Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 28, 1884
Place of BirthMount Albert, Ontario
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinAlice Alma Peterman (wife), 637 Second Street South, Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingCarpenter
Service Details
Regimental Number425203
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion27th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentBrandon, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 25, 1915
Age at Enlistment30
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 11, 1956
Age at Death71
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
PlotAngel Crest Block, 50E-39-4

Peterman, William Albert

Private William Albert Peterman was married and the father of four daughters when he enlisted in January 1915. He served overseas for three years, most of that time with the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion.

William was the oldest son of William and Mary Peterman of East Gwillimbury, North York, Ontario. He was born on 28 April 1884 in the village of Mount Albert and he had at least one brother, Clarence, and two sisters, Lillian and Ethel. His father worked as a carpenter. William moved to Kenora, Ontario as a young man and he was married there on 5 June 1906. His wife, Alice Alma Rolston, was from the Chatham area of Ontario and her father was a farmer. William and Alice had four daughters: Dora (1907), Ida (1909), Lena (1911) and Edna (1914). William was a carpenter and contractor and he spent some time working out west, in Golden, BC. In September 1911, when Lena was born, he and his wife were living in Toronto. By the time the war started in August 1914 they were back in Kenora and William was a member of the Kenora Town Band.

William enlisted on 15 January 1915, signing up with the 45th Battalion in Brandon, Manitoba. The 45th was mobilized and recruited in Manitoba but several volunteers from Kenora joined the unit. In the spring they trained at the exhibition grounds in Winnipeg and in June they moved to Camp Sewell (later named Camp Hughes), east of Brandon. After spending another winter in Winnipeg the battalion left for overseas on 8 March 1916. A snowstorm delayed the trains as they headed east and they passed through Kenora late that night. The local newspaper mentioned that William and one other Kenora lad were on the train, both of them members of the 45th Battalion Band. The recruits embarked from Halifax on the SS Lapland on 17 March and in England they were absorbed into the 11th Reserve Battalion. After six more months of training William was transferred to the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion, most likely as a band member, and sent to France. He arrived there on 21 September 1916 and joined his unit in the field in early October during the Battle of the Somme. His unit’s part in the offensive was over by then and in mid-October they moved north to the Lens-Arras front.

Bandsmen accompanied their battalions on route marches and also put on concerts for the troops. During combat they served as stretcher-bearers, often rescuing the wounded under enemy fire and at times carrying them long distances through knee-deep mud and over terrain destroyed by artillery shells. If a unit’s strength was reduced by casualties band members were sometimes used in the front line. William served with the 27th Battalion in France and Belgium for the next two and a half years and his unit was at the battles of Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, Passchendaele and the Hundreds Days Offensive. One of the fortunate few, his service file records no illnesses or injuries during that time. After the Armistice the 27th Battalion took part in the March to the Rhine, crossing into Germany on 4 December and staying there as an occupying force until 24 January 1919. William returned to England on 13 April and embarked from Liverpool on the SS Minnekahda on 14 May, landing at Halifax nine days later. He was officially discharged on 25 May 1919 in Montreal.

After the war William returned to his family in Kenora and resumed his career as a carpenter. He later worked as a caretaker in Kenora’s public schools, retiring in 1940. He was a member of the Canadian Legion and Knox United Church. William passed away on 11 January 1956, at age 71. His wife Alice died two years later and they are both buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson

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