Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthFebruary 4, 1900
Place of BirthCalumet Island, Quebec
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinAndrew Fraser (father), 1058 Thirteenth Avenue East, Vancouver
Trade / CallingSalesman
Service Details
Regimental Number172943
ForceRoyal Air Force
BranchRoyal Air Force (Canada)
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at Enlistment1058 Thirteenth Avenue East, Vancouver
Date of EnlistmentMay 15, 1918
Age at Enlistment18
Theatre of ServiceCanada
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death19190703
Age at Death19
Buried AtHis body was never found

Fraser, Claude Alexander

Pilot Cadet Claude Alexander Fraser joined the Royal Air Force in the spring of 1918, at age 18. He trained in the Toronto area for about seven months and he was discharged a few weeks after the Armistice.

Claude was the son of Andrew Fraser and Frances Elizabeth Fennell of Vancouver, British Columbia. Andrew was born in Quebec and Frances was from Simcoe County, Ontario. They were married in North Bay, Ontario in 1895 and their oldest son, Gordon Edwin, was born in Bradford, Simcoe County in 1896. By the following year the family was living in Calumet, Grenville County, Quebec where two children were born, Gertrude Irene (1897) and Claude Alexander (4 February 1900). A few years later Andrew and his wife moved to Kenora, Ontario and they had two more daughters, Rebecca (1903) and Marjorie (1905). Andrew worked as a cook for a railway contractor and when the 1911 census was taken the family was living on Seventh Avenue South in Kenora. Not long after that Andrew’s job took him out west and when his wife and children joined him they settled in Vancouver.

The war started in August 1914 and Gordon Edwin enlisted three months later, signing up in Vancouver with the 29th Battalion. He went overseas the following spring and he was seriously wounded at the Vimy front two years later. Early in 1917 the Royal Flying Corps organized a pilot training program in Canada and recruitment centres opened across the country. The training program was transferred to the Royal Air Force when it was formed on 1 April 1918. Claude turned 18 in February 1918 and he enlisted with Royal Air Force (Canada) on 15 May in Vancouver, signing up as a 3rd Class Air Mechanic. A week later he was in Toronto where he started training as a Cadet Pilot. The program took about eight to nine months and included classes in flight theory, gunnery, artillery observation, wireless communication, military law and mechanics. Flight training took place at one of several RAF airfields in the area. The Armistice ended hostilities in November and Claude was discharged on 26 December, ‘in consequence of being Surplus to R.A.F. requirements.’

Claude returned to Vancouver where his family was living and he found work with D.K. McLaren, a manufacturing firm. A short time later his parents moved to Mill Creek, a small village in the Okanagan Valley, not far from Kelowna. His father worked there as the stores superintendent at the mill. Claude was staying in Mill Creek with his parents in the summer of 1919 when he died in a tragic accident. He had gone fishing on his own on 3 July and it appeared that he slipped and fell into a deep river gorge. The authorities carried out a thorough search using bloodhounds but no trace of Claude’s body was ever found.

The Vancouver World, July 7, 1919 – ‘Dashed to death on the rocks at the foot of Mill Canyon appears to be the fate which overtook 19-year-old Claude Alexander Fraser,  a recently-returned member of the aviation service. Missing since Thursday noon he was hunted high and low through the dense bush and rocky canyons of the Mill Creek district by thirty or forty men and two bloodhounds. The hounds, which arrived on the scene on Sunday, traced the lost youth to the edge of a sheer 200-foot precipice, where a newly-cut fishing rod was the only other evidence of the youth having visited the spot. It is believed Fraser accidentally fell to the rocks below.’

By Becky Johnson

Fraser-Claude-Alexander-90 Fraser-Claude-Alexander-91

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