|Date of Birth||March 22, 1884|
|Place of Birth||Dawlish, Devon|
|Next of Kin||Charles Stokes (brother), 603 Third Street South, Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Miller|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||603 Third Street South, Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||December 30, 1914|
|Age at Enlistment||30|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||March 2, 1954|
|Age at Death||69|
Frederick Samuel Stokes joined the British army at age 18 and had eight years of regular service followed by four years in the reserves. He was discharged in January 1914 and seven months later the First World War started. He enlisted again, this time with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and he served for another 3-1/2 years attaining the rank of Company Sergeant Major.
Frederick was born in March 1884 in Dawlish, a coastal town in the county of Devon in southwest England. His parents, William Elias Stokes and Emma Morrish, were both born in Devon. They were married in 1879 and they had three sons and five daughters: Minnie (Morrish), Bessie, Frances, Charles, Alice, Frederick, Frank and Olive. Frederick’s mother died in 1895 when he was 11 years old. At the time of the 1901 census his widowed father was living in Dawlish with Bessie, Charles and Olive but just weeks after the census was taken his father died too, at age 52.
Frederick and Frank were working away from home in 1901, possibly living with their uncle George Stokes in Bridgwater, Somerset. A few months later the two brothers joined the British army. Frank was only 16 years old when he enlisted on 2 January 1902. Frederick signed up four days later. He was almost 18 and working as a timber feller at the time. He enlisted in Bridgwater, naming his uncle George as next of kin, and he and Frank both served with the 150th Battery of the Royal Field Artillery.
Frederick spent all eight years of his regular service in the UK and he was transferred to the reserves on 6 January 1910. A week later he left for Canada with Frank, who was also in the reserves by then. British army reservists were allowed to emigrate with the understanding they would return and re-enlist in the event of war. Frederick and Frank arrived in St. John, New Brunswick on the SS Hesperian on 24 January, their destination listed as Kenora, Ontario. Their older brother Charles had immigrated to Canada in 1907 and he was living in Kenora with his wife Rose. Charles was a carpenter and he’d built himself a home at 603 Third Street South in Lakeside. The three brothers lived there together and in December 1912 Frederick bought the lot next door at 601 Third Street South.
Frederick’s four years in the British army reserves ended on 5 January 1914 and seven months later the First World War started. He was working at the Maple Leaf flour mill at the time and he enlisted in Kenora in December 1914, when volunteers were being raised for a third overseas contingent. He was assigned to the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion, a local unit being recruited throughout northwestern Ontario. The battalion was based in Port Arthur and the Kenora recruits were sent there in June to join the rest of the volunteers. Frederick had been promoted to Lance Corporal by then. After a few months of training the 52nd embarked for England, leaving from St. John, New Brunswick on the SS California on 23 November 1915. The men spent a couple of months at military camps in England and they were sent to France in February 1916, becoming part of the 9th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division. Over the next year and a half they were in all the major Canadian battles including Mount Sorrel, the Somme, Vimy Ridge and Hill 70. Frederick arrived in France as a Corporal and he was promoted to Company Sergeant Major during the Somme Offensive.
In the fall of 1917 all four divisions of the Canadian Corps were sent to the Ypres Salient in Belgium for the assault on Passchendaele (26 October-10 November). The 52nd Battalion was moved into the area on 22 October and on the night of 25 October Frederick’s company took up its position in preparation for the attack the next morning. The operation began at 5:40 am with a creeping barrage followed by the advancing infantry. An early morning mist turned into an all-day rain and in some places the men waded knee-deep in mud and water. The 52nd Battalion supported the 43rd as they advanced up the Bellevue Spur towards the village of Passchendaele. Frederick was seriously wounded that day, 26 October, suffering broken ribs and shell fragment wounds to his chest, left thigh and hand. He was evacuated and treated in hospitals in England for the next seven months. Due to his chest and hand injuries he was no longer fit for war service and once he was well enough he was invalided to Canada, arriving in Halifax on 4 June 1918 on the Araguaya. He was discharged on 18 July in Winnipeg.
During his convalescence in England Frederick spent time in Liverpool where he likely met Annie Stelfox, the young lady who would become his wife. Annie worked as a shop assistant in Liverpool. She arrived in New York in December 1918, her destination listed as Kenora, Ontario, and she married Frederick on 4 January 1919 in Kenora. Two years later Frederick sold his house at 601 Third Street South and he and Annie moved to England. They lived at 5 Churnet Street in Kirkdale, Liverpool for about two years then they moved to nearby Birkenhead. In 1924 they returned to Kenora and bought back the home on Third Street South. Their only child, a daughter, was born in Kenora in 1927. During his time there Frederick worked as a night watchman at the liquor store. In 1930 he and Annie moved back to England permanently and Annie died in February 1943 in Wallasey, which is just northwest of Liverpool. Frederick married again in September 1944 in Woodchurch, Cheshire. His second wife, Annie Rigby, was a widow two years younger than him. They settled in Wirral, Cheshire and Annie died there in December 1952. Frederick suffered from his war injuries all his life and he passed away in Wirral on 2 March 1954, three weeks before his 70th birthday.
His older brother Charles Stokes also enlisted, signing up in Winnipeg in March 1916 and serving overseas with a forestry unit. He survived the war and returned to Canada in May 1919. In 1951 Charles sold his house at 603 Third Street South and he died in Kenora on 23 March 1954, three weeks after Frederick. Their sister Minnie immigrated to Canada and she passed away in 1959, and their youngest brother Frank died in 1981. Charles, his wife Rose, Minnie, Frank and his wife Ethel are all buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.
Charles is commemorated on the First World War Roll of Honour at St. Alban’s Pro-Cathedral in Kenora.
By Becky Johnson
Photos of Frederick courtesy of Lake of the Woods Museum Archives and Roy Burchall.