James Thomas Wainwright Halliday

James Thomas Wainwright Halliday


     James Thomas Wainwright Halliday was brought up as a boy in the neighbourhood of Port Hope, Ontario, receiving but an elementary school education at one of the country schools. At the age of fourteen, he was engaged as a helper in the Nicholson File Factory where he remained until his enlistment in the C.E.F. in 1915.

     He tried to enlist when the first call for troops was made in the summer of 1914 when war broke out but was dissuaded from doing so by his parents because of his youth. When a company of the 21st Battalion was mobilized in Port Hope, he again desired to enlist but was again dissuaded. On the mobilization of the 39th, he became more insistent and was permitted to offer himself although he had not yet reached his 17th birthday.

     In England he was drafted to the 21st Battalion that distinguished itself in France. With this unit he served until his death. On the morning of 15 September 1916, an attack was made in the neighbourhood of Courcelette, when an exploding shell killed two comrades beside him and fatally wounded him. He made his way to an old German trench where he could not be reached for two days. When help came he was beyond all need of care as he died on the 16th.

     His age at death was eighteen years and five months. Unposted postcards for his family were found on his person and a testament that he valued in his breast pocket. He was buried by the "Sunken Road" between Ouvillers and Courcelette where a cross with his name and regiment marks his grave. His was the spirit of the noble men of Canada that command the esteem of all the world.


Taken from the "Book of Remembrance (A record of the men of Port Hope who participated in the Great War of 1914-1918)" by James A. Elliott, Chairman of Committee, Port Hope, Jan. 1st, 1919.

Above photo and text reproduced with permission

The following is a summary of his service file held by Archives Canada


Apr 22, 1898

Born in Liverpool, England to John H. and Mary Ann Halliday


Sep 9, 1905

Embarked the SS Athenia in Glasgow, Scotland with his parents and 2 siblings



Sep 19, 1905

Disembarked in Montreal, Quebec


Feb 12, 1915

Attested into the 39th Battalion CEF in Port Hope, Ontario

Ø  Number 412600

Ø  Next of kin given as John Halliday, father, RR #4 Port Hope, Ontario

Ø  Previous occupation given as Labourer

Ø  No previous military experience given

Ø  Religion given as Wesleyan

Ø  Assigned to “B” Company

His parents signed a consent form giving permission for him to enlist as he was underage

The battalion trained in the Belleville, Ontario area


Jun 17, 1915

Embarked the SS Missanabie in Montreal, Quebec



Jul 3, 1915

Disembarked in Plymouth, England and proceeded to Shorncliffe and then on to Lydd to continue training


Sep 24, 1915

The 39th Battalion moved to West Sandling to continue training


Nov 18, 1915

Transferred to the 21st Battalion


Nov 19, 1915

Arrived at the CBD (Canadian Base Depot) in the Rouelles Camp, Havre, France as part of a draft of 267 reinforcements from England and TOS (Taken On Strength) the 21st Battalion


Nov 23, 1915

After leaving the base depot, Private Halliday joined the 21st Battalion in billets in La Clytte, Belgium


Sep 15, 1916

The battalion was assigned the objective of a strongly defended sugar refinery south of Courcelette, France as part of the battle of the Somme.  The enemy put up fierce resistance and the losses were heavy.  Private Halliday was first reported to be missing, but later it was determined that he had been killed in action.

There was no official record of his burial site and his remains could not be located.  His name is honoured on the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, Vimy Ridge, France for those killed during the war with no known grave.



Following the war the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal and Memorial Cross were sent to his mother, Mrs. M.A. Halliday, 168 Bleecker St., Toronto, Ontario

The Plaque (Dead Man’s Penny) and Scroll were sent to his father, John Halliday, at the same address



For the 7 nights leading up to November 11, 2010, the names of all Canadian soldiers were projected onto the Belgian War Memorial in Ypres.  At the same time, the same names were being broadcast via the internet to schools across Belgium and Canada.  The image above shows the opening ceremonies at the Belgian War Memorial on November 4, 2010. 

Below on the left is the name of James Halliday being projected on that wall.  Below right shows the name being broadcast to the schools.  Each name appeared for 25 seconds and each night 9,700 names were shown.


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