|Date of Birth||August 4, 1894|
|Place of Birth||St. Pancras, London|
|Next of Kin||Mrs. Victoria Penny (mother), Fisher Siding, Manitoba|
|Trade / Calling||Labourer|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||Fisher Siding, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||February 29, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||21|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||November 6, 1967|
|Age at Death||73|
|Buried At||Cremation (Vancouver Crematorium)|
Corporal Alexander Francis William Penny enlisted in February 1916 and served in France with the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion. He returned to Canada in April 1918 and served with the 10th Battalion, Canadian Garrison Regiment until the end of the war.
Alexander was the son of Francis William Penny and Victoria Eugenie Showering. Francis and his wife were both born in Somerset, England and they were married in Shepton Mallet, Somerset in 1891. Francis worked as a police constable. Alexander was born in St. Pancras, London on 4 August 1894 and baptized two months later in the Old St. Pancras parish church. His parents were living in St. Pancras at the time but by 1901 they had moved to Friesen Barnet in Middlesex County. A son, Reginald Wilfred, was born there in 1904 and he died as an infant.
Alexander immigrated to Canada with his parents in the summer of 1910, arriving in Quebec on 30 July on the SS Laurentic. Their destination was Winnipeg, Manitoba. When the 1911 census was taken the family was living in Dauphin, Manitoba and Alexander and his father were both working at the CNR roundhouse. The war entered its second year in August 1915 and Alexander enlisted that winter. He signed up in Winnipeg on 29 February 1916, joining the 184th Battalion. His occupation was labourer and his address was Fisher Siding (later renamed Renwer), a small community north of Dauphin.
The 184th was based in Winnipeg and Alexander was in the hospital there from 20 May to 12 July, suffering from diphtheria. They troops trained at Camp Hughes over the summer and headed overseas in the fall, embarking on the Empress of Britain on 31 October and arriving in England about eleven days later. The Canadian Corps suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of the Somme that fall and reinforcements were needed. At the end of November Alexander was drafted to a front line unit, the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion, and sent to France. After some time with an entrenching battalion he joined his new unit in the field in March 1917.
After the capture of Vimy Ridge in April the Canadians stayed in the Vimy area. Alexander’s unit had regular rotations in the front line and they were relieved from one on the night 22-23 May. Alexander suffered an artillery shell wound to his foot on 23 or 24 May and he was sent to a field ambulance then on to a casualty clearing station. On 27 May he was admitted to No. 35 General Hospital in Calais and evacuated from there to England on the hospital ship Pieter de Conick. He recovered at the 3rd Western General Hospital in Cardiff, Wales from 30 May until 10 July. Following that he was a patient at the Woodcote Park Convalescent Hospital until 13 August when he was discharged to duty and assigned to the Manitoba Regiment Depot.
Alexander spent about two months at No. 11 General Hospital in Shorncliffe between December 1917 and February 1918, diagnosed with hysteria and possible epilepsy. He trained with the 11th Reserve Battalion until mid-March then was transferred back to the Manitoba Regiment Depot. He returned to Canada in April and was assigned to the 10th Battalion, Canadian Garrison Regiment. From 23 September to 31 October he was a patient at the Port Arthur General Hospital, due to infected tonsils. After recovering he served for another five weeks and was discharged in Winnipeg on 7 December 1918, ‘having seen front line service.’
Alexander was married in Kenora, Ontario on 15 December 1920. On the marriage registration he listed his address as the neighbouring town of Keewatin and his occupation as labourer. His wife, Marion (Mary) Madeleine Nenicka, was born in Kenora in June 1902, the daughter of John and Catherine (Katerina) Nenicka of Keewatin. Her sister Bessie Nenicka was married to war veteran Frank Wellington Cromwell. Alexander and Mary settled in Winnipeg and he had a long career with the Canadian National Railway, first as a labourer and typesetter and later as a pipefitter. His parents moved to British Columbia and they both passed away in New Westminster, his mother in 1942 and his father in 1946. They are buried in Fraser Cemetery in New Westminster. Mary’s brother, John Nenicka (Neniska), died in New Westminster in 1947 in a workplace accident and he’s also buried in Fraser Cemetery. Mary’s parents both died in the 1930s and they are interred in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.
Alexander retired from the CNR in 1952. He and his wife moved to British Columbia not long after that and settled in New Westminster at first. Alexander was a member of a war veterans association in New Westminster and the CNR Veterans Club of Vancouver. He passed away in Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver on 6 November 1967, at age 73, after a few months of illness. His address at the time was Coquitlam and he was survived by his wife, Mary. Cremation took place at Vancouver Crematorium.
By Becky Johnson