Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 23, 1896
Place of BirthVictoria Harbour, Simcoe County, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJohn Paul (father), Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingCPR Brakeman
ReligionApostolic Faith
Service Details
Regimental Number439533
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion52nd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at Enlistment313 Eighth Ave. North, Kenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentAugust 3, 1915
Age at Enlistment19
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 24, 1978
Age at Death81
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
PlotHeavenly Junction, 10E-10-3

Paul, John

Corporal John Paul enlisted with the 52nd Battalion and served in France and Belgium for almost three years. He was wounded at the Vimy front in April 1917 but he survived the war and returned to Canada in March 1919.

John was born on 23 May 1896 in Victoria Harbour, Simcoe County, Ontario. His parents were John Paul Sr. and Elizabeth Jane Scherk. John Sr. and Elizabeth were married in 1890 in Simcoe County and their first four children were born there: Percy, Elizabeth, John and Ernest. By the time of the 1901 census they were living at Mikado Mine on Lake of the Woods and John Sr. was working as a miner. A few years later they moved to the town of Kenora and John Sr. found work with the Maple Leaf Milling Company. He and his wife had six more children between 1902 and 1913: Margaret, Sarah, Evelyn, Harry, Eva and Lawrence.

The war started in August 1914 and the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion was organized in March 1915, as part of the third overseas contingent. It was based in Port Arthur and recruited in towns throughout northwestern Ontario. In July 250 of the men were chosen to leave with the 2nd reinforcing draft and more volunteers were needed to bring the battalion back up to strength. Two officers returned to Kenora on 2 August 1915 to reopen the recruiting depot and John enlisted the next day. He was 19 years old and working as a brakeman for the Canadian Pacific Railway at the time. He was sent to Port Arthur to join the rest of the volunteers and in early November the battalion headed to the east coast. They embarked from St. John on 23 November on the SS California and arrived in Plymouth ten days later. After a few more weeks of training the men were sent to France on 20 February 1916.

Overseas service:

-on 23 February the 52nd Battalion joined the 9th Brigade in the new 3rd Division of the Canadian Corps
-during the spring and summer they were in the Ypres salient in Belgium where the Canadians were holding the front line between St. Eloi and Hooge
-the 52nd took part in the Battle of Mount Sorrel (2-13 June 1916), their first time in combat
-that fall they were at the Somme Offensive where the Canadians suffered 24,000 casualties in less than three months
-in October they were moved north to the Vimy front where they spent the winter
-the Canadian Corps captured Vimy Ridge in April 1917 (9-14 April)
-on the night of 13-14 April the 52nd Battalion moved into the front line on the crest of Vimy Ridge
-on the night of 16-17 April they took over a divisional outpost line and enemy artillery was active
-John suffered a shell or gunshot wound to his face on 16 April
-he spent a week in Etaples, first at a hospital then a convalescent centre, and he was back with his unit in early May
-in September 1917 he had ten days leave in the UK
-that fall the Canadians captured Passchendaele Ridge (26 October-10 November 1917); the 52nd Battalion took part in the first phase of the attack, the advance up Bellevue Spur, suffering 250 casualties
-after the battle they moved back to the Lens area in France where they spent the winter
-on 13 January 1918 John was promoted to Corporal
-in February he had two weeks leave in the UK
-that summer the Canadian Corps underwent intensive training in open warfare; they were heavily involved in the last three months of the war (the Hundred Days Offensive)
-on 11 November the 52nd Battalion was in Wasmuel, Belgium just west of Mons when they learned of the Armistice
-the battalion band turned out and paraded around the town, accompanied by a large crowd of civilians singing and waving flags
-the battalion proceeded to Mons on the afternoon of 11 November
-a week later John became ill with influenza and bronchitis
-he was admitted to No. 22 General Hospital in Camiers
-on 12 December he was evacuated to England, first to Aldershot then a few days later to Bearwood Convalescent Hospital in Wokingham
-during that time he was assigned to the Manitoba Regiment Depot
-he was discharged to base on 3 January 1919 and transferred to the 18th Reserve Battalion on 25 January
-on 28 February he was transferred back to his original unit, the 52nd Battalion
-he embarked for Canada with them on 17 March on the SS Olympic

There was a huge reception for the 52nd Battalion when they arrived back in Port Arthur and the unit was demobilized there at the end of the month. John was discharged on 31 March with his intended residence listed as Kenora. When the 1921 census was taken he was living with his family at 313 Eighth Avenue North and working as a trainman for the CPR. On 1 August 1922 he was married in Kenora to 24-year-old Adeline Josephine Fraser. Adeline was the daughter of Charles and Louise Fraser and she’d been born and raised in the Kenora area. John and Adeline made their home in Kenora and they had one daughter Daphne June (Mrs. Paul Wagar)(1930-2013). John’s brother Lawrence served with the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War.

John was a member of the United Transportation Union and the Canadian Legion, Kenora branch. He retired from the CPR in 1961 and passed away on 24 March 1978, at age 81. Adeline died in 1984 and they are both buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

By Becky Johnson

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