Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 27, 1888
Place of BirthDonegal
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinEliza Wright (mother), Dauphin, Manitoba
Trade / CallingFireman
Service Details
Regimental Number439070
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion6th Canadian Light Trench Mortar Battery
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentDecember 30, 1914
Age at Enlistment26
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathOctober 16, 1975
Age at Death87
Buried AtRoyal Oak Burial Park, Victoria, British Columbia

Wright, David Ernest

Corporal David Ernest Wright enlisted in December 1914 and served in France and Belgium with a trench mortar battery. He was wounded at the Battle of Hill 70 and spent a year recovering in hospitals in England.

David was born and raised in a large family in northern Ireland. His father, Reverend John Wright, was a Methodist minister and the family moved quite often, living in the counties of Donegal, Derry, Galway and Fermanagh. David was most likely born in July 1888 in the parish of Magherafelt in County Derry. He immigrated to Canada in the spring of 1907, at age 18, arriving in April on the SS Laurentian with his older brother Warren. Their destination was listed as Winnipeg, Manitoba. At least one other brother, Frederick, also moved to Canada. By 1911 Frederick and David were living in the town of Kenora in northwestern Ontario. David was working as a wiper for the Canadian Pacific Railway and Frederick was a clerk in a drug store. In 1911 their widowed mother Elizabeth and two sisters, Lillian and Anne, immigrated and joined them in Kenora.

David enlisted in Kenora on 13 December 1914, when recruits were being raised for a third overseas contingent. He was 26 years old and working as a fireman for the CPR. In March 1915 the volunteers became part of a newly-organized unit, the 52nd Overseas Battalion. It was based in Port Arthur and the Kenora recruits were sent there in June to join the rest of the battalion. While they were training the 1st Canadian Division was fighting in France and Belgium. Men were needed to replace casualties in the front line units and battalions in Canada were asked to send reinforcements. David was sent to England in September 1915 with the 2nd Reinforcing Draft, one of 250 men from the 52nd Battalion. They embarked from Montreal on the SS Missanabie on 4 September and arrived in the UK nine days later.

David spent five months in England with the 12th Reserve Battalion. On 2 February 1916 he was drafted to the 6th Brigade Machine Gun Company and sent to France. In early March he was transferred to the 29th Infantry Battalion but attached for duty to the 6th Canadian Trench Mortar Battery. In late August the Canadians were moved south to take part in the Somme Offensive and their first major operation started in mid-September. David had been promoted to Lance Corporal on 10 July and on 10 October he was promoted to Corporal. Two days later he became ill with trench fever and he was out of action for a few days. Later that month his unit left the Somme and moved back north to the Lens-Arras sector. In January 1917 he developed trench fever again and he spent two weeks recovering at No. 18 Casualty Clearing Station. He rejoined his unit in March and in April they were at the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Late that summer the Canadians took part in the Battle of Hill 70 (15-25 August 1917). David was one of the casualties on the first day, suffering a fractured lower leg and gunshot or shell wounds to his back and neck. He was evacuated to a casualty clearing station then to the 3rd Australian General Hospital. Five days later he was back in England, recovering at the 2nd Southern General Hospital in Bristol. In early October he was sent to the Canadian convalescent hospital in Wokingham then in January 1918 he was admitted to No. 4 General Hospital in Basingstoke. After a short time there he spent five months at Granville Special Hospital followed by two months at No. 5 General Hospital in Liverpool. He was married in the Liverpool register office on 23 August 1918. His wife, 31-year-old Mary Ann Sharples, was a telephone operator from Manchester.  A month after getting married David was invalided to Canada, embarking from Liverpool on the SS Tunisian on 24 September and arriving in Canada on 6 October.

After a few more weeks of medical treatment David was discharged from the army on 24 December in Winnipeg. He settled in Dauphin, where his mother, brother Frederick and sister Lillian were living. His wife came to Canada the following spring, arriving in March 1919 on the SS Metagama and joining him in Dauphin. At the time of the 1921 census David and Mary were living in Red Deer Hill, Saskatchewan and he was farming. He later returned to railway work and he and his wife lived in Prince Albert. When he retired in the early 1950s they moved to Vancouver Island. Mary passed away on 1 January 1969 in Sidney and David died on 16 October 1975 in Victoria. They are both buried at Royal Oak Burial Park in Saanich.

David is commemorated on the Canadian Pacific Railway Roll of Honour.

By Becky Johnson

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