Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthAugust 7, 1877
Place of BirthSauk Centre, Minnesota, U.S.A.
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMiss Alice Streder (friend), Surrey, England
Trade / CallingTraction engineer
Service Details
Regimental Number439056
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion52nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentDecember 26, 1914
Age at Enlistment37
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 7, 1947
Age at Death70
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Miller, Jacob William

Private (Acting Corporal) Jacob William Miller was born in Minnesota and living in northwestern Ontario when the war started. He enlisted in Kenora on 26 December 1914, when volunteers were being raised for a third overseas contingent. He was 37 years old at the time and working as a traction engineer. He gave his date of birth as 7 August 1877, place of birth as Sauk Centre, Minnesota, and next of kin was his friend Miss Alice Streder in Surrey, England.

Local recruits for the third contingent were briefly attached to the 44th Battalion but when the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion was organized in March 1915 they were transferred to the new unit. The 52nd was based in Port Arthur and Jacob was sent there in June along with the rest of the Kenora volunteers. They trained in Port Arthur over the summer and fall and in late November they headed overseas, embarking from St. John, New Brunswick on the SS California and landing in England on 3 December.

The 52nd Battalion trained at Witley and Bramshott Camps for several months before being sent to France on 20 February 1916. Shortly after arriving the troops entrained for Belgium. On 23 February the battalion joined the Canadian Corps, becoming part of the 9th Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division. In March the Canadians took up positions in the south part of the Ypres Salient and the 52nd Battalion was moved there on 1 April. In June they were at the Battle of Mount Sorrel, where the Canadian Corps suffered 8,000 casualties in two weeks of fighting.

The Somme Offensive started later that summer and the first major battle for the Canadians was in mid-September. The 52nd Battalion boarded trains on 7 September and arrived in the Somme area a week later. On 16 September they took part in an assault near the village of Courcelette. Jacob suffered a gun shot or shell wound to his face that day, one of 200 casualties in his unit. He was sent to No. 5 Field Ambulance where he recovered for about two weeks, rejoining his unit in early October. They were involved in several more operations that month before being moved north to a quieter sector opposite Vimy.

In the spring of 1917 Jacob was attached to No. 176 Tunnelling Company and he spent three months with them. He rejoined the 52nd Battalion at the end of May. In August they took part in the Battle of Hill 70 and afterwards Jacob was posted to the 3rd Divisional Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp, where he served until the end of the war. In January 1919 he had two weeks leave in the UK and when it ended he was kept in England. He was transferred to the Manitoba Regiment Depot and appointed Acting Corporal. Five months later he was on his way back to Canada, sailing from Southampton on 28 June on the SS Mauretania and arriving in Halifax on 3 July. He was discharged on demobilization on 6 July in Toronto.

Jacob may have spent some time in Port Arthur but by 1922 he was living back in Kenora and working as a gasoline engineer. He was married in Kenora on 23 December 1922 to a local girl, Susan Watson Taylor. Susan was born in 1900 in Dundee, Scotland and came to Canada as a child with her parents. Jacob and Susan made their home in Kenora and they raised one son, Arthur. Jacob worked as a blacksmith for both the Department of Highways and the Town of Kenora. He was a member of the Kenora branch of the Canadian Legion. Sadly his wife Susan died in the Kenora General Hospital in July 1931, at age 31, suffering from influenza and possible tuberculosis.

Jacob’s son Arthur was nine years old when his mother died. After finishing school he continued to live with his father and he worked as a mechanic’s helper in a garage. He enlisted during the Second World War and served for three years in Canada, the UK and Europe, most of that time as a hospital orderly.

Jacob became ill in the spring of 1947 and he passed away at home that fall, on 7 October, at age 70. Arthur never married and he died in Kenora in 1986. Jacob, Susan and Arthur are all buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

52nd-1914-12-30 52nd-1915-01-20 52nd-1915-02-13 52nd-1915-06-19 52nd-1915-12-08 Miller-Jacob-William-90 Miller-Jacob-William-91 Miller-Jacob-William-92 Miller-Jacob-William-93 Miller-Jacob-William-94 Miller-Jacob-William-95 Miller-Jacob-William-96

Jacob’s grave marker was installed in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in 2018 by the Last Post Fund.

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