Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJune 24, 1892
Place of BirthReykjavik
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMother: Helga Viborg, Keewatin, Ontario
Trade / CallingCooper
Service Details
Regimental Number721509
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion16th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKeewatin, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 4, 1916
Age at Enlistment23
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details

Viborg, Barney

Barney (Baring) Viborg was born in Reykjavik, Iceland on June 24, 1892. At some point he immigrated to Canada and settled in Keewatin, Ontario.

Barney was a cooper (barrel maker) at the Keewatin flour mill in 1914 when war was declared. Among the first group of 45 Kenora volunteers, he was rejected for service at the Valcartier training camp and returned to Keewatin where he lived with his mother Helga and resumed his job at the flour mill.

In January 1916 Barney enlisted for a second time, with 108th (Selkirk) Battalion being raised in Manitoba. After going to Winnipeg to enlist and training in Canada, he went overseas in September of 1916 with the battalion aboard the SS Olympic. On arrival in England the battalion was broken up for reserves and Barney spent the next six months in training in the reserve system before being assigned to the 16th Battalion in France.

The 16th was one of four ‘kilted’ battalions in the CEF, part of the 1st Division 3rd (Highland) Brigade first organized at Valcartier in 1914 from Canada’s Scottish militia regiments. In addition to the 16th (Canadian Scottish) Battalion from Western Canada, the brigade included the 15th Battalion (48th Highlanders) from Ontario, the 14th (Royal Montreal) Battalion from Quebec and the 13th (Royal Highlanders of Canada) from the Maritime provinces.

Barney was with the 16th Battalion during heavy fighting after Vimy Ridge. In August 1917 he suffered a gunshot wound to the lip during the battle for Hill 70. In August he was hospitalized for four days after being caught in barbed wire which left him with permanent scars on his knee.

In October 1917 he was buried after an artillery shell exploded near him when the battalion was in the Avion area of France. The incident left him suffering from deafness, blurred vision and shaken nerves according to his medical file. Returned to England for treatment and convalescence, he remained there for the rest of the war. In April 1918 he was granted permission to marry, which he did. His wife Helena Lawrence remained in Liverpool, while Barney continued his army service in the reserve battalions. In March 1919 Barney returned to Canada, and at his discharge in Port Arthur stated his intention to return to Keewatin where his wife was to join him.

On August 5, 1919 Barney was among nearly 200 Keewatin men to receive badges and medals presented at civic ceremony by the town to honour its war volunteers. He is commemorated for his service on three Keewatin plaques.

A 1933, passenger manifest records Barney landed in Liverpool with his wife, with a notation they were returning to Iceland as trans-migrants.

by Bob Stewart


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