Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 15, 1885
Place of BirthDublin
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinFlorence Donovan (sister), Oatfield Road, Orpington, Kent, England
Trade / CallingLocomotive Engineer
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number2125003
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo. 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Railway Troops
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentSuite 14 Inglis Apts., Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 30, 1917
Age at Enlistment31
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 12, 1949
Age at Death63
Buried AtBrookside Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Donovan, Frank Daniel

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


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