Private William Henry Potter

William Henry ( Harry) Potter was born in Plymouth, County Devon, England on December 31, 1893. He was the youngest son of Alexander Richard Potter (1848-1900) and Charlotte Greep (1851-1917). Harry was not a big man ­ the physical description on the attestation papers indicates he was 5' 6" tall and weighed only 122lbs. He had two tattoos on his right forearm: one of the American Flag and one of the Canadian Flag.

Henry came to Canada some time after 1909, following his brother -- Alexander Richard -- who had come over first. Harry had worked in the shipping industry in England, and continued to work as a shipper when he came to Canada. He lived for a time in the small Ontario town of Meaford where there was a flourishing shipping industry in the early 20th century. At the time of his enlistment in 1915, William Henry Potter listed his address as 122 Sackville Street in Toronto. He never married, although it appears he did have a girlfriend in Toronto to whom he assigned his monthly service pay of $20.00 starting in August of 1916. His girlfriend is identified as Miss Margaret Harvey of 73 Munro Street.

Private William Henry Potter, regimental number 766279, was assigned to the 123rd Battalion, Royal Grenadiers of the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force when he enlisted for service on December 4th, 1915 at the Toronto Armories. He sailed from Halifax on the S.S. Cameronia on August 8th, 1916, arriving in Liverpool, England on August 19th. Upon arrival he was stationed at Bramshott, and on October 10th, was "taken on strength" to the 19th Battalion, which was part of the 2nd Canadian Division. Less than six months later, William Henry Potter was killed in action while engaged in the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9th, 1917. The following is taken from the official death notice:

William Henry Potter
the Beloved Brother of Mr. and Mrs. A.R. Potter
Killed in Action Somewhere in France
April 9th, 1917, Aged 23 Years

"A young Canadian soldier,
A mother's youngest son,
Buried on the field of battle.
His duty nobly done,
He has served his King and country,
We know he did his best,
And now he's asleep in Jesus,
A Canadian soldier at rest."

This article appeared in the May 10th, 1917 edition of the Toronto Star:

"I haven't felt better in my life" wrote Pte. Harry Potter to his brother, A. R. Potter of 37 Sproat avenue, on April 6. On April 9 he was struck dead on the battlefield. Pte. Potter was 23 years of age. Before enlisting he worked as a shipper. His mother resides in the Old Country."

Sadly, Harry's mother passed away the following day, May 11th, 1917, only a little over a month following the death of her son. William Henry Potter is buried in Nine Elms Cemetery, in the town of Thélus.

Rest in Peace "Uncle Harry" . This account was contributed by John Potter, great-nephew of William Henry Potter.

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