Tuesday, January 14, 2014

52 Ancestors" #2 William George Iles

If I were to choose two words related to my paternal grandfather, William George Iles, they would be uniform and music. Read on and find out why.

Born in Naunton, Gloucestershire, England on 1 February 1885, [1]William George Iles, was the eldest son of George Iles and Emily Pugh. Because of the nature of his father's work as a bone and rag man, hawker and later a grocery carter, the family moved many times. His siblings were Edith, Alice, Ethel, Albert Valentine, Emmanuel James, Harold Edward, and Lillian Ruth. By 1900, the family was living in Small Heath, Birmingham, England. 

In 1901, William's employment is listed as a carter on the census. [2] Was he working with his father? On his Marriage Certificate, his occupation is listed as Railway Carman. 

On 27 January 1903 William married Emily Lily "Lil" Dudley. He was living at 49 Byron Road, Small Heath. He was 19 years old and a bachelor. The marriage was registered in the Register Office where they were married in the District of Aston in the County of Birmingham. Their witnesses were Charles Henry Dudley, Lily's brother and Edith Emily Iles, his sister. His father was working as a builder's carter.[3]

William immigrated to Canada in 1905 with his wife and young daughter, May, his mother and siblings. His father most likely came the previous year. [4]

William began playing cornet as a boy of 14 in England quite possibly after he had joined the Salvation Army Band. When he came to Owen Sound, he reorganized the Salvation Army Band and became its bandmaster. [5]

William served his country during World War I. He signed up on 14 October 1915 in Niagara on the Lake with the 76th Battalion.[6] He went overseas in March 1916. My father was born 5 March 1916 so my grandmother was at home with a newborn, and five other children ranging in age 2 1/2 years to age 12. He spent two years in France and Flanders as a bandsman and a stretcher bearer with the 4th Battalion.[7]  During his time overseas he sent cards home to his wife and children. Most messages were positive but in one, he said if he ever got home. he would show her a good time. [8] 

William returned to Canada with his unit on board the Olympic. He was fortunate to not have been wounded. His brother, Emmanuel (known as Manny), was wounded and returned to Canada in the fall of 1918. Sadly, his brother, Harold, was killed in action 8 August 1918. So it is not surprising that he received a warm welcome when the train pulled into the Owen Sound station on 24 April 1919. In addition to family and friends,the Salvation Army Band was there to meet him. [9]

He also took over leadership of the Legion Band that eventually became the Owen Sound City Band. It is through his work with the brass bands in the city that he became best known. Through the years, he taught many young people how to play a brass instrument. [10]

In the 1930s, I believe, William left the Salvation Army and some of the boys went with him. They joined Knox United Church. He was active at the church becoming a life member of the Session. He sang in the choir.

William Iles 3rd from left - Victory Parade 1945

 William was employed as a nickle-plater with the Empire Stove and Furniture Company in Owen Sound for 45 years. [11]

William and Emily had at least ten children: Edith May, Iva Ella, Daisy Gladys, Clarence William Albert, Wilfred George Dudley, Harold Ballantyne (my father), William, Clifford Harvey, Emanuel Kenneth, and William Charles.

William died on 4 April 1964 in Owen Sound. His funeral service was held at Knox United Church. The soloist sang "His Eye is On the Sparrow". Whenever, I hear that song sung, I get a lump in my throat and I remember my grandfather. He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery. [12]

PS When I was little, up to the end of grade two, my family lived across the road from my paternal grandparents. 

[1] William George Iles, General Register Office, certified copy of an entry of birth, registered 28 February 1885 #20, BXCB 427596
[2] 1901 Census of England, Small Heath, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
[3] William George Iles - Emily Lily Dudley, General Register Office, certified copy of an entry of  marriage, registered 26 January 1903 #146, MXC 375982
[4] Passenger List "Quebec" Findmypast
[5]William Iles attestation papers; digital image, Library & Archives Canada (http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca)
[6] "Pte. William Iles" Owen Sound Sun Times, 25 April 1919, p. 1
[7] "Pte. William Iles"
[8] post cards from William George Iles to Emily Iles 8 August 191?
[9]  "Pte. William Iles"
[10]Herbert Wood, “Tale for a Trombone” War Cry, 6 August 1988, p. 10
[11] "Still Active Bandsman Wm.. Iles 76, Started On Cornet At Age 14", Owen Sound Sun-Times, 15 April 1961.
[12] Personal knowledge Greenwood Cemetery online database


© 2014 Janet Iles Print

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