Robert Lennox Leander’s family story is complex and unclear. Hewas born on 4th February 1898 in Costa Rica, but lived in Honolulu, Hawaii according to his Attestation Papers. There is a last Will and testament in Robert’s Service papers naming his mother Mrs Lucinia Hiton as sole Legatee and there is also a Medal card showing the same name and also his father’s name, Mr J Hiton. (Possibly his stepfather)
There is a possibility that the next of kin, Henry Hiton, shown on Robert’s Attestation Papers was in fact his brother.
There is a census form for USA showing what might be Robert’s family, This shows that Head of the household was John James Hiton, age 58, a Carpenter by trade. His wife was Lucy Hiton age 53. Their son Henry was 23. All of them had been born in Hawaii. There were three Boarders at this address.
I cannot explain why Robert did not use the name Hiton unless he was John James Hiton’s step-son. I found a 1910 census showing a Joseph James Hitton, aged 39 a Carpenter by trade living in Hawaii with a wife called Kanaipanai aged 39. They had two listed children, Henry age 12 and Arekimath age 10. A long shot but could this be Robert’s Polynesian name?
I must add that this is conjecture but it seems a big coincidence that there would be two Joseph James Hiton’s, Carpenter living on Hawaii.
(I found an image on Find a Grave website and then found service papers for WW2, also Social Security Papers for WW1 (see images below). Henry Leander Kaipo Hiton was killed in 1954. (The year the American hostilities in Vietnam began). This gives us a strong name connection with Robert Lennox Leander).
Robert Lennox Leander was a sailor by trade although he stated on his Attestation Papers that he was an Electrician. I have discovered a Passenger list on Ancestry.co.uk that shows him on the S.S. Niagara bound from Auckland, New Zealand to Vancouver and his trade is clearly shown as Sailor, although the person below him on the passenger list was shown to be an Electrician.
Robert’s army records on Ancestry tell us that he enlisted into The Canadian Over-Seas expeditionary Force on 28th September 1917. He gave his next of kin as Henry Hiton (friend) and birthplace as Costa Rica. His address was Prison Road, Honolulu, Hawaii.
After basic training in Canada, Robert embarked for England aboard the S.S. Metagama and arrived on 14th December 1917 when he was posted to Purfleet Army camp to complete training. After completion of training, Robert was posted to France on 15th January 1918 with the 3rd Canadian Railway Troops.
Robert was transferred to 11th Battalion of The Canadian Railway Troops on 30th December 1918 on his return to U.K. and transferred to Bordon Army Camp. Sometime between 30th December 1918 and 19th January 1919 he was transferred to Kinmel Camp, Rhyl, to await repatriation to Canada. Tragically, Robert contracted Influenza and was admitted to the 9th Canadian General Hospital on 19th January 1919 where he died on 10th February 1919, at 21 years of age.
(From Archives and Library of 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.
Robert Lennox Leander is buried in St. Margaret’s Cemetery, Bodelwyddan.
To read about the Canadian Railway Troops please follow the link.