Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 15, 1897
Place of BirthIpswich, Suffolk
Marital Statussingle
Next of KinMrs Jane Bowles (Balls), (step mother), 102 Handford Road, Ipswich, England
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number718830
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion1st Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Mounted Rifles
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentDropmore, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentMarch 15, 1916
Age at Enlistment19
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathApril 19, 1981
Age at Death83
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Webb, George Edward

George Edward Webb was born on 15 July 1897 in Ipswich, Suffolk in England. His mother Jane Clarinda Webb, a domestic servant, was born in 1869 in the village of Lawshall, Suffolk, about 50 kilometres southeast of Ipswich. She was the daughter of Harry and Mary Ann (née Reynolds) Webb who had married in 1863 in the registration district of Thingo in Suffolk. Harry was a tailor by trade while Mary Ann was a dressmaker. Jane had previously given birth to son Ernest Albert Webb in 1887 who was living with her parents for the 1891 and 1901 censuses. Later censuses gave Jane’s occupation as cook. Never marrying, she died on 29 June 1950 at the Billericay Hospital in Essex.

By the time of the 1901 England census George, along with three other children, was boarding with John and Jane (née Adams) Balls on Handford Road in Ipswich. John and Jane had married in 1889 in Ipswich and for both the 1901 and 1911 censuses had taken in children. Although his records would be needed to confirm, at some point it appears that George was given over to the care of Barnardo’s, a British charity founded by Thomas John Barnardo in 1866 to care for vulnerable children.

Between 1869 and the late 1930s over 100 000 juvenile migrants were sent to Canada from the British Isles during the child emigration movement. Motivated by social and economic forces, churches and philanthropic organizations sent orphaned, abandoned and pauper children to Canada. Many believed that these children would have a better chance for a healthy, moral life in rural Canada, where families welcomed them as a source of cheap farm labour and domestic help. After arriving by ship, the children were sent to distributing and receiving homes. (Library and Archives Canada)

Along with 252 other children in the care of Barnardo’s, an age appropriate George E Webb arrived in Quebec, Canada aboard the Kensington on 20 July 1907. By the time George enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1916 he was living in Dropmore, Manitoba, a small community about 40 kilometres north of Russell, Manitoba where Dr. Barnardo’s Russell Manitoba Training Farm had been located.

With occupation of labourer and his next of kin given as his step-mother Jane Bowles (Balls) back on Handford Road in Ipswich, George signed his attestation papers on 15 March 1916 in Winnipeg. Standing 5 foot 8, he had blue eyes and brown hair. His date of birth was given as 22 July 1897. As a Private with the 107th (Winnipeg) Battalion, George arrived in Liverpool, England aboard the Olympic on 25 September 1916. In early December he was transferred to the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles at Witley Camp. Landing in France on 7 December he joined the unit in the field on 13 January 1917.

The 1st CMR had started the war as a mounted unit but in January 1916 they were converted to infantry and together with three other CMR units they formed the 8th Brigade of the 3rd Canadian Division. Battle honours included Mount Sorrel; Somme, 1916; Flers-Courcelette; Ancre Heights; Arras, 1917, ’18; Vimy, 1917; Hill 70; Ypres, 1917; Passchendaele; Amiens; Scarpe, 1918; Hindenburg Line; Canal du Nord; Cambrai, 1918; Valenciennes; France and Flanders, 1915–18.

George was granted two leaves to the UK during the war, 7 to 22 December 1917 and a fourteen day leave starting on 2 December 1918. Overstaying his leave and arriving back at the unit on 4 January 1919, George was awarded 28 days Field Punishment #1 and forfeited thirteen days pay. With the end of the war he embarked from Southampton aboard the Olympic on 17 March 1919 and was discharged from service on demobilization on 31 March 1919 in Winnipeg. His intended place of residence was given as Shellmonth, Manitoba, a small community about 15 kilometres south of Dropmore.

By the time of the 1921 Canada census, George was living in an apartment on Broadway Street in Winnipeg while working at a wholesale warehouse. Listed on the census with him were Eva Webb and two year old Kenneth. Born on 19 January 1893 in the Barrie Township in Ontario, Eva Pearl was the daughter of James Hetherington (aka Heatherington) and Sarah Annetta Hicks. She had married Scottish immigrant Thomas Michael Ray in 1916 in Winnipeg. The marriage failed and although George and Eva’s marriage wasn’t registered until 1940, for all purposes they were man and wife.

Making Winnipeg their home, George and Eva lived on Albany Street in the Saint James area for many years with George working as a grain inspector/sampler. Sadly, Kenneth, who had enlisted with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in December of 1939, died of his wounds sustained in a motor vehicle accident while in the line of duty in Italy on 11 September 1944. He is interred in the Ancona War Cemetery in Italy. One of his children, a daughter, was raised by Eva and George.

According to family members, George served with the “Little Black Devils” during WW2 at Minto Barracks in Winnipeg.

In 1949 the family moved to Keewatin, Ontario, a small town a few kilometres west of Kenora in northwestern Ontario. According to his obituary, George worked as a grain weighman for the government at the elevators in Keewatin, retiring in 1961.

Predeceased by his wife Eva on 5 January 1964, George died at the Lake of the Woods Hospital in Kenora on 19 April 1981. At the time of his death he was survived by granddaughter Maureen (Terry) McDonald, four great granddaughters, and two great great grandsons. Along with Eva George is interred in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

By Judy Thorburn

Year of the move to Keewatin incorrect in Eva’s obituary.

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