William Woodman Harper


Jul 9, 1881

Born in Cobourg, Ontario to William and Catherine (nee Daick) Harper


Nov 5, 1914

Attested into the 21st Battalion in Kingston, Ontario 

Ø      Number 59427 (temporary number 255)

Ø      Next of kin given as Catherine Harper, mother, Cobourg, Ontario

Ø      Previous occupation given as Mechanic

Ø      Previous military experience given as 15 years in the 40th Regiment, Canadian Militia, in Cobourg

Ø      Religion given as Baptist

Ø      Assigned to “C” Company

o       This was later reorganized into “B” Company 

Appointed to the provisional rank of Sergeant 

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


In January of 1915 Sergeant Harper wrote a letter to the editor of the Cobourg World newspaper.  The part of that letter dealing with the women’s suffrage issue appears here


Feb 10, 1915

Married to Mary Ann Geddes Beattie in Toronto, Ontario


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


Aug 31, 1915

Admitted to the Shorncliffe Military Hospital with a Hernia


Sep 1, 1915

Reverted to the rank of Corporal at his own request while in hospital


Sep 4, 1915

Surgery performed to repair the hernia


Sep 9, 1915

Posted to the Depot Company while in hospital


Sep 11, 1915

Transferred to the Ashford VAD (Volunteer Aid Detachment) Hospital


Sep 25, 1915

Transferred to the 39th Reserve Battalion for pay purposes while in hospital


Oct 7, 1915

Discharged to the 39th Reserve Battalion from hospital with light duties


Feb 3, 1916

Reverted to the rank of private and transferred to the 21st Battalion


Feb 5, 1916

Arrived at the CBD (Canadian Base Depot) in the Rouelles Camp, Havre, France and TOS (Taken On Strength) the 21st Battalion


Feb 17, 1916

After leaving the CBD 2 days earlier, he joined the 21st Battalion in the N & O front line trenches near Voormezeele, Belgium


Feb 21, 1916

Reverted to the rank of Private


Apr 25, 1916

During the night of April 24-25, while the battalion was in the front line trenches near Voormezeele, Private Harper received severe shrapnel wounds to his right knee and was admitted to the No 5 CFA (Canadian Field Ambulance) for first aid


Apr 26, 1916

Transferred to the No. 17 CCS (Casualty Clearing Station) for further treatment


Apr 27, 1916

Transferred via the No. 23 AT (Ambulance Train) and admitted to the No. 4 Canadian General Hospital in Camiers, France where his right leg was amputated


May 7, 1916

Placed on the seriously ill list


May 11, 1916

Private William Harper died of his wounds at the No. 4 Canadian General Hospital and was buried in the nearby Etaples Military Cemetery

Following the war the British War Medal, Victory Medal, Plaque (Dead Man’s Penny), Scroll and Memorial Cross were sent to his widow, Mrs. A.G.B. Harper, 138 Galt Ave., Toronto, Ontario

A second Memorial Cross was sent to his mother, Mrs. C. Harper, Box, 381 Cobourg, Ontario.

William Harper is also honoured on a family grave marker in the Union Cemetery, Cobourg, Ontario



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