Private Joseph Herbert Houghton

Joseph Herbert Houghton was the second son of Joseph and Emma Houghton who had emigrated to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario from England in 1889. They had four sons, all of whom were born in Niagara-on-the-Lake: Tom Hadley, Joseph Herbert, Robert Charles and Harold. The family home in which they lived until 1941 was situated at the corner of Gage and Victoria; the house still stands.

Herbert, born 30 October 1891, enlisted in the 4th Battalion CEF on September 22, 1914, regimental number 11660, at Valcartier, Quebec.

The 4th Battalion went into the line with the 1st Division for the first time in the Spring of 1915. On April 23 Herbert was one of many who suffered from the first German gas attack of the war at the second battle of Ypres. He was wounded and gassed (again) on July 8, 1915 and was awarded a Military Medal for his actions at Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917 where he was wounded again.

Herb remained with the 4th Battalion until August 1918 when he transferred to the 1st Canadian Machine Gun Brigade and subsequently to the Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade where he remained for the last few months of the war. He spent 6 months in Germany prior to returning to Canada.

He told his family that when he returned to England to be presented with his Military Medal, by King George V no less, he had over stayed a pass and had to be taken from jail for the medal presentation ceremony!

Whether or not this is a fact will likely never be known, however his military records show that on September 11, 1917 he was demoted to Private for being AWOL and 8 days later on September 19, 1917 his Military Medal was announced in the London Gazette.

Herb returned to Canada on the SS Olympic on March 17, 1919 and on June 3, 1919 he married Ethel Louise Wallis of Toronto at St. Mark's Anglican Church in Niagara-on-the-Lake. They had three children, Roberta, and twins Tom and Ruth.

The effects of being gassed twice resulted in extended stays in sanatoriums in Hamilton and Gravenhurst in order to treat the tuberculosis that he had contracted.

Following the war Herbert operated a successful shoe repair business "J.H. Houghton Orthopaedic Shoe Maker" on the Danforth in Toronto. During this time, he made boots and shoes for men with a wide range of foot deformities and later on trained returning WW 2 veterans in boot and shoe making and repairs. He also made skating boots for the Dionne quintuplets when they first learned to skate.

Herb subsequently worked for the Ontario Worker's Compensation Board making corrective footwear for veterans and others.

He attempted to enlist once again in 1939 but was rejected as a result of his medical history of tuberculosis and probably his age (he was 48). Herb was a member of the 4th Canadian Infantry Battalion Veteran's Association for many years and served as its president in 1948-1950, a member of Branch #93 of the Tubercular Veterans' Section of the Canadian Legion branch of the British Empire Service League and served as its president several times. He was also a member of Todmorden Branch #10 of the Royal Canadian Legion in East York and a life member of Niagara Lodge # 2 AF & AM in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Joseph Herbert Houghton died in Toronto, Ontario on May 6, 1980 as a result of injuries received when he was struck by a car in Buckhorn, Ontario. He is buried in St. Mark's Anglican Church cemetery along side his wife Ethel, parents Joseph and Emma and his younger brother Harold and his wife Nellie.

During his 5 years of service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force Herbert was awarded the Military Medal, 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. He was subsequently presented with the George V Jubilee Medal in 1935 and the George VI Coronation Medal in 1937.

Two of his brothers, Tom Hadley and Robert Charles also served with the CEF.

This account was provided by Herbert's grandson, David Grindlay and children, Ruth Louise (Houghton) Grindlay and Tom Hadley Houghton.
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