Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJune 15, 1895
Place of BirthBoston, Lincolnshire
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Mary Bray (mother), 648 Lincoln Road, Peterborough, Northamptonshire, England
Trade / CallingFireman with CPR/painter
Service Details
Regimental Number92633
Battalion9th Field Company
ForceBritish Army
BranchRoyal Engineers
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentPeterborough, England
Address at Enlistment648 Lincoln Road, Peterborough, Northamptonshire, England
Date of EnlistmentApril 7, 1915
Age at Enlistment19
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 1, 1970
Age at Death76

Bray, Cecil

Sapper Cecil Bray was born in England and living in Kenora, Ontario when the war started. He returned to Great Britain and enlisted with the Royal Engineers, serving with them for four years and earning a Military Medal.

Cecil was the youngest son of John Joseph Bray and Mary Ann Southam Shelbourne of Peterborough, Northamptonshire, England. He was born in Boston, Lincolnshire on 15 June 1895 and he had an older brother Sidney Joseph (1892) and a younger sister Gertrude Doris (1899). His parents had married in 1891 and the family moved from Boston to Peterborough in the late 1890s. John worked as a locomotive fireman and engine driver.

Before the war started a group of young men from Peterborough immigrated to Canada and settled in the town of Kenora, in northwestern Ontario. Most of them worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway and lived at the Railway YMCA. They became known locally as the ‘Peterborough Boys’ and the group included both Cecil and his brother Sidney. Cecil arrived in March 1913 on the Empress of Britain and he lived in Kenora for about a year and a half, working as a fireman for the CPR.

The war started in August 1914 and Sidney Bray enlisted in November, joining the Canadian Field Artillery.  About a month later Cecil returned home to England because their mother was ill, and he found work as a painter while he was there. The following spring he enlisted with the Royal Engineers, signing up on 7 April 1915 in Peterborough. He was sent to France that fall and he served with the Royal Engineers in France and Belgium for the next three and a half years, some of that time with the 9th Field Company. In March 1918, during the German spring offensive, he suffered a bullet wound to his left elbow and he was treated at No. 6 General Hospital in Rouen and No. 72 General Hospital in Trouville. It was likely in March 1918 that he earned the Military Medal. It was awarded to him in April and listed in the London Gazette in June.

The war ended in November 1918 and in December Cecil had 14 days leave in the UK. He served in France for another two months, returning to England on 25 February 1919 and getting   discharged on demobilization a month later. His brother Sidney had been seriously wounded in September 1918 and after the war they both decided to live in England again. Cecil was married in Peterborough in 1922 to Ethel May Stocks and they had two children, Doris in 1923 and Tony in 1934. Cecil passed away in Peterborough in 1971, at age 76, and his wife died six years later.

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

By Becky Johnson

Photo at the top is the Military Medal

baj-YMCA-image Bray-Cecil-90 Bray-Cecil-91

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