|Date of Birth||August 14, 1890|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Mrs. Oliver Wright (mother), Lavenham, Manitoba|
|Trade / Calling||Farmer|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||Lavenham, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||December 14, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||26|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||September 12, 1974|
|Age at Death||84|
|Buried At||Evergreen Memorial Gardens, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba|
Lance Corporal Albert Ernest Wright enlisted in December 1916 and served with the 44th Battalion in England, France and Belgium. He returned to Canada in June 1919.
Albert was born in Rat Portage, Ontario on 14 August 1890. His father, Oliver James Wright, was from Lavenham, Suffolk, England and he had immigrated to Canada in May 1883. Albert’s mother, Ann Maria Tomalin, was from Northamptonshire, England. She arrived in Canada in May 1885 and married Oliver about two weeks later in Winnipeg. Their two oldest children, Oliver and Frederick, were born in Winnipeg. Albert was born during a short period when they lived in Rat Portage (later called Kenora). His father was working as a fireman at the time, most likely for the Canadian Pacific Railway. When the 1891 census was taken Oliver and Ann were back in Manitoba where they’d taken up farming in the St. Andrew’s area. Over the next ten years they had three more children: Sarah, Edward and Annie Elsie.
By 1911 Albert’s parents were farming southwest of Portage la Prairie. The small community where they lived was named Lavenham after Oliver’s home in England. They had adopted two children, Alice and Robert, who were born around 1910 and 1911. The war entered its third year in August 1916 and Albert enlisted that winter, signing up in Winnipeg on 14 December 1916. He was 26 years old by then, 6′ tall, 175 lb and working as a farmer. He joined the 251st ‘Goodfellows’ Battalion, which had been organized that fall. In February 1917 he spent a week in the Winnipeg General Hospital with influenza. Just after recovering he came down with the mumps and he was a patient at St. Roche (part of St. Boniface Hospital) for two weeks.
Albert had three weeks harvest leave in August and September. Around that same time 175 men from his battalion were chosen for an overseas draft. Albert was in the draft and the recruits embarked from Halifax on the SS Metagama on 4 October, landing in England about two weeks later. Albert was transferred to the 18th Reserve Battalion and he trained in the UK for three months. On 18 January 1918 he was drafted to the 44th Battalion and sent to France. He joined his unit in the field at the end of the month. Over the winter the Canadians were holding a long section of the front line near Arras. Early in the summer of 1918 they went into reserve before undergoing about eight weeks of intensive training in open warfare. The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started in August with the Battle of Amiens (8-11 August 1918). The 44th Battalion moved into position near Amiens on 9 August and took part in the operation on the last two days. From there they were sent north for the Second Battle of Arras.
On 22 September Albert left for a Lewis gun course at the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp. He rejoined his unit in October just after the capture of Cambrai, and the Canadians continued advancing northeast toward Valenciennes. The 44th Battalion moved into the front line on 30 October and took part in the Battle of Valenciennes on 1 November, suffering about 90 casualties in their operations near Mont Huoy Wood. The next few days were spent in resting and cleaning up before moving into billets in Valenciennes. On 6 November Albert was promoted to Lance Corporal and the following day he started two weeks leave in the UK. While he was away the Armistice was signed. When he rejoined his unit later in the month they were in Belgium and they stayed there until the following spring.
Albert’s unit entrained for Le Havre, France on 17 April 1919 and sailed for England about nine days later. They spent a month at Bramshott Camp and embarked for Canada on 27 May on the Empress of Britain, arriving in Quebec on 4 June. Albert needed medical treatment while he was on the ship and when they landed he was transferred to a local hospital. He was released from the hospital on 23 July and discharged on demobilization two days later in Quebec. His intended residence was listed as Lavenham, Manitoba.
By 1921 Albert was living in the RM of North Norfolk, northwest of Winnipeg, where he had his own farm. His parents had also moved there and his father was retired. Albert was married in Winnipeg on 16 October 1922 to 20-year-old Nellie McAskie. Nellie was the daughter of Joseph and Maria McAskie and she had grown up in North Norfolk. Albert and Nellie farmed in the Lavenham area for many years and they had five children: Harold, Lorne, Glen, Anne and Dorothy. During the Second World War Albert served with the Veterans Guard of Canada and afterwards he and his wife moved to Portage la Prairie. Albert worked as a carpenter and also for the Commissionaires, a security firm that hires war veterans. He retired in 1955. He was a member of both the Army, Navy and Airforce Veterans Club and the Royal Canadian Legion.
Albert passed away at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg on 12 September 1974, at age 84. His wife had died two years earlier. He is buried at Evergreen Memorial Gardens in Portage la Prairie.
By Becky Johnson