Lieutenant William John Alexander Stewart
William John Alexander Stewart was born in Halifax in October 1895. He was already a member of a pre-war militia, the 63rd Halifax Rifles when war broke out. In September of 1915 Stewart enlisted for war, becoming a member of 12th Canadian Machine Gun Company. By January 31st, 1916 he had disembarked at Plymouth, England.
The next year was spent in England in training at the various Canadian camps: East Sandling, Crowborough, Shornecliffe. On Febuary 14th, 1917 Stewart was promoted to Lieutenant and arrived in France, just after the battle at Vimy Ridge, on April 23, 1917.
Although no personal diaries or letters exist, his grandson Steven Stothers has been able to assemble his experiences through examining the war diaries that are housed at the Canadian Archives. These diairies reveal Stewart's participation in one of the worst battles of the war: the 3rd battle of Ypres, or Passchendaele. When the CEF was ordered into Ypres in October 1917 the 12th CMGC were required to do a 17 mile route march in cold rain, each soldier carrying 60lb packs of equipment and supplies.
Stewart survived Passchendaele and continuted to fight in France until May of 1918 when he became an instructor attached to a bombing and trench mortar school at Grantham, England. He returned to Canada in July of 1919 as a Captain with the 4th Battalion, Canadian Machine Gun Corps. "Family history" reports him to be the youngest Captain (23) to return with the CEF. He married Peggy Christie in 1925. Stewart became a teacher in was principal of Fergus High School in Ontario, Canada, until his death in a car accident in 1956.
This information was provided by Stewart's grandson Steven Stothers. Stothers has built a web site dedicated to family members that fought in WWI.To visit this site Click here.