Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 25, 1889
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Mary Elizabeth Bunting (mother), 653 - 6th Street East, North Vancouver
Trade / CallingDecorator
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number553707
BattalionInland Water Transport
ForceBritish Army
BranchRoyal Engineers
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentFebruary 13, 1917
Age at Enlistment27
Theatre of ServiceMesopotamia
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 18, 1964
Age at Death74
Buried AtVancouver Crematorium, Vancouver, British Columbia

Bunting, John Benjamin

Lance Corporal John Benjamin Bunting joined the Royal Engineers in 1917 and served with the Inland Water Transport section. He spent 18 months in Mesopotamia and returned to Canada in August 1919.

John was the oldest son of Joseph and Mary Elizabeth Bunting of North Vancouver, British Columbia. His parents were both born in Derbyshire, England, Joseph in Andover and Mary (née Piggin) in the nearby village of Crich. When the 1881 census was taken Joseph was living at home in Andover, employed as a stone mason, and Mary was working as a domestic servant in the same neighbourhood. Later that year Joseph immigrated to Canada and settled in Rat Portage (now called Kenora), in northwestern Ontario. Mary joined him there in 1887, arriving in Halifax on the Peruvian on 17 December. They were married in Rat Portage a week later, on Christmas Eve.

Joseph found work as a mason and he and his wife had four children, all born in Rat Portage: John Benjamin (25 May 1889), Harold Charles (1891), Mary Eileen (1893) and Joseph Robert (1895). Around 1910 the Buntings moved to Vancouver but John stayed in Kenora. When the 1911 census was taken he was lodging with a family in the north ward and working as a painter and paper hanger. By late 1916 the war was in its third year and John decided to enlist with the Royal Engineers. He went to Winnipeg where he attested on 13 February 1917. An item in the Kenora newspaper on 17 February mentioned that he was leaving shortly for England to join the Royal Engineers’ Inland Water Transport section. He headed to Montreal first, where he was taken on strength at the Guy Street Barracks on 19 March. He embarked on the SS Southland a few days later and arrived in Liverpool on 6 April.

In early May John was sent to Stonar Camp, on the southeast coast of England, where he became part of the Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force. He left for Mesopotamia that summer, embarking from Sandwich on 5 July and arriving in Basra on 30 October. For the next 18 months he served as an instructor at the Motor Boat School for Drivers. The British had a large fleet of motor boats in Mesopotamia but there was a shortage of experienced drivers so they had organized the school in October 1917. At the end of May 1918 John became ill, possibly due to the extreme heat, and he spent a week in the 3rd British General Hospital. During his final months in Basra he was promoted from Sapper to Lance Corporal. He embarked for the UK on HMT Ekma on 14 April 1919, arriving in England in early July. After another month there John was on his way home, sailing on the Royal George on 14 August and landing at Halifax ten days later. He was back in Kenora at the end of the month and he was officially discharged on demobilization on 19 September in Winnipeg. His brother Joseph Robert had been conscripted in 1917 and he was wounded twice but he survived the war.

John spent only a short time in Kenora before heading west to join his family in BC. His father had died while he was overseas and he moved in with his mother on 6th Street East in North Vancouver. He had a long career with Thomson and Page Ltd., working for them for almost forty years as a radio technician and salesman. His mother and his brother Joseph both died in 1950 and his brother Charles in 1962. John retired in 1957 and passed away in Lions Gate Hospital on 18 January 1964, at age 74. He is buried at Vancouver Crematorium.

By Becky Johnson

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