Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJune 28, 1891
Place of BirthNewthorpe, Yorkshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinJames Wickham, brother, 2nd York and Lancs, 6th Division, British Expeditionary Force, France
Trade / CallingFarmer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number63902
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion23rd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Date of EnlistmentNovember 2, 1914
Age at Enlistment23
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 10, 1962
Age at Death70
Buried AtCremation/Scattered on Royal Oak Chapel Hill

Wickham, Joseph

Joseph Wickham was born on 28 June 1891 in Newthorpe in the registration district of Tadcaster in Yorkshire West, England. His father Samuel Wickham was from Gravesend in Kent while his mother Sarah Barrow was from Crewe in Cheshire. The couple’s marriage was registered during the second quarter of 1888 in the district of Nantwich, Cheshire. By the birth of their son James the next year the family was living in Wistow, and for the 1891 census were in Ledham where Samuel was working as an agricultural labourer, both places in Yorkshire. Sadly Joseph’s mother died in 1897 with his father marrying Mary Jane Blackburn the next year in nearby Selby where Mary Jane was from. At the time of the 1901 census in Selby, Samuel was working as a horse man on a farm. By the time of the 1911 census the family unit had disintegrated, with James stationed at Farnborough, Hampshire as a Private with the 2nd York Lancaster Regiment and Joseph living in Canada.

According to a later border crossing record as well as his pension file, Joseph got work as a stoker’s assistant out of Liverpool, arriving in Montreal aboard the Canada in October of 1910. Due to a misunderstanding about sailing times, the ship left without Joseph. He then found work on a farm just outside of Montreal where he worked for the next four years.

With occupation given as farmer and his brother James as serving with the 2nd York and Lancaster Regiment in France as next of kin, Joseph enlisted with the 23rd Battalion on 2 November 1914 in Montreal. His date and place of birth was given as 25 June 1891 in ‘Licham’, England. As a Private with the battalion he embarked from Halifax aboard the Missanabie on 23 February 1915. In late April Joseph proceeded overseas, transferring to the 3rd Battalion.

A short time after arriving in France Joseph was admitted to the No 1 Canadian Field Ambulance on 29 May. At first thought to be suffering a possible concussion and shell shock, it was later decided that he had epilepsy. In early June he was transferred to the 2nd Western General Hospital in Manchester in England and then on to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital Monks Horton. It was decided that Joseph be returned to Canada, embarking on the Missanabie on 24 September. He was discharged from service as medically unfit on 9 October 1915 in Quebec.

At some point after discharge Joseph moved to Keewatin, a small town in northwestern Ontario near Kenora. For a short time he worked for the local milling company. On 29 November 1916 Joseph enlisted in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His occupation was given as farmer and his brother James in Limerick, Ireland as next of kin. His date and place of birth was given as 28 June 1892 in Selby, Yorkshire in England. As ¬†Trooper with the 5th Draft of the 34th Fort Garry Horse, Joseph arrived in England on 6 February 1917. Following a series of transfers, he was admitted to the Canadian Military Hospital at Bramshott, first diagnosed with neurasthenia/shell shock, later changed to epilepsy. Discharged from the hospital in early March, later that month he was admitted to the 2nd West General Hospital in Manchester and then transferred to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Red Cross Hospital at Ramsgate in early May. In mid August Joseph was transferred to the Canadian Military Hospital in Liverpool and then embarked for Canada on the Araguaya on 14 September. He was discharged from service as medically unfit on 4 October 1917 in Quebec.

After returning to Keewatin, Joseph enlisted in Winnipeg on 8 January 1918 to receive medical treatment. His occupation was given as farmer, his brother James in Limerick, Ireland as next of kin, and his date and place of birth as 28 June 1892 in ‘Letcham’, Yorkshire in England. Discharged from service as medically unfit on 25 May 1918 in Winnipeg, Joseph was enrolled in retraining programs but was unable to complete them. As it was thought that he suffered shell shock in the trenches in France that caused the epilepsy, he was granted a 100% pension although it was noted that he had suffered an epileptic seizure while training in Quebec before going overseas.

On 10 April 1919, in Winnipeg, Joseph married Ethel May Kelley. Born on 13 May 1897 in Keewatin, Ethel was the daughter of George Kelley and Elizabeth Boswell. Her parents were from Liverpool, England, marrying in 1888 in Keewatin. Two of Ethel’s brothers served during the war in France/Belgium, John Henry (Jack) with the 1st Battalion and George with the 85th Battalion.

After the marriage Joseph and Ethel first lived in Winnipeg before moving to Victoria around 1922. In the late 1930’s they lived in Vancouver for a short period, then in Penticton in the late 1940’s before returning to Victoria around 1951. At some point they adopted a daughter. Over the years both Joseph and Ethel were unable to work, Joseph continuing to be debilitated from the epilepsy.

Joseph died on 19 January 1962 in their room at the Windsor Hotel in Victoria where they had been living for a number of years. Ethel later died on 6 May 1979 at the Victoria General Hospital. Cremation was by the Royal Oak Crematorium, with Joseph’s cremains scattered on Royal Oak Chapel Hill.

By Judy Stockham

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