Robert Cecil Custance


Nov 24, 1890

Born in Norttinghamshire, England to Ernest and Christine (nee Clark) Custance


May 30, 1914

Married to Dinah Kay, (sister of Thomas Kay who later joined the 21st Battalion) in Peterborough, Ontario.  Robert’s occupation is listed as Teamster


Nov 4, 1914

Attested into the 21st Battalion in Kingston, Ontario 

Ø      Number 59230 (temporary number 510)

Ø      Next of kin given as Mrs. RC Custance, wife, 276 Wolfe St., Peterborough, Ontario

o       His wife moved to Bury, Lancashire, England (where she was born) at some point after the battalion arrived in West Sandling

Ø      Previous occupation given as Lace Machine Operator

Ø      No previous military experience given

Ø      Religion given as Church of England

Ø      Assigned to “E” Company

o       This was later reorganized into “C” Company 

The battalion trained in the Kingston area through the winter with headquarters in the Kingston Armouries


Dec 4, 1914

Promoted to the rank of Corporal and appointed to the provisional rank of Lance Sergeant


Jan 12, 1915

Admitted to the Kingston Hospital with a diagnosis that reads Influenza


Jan 21, 1915

Discharged to duty from hospital


May 1, 1915

Promoted to the provisional rank of Sergeant


May 6, 1915

Embarked the RMS Metagama in Montreal, Quebec


May 15, 1915

Disembarked in Devonport, England and the battalion proceeded to the West Sandling Camp, near Hythe, Kent to continue training


Jul 1, 1915

Confirmed in the rank of Sergeant


Sep 14, 1915

Embarked the St. Seiriol in Folkestone


Sep 15, 1915

Disembarked in Boulogne, France and the battalion proceeded to St. Omer


Nov 6, 1915

Proceeded to the Trench Warfare School


Nov 13, 1915

Rejoined the battalion from the School


Jan 18, 1916

Granted 9 days leave


Jan 30, 1916

Rejoined the battalion from leave


Sep 15, 1916

During the battalion’s advance on a German strong point in a sugar refinery at Courcelette as part of the Somme offensive, Sergeant Custance received a shrapnel wound in the right forearm and received first at the dressing station


Sep 16, 1916

Admitted to the No. 10 General Hospital in Rouen


Sep 17, 1916

Invalided to England aboard the Hospital Ship Maheno

On arrival in England admitted to the Carrington Hospital, Nottingham where the shrapnel was removed from his arm. 

Posted to the CCAC (Canadian Casualty Assembly Centre) for pay purposes while in hospital


Oct 5, 1916

Transferred to the Kings Canadian Red Cross Hospital, Bushey Park


Nov 10, 1916

Discharged from hospital and reported to the CCAC in Shoreham


Nov 24, 1916

Attached to the CCD (Canadian Convalescent Depot) for 4 weeks of Physical Therapy


Mar 10, 1917

Posted to the EORD (Eastern Ontario Regimental Depot) for pay purposes while in hospital and placed On Command to the 3rd CCD (Canadian Convalescent Depot) and admitted to the St. Leonard’s Hospital to continue his recovery


May 17, 1917

Discharged from St. Leonard’s Hospital and TOS the 6th Reserve Battalion in Seaford


Sep 10, 1917

Appointed to the position of Acting Company Quartermaster Sergeant with pay and allowances


Oct 18, 1917

Appointed as Acting Company Sergeant Major with pay and allowances


Dec 2, 1917

Posted to the 21st Battalion


Dec 5, 1917

Arrived at the No. 2 CIBD (Canadian Infantry Base Depot) in Etaples, France as part of a draft of 418 reinforcements from England and TOS the 21st Battalion


Dec 7, 1917

Left the CIBD to join his unit


Dec 13, 1917

Rejoined the 21st Battalion in billets in the Cellars Camp near Neuville St. Vaast


Apr 2, 1918

During the night of April 1-2, the battalion came under attack in the trenches near Neuville Vitasse and A/CSM Custance received severe shrapnel wounds to his back and legs.  After being given first aid in the Regimental Aid Post, he was transported to the No. 1 CFA (Canadian Field Ambulance) where he died of his wounds and was buried in the Faubourg Demiens Cemetery, Arras France

Following the war the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, Plaque (Dead Man’s Penny), Scroll and Memorial Cross were sent to his widow, Mrs. R.C. Custance, 276 Wolfe St., Peterborough, Ontario

A second Memorial Cross was sent to his mother, Mrs. Chrissie Norton, 107 Lea Road, Northamptonshire, England


A/CSM Custance is honoured on the Peterborough, Ontario War Memorial

He is also honoured in the halls of the Peterborough Memorial Centre hockey arena



During the Remembrance Day ceremonies in 2008, Veteran's Affairs Canada conducted a vigil each night for the week leading up to November 11.  This vigil consisted of projecting the names of every Canadian soldier who is listed with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on various buildings and monuments across Canada, and in London England.  The photo below shows A/CSM Custance's name being projected on the outside wall of Canada House in London England.

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