Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 22, 1885
Place of BirthCambridge
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs J Piddock Barker, mother, 4 Doric Street, Cambridge, England
Trade / CallingFarmer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number426561
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion13th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentApril 9, 1915
Age at Enlistment29
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathNovember 2, 1981
Age at Death96
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Piddock, Arthur William

Sent to Canada as a British Home Child, Private Arthur William Piddock returned to England to serve overseas during WW1. Sustaining a severe wounding to the spine causing temporary paraplegia, he recovered, returned to Canada, and lived to the age of 96.

Arthur William Piddock was born on 22 May 1885 in the Chesterton district in Cambridge, England. Both of his parents, fish curer Frederick William Piddock and Julia Constance Gentle, were from the Chesterton/Cambridge area, marrying in 1883 in Chesterton. Arthur had an older brother Charles Frederick (b 1884) and two younger siblings Frederick William (b 1889) and Florence (Flossie) (b 1895). Sadly his father had died in 1893.

By 1897 Arthur had been taken into the care of Dr Barnardo’s Homes and as one of ¬†over an estimated 100 000 juvenile migrants through the years of 1869-1932, he was sent to Canada from the British Isles during the child emigration movement. Along with a number of children in the Barnardo’s party, he embarked from Liverpool aboard the Labrador on 23 September 1897, arriving in Quebec on 2 October. Within a relatively short period of time, Arthur had been placed on the Valley Farm of William and Nellie Langrish in the Oxbow/Almeda area in what is now Saskatchewan. By the time of the 1901 census he was listed as a hired farm labourer with the family on the census. That April a letter written by Arthur was transcribed in the Ups and Downs magazine published by the Canada branch of the Dr Barnardo agency where he stated that he had been with the Langrishes for three years and was getting to be quite the farmer. Although there is no doubt that he worked hard on the farm, from the contents of the letter his placement was a good one, where he was well fed and clothed, was given some leisure time to skate and play hockey, and received gifts from the family, a watch the previous Christmas. He wrote: ¬†‘If I had my choice I would prefer Canada every time.’ In the August 1903 edition of Ups and Downs, Arthur’s name was found on a list of Barnardo children who had been awarded a silver medal for good conduct and length of service. In January of 1905 a photograph of Arthur was published in the magazine along with a mention of his faithful service for seven years where he accumulated ‘a good round sum of money’. According to the article that winter he was earning earning $45/month and board in the bush, with the expectation of starting operations in the spring on a homestead of his own.

Back in England, the 1901 census found Julia and the three children living in Cambridge with Julia working as an ironer/washer in a laundry. In 1908, in Cambridge, Julia married widower fly driver Robert Malcolm Barker. Meanwhile both Charles and Frederick immigrated to Canada, Charles arriving in New York aboard the St Louis in June of 1904, on his way to his brother Arthur in Oxbow. At some point he returned to England, and he and Frederick arrived in Halifax aboard the Corean in March of 1906. The passenger list indicated that both young men were on their way to Almeda. That year (1906) Arthur made a trip back to England, returning to Canada/Almeda aboard the Ionian in late July. At the time his occupation was given as mechanic on the passenger list.

Arthur enlisted with the 46th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 9 April 1915 in Regina, Saskatchewan. On attestation, his occupation was given as farmer and his mother Mrs J Piddock of Cambridge, England as next of kin. His date and place of birth was given as 23 May 1888 in Cambridge, England. Standing 5 feet 6 inches tall with a chest girth of 40 inches, Arthur had light blue eyes and dark brown hair. After training at Camp Sewell in Manitoba, the battalion embarked from Halifax aboard the Lapland on 21 October 1915.

In June of 1916 Arthur was transferred to the 13th Battalion, taken on strength in the field on the 17th. That August he was admitted to the No 2 Canadian Field Ambulance for a few days suffering from myalgia although elsewhere in his record it was stated that he sustained superficial wounds to the thigh, kneecap, and left index finger in July at Ypres.

On 3 September 1916 the 13th Battalion was ordered by a General with the 13th Australian Infantry Brigade to send forward companies to Posieres to support the brigade which was attacking Mouquet Farm. Shelling was heavy over the next few days, with many casualties. Dates differ by a couple of days, from September 3rd to 6th, as to when Arthur sustained a gunshot/shrapnel wound. First admitted to the No 1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, Arthur was transferred to the No 22 Australian General Hospital before being invalided to the No 2 Eastern General Hospital in Brighton in England on 13 September. According to his record, a bullet had entered the lower part of his sternum and made exit to the right of the 10th dorsal vertebra. Falling at the time of impact, his left second rib was fractured. Following the wounding, Arthur was listed as complete paraplegia, including loss of control of bladder and bowels. However by February of 1917 he was able to moves his toes while in bed and bladder/bowel function returned. That March Arthur was transferred to the Granville Canadian Special Hospital in Ramsgate and by April he was able to stand, recovery rapid. Discharged in June, he was readmitted in early August for a few days with anemia and general debility.

Reclassified as medical category C3 (only suited for sedentary work), Arthur remained in England, going through a series of transfers, mainly with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. On 9 April 1917 he was awarded a Good Conduct Badge. In January of 1919 it was decided that Arthur be returned to Canada, arriving in St John, New Brunswick aboard the Grampian on 2 February. He was discharged from service as medically unfit for general service on 5 July 1919 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Both of Arthur’s brothers had settled in Winnipeg where Arthur remained for a while after the war. A Charles Piddock, listed as a patient at the Tuxedo Barracks Hospital for the 1921 census, was likely Arthur. According to his obituary, discharged from hospital in 1922, Arthur joined the Red Cross as engineer at the Soldiers’ Hospital at Winnipeg Beach, retiring in 1931 and moving to Kenora, Ontario in 1932. A 1935 Voters list indicated that he was living in nearby Jaffray/Hancock and working as a labourer at the Indian School. A 1945 list placed him as caretaker at the St Mary’s Indian School while in 1963 he was listed as general overseer at the CPR’s Devil’s Gap Lodge on Lake of the Woods. After the lodge was taken over by Doug and Pat Ford, Arthur continued to work there. By the time of a 1972 Voters list Arthur was retired and living on RR1, Rural Polling Division 117 Laurence Lake on the outskirts of Kenora as were the Fords. He was a life member of the Canadian Legion and adherent of the St Alban’s Cathedral in Kenora. His obituary noted that as a young boy he sang with the famous King’s College Chapel Choir in Cambridge. In later life Arthur moved into Birchwood Nursing Home in Kenora. ‘Tim, as he was affectionately called, was well known in the Kenora area, particularly at Devil’s Gap Lodge and to many Winnipeg summer residents by whom he was employed for many years.’ (Kenora Miner and News, 6 November 1981)

Arthur died on 2 November 1981 in the Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora. He was predeceased by his mother Julia (1940, Cambridge), brothers Charles (1969) and Frederick (1978), both in Winnipeg, and his sister Florence (1976, Cambridge). (A brother Archie was also mentioned in his obituary although no records were found for him and he was not mentioned in either of his brothers’ obituaries.) Arthur was survived by his nephew Arthur in Winnipeg, nephew Charles Gentle of Almeda, and dear friends Doug and Pat Ford. Arthur was interred in an unmarked grave in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora, his grave marker provided by the Last Post Fund in 2019.

By Judy Stockham

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