Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 15, 1896
Place of BirthForglen, Banffshire
Marital StatusSingle
Service Details
Regimental Number6414
Battalion1st Battalion
ForceBritish Amry
BranchGordon Highlanders
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathSeptember 1, 1969
Age at Death73
Buried AtLake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario

Fraser, William Smith

William Smith Fraser was born on 15 April 1896 in Forglen, Banffshire, Scotland. His mother was Isabella Fraser, the daughter of Alexander Fraser and Eliza Anderson, and was born in 1875 in nearby King Edward, Aberdeenshire. At the time of William’s birth Isabella was working as a domestic servant in Forglen. By the time of the 1901 census William was living with his paternal grandmother Elsie Smith in Turriff, Aberdeenshire, a community about eight kilometres southeast of Forglen. Also living in the household were Elsie’s son William, daughter Elsie Reid, and grandchildren Jane Reid, James Smith, and William. Isabella was working as a servant in the Alexander and Sophia Troop household in King Edward at the time of the census.

At the onset of WW1 William enlisted with the 1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders. According to the Forces War Records for 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders:

04.08.1914: Stationed at Plymouth as part of the 8th Brigade of the 3rd Division
14.08.1914: Mobilized for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including he Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat and the Battle of Le Cateau
12.09.1914: Due to heavy losses after the Battle of Le Cateau the Battalion moved to Army Troops
30.09.1914: Returned to the 8th Brigade of the 3rd Division and was once again engaged in various actions on the Western Front
19.10.1915: Transferred to the 76th Brigade of the 3rd Division and continued to be engaged in various actions on the Western Front
1916: the Actions of the Bluff and St Eloi Craters, the Battle of Albert, the Battle of Bazentin, the Battle of Delville Wood, the Battle of the Ancre.
1917: the First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, the Battle of Arleux, the Third Battle of the Scarpe, the Battle of the Menin Road, the Battle of Polygon Wood, the Battle of Cambrai.
1918: the Battle of St Quentin, the Battle of Bapaume, the First Battle of Arras, the Battle of Estaires, the Battle of Hazebrouck, the Battle of Bethune, the Battle of Albert, the Second Battle of Bapaume, the Battle of the Canal du Nord, the Battle of Cambrai, the Battle of the Selle.
11.11.1918: Ended the war in France, La Longueville east of Bavai.

According to William’s WW2 service record, during his WW1 service he was wounded, causing a fracture to his hip. William was awarded the 14-15 Star, Victory, and British War Medals for his service.

William immigrated to Canada in 1922, embarking from Glasgow on 1 April on the Melita. His passage was paid by the Overseas Settlement Committee wherein potential emigrants were recruited and selected to resettle in Canada. Previously working as a carter, he was on his way to his cousin Mrs Christina (Alf) Major (née Smith) in Sperling, Manitoba to do farm work. His nearest relative in Scotland was his uncle Robert Smith in Aberdeen.

William enlisted with the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders on 17 January 1940 in Winnipeg. His date and place of birth was given as Turriff on 15 April 1902, occupation as miner, his next of kin as his cousin George Thain in Turriff, and previous service as with the Gordon Highlanders from 1914-1919.  He embarked from Halifax for the UK on 13 December 1940. William served for 64 months in the UK, mainly as general duties as a batman. Due to his age and service during the two wars, in May of 1945 he requested to be discharged. In his interview he stated that over the years he had worked as a miner for five years, a bushman for fourteen years, and greaser for seven. He anticipated no trouble returning to former employment in the bush with the Keewatin Lumber Company out of Keewatin in northwestern Ontario. The interviewer described William as a very conscientious Scottish soldier who would carry out to the best of his ability any duty required of him, a hard worker with a friendly manner, and mature in his thinking. On account of his age (48), category (P-4, L-4), and service (10 years), the interviewer believed that he had done his duty to his country and that his wish for discharge should be respected. William was discharged from service by reason of ‘to return to civil life his physical condition precluding his serving advantageously in the army’ on 11 June 1945 in Winnipeg. He was awarded the Defence Medal, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Clasp, and the War Medal 1939-1945 for his service.

William, aka ‘Scotty’, returned to the Keewatin/Kenora area where he worked for a number of years for the Ontario Minnesota Pulp and Paper Company in the Logging Division, retiring on 31 October 1962. He was an adherent of St Alban’s Pro Cathedral, and member of the local 2693 Lumber and Sawmill Workers, and the Kenora Branch of the Canadian Legion.

William died on 1 September 1969 in the Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora. A service was held in the Chapel of Brown’s Funeral Home with Dean Watts officiating. He is interred in the Legion Plot in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora.

By Judy Stockham
Fraser-William-Smith-2 Fraser-William-Smith-3 Fraser-William-Smith-4

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