Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 1896
Place of BirthSt. George's in the East, London
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinCharles Henry Skinner (father), Manchester Street School, Gray's Inn Road, King's Cross, London
Trade / CallingBrass fitter and turner (motor)
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number558258
Battalion56th Divisional (London) Signals Company
BranchRoyal Engineers
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentLondon, England
Address at EnlistmentManchester Street School, Gray's Inn Road, King's Cross, London
Date of EnlistmentDecember 4, 1914
Age at Enlistment18
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death1981
Age at Death85

Skinner, Charles William

Sapper Charles William Skinner enlisted with the Royal Engineers in December 1914 in London, England. He served for over four years with signal companies and a field company, getting discharged in February 1919.

Charles was born in July 1896 in St. George in the East, London, England. His father, Charles Henry Skinner, was from Gillingham, Kent and his mother, Ellen Louise Hollingsworth, was born in Norwich. They were married in the county of Essex in 1895 and they had two children, Charles and a daughter Marian Ethel born in St. Pancras, London in 1909. Charles Sr. worked for London City Council as caretaker of the Board School on Manchester Street, King’s Cross. The family lived at the school in the caretaker’s house.

Charles enlisted four months after the war started, when he was 18 years old. He was living at home at the time and working as a brass turner and fitter. He signed up in Bethnal Green, London on 4 December 1914, joining the 3/1st London Divisional Signals Company, Royal Engineers. He served in England for the next 18 months, taking a musketry course, doing motor despatch work and training at the signals depot at Biggleswade.

Charles was transferred to the 3/1st London Divisional Engineers Field Company on 17 June 1916 and three days later he was sent to France to serve as a motor mechanic. He spent two weeks at No. 2 Territorial Base Depot before joining his unit in the field. At the end of September he was assigned to the 2/1st London Divisional Signals Company. In March 1917 he was transferred to the 56th Divisional (London) Signals Company and he served with them until the end the war. He had two weeks leave in the UK from 2 November to 16 November 1918 and while he was there the Armistice was signed. After his leave Charles returned to France and served for another two months. He was dispatched to the UK on 19 January 1919 and discharged on demobilization in February.

In the spring of 1921 Charles immigrated to Canada. He sailed from Liverpool to St. John’s, Newfoundland on the SS Minnedosa, arriving on 29 March. He was listed as an engineer, going to Winnipeg and intending to live in Canada. He may have spent some time in Winnipeg but within a few years he was living in the town of Kenora in northwestern Ontario, where he worked as a mechanical engineer. Another newcomer to Kenora was Miss Ivy Jennie Ling. Ivy was born in June 1901 in the parish of Bow, London, England, the daughter of George Ling and Dorothy Jane Atkinson. Her parents were married in 1897 and she had an older brother Sydney and a younger sister Ada. After Dorothy died the three children were sent to Poplars Training School, a residential children’s home in Brentwood, Essex, on the outskirts of London. Ivy immigrated to Canada in May 1924, arriving on the SS Antonia, her destination listed as the Women’s Hostel in Winnipeg. She intended to find work as a domestic and like Charles she soon moved to Kenora.

On 9 September 1926 Charles and Ivy were married at St. Alban’s Church in Kenora. After the ceremony the wedding party and guests enjoyed a cruise on Lake of the Woods followed by a dinner and dance at the CPR Club House at Devil’s Gap. Charles and his wife made their home in Kenora for the next five years and in 1927 he joined the local branch of the Canadian Legion. They had two sons, Edward born in 1928 and Richard in 1930. In 1931 Charles and Ivy decided to move back to England. They left from Montreal that fall with their two children on the SS Alaunia, arriving in London on 19 October.

Charles and his wife both passed away in Bracknell, Berkshire, England, Charles in 1981 and Ivy in 1993.

By Becky Johnson

Skinner-Charles-99 Skinner-Charles-William-3

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