Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 20, 1890
Place of BirthToronto, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinArthur Fullford (brother), 50 Kate Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingLocomotive Engineer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number2125004
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo. 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Railway Troops
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentYMCA, Kenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 1, 1917
Age at Enlistment26
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJuly 16, 1942
Age at Death52
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Fullford, James George

Sapper James George Fullford signed up with a railway unit in February 1917 and served in France for two years. He returned to Canada in May 1919.

James was the youngest son of James (Sr.) and Elizabeth Fullford of Toronto, Ontario. His parents were both born in London, England and they came to Canada in 1884, a few months after getting married. They settled in Toronto where James Sr. worked as a glass beveller. They had four children: Arthur, Edwin, James (born 20 March 1890) and Alice. James’ mother died of pneumonia in 1899, when he was nine years old. His oldest brother Arthur moved to Winnipeg and when the 1911 census was taken James was living there with Arthur and his wife. James had found work as a fireman with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Around 1914 he moved east to the town of Kenora in northwestern Ontario. By the time he enlisted he was a locomotive engineer and he was living at the Railway YMCA.

During the war Canada played a major role in providing skilled workers for the construction and operation of railways in France and Belgium. In 1916 rail transportation was being expanded and more recruits were needed for service overseas. James enlisted in Winnipeg on 1 February 1917, signing up with No. 1 Section Skilled Railway Employees. Six days later he left Winnipeg by train with the other volunteers, on the first leg of their journey overseas, and they had a short stop in Kenora on the way through. The recruits included 32 local men and a large crowd gathered at the Kenora train station to see them off and say their goodbyes. The men continued on their way to Montreal, where the unit had been mobilized, and early in March they embarked for the UK on the SS Ausonia. In England No. 1 Section became the 12th (Canadian) Light Railway Operating Company, Royal Engineers. Three weeks later they were re-designated as No. 58 Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company (Canadians), Royal Engineers.

James was promoted to Second Corporal on 23 March 1917 and No. 58 Company was sent to France on 19 April. During two major battles – Messines Ridge in June 1917 and Lys in April 1918 – the unit operated just behind the combat areas where trains were needed to haul troops, ammunition, supplies, ambulance units and refugees. In November 1917 James was attached to the No. 1 Railway Depot and he spent three months there. After rejoining his unit in February 1918 he reverted to the rank of Sapper. In July he had two weeks leave in the UK and he returned to France in early August for what would be the final period of the war. The fighting moved into a more open phase and roads and railways were essential for maintaining supplies to the front lines.

On 11 November the Armistice ended hostilities but it was months before most of the Canadian troops returned home. 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. James 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 James embarked for Canada the following month, arriving in Halifax on the SS Aquitania on 25 May. He was discharged in Montreal two days later, with his intended address listed as the Railway YMCA in Kenora.

After the war James returned to Kenora and to his job with the CPR. He was married on 29 June 1921 to 23-year-old Meta Elizabeth Holmes, the daughter of Robert and Frances Holmes of Kenora. James was active in local sports, participating in baseball, curling and bowling. He belonged to the Royal Canadian Legion as well as several fraternal lodges. He died in Kenora on 16 July 1942, at age 52. His wife survived him by almost forty years, passing away in 1981 at age 83. They are both buried in Elmwood Circle Block in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

James is commemorated on the St. Alban’s Pro-Cathedral First World War Roll of Honour.

By Becky Johnson

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