Henderson Joseph

Joseph Henderson was born on 7th August 1875 in Everett, Simcoe County, Ontario Canada.

The 1881 census for Canada on shows that the Henderson family were living in Tossorontio, Ontario, Canada.

The Head of the household was John Henderson age 47 born in 1834 although the census return shows his age as 52,  of Irish descent a farmer by trade. His wife Elizabeth was 46 years of age, also of Irish descent and their children were Jane 21, William, 19, Owen 17 Catherine, 15, Robert 13, Elem 8, Joseph 6, and Saraann age 3.

The 1891 census for Canada on reveals to that the family are still living in the same town and also that there are fewer children living at home.

Head John Henderson was 57 years of age and still a Farm Labourer by trade, his wife Elizabeth age 52, and their children, Robert age 22 a Farm Labourer, Catherine age 20, Elem age 18, Joseph age 16 and Saraann age 12.

In 1903 Joseph married Margaret (Maggie) Bain. 

They had five children, Alma “Pearl” born 1903, Rebecca Emily 1906, Elzie Joseph 1910, Eva Irene 1913 and Oscar Stuart 1916.

Library and Archives of Canada  Service Files of 1st WW 1914-1918.

Attestation Papers for Sapper 724241 Joseph Henderson, Canadian Railway Troops.

Joseph Henderson enlisted into the 109th Overseas Battalion of The Canadian Expeditionary Force on 15th April 1916. He gave his next of kin as Margaret Henderson (wife) and his trade as Farmer, address Blairhampton, Haliburton, Ontario. He had previously served 3 years with the 31st Regiment prior to enlistment.

I was unable to access Joseph’s Service Record until recently when Tracey Pratt sent me copies from Canada, (Joseph was her Great Grandfather’s uncle.)

I will now give details of Joseph’s military career but the circumstances that led to me contacting Tracey are further on in Joseph’s story.

After enlistment, Joseph completed his basic training in Canada and then embarked for England on The S.S. Olympia from Halifax on 23rd July 1916 and arrived in Liverpool on 31st July 1916.

Built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast for the White Star Line, she was a 45,324 gross ton ship, overall length 883ft x beam 92.5ft, four funnels, two masts, triple screw and a service speed of 21 knots. There was accommodation for 735-1st, 674-2nd and 1,026-3rd class passengers. Her keel was laid on 16/12/1908 and she was launched on 20/10/1910. She commenced her maiden voyage from Southampton to Cherbourg, Queenstown (Cobh) and New York on 14/6/1911. On 20/9/1911 she collided with the British cruiser HMS HAWKE in the Solent, was held to blame for the collision and was repaired at Belfast. She resumed Southampton – Cherbourg – Queenstown – New York voyages on 30/11/1911, but was again taken out of service between 1912-13 for extensive rebuilding after the TITANIC disaster. Rebuilt to 46,359 tons and with a complete inner skin and increased number of lifeboats, she resumed service on 2/4/1913. In October 1914 she made an unsuccessful attempt to tow the battleship HMS AUDACIOUS to port after she had struck a mine, and in September 1915 was taken up as a troop ship. On 12/5/1918 she rammed and sank the German submarine U.103 near Lizard Point and started her first voyage after the Armistice on 8/12/1918 when she left Southampton for Halifax with 5,000 Canadian troops. On 12/2/1919 she started her first Liverpool – Brest – New York voyage and in July 1919 made her last voyage from Halifax to Liverpool as a troop ship. She then sailed to Belfast where she was reconditioned and converted from coal to oil burning. She resumed Southampton – Cherbourg – New York sailings on 25/6/1920 and on 22/3/1924 was in collision with the Furness Line’s FORT ST.GEORGE near New York and damaged her stern post. In 1928 her accommodation was altered to 1st, 2nd, tourist and 3rd class and in October 1931 was again altered to carry 618-1st, 447-tourist and 382-3rd class passengers. On 16/5/1934 she rammed and sank the Nantucket lightship in fog, and later the same year came under the ownership of the newly formed Cunard-White Star Line. Her last Southampton – Cherbourg – New York voyage started on 27/3/1935 and she was then laid up at Southampton. Sold in September 1935, she arrived at Jarrow on 13/10/1935 for breaking up, and on 19/9/1937 her hulk was towed to Inverkeithing for final demolition. [North Atlantic Seaway by N.R.P.Bonsor, vol.2,p.765]
Joseph was posted to Whitley Camp near Godalming, Surrey where he remained until 28th January 1917 when he was transferred to 3rd Labour Battalion, this was because Joseph was deemed to be unsuitable for service in the trenches (catergory B fitness) possibly because of his age. He was then posted to Hastings to await an overseas posting. He was then transferred to Bramshott Camp and proceeded overseas on 9th February 1917 and disembarked at Harve on 11th February 1917.

After arriving in France Joseph was transferred on 29th November 1917 to the 11th Battalion of the Canadian Railway Troops.

If you wish to read about the Canadian railway Troops, please follow the link

During his time in France, Joseph was awarded two Good Conduct badges.

Good Conduct Chevrons date from before the First World War, and were worn by soldiers with the rank of Private (including those appointed Lance Corporal (or Lance Bombardier in artillery units and Acting Corporal in Rifle Regiments) so long as the soldier had not been subject to formal discipline.  The badges took the form of standard NCO badges worn inverted.

First World War

The Good Conduct Chevrons were worn on the left sleeve of the Service Dress uniform, with each 1-bar chevron representing four years of service, to a maximum of four.  Regulations stated that wound stripes, if worn, were to be below the Good Conduct Badge.

On 30th December 1918 Joseph was transferred to England to the depot at Whitley Camp and then to Borden Camp.

After Borden, Joseph was transferred to Kinmel Camp in Rhyl to await repatriation to Canada.

Kinmel Park Camp was a segregation camp used to house Canadian Soldiers awaiting repatriation to Canada after the end of WW1. Unfortunately the conditions at that time were extremely harsh with a lack of every kind of commodity, the camp was overcrowded and the services were poor, there were shortages of clothing, food and blankets. As a result of this situation, a vast number of servicemen and women became ill and many succumbed to the Influenza Epidemic or complications associated with this infection.

Sadly Joseph contracted Influenza and died at the Military Hospital, Kinmel Camp on 27th January 1919 at 14.50 hrs.

Joseph was laid to rest in St. Margaret’s Cemetery, Bodelwyddan.

I was taking photographs of the Canadian Graves at Bodelwyddan one day last spring and came across a note and photograph that had been placed on Joseph’s grave.

Fortunately there was an e mail address on Joseph’s photograph. I contacted Tracey Pratt and she very kindly sent me the following information about Joseph and his family

I am more than happy to help with what information I do have.  Joseph was my great grandfather’s uncle. He was one of 9 children, (4 boys and 5 girls).  He was born in  Tossorontio, Simcoe County Ontario and moved to Haliburton County sometime between 1891 and the time of his marriage to Margaret  Bain in 1903. His two older brothers were already living in Haliburton County).  He married Margaret Bain in 1903. They had 6 children (3 boys and 3 girls).  Two of his sons joined the military and fought in WW 2. 

His son Elzie Joseph Henderson was part of the Royal Rifles of Canada, R.C.I.C (Royal Canadian Infantry Corps) and was murdered at St. Stephen’s Hospital in Hong Kong Dec. 25, 1941.  His son Oscar survived the war and returned to Haliburton County to raise his family. Joseph’s wife never remarried and remained living in our small county.  To the best of my knowledge none of Joseph’s brothers joined the military with him (which includes my great great grandfather).  But his nephew John Ross did serve in WW 1. I have a picture of them together I will attach.  John Ross survived the war and returned home to raise a family. 

I have searched our military records and cannot find any awards or medals he was awarded.  But I am waiting for copies of his service record.  As of yet, I have been unable to find out much information about his previous service with the 31st Regiment.  And I am sure you are already aware that he died from the Spanish Flu and not from battle.

Tracey also gave permission for photographs of the family to be used on this website.

Learn more about the other soldiers on the Bodelwyddan Memorial

Back to top