839299 Pte. William John Hopkins was born on the family farm on April 28th, 1898, the youngest and only boy of the two children born to Richard and Jenny Hopkins. Growing up in Bentinck Township, Ontario, on the outskirts of Hanover, William was working on the family farm when hostilities broke out.


The 147th Battalion C.E.F. was authorized in November of 1915 and William joined the cause shortly thereafter, attesting to the new battalion on December 15th. To do so, William lied about his age for the seventeen year old claimed to be born in 1897. William would be billeted locally over the winter while the unit continued its recruiting efforts.


In May of 1917 the unit mobilized in Owen Sound to finalize the administration and organization of the unit, just prior to their departure for Camp Niagara later that month. William was hospitalized in late June with a case of the Measles. As the conditions in this Camp were wanting the unit moved to the new training facility of Camp Borden in late June.


The unit received their orders to proceed overseas in September and while in route to Halifax, there was an outbreak of diphtheria and they were detained in Amherst, Nova Scotia, for over a month. The unit finally sailed for Great Britain, on November 14th, 1916.


On January 1st, 1917, the 147th Battalion ceased to exist when it became the nucleus for the 8th Reserve Battalion, whose task it was to supply reinforcements to the 58th Battalion and the 4th C.M.R. William was taken on strength of the 4th C.M.R. on March 7th, 1917.


William survived the Battle of Arras where the Canadian Corps stormed Vimy Ridge, as well as the Battle of Hill 70. On October 26th, 1917, during the first day of the Canadian Corps attack towards Passchendaele William was reportedly wounded and missing. Believed to be in the medical system he was later pronounced Killed-In-Action.


Having no known grave 838299 Private William John Hopkins' sacrifice is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial, Belgium, and locally on the Hanover Cenotaph in Ontario.




Biography credit: George Auer, with thanks.