William Francis Paisley

Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Sundridge, Parry Sound District, Ontario, Canada

General information

Last known residence:
Star City, Saskatchewan, Canada
Church of England

Army information

Canadian Expeditionary Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
 —  Canadian Infantry, 28th Bn. (North West)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

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


Points of interest 4

#1 Place of birth
#2 Last known residence
#3 Enlistment place
#4 Place of death (approximate)

My story

William and Albert were born in 1896 on a small farm near Sundridge, Ontario. In 1906, their father died. Margery, William and Albert's mother remarried Joe Turnbull and the family moved to Nipawin, Saskatchewan. William and Albert both enlisted in April 1916. William then lived in Star City and enlisted in Melfort, while Albert still lived in Nipawin and enlisted in Saskatoon. After his training, William was taken on by the 28th Battalion (North West), Albert by the 44th Battalion (Manitoba).

In November 1917, the 28th Battalion, part of the 6th Brigade, of the 2nd Canadian Division. was deployed at Passchendaele. Ever since 1915, the British high command had been toying with the idea of forcing a breakthrough in Flanders. But the Germans were prepared. A network of bunkers dominated the battlefield. After weeks of trudging through the mud, New Zealanders, Australians and South Africans joined the exhausted British divisions. Momentum was gained briefly, but then the attack stalled again. For the army high command, halting the offensive, however many lives that might save, was not an option. A victory, even a symbolic victory, was vital. Field Marshall Haig’s eye fell on Passchendaele. The heavily shelled village on top of the West Flemish ridge had been in German hands since 1914 and had assumed mythical proportions. To win that prize, Haig turned to the Canadians.

On 6 November 1917, the 2nd Division took part in an attack that would lead to the capture of Passchendaele. The Division attacked with the 6th Brigade, and specifically with the 27th, 31st and 28th Battalions. The objective was the village of Passchendaele and the eastern ridge. At 6am on 6 November, the three battalions advanced towards Passchendaele. The 27th and 31st Battalions came under fire from German pillboxes as they reached the north side of the village. They managed to push through and the 27th Battalion was the first to enter Passchendaele. The 28th Battalion had a difficult time. They operated on the far left of the Brigade front and the soldiers had to wade through deep mud on their way to Passchendaele. About three minutes after the Canadian barrage ended, the 28th Battalion was hit by a German barrage. Not long afterwards, about 400 metres from their objective, they were hit by heavy machine-gun fire that resulted in a large number of casualties. Eventually, the 28th Battalion managed to catch up with the others and consolidate their objective. At 8.45 am, the village of Passchendaele and the eastern ridge were taken.

William was killed in action on 6 November 1917. He and eight other soldiers of the 28th Battalion were buried at Grave Wood, on the western edge of Passchendaele. Today, their graves are unknown and the nine are commemorated on the Ypres Monument (Menin Gate). Albert survived the war and returned home.

Files 1

Sources 6

Chuck Low, Nipawin Museum, personal communication, 16 January 2023.
Sources used
Dewitt G.E., The Story of the Twenty-Eight (Northwest) Battalion, 1914-1917 (London, Charles & Son, s.d.), 22-24.
Sources used
Personnel Records of the First World War (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC) RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 7541 - 27).
Sources used
War diaries: 28th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), RG9-III-D-3, Volume number: 4935, Microfilm reel number: T-10739--T-10740, File number: 425).
Sources used
War Graves Registers: Circumstances of Death (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC), RG 150, 1992-93/314; Volume Number: 227).
Sources used
War Graves Registry: Commonwealth War Graves (Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa (LAC): RG150, 1992-1993/314, Box 39-244; Box: 108).
Sources used