Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 28, 1892
Place of BirthBirmingham
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMary Tandy (mother), 27 Rutland Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, England
Trade / CallingMill hand - flour mill
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number291360
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion1st Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentKing Edward St. (563 Maryland), Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentDecember 31, 1915
Age at Enlistment23
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 26, 1917
Age at Death25
Buried AtBellevue Wood near Crown Prince Farm, Belgium; commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres

Tandy, William

In October 1917 the Canadian Corps moved to the Ypres Salient in Belgium for the Battle of Passchendaele. Artillery shells had destroyed the drainage systems in the area and the battlefield was a wasteland of mud, swamp and water-filled shell holes. The Canadians suffered 15,000 casualties in the operation with over 3,000 men killed and 1,000 missing and presumed dead, many of them lost in the mud. Private William Tandy died on the first day of the battle.

William was the youngest son of Joseph Tandy and Mary Worsdall of Birmingham, Warwickshire, England. Joseph was born in Birmingham and he worked as a groom, coachman and gardener. He and his wife were married in 1874 and they had ten children over the next 18 years. Daughters Alice, Edith, Marian and Lydia were followed by sons Edwin, James Howard and William. Three other children died as infants.   William was born in Birmingham on 28 July 1892. He immigrated to Canada in the spring of 1909 when he was 16 years old, arriving in Halifax on 9 April on the SS Virginian. When the 1911 census was taken he was working as a farm labourer in a small town near Brandon, Manitoba. Not long after that he moved to Kenora, Ontario where he found work at the Maple Leaf flour mill. He lived in Kenora for several years and while he was there he was the bass drummer in the local town band. By the time he enlisted in 1915 he was living in Winnipeg, Manitoba and working as a flour mill hand.

William signed up on the last day of December in 1915, joining the 222nd Battalion. The unit had been organized in Winnipeg the previous month and it was recruited in and around the city. William’s brother James Howard had also immigrated to Canada and he enlisted with the same battalion two months after William. The two brothers left   for England with their unit on 15 November 1916, embarking from Halifax on the SS Olympic. Some of the men were transferred to front line units while the rest went into the 19th Reserve Battalion. William was with the 19th Reserve Battalion until April 1917, when he was transferred to the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles and sent to France. The 1st CMR had suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Vimy Ridge and William was in a large draft of reinforcements that arrived near the end of April.

The 1st CMR started the war as a mounted unit but they were converted to infantry in January 1916, one of four battalions in the 8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division. Over the summer of 1917 the unit supplied work parties, carried out patrols and had regular rotations in the front trenches. In July the Canadians began training for the assault on Hill 70 and due to bad weather the operation was postponed until the middle of August. The 1st CMR didn’t take part in the attack but on 20 August they took over a section of the front line, holding it for five days and facing heavy shelling as well as machine gun fire from a German airplane. They suffered 31 casualties during their tour in the line.

September was spent southwest of Lens in France and in October all four divisions of the Canadian Corps were moved to the Ypres Salient in Belgium for the Battle of Passchendaele (26 October-10 November 1917). Even before it began the battlefield was a wasteland of swamp, mud and water-filled craters and sometimes the men were knee-deep and even waist-deep in mud and water. The 1st CMR arrived in Ypres by train on 21 October and marched to the forward area the same day. The assault on the ridge was planned to take place in several stages and the 1st CMR were brought in for the first phase, moving into the front trenches on the night of 25-26 October. William was killed during the advance on 26 October, one of about 30 men in his battalion who were killed or missing in action that first day.

William was buried in Bellevue Wood near Crown Prince Farm in Belgium but after the Armistice his grave could not be identified. He’s commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, which bears the names of more than 54,000 men who died in the Ypres Salient and have no known grave.

William’s brother James Howard survived the war and returned to Canada in May 1919. He married Helen MacLeod Corbett in June 1926 in Winnipeg and he passed away in Florida in 1964.

By Becky Johnson

Tandy-William-98 Tandy-William-99

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