Soldier Spotlight: Private John Finlay Watson

Image: A clipping from the Lake Saskatoon Journal, June 16, 1917

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

Regimental Number: 437637; M56292
Rank: Private
Branch: 15th Battalion

Finlay was born in Belfast, Ireland on September 16, 1891. His parents immigrated to Canada with their nine children in 1908; Finlay filed on homesteads at NE 9-71-8-W6 and NW 33-70-8-W6 in 1910. In August of 1915, Finlay enlisted in the Canadian Army. His brother Robert also served during World War I. Finlay received a bayonet wound to his right leg at Vimy Ridge on April 30, 1917 when he went over the top and landed on a spiked bayonet (see his June 1917 letter for more details about the injury). He also suffered from accidental abrasions to his face and hands in August of 1917. Finlay’s wife was named Mabel. During World War II, Finlay served with the Veterans Guard at a POW camp in Lethbridge. He died there on February 2, 1945 and was buried in the Lake Saskatoon Cemetery.

Sources: additional news clippings, including those listed as Finlay; Pioneers of the Peace p. 119; Along the Wapiti p. 401, 411

Share this post