|Date of Birth
|December 6, 1888
|Place of Birth
|East Ardsley, Yorkshire
|Next of Kin
|Mrs Kate Williamson, mother, School House, East Ardsley, Yorkshire, England
|Trade / Calling
|Link to Service Record
|Canadian Expeditionary Force
|Enlisted / Conscripted
|Place of Enlistment
|Address at Enlistment
|Date of Enlistment
|December 14, 1915
|Age at Enlistment
|Theatre of Service
|Prisoner of War
|Date of Death
|February 28, 1983
|Age at Death
|Riverside Cemetery, Neepawa, Manitoba
|Range 13 Block 12 Lot 1
Reginald Williamson was born on 6 December 1888 in East Ardsley, Yorkshire in England. His father George Williamson, an elementary school master, was from Edinburgh in Scotland while his mother Catherine (Kate) Drummond Hodge was from Birkenhead, Cheshire in England. The couple married during the third quarter of 1878 in the registration district of Leeds, Yorkshire West. Living in the school house in East Ardsley, the couple gave birth to six children, Lilian Agnes (1881), Harry (January 1883), Margaret (November 1883), Reginald, Jessie (1889), and Mabel (1890). Sadly, Margaret died in 1885.
Reginald immigrated to Canada in 1903, arriving in Halifax aboard the Pretorian on 19 April. Although traveling 2nd Cabin, he is listed in the Library and Archives Canada British Home Children database as he was only 14. With occupation given as clerk on the passenger list, he was on his way to Neepawa in Manitoba.
Reginald enlisted with the 79th Battalion in Brandon, Manitoba on 4 December 1915. Working as a farmer just south of Neepawa, his next of kin was given as his mother Kate back in England, previous service as one year with the Territorials/Yorkshire, and date of birth as 6 December 1889. As a Private with the battalion, Reginald arrived in England aboard the Lapland on 4 May 1916. A short time later he was transferred to the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles, taken on strength in the field on 29 June. The 1st Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles was originally a mounted infantry unit named the 1st Regiment, Canadian Mounted Rifles, formed on 7 November 1914, in Brandon, Manitoba. Part of the 1st Brigade Canadian Mounted Rifles, the unit landed in France on 22 September 1915, where the conditions of the Western Front made its mounts more of a hindrance than a benefit. On 1 January 1916, both CMR brigades (six regiments) were dismounted, converted to infantry and reorganized as the 8th Infantry Brigade (four battalions). The 1st Regiment, CMR, became the 1st Battalion, CMR and it absorbed half the personnel of the 3rd Regiment, CMR, the other half going to the 2nd Battalion, CMR.
On 1 October 1916, the first day of the attempt to capture Regina Trench during the Battle of the Somme, Reginald sustained multiply shrapnel wounds to his face, left shoulder, and legs when a shell burst in front of the trench. By the 3rd of October he had been admitted to the No 22 General Hospital in Camiers, then invalided to England to the North Evington Military Hospital in Leicester, England. In late November Reginald was transferred to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital Woodcote Park in Epsom, Surrey and was discharged from the hospital on 19 December 1916.
After going through a series of transfers in England, in October of 1917 Reginald was struck off strength to the 4th Canadian Labour Battalion for duty overseas. Four Canadian Labour Battalions for work in rear areas were organized in England in December 1916 and January 1917 using men not fit for service in the trenches. In November he was sentenced to 21 days Field Punishment No 2 for being absent from a working party. Granted permission to marry, Reginald was given a two week leave to the UK in February of 1918. On 21 February 1918, at St Thomas Portman Square in London, he married Ada Harvey. Born in 1889 in Walsall, Staffordshire, Ada was the daughter of Thomas Harvey, a painter, and Ann Woodhall. Her parents had married in 1881 in Birmingham. At the time of the 1911 England census, Ada was working as a servant for John and Mary Jane Barnsley in Bilston, Staffordshire.
In late March of 1918 the 4th Canadian Labour Battalion was redesignated as 2nd Canadian Works Battalion. That September Reginald was transferred to the 4th Canadian Infantry Works Company. During the latter part of the war Infantry Work Companies were employed mainly in road and bridge construction, road maintenance and grading on light and standards gauge railways. In December he was granted a two week leave to the UK in time for Christmas. He returned to France very briefly, back in England by mid January. After going through a couple of transfers, Reginald and Ada arrived in Quebec aboard the Metagama on 2 May 1919. He was discharged from service on demobilization on 6 May in Quebec, rank of Private.
Reginald and Ada were to make the Mentmore/Gordon area about 15 kilometres southwest of Neepawa in Manitoba their home where they farmed. The couple gave birth to three children, George Harvey (1919-1997), Reginald (Rex) (abt 1921-2000), and Elsa (1922-2012). Following in their father’s footsteps, both Harvey and Rex served during WW2. With Ada’s health starting to fail, they retired to Neepawa in 1947. Following her death on 5 December 1952 in the Neepawa District Memorial Hospital, Reginald moved to Kenora, Ontario in 1955.
Reginald was an avid sports fan and played soccer, football, lacrosse, bowling, and pool. He was active in the community, singing in church choirs and taking on lead roles in amateur acting. He was secretary of the Gordon School Board and United Farmers of Manitoba and a charter member of the Manitoba Pool Elevators. Reginald was a member of the United Church of Canada, the Kenora Bowling League, the Canadian Legion, the Ontario Hearing Society, and the Manitoba Lawn Bowling Association.
Reginald died on 28 February 1983 in Pinecrest Home for the Aged in Kenora. At the time of his death he was survived by his son Harvey and wife Rae in West Midlands, England, son Rex and wife Colleen of Thunder Bay, and daughter Elsa Hamp and husband Pat in Kenora. He was also survived by fourteen grandchildren, ten great grandchildren, and one great great grandchild. Along with Ada, Reginald is interred in the Riverside Cemetery in Neepawa.
By Judy Stockham
Reginald and Ada’s grave marker photograph provided by V.Usunier, findagrave.com.