milton was transferred to the 14th Reserve Battalion and he trained with them for the next eight months. In May 1917 he was drafted to a front line unit, the 78th Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers), and sent to France. He joined his new unit in late June. The Canadians were in the Lens-Arras area at the time and in August they took part in the Battle of Hill 70. In October Milton was sent to the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp and he rejoined his unit just as the Battle of Passchendaele was ending.

Milton had two weeks leave in February 1918. That summer the Canadians were given several weeks of intensive training in open warfare and they were heavily involved in the last months of the war, a period known now as the Hundred Days Offensive. It started with the Battle of Amiens (8-11 August 1918). Milton was one of the casualties during the four-day operation, suffering a gunshot wound to his right leg. He was taken to a Casualty Clearing Station then evacuated to England on 14 August on the hospital ship Gloucester Castle. The following day he was admitted to Northamptonshire War Hospital in Duston.

Milton recovered in the hospital for two weeks followed by a month at the Woodcote Park convalescent centre in Epsom. He was discharged to duty on 27 September and he served in Great Britain for another two months. He embarked for Canada in early December on the SS Olympic, arriving at Halifax on 14 December and getting two weeks landing leave. He was discharged on 29 January 1919 in Winnipeg.

Milton and Kate made their home in Selkirk after the war. Sadly their son Milton Perry had died in 1917, while Milton was overseas, and their daughter Kathleen passed away in May 1920, at age 9. The two youngest children were born in Selkirk, Milton in 1920 and Guy in 1921. When the 1921 census was taken Milton was working as an attendant at the Selkirk Hospital for the Insane. He was a lifetime member of the Selkirk Branch of the Canadian Legion and all five of his sons served in the armed forces. John joined the Fort Garry Horse in 1930 and he was with them for more than thirty years. In October 1945 he was Mentioned in Dispatches. Guy was also with the Fort Garry Horse during the Second World War and he was killed in 1942 while training in England. He is commemorated on the Selkirk War Memorial.

Kate passed away in April 1948, at age 57, and she’s buried in St. Clements Anglican Church Cemetery in Selkirk. Milton spent his later years in Winnipeg and he died in Deer Lodge Hospital on 4 October 1962, three days after his 85th birthday. He is buried in St. Clements Cemetery with his wife and other family members.

By Becky Johnson

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