Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthFebruary 12, 1897
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinGeorge Clayton Frisbie (father), 1308-E. 13th Street North, Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.
Trade / CallingStudent
Service Details
Regimental Number911954
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion1st Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Machine Gun Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at Enlistment1041 Comox Street, Vancouver, British Columbia
Date of EnlistmentJune 15, 1916
Age at Enlistment19
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death19670908
Age at Death70

Frisbie, Clayton Goodwin

Private Clayton Goodwin Frisbie was born in Canada and living in the U.S. when the war started. He enlisted in Vancouver in 1916 and served overseas for two years, most of that time as a machine gunner.

Clayton was the son of George Clayton Frisbie and Helen McQueen of Portland, Oregon. George was born in Pennsylvania and Helen was from southwestern Ontario. They were married in May 1896 in Winnipeg and they made their home in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), in northwestern Ontario. Six of their seven children were born there: Clayton (12 February 1897), Anne McQueen (1898), Allan Grant (1899), Karl Newell (1906), and twins who died as infants in 1901. George worked in the insurance business and he was also the U.S. Consular Agent in Rat Portage/Kenora and treasurer of the Rainy River Navigation Company. Around 1907 Clayton’s family moved to the U.S. and the youngest child, Mary, was born in Colusa County, California in December 1908. By the time of the 1910 census the Frisbies had settled in Portland, Oregon. George worked as a bookkeeper in a law office and also invested in lumber and shipbuilding companies.

When the war started Clayton was living at home in Portland and attending Jefferson High School. He had a part-time job as a newspaper carrier and also served for a few months with the Oregon National Guards. When the school year ended in 1916 he went to Vancouver to enlist, signing up on 15 June with the 196th (Western Universities) Battalion. The 196th was mobilized in Winnipeg and the recruits were mostly university and college students from the four western provinces. Clayton was assigned to Company D (British Columbia). The men trained at Camp Hughes in Manitoba during the summer and headed overseas that fall, embarking from Halifax on 1 November on the SS Southland and arriving in England ten days later.

On 1 January 1917 Clayton’s unit was merged with the 222nd Battalion to form the 19th Reserve Battalion. In March he was transferred to the Canadian Machine Gun Depot at Crowborough and in June he was sent to France. After a few weeks with the Machine Gun Pool he was assigned to the 4th Canadian Machine Gun Company and he joined them in the field on 2 August. Two weeks later, on 16 August, Clayton was wounded at the Battle of Hill 70. His injuries weren’t serious and he returned to duty a short time later. On 11 October he was transferred to the 13th Machine Gun Company and in November they took part in the Battle of Passchendaele.

Clayton had two weeks leave in February 1918 and shortly after he rejoined his company there was a re-organization of the Canadian machine gun units. His unit was absorbed into the 1st Battalion, Canadian Machine Gun Corps. That spring the Canadians were in the Arras sector, holding the front line, and Clayton was wounded a second time on 1 May. His unit was near Fampoux at the time, directing harassing fire at the enemy lines. He was admitted to No. 12 Canadian Field Ambulance with a minor gun shot or shell wound to his face and he was out of action for a few days.

The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started with the Battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918 and ended with the Armistice. The Canadians were heavily involved in the operations in those last three months. After their success at Amiens they were moved north for the Second Battle of Arras. The assault on the Drocourt-QuĂ©ant Line was launched on 2 September, with Clayton’s unit supporting the 1st Canadian Division. He was one of the casualties that day, suffering gun shot or shell wounds to his upper right arm and neck. He was evacuated to No. 5 General Hospital in Camiers on 5 September and he had fragments removed from his arm. A few days later he was back in England, where he recovered at No. 4 General Hospital in Basingstoke from 11 September until 25 October. After spending two weeks at Princess Patricia’s Canadian Red Cross Hospital he was discharged as fit for duty on 8 November. The Armistice ended hostilities three days later.

Clayton was transferred to the Canadian Machine Gun Corps Depot and he spent another three months in the UK. He embarked for Canada on the SS Carmania on 1 February 1919, arriving in Halifax eight days later via New York. He spent his two-week landing leave with his family in Portland and returned to Vancouver on 2 March. He was discharged there on demobilization on 10 March. His brother Allan Grant Frisbie had enlisted in 1917, just after the U.S. entered the war. He served overseas in the American Expeditionary Forces with the 116th Engineers. Their younger brother Karl served in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War.

When the 1920 census was taken Clayton was living at home in Portland and working as a shipyard helper. By 1930 he was employed as a clerk for the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway Company and he went on the have a long career with them. He was married to 39-year-old Margaret Ross in April 1947, at age 50. Clayton passed away on 8 September 1967, at age 70, and his wife died in September 1983.

By Becky Johnson

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Newspaper articles courtesy of Historic Oregon Newspapers (public domain).

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