Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthFebruary 2, 1884
Place of BirthBridestowe, Devonshire
Marital StatusMarried
Next of Kinwife, Fanny Rosa Sleep of Argyle Road, SW London, England
Trade / CallingFireman, CPR
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number199345
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion46th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentFort William, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentApril 28, 1916
Age at Enlistment32
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJuly 17, 1948
Age at Death64
Buried AtMountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, British Columbia

Sleep, William Henry

Although William Henry Sleep usually gave his place of birth as Tavistock, Devonshire, he was born on 2 February 1884 in nearby Bridestowe. His father John Sleep was from St Blazey, Cornwall while his mother Susan(na) Stanbury was from Bridestowe. The couple had married  during the second quarter  of 1880, marriage registered in the district of Okehampton, Devon. Other known children born to the family after William were Silas, Susan, Mary, John, and Caroline. By the 1901 England census  James, Susan, and some of the children  had moved to Tavistock where James was working as a railway labourer. William had moved to Abbas Combe and Temple Combe in Somerset and was working as a railway engine fireman.

During the first quarter of 1907 William married Fanny Rose Budge, daughter of Albert and Ellen (née Pike) Budge. The marriage was registered in the district of Yeovil, Somerset where Fanny had been born. The next year the couple gave birth to a son William Albert, followed by Samuel John in 1914.

William was found on the passenger list of the Ivernia that arrived in Boston, Massachusetts on 25 March 1912, his occupation given as engineman and destination as Winnipeg, Manitoba. By 1916 William was living in Fort William, Ontario and working as a fireman for the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Giving his wife Fanny back in London, England as next of kin, William signed his attestation papers on 28 April 1916 in Fort William. With previous military experience of 3 years with the Devonshire Infantry Battalion, William went overseas with the 94th Battalion, leaving Halifax on 28 June 1916 aboard the Olympic.  On arrival in England he was transferred to the 32nd Reserve Battalion and then on to the 46th Battalion,  joining the unit  in the field in France in early September. A short two months later,  on 11 November 1916, he was severely wounded in the shoulder and arm during the attack on Regina Trench. After being hospitalized in France at the #22 General Hospital in Camiers, he was invalided to England where he underwent surgeries to remove shrapnel and dead bone as infection had set in. Recovery was slow and he was to spend the next year in various hospitals in England, eventually being found medically unfit for service. He was discharged on 20 November 1918.

William, Fanny, and the two boys William and Samuel were next found on the 1920 US Federal census as living in Kearney, Buffalo, Nebraska with Fanny’s parents and her brother; her parents had immigrated to the US in 1912. William was working for the railroad as a locomotive engineer. However, the marriage did not last and by the 1930 US census, Fanny, going by the name of Rose, was married to Jacob Zimmerman. Along with her son Samuel, they were living in Kearney where Jacob farmed. Samuel eventually became a naturalized US citizen and died in Gibbon, Buffalo, Nebraska in 1982.

As shown by his Legion application card, by 1936 William was living in Kenora, Ontario. On 1 August 1942, in Kenora, he married Bertha Christina Harper, daughter of John and Bertha Harper. Born in Kenora, Bertha’s parents were from England, immigration year given as 1906 on the 1921 Canada census for Kenora. William and Bertha eventually moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in September of 1946.

William Henry Sleep died on 17 July 1948 in Vancouver, occupation on his death record  given as fireman for the CPR and caretaker for an apartment block.  He was survived by his wife Bertha who later married Edward Wilson, and his mother and sister in Exeter, Devonshire, England. He is interred in the Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver.

by Judy Stockham

Veteran Death card: Library and Archives Canada
Obituary: courtesy of Mike Melen
Grave marker photo: taken by cemetery staff and uploaded with permission by Islandergirl on

Sleep-William-Henry-1 Sleep-William-Henry-2 Sleep, William-Henry-3

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