Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 10, 1879
Place of BirthDawn Township, Lambton County, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinRoderick McDonald (brother), Knapdale, Ontario
Trade / CallingTeamster
Service Details
Regimental Number829619
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion4th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Machine Gun Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentDecember 2, 1915
Age at Enlistment36
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJune 15, 1939
Age at Death60
Buried AtWest Bothwell Cemetery, Kent County, Ontario

McDonald, Norman

Private Norman McDonald enlisted in Winnipeg, Manitoba and served with the Canadian Machine Gun Corps in France and Belgium. He was wounded in September 1918 but he survived the war and returned to Canada in February 1919.

Norman’s birth was registered as 10 May 1879 in Dawn Township, Lambton County, Ontario. His parents, Edward McDonald and Margaret (Maggie) McDiarmid, were both born in Scotland. They were married in 1871 in Mosa Township, Middlesex County, Ontario. Edward was a widower and he had at least three children with his previous wife: John, Catherine and Annie. With Maggie he had at least three more: Rachel, Roderick and Norman. At the time of the 1901 census the family was living in Mosa Township. Edward died in the fall of 1901 and he’s buried in West Bothwell Cemetery in neighbouring Kent County.

Norman had moved west as a young man and by the time he enlisted he was living in Manitoba or northwestern Ontario. He signed up in Winnipeg on 2 December 1915, joining the 144th Battalion. He said he was 33 years old (he was 36) and born on 22 February 1882 in Knapdale, a small village in Mosa Township. His occupation was teamster and next of kin was his brother Roderick in Knapdale. Roderick’s address was also recorded as R.R. # 2, Dresden, Ontario. The 144th Battalion had been organized in November and it was recruited in the Winnipeg area. The troops were sent overseas in the fall of 1916, embarking from Halifax on 18 September on the SS Olympic and arriving in Liverpool about a week later.

In England the men were transferred to reserve battalions to be used as reinforcements for other units. Norman was assigned to the 18th Reserve Battalion in January 1917 at Seaford Camp, East Sussex. On 27 March he was drafted to a front line unit, the 44th Battalion, and sent to France. He joined his new battalion in the field in April, about a week after the Battle of Vimy Ridge. In early August he was attached to No. 10 Canadian Machine Gun Company for duty as part of the Brigade Pack Company. Pack companies were in charge of the pack animals that hauled the guns and equipment. In mid-August the Canadians were at the Battle of Hill 70 and in the fall they took part in the Battle of Passchendaele. They spent the winter in the Lens-Arras area and Norman had two weeks leave in January 1918.

In March there was a re-organization of the machine gun units and Norman was transferred to the 4th Battalion, Canadian Machine Gun Corps. That summer the Canadians were given several weeks of intensive training in open warfare and they were heavily involved in the final three months of the war. Near the end of September they crossed the Canal du Nord and it may have been during that operation that Norman was wounded. He suffered a gunshot or shell wound to his head and he was admitted to No. 18 General Hospital in Dannes-Camiers on 30 September. On 6 October he was discharged to the base depot but he became ill about two weeks later. He was sent to No. 56 General Hospital in Etaples and diagnosed with influenza. He recovered and was back on duty at the end of the October.

The Armistice ended hostilities on the Western front in November and Norman returned to England at the end of December. He spent about eight weeks with the Canadian Machine Gun Corps Depot. He sailed from Liverpool on 23 February 1919 on the SS Belgic, arriving in Halifax about a week later. He was discharged on demobilization on 4 April in Winnipeg and awarded the British War and Victory medals.

After the war Norman lived in northwestern Ontario, mainly in Kenora but also spending some time in Sioux Lookout. He worked for many years for the Keewatin Lumber Company and the Forestry Branch of the Ontario government. He was a member of the Canadian Legion, Kenora branch. He passed away at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Kenora on 15 June 1939, at age 60. He was survived by his brother Roderick in Dresden, Ontario, his sister Rachel (Mrs. John Leitch), also in Dresden, and another sister, Mrs. Bull, in Thedford, Lambton County, Ontario.

Norman is buried in West Bothwell Cemetery in Kent County, Ontario, along with his parents, his brother Roderick (1876-1962) and other family members.

By Becky Johnson

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