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William Lakey (1895 - 1970)

Older of two Felling brothers who served pre-war with the Rocky Mountain Rangers and then Canadian Forestry Corps

Born in Felling on 2nd October 1883, William was the second child and first son of gas fitter and plumber Edward Lakey from Newcastle and his Felling born wife Mary Jane. Priscilla his older sister was also born in Felling, and his two younger brothers in Hebburn and North Shields respectively. His parents also adopted a niece, Eleanor Watt. By 1901 the family lived in Cramlington, where William worked as a railway engine stoker.

At the end of September 1910 the family arrived in Quebec City having sailed from Liverpool on board the SS Empress of Ireland with the intention of making for British Columbia (BC). When the 1911 census was taken they had settled in Kootenay, where father and William had both found work.

In January 1916 the three brothers mobilised with the 102nd (Rocky Mountain Rangers) Regiment and seven months later on 17th August 1916 they enlisted with the 242nd (Forestry) Battalion at Kamloops, British Columbia. William became Private 1048236 and along with Ernest and Sidney moved to camp at Montreal before sailing on the SS Mauretania from Nova Scotia to Liverpool, arriving on 30th November 1916.

Posted to Witley Camp, Surrey , the battalion system proved too cumbersome to administer, and the forestry battalions were broken up into companies. The brothers wound up in the 19th Company, Central Group, Canadian Forestry Corps and in January 1917 were posted to France. They commenced logging operations at Conches in Normandy. After just one week William was appointed engineer with technical pay of $2.25 per day, which meant that he was paid more than a Lieutenant.

The Battalion moved to Dreux in July 1917, and unlike his brother Ernest, William stayed with the Forestry Corps until the end of the war. After leave in Paris over Christmas 1918 he was attached to the Canadian Embarkation Camp in Le Havre and ceased to draw his engineer’s pay. Arriving back in England in mid January he was posted to the Forestry Depot at Sunningdale until he returned to Canada on board the SS Belgic. He arrived in Nova Scotia on 1st March and then travelled on to Vancouver for demobilisation on 4th April 1919.

William returned to live in Nanaimo, British Columbia, as did his parents and younger brother Sidney. He worked as a shipyard mechanic until he retired in 1945

He died from broncho pneumonia and heart failure in Nanaimo Regional General Hospital on 23rd March 1970 and was cremated at Royal Oak Crematorium two days later.

Civil Parish: Heworth

Birth date: 02-Oct-1883

Death date: 23-Mar-1970

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: High Street, Felling (1891 census)
24 Double Junction Road, Cramlington, Northumberland (1901 census)
Kootenay, British Columbia, Canada (1911 Canadian census)
Box 153, Merritt, British Columbia (enlistment papers)
1717 Boundary Road, Nanaimo, British Columbia (death certificate)

Religion: Methodist

Employment: Railway engine stoker (1901 census), Steam engineer (enlistment papers)

Family: Parents: Edward Lakey, Mary Jane Lakey (nee Watt)
Siblings: Priscilla Lakey, Eleanor Watt, Ernest Lakey, Sidney Lakey

Military service:

Pre-war Service: 102nd (Rocky Mountain Rangers) Regiment
242nd (Forestry) Battalion, Canadian Forestry Company

Medal(s): British War Medal
Victory Medal

Gender: Male

Contributed by Jean Longstafff, Durham | Jim Busby, Canada

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