Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 7, 1896
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinSir Douglas Colin Cameron (father), Government House, Winnipeg
Trade / CallingGentleman
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental NumberNA
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion52nd Squadron
ForceRoyal Flying Corps
BranchRoyal Flying Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at EnlistmentFort Garry Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentDecember 18, 1914
Age at Enlistment18
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMay 11, 1957
Age at Death60
Buried AtCremated (Vancouver Crematorium, Vancouver)

Cameron, Leslie Fergus

Lieutenant Leslie Fergus Cameron enlisted in December 1914 and went overseas with the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders). He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in April 1917 and served as a Flight Officer (Observer).

Leslie was born on 7 July 1896 in the town of Rat Portage in northwestern Ontario. His birth was registered as James Leslie Ferguson Cameron. He had a sister Evelyn Anne and a brother Douglas Lorn, both older than him. His parents were Sir Douglas Colin Cameron and Lady Margaret Cameron Ferguson. Douglas and Margaret were both born in Ontario and they were married in Montreal in February 1880. They settled in Winnipeg, Manitoba where Douglas became very involved in the business community, especially the lumber industry. He formed the Rat Portage Lumber Company and the couple spent at least ten years living in Rat Portage. Douglas served as the mayor there from 1901 to 1903. After returning to Winnipeg he was active in local and provincial politics as well as the militia, and his family lived in a large home at 65 Roslyn Road. He served on the provincial legislature for three years and was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba in 1911.

Leslie completed his grade school in Winnipeg then attended Upper Canada College in Forest Hill, Ontario. He had just turned 18 when the war started and he enlisted four months later, on 18 December 1914. He was 6′ tall with grey eyes and dark brown hair, and next of kin was his father Sir Douglas Cameron of Government House in Winnipeg. Leslie was given a commission as a Lieutenant with the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders), a new unit that was being raised in Winnipeg as part of the third overseas contingent. After training in Manitoba over the winter the battalion headed east in the spring, passing through Leslie’s old hometown of Kenora (formerly Rat Portage) on 29 May. They embarked from Montreal on the SS Grampian on 1 June and arrived in England eight days later.

The 43rd Battalion spent eight more months training in England before being sent to France in February 1916. They became part of the 9th Brigade in the new 3rd Canadian Division. Leslie was kept in England an extra four weeks and he joined his unit in France on 20 March. At the end of the month they moved to the Ypres Salient, where the Canadians held the south sector of the front line, from Hooge to St. Eloi, for the next five months. On 2 June the Battle of Mount Sorrel started with an intense bombardment of the front trenches followed by the explosion of underground mines. After the barrage German infantry advanced and captured Mount Sorrel and nearby areas. The 43rd was involved in the heavy fighting several times over the next two weeks. Most of the lost ground was recaptured and the battle ended on 13 June with little change to the front lines but at a cost of 8,000 Canadian casualties.

In August Leslie was sent on a grenade course and when he returned his unit moved south to the Somme area, along with the rest of the Canadian Corps. On 20 September the battalion took part in their first assault there, attacking a section of the Zollern Graben Trench. Later that month Leslie had a ten day leave of absence and while he was away his unit suffered heavy casualties in an assault on Regina Trench. Afterwards they were moved north to the Vimy Front, where the Canadian Corps would spend the winter. In November Leslie was sent on a course at the Canadian Corps Training School and in December he was admitted to the hospital due to illness. After recovering he rejoined the 43rd Battalion in late February and served with the unit for another five weeks.

On 3 April 1917 Leslie was attached to the Royal Flying Corps as a flight observer on probation. He was sent to England for a one month course and on 11 August he was appointed as a Flying Officer (Observer) with the 52nd Squadron. The 52nd was equipped with RE 8 aircraft and it flew reconnaissance missions over the Ypres Salient. Leslie served with them for almost four months. In September he had a ten day leave of absence and in early December he was transferred to the Home Establishment at Shorncliffe in England. He returned to Canada in September 1918 and he was on special leave for three months. During that time the Armistice ended hostilities and he relinquished his commission on 30 November, getting officially discharged on 12 December in Winnipeg. His brother Douglas Lorn had also enlisted in December 1914. He served overseas for four years and returned to Canada in April 1919.

Leslie moved to British Columbia in 1920 and when the 1921 census was taken he was living with his parents in South Vancouver. His father was still involved in the lumber industry and Leslie was working as a shipper at a sawmill. He was married in Winnipeg on 12 June 1923 to Miss Margaret Martin. Margaret was born in Winnipeg in May 1900, the youngest daughter of William Martin and Katherine McMillan. She grew up on Wellington Crescent, just a few blocks from Leslie’s home on Roslyn Road. Leslie and his wife settled in Vancouver and he worked in the lumber industry for 15 years, retiring in 1935. He passed away in Whonnock, BC on 11 May 1957, at age 60. His wife died in Vancouver in 1989, at age 89.

Leslie is commemorated in the War Book of Upper Canada College, Roll of Service 1914-1919.

By Becky Johnson

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