Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJune 4, 1887
Place of BirthGlasgow
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinSarah Emily Gray (wife), Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingLocomotive Engineer
Service Details
Regimental Number2125295
Service Record Link to Service Record
BattalionNo. 13 Light Railway Operating Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Railway Troops
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentMarch 12, 1917
Age at Enlistment29
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death19800424
Age at Death92
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Gray, Colin Campbell

Sapper Colin Campbell Gray enlisted in March 1917 and served with the Canadian Railway Troops in the UK, France and Belgium. He returned to Canada in May 1919.

Colin was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 4 June 1887. His parents were Captain John Gray, a mariner, and Mary Campbell. Six of his brothers and sisters were born in Scotland, most of them in Glasgow: John, Mary, Margaret, Archibald, Angus and James Alexander. When Colin was six years old his family immigrated to Canada, arriving in Halifax on 23 June 1893 on the Warwick. They settled in Pictou County, Nova Scotia and two more children were born there, George English and Eva May.

Colin was married in Granton, Pictou County on 22 July 1913. His wife, Emily Sarah Woodin, was born and raised in Pictou County, the daughter of Reuben and Grace Woodin. Her mother died when she was a child and she had six older sisters and two brothers. Colin was working as a locomotive engineer at the time of his marriage. The war started a year later and his younger brother Angus Gray was one of the early volunteers, enlisting in September 1914 with the 1st Canadian Contingent. Angus served overseas with the 13th Battalion and he was killed in April 1915 at the Second Battle of Ypres (St. Julien).

By the time Colin enlisted, on 12 March 1917, he and his wife were living in Kenora, Ontario where he worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway. He went to Winnipeg to sign up, joining No. 2 Section, Skilled Railway Employees. He said he had served with a militia unit, the 78th Regiment in Nova Scotia. He was one of nine men from the Kenora area who enlisted with No. 2 Section and they left town on 16 March on the first leg of their journey overseas. A large crowd gathered at the Kenora train station to see them off. A month later the men embarked from Halifax on the SS Grampian. In England their unit was renamed No. 13 Light Railway Operating Company, Royal Engineers. After a few weeks of training the company was sent to France, arriving at Le Havre on 10 June 1917.

Between June and November 1917 the Allied armies took part in several major battles, including Hill 70 and Passchendaele, and over the winter the Canadians held a long section of the front line near Lens in France. Railways were vital for moving troops, equipment and supplies as well as evacuating the wounded. Starting in January 1918 Colin spent about three months on command to Forward Transportation, 3rd Army and in August he had two weeks leave in the UK. The Armistice ended hostilities in November but Colin’s unit stayed in France for another three months. Just as they were leaving for England he became ill with bronchitis and he was admitted to No. 7 Canadian General Hospital in Etaples on 18 February. Two days later he was evacuated to England on the hospital ship Brighton. He recovered at No. 16 Canadian General Hospital in Orpington from 21 February until 14 March.

Colin sailed for Canada on 2 May on the SS Cassandra, arriving in Halifax eleven days later and getting discharged there on 17 May. Emily had moved back to Nova Scotia while he was overseas and they planned to spend some time in Granton. When the 1921 census was taken they were living back in Kenora, in an apartment on First Street South. Colin worked for the CPR for more than forty years, retiring in 1952. He was a member of several lodges and a life member of the Canadian Legion, Kenora Branch, receiving his 50-year pin in December 1970.

Emily died in Kenora in August 1958, at age 69. Colin moved into Pinecrest Home for the Aged in 1973 and he passed away there on 24 April 1980, at age 92. He and his wife are both buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery. Colin was in an unmarked grave but a veteran grave marker was provided by the Last Post Fund in October 2018.

By Becky Johnson

Jarrett-William-97 Gray-Colin-Campbell-90 Gray-Colin-Campbell-91 Gray-Colin-Campbell-92

« Back To Soldier Biographies