The People

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These are the stories of Kenora participants in the First World War.

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  • Millar, John James Image
  • Millar, John James

  • Private John James Millar enlisted in July 1915, at age 20. He served with the Yukon Motor Machine Gun Battery and died of wounds in March 1918, during the German Spring Offensive.

    John was the son of James Millar and Katherine Janet Robertson of Winnipeg, Manitoba. James, a shoemaker, was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland and he immigrated to Canada around 1885. Katherine was born in Martintown, Glengarry County, Ontario. They were married in Toronto in June 1889. It was James’ first marriage but Katherine was a widow (Mrs. MacDonald) and she had a son, Herbert Robertson MacDonald, who was born in Martintown in 1880. She had at least three more children with James: Catherine (1890), Jean Wallace (1892) and John (1894).

    When the 1891 census was taken the family was living in Hibbert Township, Perth County, Ontario. By the time Jean was born they had moved to the town of Norman (now part of Kenora), in northwestern Ontario. John was born in Norman on 7 August 1894, his birth registered as John James McLeod Millar. His father was working as a millhand at the time. Within a few years they had moved to Winnipeg and James returned to his trade as a shoemaker, later working as a caretaker. John became a bookkeeper and both of his sisters were stenographers.

    John enlisted in Edmonton, Alberta on 17 July 1915, just as the war was entering its second year. He was 20 years old, his occupation was bookkeeper and next of kin was his mother in Winnipeg. He signed up with the 63rd (Edmonton) Battalion and trained with them for about five months. In January 1916 he was transferred to the 144th Battalion, which was based in Winnipeg. When the census was taken that spring he was at Camp Hughes and his mother was still living in Winnipeg, listed as widowed. John’s unit headed to the east coast in the fall, embarking from Halifax on 18 September 1916 and arriving in Liverpool about a week later. John was appointed as acting Machine Gun Sergeant and on 9 November he was transferred to the Canadian Machine Gun Depot at Crowborough.

    In January 1917 John reverted to the rank of private in order to go to France. He arrived in France around 2 September and a week later he was attached to the Yukon Motor Machine Gun Battery. In October and November the Canadians took part in the Battle of Passchendaele and afterwards they moved back south, to the Arras/Lens area. On 21 March 1918 the German Spring Offensive began, a series of attacks aimed at breaking through the Allied lines and ending the war. The Yukon Motor Machine Gun Battery left their camp on 23 March to move to Amiens, where the British line was being reinforced. John was reported wounded on 26 March, suffering a gunshot wound to his abdomen. He died on 27 March at No. 55 Casualty Clearing Station.

    John’s half-brother Herbert Robertson MacDonald was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 144th Battalion in February 1916. He went on to serve as a Major in the Canadian Forestry Corps and returned to Canada in March 1919.

    John is buried at Namps-Au-Val British Cemetery, which is southwest of Amiens. He is commemorated on page 471 of Canada’s First World War Book of Remembrance, displayed in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

    By Becky Johnson

  • Regimental Number:
  • 466628
  • Service Record:
  • Link to Service Record
  • Survived War:
  • No
  • Force:
  • Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • Branch:
  • Canadian Machine Gun Corps
  • Battalion:
  • Yukon Motor Machine Gun Battery
  • Place of Birth:
  • Norman, Ontario
  • Country:
  • Canada
  • Next of Kin:
  • Mrs. Katherine J. Millar (mother), 5 Lenore Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Address at Enlistment:
  • Date of Birth:
  • August 7, 1894
  • Trade or Calling:
  • Bookkeeper
  • Marital Status:
  • Single
  • Place of Enlistment:
  • Edmonton, Alberta
  • Date of Enlistment:
  • July 17, 1915
  • Age at Enlistment:
  • 20
  • Religion:
  • Methodist
  • Enlisted or Conscripted:
  • Enlisted
  • Saw Service In:
  • Europe
  • Date of Death:
  • March 27, 1918
  • Age at Death:
  • 23
  • Buried at:
  • Namps-Au-Val British Cemetery, France
  • Plot:
  • I. A. 13.
  • Prisoner of War:
  • No
  • Private John James Millar enlisted in July 1915, at age 20. He served with the Yukon Motor Machine Gun Battery and died of wounds in March 1918, during the German Spring Offensive.

    John was the son of James Millar and Katherine Janet Robertson of Winnipeg, Manitoba. James, a shoemaker, was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland and he immigrated to Canada around 1885. Katherine was born in Martintown, Glengarry County, Ontario. They were married in Toronto in June 1889. It was James’ first marriage but Katherine was a widow (Mrs. MacDonald) and she had a son, Herbert Robertson MacDonald, who was born in Martintown in 1880. She had at least three more children with James: Catherine (1890), Jean Wallace (1892) and John (1894).

    When the 1891 census was taken the family was living in Hibbert Township, Perth County, Ontario. By the time Jean was born they had moved to the town of Norman (now part of Kenora), in northwestern Ontario. John was born in Norman on 7 August 1894, his birth registered as John James McLeod Millar. His father was working as a millhand at the time. Within a few years they had moved to Winnipeg and James returned to his trade as a shoemaker, later working as a caretaker. John became a bookkeeper and both of his sisters were stenographers.

    John enlisted in Edmonton, Alberta on 17 July 1915, just as the war was entering its second year. He was 20 years old, his occupation was bookkeeper and next of kin was his mother in Winnipeg. He signed up with the 63rd (Edmonton) Battalion and trained with them for about five months. In January 1916 he was transferred to the 144th Battalion, which was based in Winnipeg. When the census was taken that spring he was at Camp Hughes and his mother was still living in Winnipeg, listed as widowed. John’s unit headed to the east coast in the fall, embarking from Halifax on 18 September 1916 and arriving in Liverpool about a week later. John was appointed as acting Machine Gun Sergeant and on 9 November he was transferred to the Canadian Machine Gun Depot at Crowborough.

    In January 1917 John reverted to the rank of private in order to go to France. He arrived in France around 2 September and a week later he was attached to the Yukon Motor Machine Gun Battery. In October and November the Canadians took part in the Battle of Passchendaele and afterwards they moved back south, to the Arras/Lens area. On 21 March 1918 the German Spring Offensive began, a series of attacks aimed at breaking through the Allied lines and ending the war. The Yukon Motor Machine Gun Battery left their camp on 23 March to move to Amiens, where the British line was being reinforced. John was reported wounded on 26 March, suffering a gunshot wound to his abdomen. He died on 27 March at No. 55 Casualty Clearing Station.

    John’s half-brother Herbert Robertson MacDonald was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 144th Battalion in February 1916. He went on to serve as a Major in the Canadian Forestry Corps and returned to Canada in March 1919.

    John is buried at Namps-Au-Val British Cemetery, which is southwest of Amiens. He is commemorated on page 471 of Canada’s First World War Book of Remembrance, displayed in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

    By Becky Johnson

  • « Return to all stories
  • Millar, John James Image
  • Regimental Number:
  • 466628
  • Force:
  • Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • Battalion:
  • Yukon Motor Machine Gun Battery
  • Place of Birth:
  • Norman, Ontario
  • Next of Kin:
  • Mrs. Katherine J. Millar (mother), 5 Lenore Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Date of Birth:
  • August 7, 1894
  • Survived War:
  • No
  • Branch:
  • Canadian Machine Gun Corps
  • Country:
  • Canada
  • Address at Enlistment:
  • Trade or Calling:
  • Bookkeeper
  • Marital Status:
  • Single
  • Place of Enlistment:
  • Edmonton, Alberta
  • Date of Enlistment:
  • July 17, 1915
  • Age at Enlistment:
  • 20
  • Religion:
  • Methodist
  • Enlisted or Conscripted:
  • Enlisted
  • Saw Service In:
  • Europe
  • Date of Death:
  • March 27, 1918
  • Age at Death:
  • 23
  • Buried at:
  • Namps-Au-Val British Cemetery, France
  • Plot:
  • I. A. 13.
  • Prisoner of War:
  • No
  • Millar, John James

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