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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Pte William MIDDLETON, 4 CMR, died 13.12.15

Guest Pete Wood

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Researching a Canadian Soldier, in terms of personal details, is much easier - because the attestation papers are available, free of charge, online at National Archives of Canada

But if we start with the information found on the CWGC, we find the following:


Initials: W

Nationality: Canadian

Rank: Private

Regiment: 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles (Central Ontario Regt.)

Age: 24

Date of Death: 13/12/1915

Service No: 4015

Additional information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Middleton of 32, Oxford St., Darlington, Co. Durham, England.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead


William Middleton's papers can be found at http://data2.archives.ca/cef/gpc010/494362a.gif and also at http://data2.archives.ca/cef/gpc010/494362b.gif Once the images are open, just hover your mouse at the bottom right hand side of the image - and you'll be shown an orange box which you can click to make the image larger (and easier to read).

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Unfortunately 4015 Pte. William Middleton isn't listed in the nominal roll at the end of the 4th CMR's official history, 'The 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles 1914–1919.'

From a note on his attestation papers it appears on June 10, 1915 Pte. Middleton was found medically unfit due to to tuberculosis. The 4th CMR left for England on July 18, 1915 on the S. S. Hesperian, so he never left Canada during the war.

Gravenhurst (St. James) Cemetery is located in Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada.


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Hi All

Been digging again

At the time of the 1901 census 9 year old William was living with his family in Darlington. the family consisted of Albert age 32 occ Watchmaker, Margeret age 36, Lily age 13, Thomas 11, Alice age 7, 5 year old Dora and Margeret age3.

Only other thing to add is Albert married Margerat Alderson in the March quarter 1888.


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So, in 1901 William Middleton aged 9 was living in Darlington, Durham with his family. He was born 13 January 1891

In December 1915, he was living, and dying, aged 24, in Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada. His parents were still at home in Darlington.

How, when and why did he go to Canada?

Checking the references for his papers, we discover he was a chauffeur/mechanic

who attested on 28 November 1914 in Toronto, He had spent 7 months in the KOYLI special Reserve, and 3 years in the Northumberland Hussars, and at the time of attestation was in the OGGBG (?)

Since he was only 23 at time of attestation, to be in his 4th year of military service, would seem to imply that he had only recently come to Canada

He was 6 feet tall, dark haired and blue eyed, completely fit with healthy lungs on 16 November 1914.

How did he get tuberculosis and die within one year?

Presumably he was living in Toronto as no other address is given, but this is not definite

He could have arrived via the United States, but checking the Ellis Island Database does not give any satisfactory matchesEllis Island Database

Since he was not born or married in Canada, although he did die there, no vital statistics records will be available. Perhaps taxation or land records, if he owned anything, but according to the lists at Olive Tree Genealogy, most available records are too earlyOlive Tree genealogy

Since I haven't yet found anything about him, let's try Gravenhurst

Using Google and " Graventurst Ontario History" as the entry, we discover that Gravenhurst was the site of the first tuberculosis sanitorium in Canada

"Muskoka Cottage Sanatorium was the first TB sanatorium in Canada, at Gravenhurst, Ontario. "Gravenhurst Sanitorium

which probably explains why William died there

Unfortunately Gravenhurst cemeteries do not yet seem to be included in the OCFA databaseOntario Cemetery Finding Aid

Well, I haven't found the answers to any of my questions except why he died there.

Maybe a Canadian researtcher could find more about his arrival!

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He was 6 feet tall, dark haired and blue eyed, completely fit with healthy lungs on 16 November 1914.

How did he get tuberculosis and die within one year?

There could be several reasons. He may have had pulmonary TB but it was not detected. From what I have seen, medical examinations were pretty cursory. Small early or quiescent lesions could be missed. Alternatively, he may have had TB elsewhere, for example intra-abdominal or renal disease. I doubt that he had the virulent miliary form, which my grandmother died of. William would have become ill over time, been diagnosed, then transfered back to Canada - too long I would have thought for the latter.

Sadly, TB is no respector of height, hair colour, eye colour or state of fitness. This is why it was so feared.


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Gravenhurst, is a very beautiful and underdeveloped area in Ontario. Many remote lakes, deep forests and rolling hills. Postcard perfect! Today it is the home of 'cottage country' for many Ontarians getting away from the city.

I have spent many summers 'up there', and can only imagine how remote and isolated it must have been in 1914; as it still has that flavour now.

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