WILLIAM MUIR LAUGHTON (1893 - 1943)


William Muir Laughton
January 24, 1893 - March 31, 1943
William  Laughton was the eldest child, one of three sons and two daughters, of David Laughton 1861.

William Muir Laughton married Martha "Mattie" Harvey and one son:

David Benson Laughton 1920
David Bruce Laughton 1951, married to Clair
Diane Laughton, 1941

William Muir Laughton served with the Canadian Armed Forces in both World War One (WWI) and World War Two (WWII). In the period August 2009 to March 2010 we worked with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, as well as Veterans Affairs Canada, to correct the on-line records related to William. That task is now complete.

 

William was a veteran of both WWI and WWII. We have prepared a separate Web Blog on the Great War (1914-1919) exploits of Soldier Muir:

The First World War:

For details on William's service in the Great War of 1914-1919, please see the blog site dedicated to his service:

William Muir Laughton #931161

William Muir Laughton had 1 months service with the 107th "East Kootenay" Regiment in Nelson. British Columbia when he attested to the 225th Overseas Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on March 16, 1916. The 225th would be absorbed by the 1st Reserve Battalion to provide for reinforcements in the field.

Private Laughton's records indicate that he was born in Brandon Manitoba on January 24, 1893 and that he was 23 years 2 months old when he attested. His brother John Laughton #525302 also joined the CEF. William gave his mother Mary "Minnie" Laughton as his next of kin and John listed their father David Laughton. William listed his occupation as that of a "Meat Cutter".

Private Laughton's detailed service record shows that he sailed to England on board the S. S. Grampain, arriving on February 6, 1917. The "Transport Ship Records" show that the Grampian left Halifax on January 26, 1917 with the 225th Battalion and landed at Plymouth, England.

Upon arrival in England, William was taken-on-strength by the 16th Reserve Battalion at Seaford and it is there that he probably received further military training. The CEF had found that they had no alternative but to break-up the new battalions to feed men to the active units in the field, as the depletion rate was far more than anyone had expected.

William's promotion and transfer record shows that he was promoted to Sergeant on July 17, 1916, however the same records show that in December of the same year he was to be "Acting Sergeant" while on duty in the Orderly Room. There is no indication that this position was carried forward to his service in the field.

It appears that Private Laughton did not make it to France in time to serve in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, as he was not taken-on-strength to an active unit until April 18, 1917.

He was granted 14 days leave to England on December 11, 1917 and returned December 27, 1917. The next entry in his record shows that he was granted a "Good Conduct Badge" in the field (France) on May 14, 1917. He was granted another 14 days leave on December 2, 1918 returning on December 22, 1918.

There are no further entries until his return to England is noted on February 13, 1919 and then discharged to Canada on March 16, 1919 on the Olympic. His pay records show "Miss Mattie Harvey" as the original assignee of his pay at that time. Other records show Mattie listed as his "Fiancee", so he may have been engaged prior to service in the field. Family records show "Martha Harvey" to be his wife.

The Second World War:

While researching other family records in the summer of 2009 we found that William Muir Laughton was listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) web site as a casualty of the Second World War. Prior to that time, we did not know of any Laughton's that were listed as war casualties in that conflict. Based on those postings, there were similar records on the Canadian Virtual War Museum and the Maple Leaf Legacy Project.

The official records in 2009 listed William's WWII record based on his WWI service. We have thus contacted the official agencies to correct that information. In preparing those notices, we found a small note on the "Death Card" of William that stated the following:

"Comp. Report sent to IWGC 7-12-43 as CEF Case"

I presumed that the IWGC was the "Imperial War Graves Commission", perhaps the predecessor of the CWGC "Commonwealth War Graves Commission" and that somehow they took those instructions to mean that William's records should reflect his WWI service rather than his WWII service. I pursued this matter with both agencies (August 2009 - March 2010) and the files at both locations are now correct. Veterans Affairs Canada was able to locate the COMP REPORT noted above, and have provided us with a copy of that document (or at least the one dated June 10, 1948), which states (extract) as follows:

The above named is buried in Nelson Memorial Park, Nelson, B.C. and his name appeared on "P.C." Comprehensive Report dated 7-12-43.

It has recently come to our attention that the deceased also served in the 1939-1945 war and, the death being due to service, this becomes a War Grave.

Information provided from the family records of John Ivan Laughton report that William was discharged from the Canadian Army in 1943 after it was discovered that he had throat cancer, which spread to his jaw bone. He was undergoing treatment at Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver prior to his death. His final days were not pleasant and his passing was a blessing.

William Muir Laughton #M.15604

As of this date we have not created Blog Sites for the WWII records of the Laughton Clan, so more of the detail is provided here. The records of William Muir Laughton for WWII were obtained from two sources, at different times:

Library and Archives Canada, August 2009: Service Record
Ancestry, June 2016: Service Record

A page on the new site for WWII Service Records has now been established that links back to this mirror site.

William Muir Laughton is reported to have joined the Edmonton Regiment of the "Canadian Active Service Force" on September 7, 1939.  At that time he was 45 years of age.  He was living in Edmonton, Alberta and was married to Martha Laughton. They had one child, David Benson Laughton who was 19 years of age.

William's WWII records show that he died on March 31, 1943 at the Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver B.C. from "Carcinoma of right tonsil" (cancer). He is buried in the M of the Masonic Plot of the Nelson Memorial Park, in Nelson British Columbia. It is reported he was awarded the Defence Medal, War Medal and the CVSM & Clasp. He was subsequently granted the Memorial Bar on March 3, 1952.

William had served with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment in Canada and England. He was discharged from the "Canadian Active Service Force" on September 16, 1940 after being classes as medically unfit for military service.

William's WWII Service Records unfortunately state his date of birth as January 24, 1894. Library and Archives Canada (2009) would not correct this error as they base their documents on what was in the file at the time of service. At the time of attestation in WWII he reported that he lived at 11344-123 Street in Edmonton, Alberta. His occupation was that of a Meat Cutter & Salesman (sometimes as a "Butcher"), working for the Burns Co. Ltd.  On March 15, 1941 he indicated that he could not return to work for that company as a result of his "disability".

William's WWII Service Record shows that he made it to England with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment and was there as early as February 1940. He was SOS (Struck off Strength) to the #1 Canadian Infantry Base Depot at Aldershot England on June 1, 1940 when he was admitted to hospital. He was subsequently sent back to Edmonton on or about June 13, 1940, eventually ending up in the #13 District Depot on August 31, 1940. There is no record of what happened from that date until his death on March 31, 1943, other than that he was discharged from the "Canadian Field Force" on September 16, 1940.

In March 2014 we retrieved the "Veterans Death Card" from the on-line archives at Library and Archives Canada. You will note that this is likely the source of the error on his initial gravestone as it relates to his WWI service with the 2nd CMR

In November 2009, Gerry Rempel (a colleague member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group) took the time to go out to Williams grave site in Nelson B.C. to lay a poppy and provide a soldiers salute.  These are on the Nelson B.C. cemetery page for the Laughton Family, but such an act of kindness deserves this duplicate presentation - thanks Gerry! (click on images for full scale)

Laughton family members can send your thanks to Gerry at:

Gerry Rempel CD, CCFI-C
Fire Chief, City of Castlegar
Ph. (250) 365-3266 FAX (250) 304-2562
e-mail: grempel@castlegar.ca

In March 2011 I was contact by Veterans Affairs Canada (Mr. Gerald Mayer) as they were responsible for the correction of the CWGC head stone on the grave of William Muir Laughton. After discussion as to what was to be done the work went ahead and on November 1, 2011 we received a series of pictures from Veterans Affairs of the new head stone during construction and at placement in the cemetery. All of those photographs, as well as a new series of photographs from Gerry Rempel are now on the NELSON CEMETERY page on this site. Thanks to Gerald Mayer and Gerry Rempel for all their good work!. Williams son David (Ottawa) was aware of all this work and has been kept up to date on the progress of the replacement.

The new stone prepared by Veterans Affairs Canada before installation in the Nelson B.C. cemetery. Thanks to Gerald Mayer and his team at VAC for this work and to the CWGC for seeing to the corrections and upgrades. The daughter of Gerry Rempel (Geri-Lynn) places a poppy on the new grave stone of William Muir Laughton on Remembrance Day 2011. Thanks to Gerry and Geri-Lynn for "Keeping the Flame Alive".

Other Information:

There was a package of material in the Paul Laughton Collection of February 2009 on the Grandson of David Laughton 1861 for David Laughton 1920. David 1920 was the son of William Muir Laughton 1893. These papers are a package of letters and newspaper articles for Consul & Ambassador David Laughton, as he served in the Canadian Foreign Service.

I have since also located is listing on the web site for the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs which shows his postings (click to view postings):

Laughton, David Benson (Career)
Post Title Appointment Date Presentation of credentials Termination of mission 
COLOMBIA AE&P 1977/10/27 1977/12/01 1979/12/18 
ECUADOR AE&P 1977/10/27 1978/01/09 1979/12/18 

I have since contacted William's son David Laughton 1920, who currently (March 2010) resides with his wife at a retirement home in Ottawa, Ontario. He commends the work of Gerry Rempel who took the time to photograph and salute his father's grave.