Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthAugust 16, 1893
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinCharles William Southworth (father), Revelstoke, British Columbia
Trade / CallingClerk
Service Details
Regimental Number442201
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion16th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentRevelstoke, British Columbia
Date of EnlistmentMay 24, 1915
Age at Enlistment21
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 16, 1965
Age at Death71
Buried AtCremated (Royal Oak Crematorium, Victoria, British Columbia)

Southworth, William Esta

Private William Esta Southworth enlisted in 1915 and served in France and Belgium with the 16th Battalion. He was wounded twice, in May 1916 and April 1917, but he survived the war and returned to Canada in February 1919.

William was the son of Charles William Southworth and Fanny May Stowe of Revelstoke, British Columbia. Fanny was born in Faribault County, Minnesota and Charles in Oswego County, New York. They were married in 1882 in Cumberland, Wisconsin and their first three children were born there: Charles Earl, Edith May and Nellie Viola. In 1891 Charles and his wife moved to the town of Keewatin in northwestern Ontario, where they took up farming. They had four more children, all born in Keewatin: William Esta (16 August 1893), Russell (1895), Grace Evangeline Muriel (1901) and James Douglass (1904).

William grew up in Keewatin and attended local schools. His sister Edith married John (Jack) Gordon in 1904 in Keewatin and Nellie married David Cairns Craig in March 1911 in the neighbouring town of Kenora. In the spring of 1911, when William was 17, his family moved to Revelstoke, British Columbia. His father was hired as a watchman for the Canadian Pacific Railway and William worked as a salesman in a furniture store.

William and his brother Russell Southworth both enlisted in the spring of 1915. William signed up on 24 May in Revelstoke, joining the 54th (Kootenay) Battalion. He had his medical on 14 July in Vernon and a week later he was on his way overseas with his unit’s 1st Reinforcing Draft. They embarked from Montreal on the SS Corsican on 21 July and arrived in England about ten days later. William was transferred to the 30th Reserve Battalion and he trained with them for the next five months. In mid-January 1916 he was drafted to a front line unit, the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish), and sent to France.

In February 1916 William contracted influenza and he recovered from his illness in a field ambulance. That same month his battalion moved to the Ypres Salient in Belgium, where the Canadians would hold the front line for about five months. On 13 or 14 May William was in the trenches at Hill 60 when a rifle grenade exploded near him. He suffered wounds to his fingers, arm, shoulder and leg. He was evacuated to England and spent three months at the 1st Birmingham War Hospital, the convalescent hospital in Wokingham and the Granville Special Canadian Hospital.

William was discharged to duty on 17 August and back in France two months later. He rejoined the 16th Battalion in October 1916, just as their part in the Somme Offensive was ending. The battalion moved north to the Arras area, across from Vimy, where the Canadian Corps spent the winter of 1916-17. In April 1917 they captured Vimy Ridge then stayed in the Vimy area holding the new front line and taking part in further operations. William suffered a wound to his ankle on 30 April. He was evacuated to England again and recovered at the 2nd Western General Hospital in Manchester and the convalescent depot at Epsom. He was discharged to duty on 27 June. He served in England for five months with the 14th and 11th Reserve Battalions.

In November 1917 William returned to France and rejoined the 16th Battalion. The Canadians spent the winter of 1917-18 in the Vimy area and in the summer of 1918 they underwent several weeks of intensive training in open warfare. The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started on 8 August with the Battle of Amiens. Near the end of August William became ill with trench fever and he was sent to No. 26 General Hospital in Etaples. He was back in England at the end of the month and he spent about two weeks at No. 3 Western General Hospital in Cardiff. Following that he recovered for two months at the convalescent depot in Epsom and he was discharged on 11 November, the day of the Armistice.

William served in the UK until January 1919, most of that time with the Manitoba Regiment Depot. He embarked for Canada on 1 February on the SS Carmania, sailing from Liverpool and arriving home about ten days later via New York. He had two weeks landing leave which he spent in Regina and he was entitled to wear two gold (wound) stripes and four blue (service) chevrons. He was discharged in Regina on 5 March. His brother Russell also survived the war and he returned to Canada a month after William.

William was married in Revelstoke on 27 September 1920. His wife, Effic Spalding, was born around 1897 in High River, Alberta (the North-West Territories at that time). Her parents were Charles and Marjorie Spalding and her family farmed in High River. William and Effie settled in Glacier, British Columbia and they had at least one daughter, Marjorie, who was born in 1921. William was a stationary fireman at the time and later became a stationary engineer. He retired around 1958 and he and his wife moved to Victoria. He passed away in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Victoria on 16 March 1965, at age 71, and Effie died in 1984, also in Victoria.

By Becky Johnson

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