Soldier Spotlight: Private William Atkinson

Image: A page from William’s service file (Library & Archives Canada).  “GSW rt hand Nov 14 1916.  Index finger slightly stiff, not as strong as before.  Good grip in that hand.  Complains that his glasses do not fit him.  Says he has pains in head.  Sleeps badly.  Heart rapid but action good.  Lungs negative.”

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: 472536
Rank: Private
Branch: 46th Battalion; 5th Battalion Canadian Railway Troops; No. 7 Canadian Stationary Hospital, Canadian Army Medical Corps

William was born on March 11, 1885 (1886?) in Keswick, England. He came to Canada around 1910 and at the time of his enlistment in 1915 was living in Saskatchewan. William received a gunshot wound to his right arm at the Somme, and an wound to his scalp as well; he was seriously ill for some time after these injuries. After his recovery, William joined the Railway Troops. In 1917 he was gassed. William was granted permission to marry Doris on Sept. 21, 1918 and on October 1 his pay started going to his new wife. He was discharged on May 1, 1919. William, along with his wife Doris and daughter Joan, moved to Valhalla from England in 1929 and filed on a homestead at NE 33-75-9-6. They didn’t farm much, but raised Persian cats for sale. He died in the Grande Prairie Hospital after a long illness caused by war injuries on January 29, 1939.

Sources: Pioneer Round-Up Volume II p. 436; La Glace Yesterday & Today p. 92; Cemetery Record

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