Private Charles Irwin Ennis

Four of the eight sons of the Ennis family of Ayr, Ontario enlisted and served overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War 1. Charles Irwin Ennis was born on March 17th,1894 in Ayr,Ontario. Irwin was preceded by three older brothers, Arthur, John and Orwell, and three older sisters, Ethel, Edna and Lillian. He had four younger brothers Cecil, Wesley, Robert and Alfred. It was Orwell, Cecil and Wesley that also fought with the CEF. The Archive contains pages dedicated to them as well.

Irwin enlisted in Brandon, Manitoba on October 28th, 1914 just months before his brother Orwell. Both joined the 27th Battalion formed in Winnipeg, and were assigned to the same platoon. The brothers stayed together for training in Canada and England; while in Belgium and France they were part of the same Battalion Scout Section.

On May 1915 the 27th Battalion travelled by train to Quebec City for embarkment overseas. The brothers arrived at Dibgate, England and then were moved to a camp at Otterpool. By October they had joined the Allied front in Belgium

When Orwell died in September, 1916 it fell to Irwin to write home and break the news. Complimented by his Commanding Officer for `carrying on like a true soldier,' Irwin was none-the-less devastated by his loss.

The following letters written by Orwell, Irwin and the commanding officer in charge on the night Orwell died provide a compelling look at life on the front line for a WWI soldier.

This information, and the letters were provided by the Ennis' nephew Vic Gillette.

The Letters
home battlefields resource centre the archive culture & war collector's forum