|Date of Birth||May 15, 1885|
|Place of Birth||Dublin|
|Next of Kin||Florence Donovan (sister), Oatfield Road, Orpington, Kent, England|
|Trade / Calling||Locomotive Engineer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Battalion||No. 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Railway Troops|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||Suite 14 Inglis Apts., Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||January 30, 1917|
|Age at Enlistment||31|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||January 12, 1949|
|Age at Death||63|
|Buried At||Brookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
Second Corporal Frank Daniel Donovan was working as a locomotive engineer and living in Winnipeg, Manitoba when he enlisted on 30 January 1917. He was born in Dublin, Ireland in May 1885 and he came to Canada in the late 1890s or early 1900s, possibly as a home child. He signed up with No. 1 Section Skilled Railway Employees, listing his next of kin as his sister Florence Donovan in Kent, England. A week after enlisting he left Winnipeg with the other volunteers, on the first leg of their journey overseas. The recruits went to Montreal, where the unit had been mobilized, and early in March they embarked for England on the SS Ausonia. In England No. 1 Section became the 12th (Canadian) Light Railway Operating Company, Royal Engineers and three weeks later they were re-designated as No. 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company (Canadians), Royal Engineers.
Frank’s unit stayed in England for only a month. He was promoted to Second Corporal on 23 March 1917 and No. 58 Company was sent to France about a month later. During two major battles – Messines Ridge in June 1917 and Lys in April 1918 – No. 58 Company operated just behind the combat areas where trains were needed to haul troops, ammunition, supplies, ambulance units and refugees. In July 1918 Frank had 14 days leave in Paris and he returned at the end of the month for the final period of the war. The fighting moved into a more open phase and roads and rails were essential for maintaining supplies to the front lines. Frank had two weeks leave in the UK in September and the Armistice ended hostilities in November. It would be months, however, before most of the Canadian troops returned to England. The 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions occupied parts of Germany while the other two divisions remained in Belgium, and the railway troops were kept busy until the spring. Frank returned to England with his unit in April 1919, exactly two years after they had first arrived in France. No. 58 Company was disbanded and the troops returned to Canada about four weeks later, arriving in Halifax on the SS Aquitania on 25 May. Frank was discharged on 27 May in Montreal.
After the war Frank returned to Winnipeg and had a long career with the railway. He also spent some time in Kenora, Ontario, where he joined the local branch of the Canadian Legion. He retired from the CNR in 1947, after 41 years of service. Frank passed away at his home in Winnipeg on 12 February 1949, at age 63. He was survived by a brother Jack in London, England. His funeral was held on 14 February and he’s buried in the Field of Honour at Brookside Cemetery.
Frank is commemorated on the Canadian National Railways First World War Roll of Honour.
By Becky Johnson