Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 29, 1875
Place of BirthLondon
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinMrs. Lillian Johnson (wife), Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingLabourer
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number288364
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion5th Regiment, Canadian Railway Troops
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Railway Troops
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentApril 11, 1916
Age at Enlistment40
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 2, 1944
Age at Death68
Buried AtBrookside Cemetery, Winnipeg
PlotMilitary Section 5 - 2165

Johnson, John

Sapper John Johnson was married and the father of four young children when he enlisted in April 1916. He served in Canada, Great Britain and France for three years, returning home in March 1919.

According to his attestation, John was born in London, England on 29 September 1875. He immigrated to Canada around 1900 and he was married in Whitewood, Saskatchewan in 1907. His wife, 16-year-old Elizabeth Ellen Evans (known as Lillian), was born in North Tawton, Devonshire, England. Her mother, Elizabeth Ann Evans, worked as a servant. Elizabeth Ann married Thomas John Hucker in 1898 and they immigrated to Canada in 1905, arriving on 1 December on the SS Virginian. With them were their three children as well as Lillian, and the family settled in Whitewood.

John and Lillian’s first son, Gordon Leslie, was born in Saskatchewan in 1908. By 1910 they had moved to the town of Kenora in northwestern Ontario. When the 1911 census was taken Lillian’s parents were also living in Kenora. John worked as a labourer and he and his wife had three more children over the next five years: Edna Iris, Victor Earle and Stanley Cecil. Another daughter, Margaret, was born after John enlisted.

John signed up in Winnipeg on 11 April 1916, joining the 221st Battalion. He said he was 40 years old, his address was Kenora and next of kin was his wife Lillian. His unit trained in Manitoba for a year and headed overseas in the spring of 1917. They embarked from Halifax on 18 April 1917 on the SS Ausonia and arrived in England at the end of the month. In early June John was transferred to the Canadian Railway Troops Depot and on 16 July he was attached to the 5th Battalion, Canadian Railway Troops, and sent to France. He joined his new unit in the field about a week later. Railroads were essential for moving men, equipment and supplies and railway troops were responsible for their construction and maintenance. Work listed in the war diaries included grading, laying ballast and track, unloading and shipping materials, doing repairs and maintenance and carrying out night patrols.

John spent the next 17 months with the 5th Battalion. He suffered from arthritis in his knees and hips and for the last 8 months he served as a batman (officer’s servant), which didn’t involve manual labour. He had two weeks leave in the UK in August 1918 and he returned to France at the end of the month for what would be the final period of the war. The Armistice ended hostilities in November and John was back in the UK in early December. He was transferred to the Canadian Railway Troops Depot and it was another three months before he sailed for Canada. He embarked on 19 March 1919 on the SS Minnekahda, arriving nine days later and getting discharged in Winnipeg at the end of the month. Lillian’s brother and father, Thomas John Hucker Jr. and Sr., also served during the war.

When the 1921 census was taken John and his family were living in Fort William. There were two more children in the household, Dorothy (age 2) and Leonard (age 11 months), as well as a lodger, Frank Kinney. Frank was a war veteran who was born and raised in the Kenora area. Not long after the census was taken John left the family and moved to Winnipeg. His wife Lillian stayed in Fort William and raised their seven children with Frank. Lillian and the two youngest children used the surname Kinney.

John passed away at Deer Lodge Veterans Hospital in Winnipeg on 2 May 1944. Next of kin was his son Gordon who was also living in Winnipeg by then. John’s funeral was held on 5 May and he’s buried in the Field of Honour at Brookside Cemetery.


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