Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
St Mary's, Perth County, Ontario, Canada

General information

First clerk

Army information

Canadian Expeditionary Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
London, Ontario, Canada
 —  Canadian Infantry, 7th Bn. (1st British Columbia)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Bellevue, Passchendaele, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 Place of death (approximate)

My story

William Near was born on 8 July 1891 in St. Marys, Ontario, one of five sons and one daughter of John Henry and Mary Near. The family lived at 24 Peel Street South, St. Marys. His father worked as a foreman. When he came of age, William started working for the J.D. Moore Company as a freight agent. Following in his younger brother Frank's footsteps, William entered the service in August 1915. He sailed to England with his brother and landed on 1 April 1916.

The brothers were not able to stay together, as William was transferred to the 7th Canadian Infantry Battalion and was assigned the Transport Section. During World War I, an infantry battalion may have marched on foot, but also worked with a surprising number of animals - almost sixty. A few were riding horses, but most were used to pull wagons or carts. The horses, wagons and their drivers were known as the Transport Section. Normally the section was behind the front lines, but when ammunition, rations or supplies were needed, they moved as far forward as necessary to deliver the goods. In the autumn of 1917, William was transferred to battalion headquarters as a runner. As there were few reliable means of communication during the grim Battle of Passchendaele, runners carried messages back and forth between battalion headquarters and the companies in the field. In early November 1917, the 7th Battalion was deployed at "Graf" Farm (28.D.5.d.5.6), near what remained of the hamlet of Meetcheele, just west of Passchendaele. While at the frontline, the runners could not take cover during bombing or machine-gun fire and therefore suffered heavy casualties. William became one of these casualties on 8 November 1917.

He was buried at Bellevue, west of the hamlet of Meetcheele (28.D.5.a.10.00). William was predeceased by his brother Frank who was killed in action on October 8, 1916.

Files 3

Sources 4

Amy Cubberley, Cultural Services Manager, St. Marys Museum and Archives, personal communication, 16 February 2023.
Sources used
Personnel Records of the First World War (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), RG 150, Box 7247 - 48).
Sources used
War diaries: 7th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), RG9-III-D-3, Volume number: 4893, Microfilm reel number: T-10689, File number: 282).
Sources used
War Graves Registers: Circumstances of Death (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), RG 150, 1992-93/314; Volume Number: 224).
Sources used