838048 Pte. Dennis Confrey was born on May 10th, 1896, in Stockton, Durham, England, to Michael and Jane Confrey.

Dennis came to Canada as part of the British Home Children program: a scheme meant to given orphaned and destitute children a chance at a better life in the Empire's Dominions. Arriving at the Port of Quebec, aboard the Laurentic in 1913, eighteen year old Dennis was anything but a child when he arrived in Canada. Given his age and the fact both his parents were still alive, he may have used the program by his own volition to gain free passage.

Settling in Hanover, Ontario, Dennis was working as a farmer when, during the summer of 1915, he joined one of the two companies being raised for the C.E.F. by the 31st Regiment, the local militia unit. With the authorization to raise a new battalion, all the men of these two companies were assigned to it.

Dennis attested to the 147th (Grey) Battalion on November 27th, 1915, being assigned to "A" Company under the command of Captain Corrie. He was billeted locally over the winter, until the unit left for training at Camp Niagara in the spring of 1916. As the conditions in the Camp were found wanting the unit moved to the new training facility of Camp Borden in late June.

While in Borden Dennis was anything but a model soldier, having two separate run-ins with the military authorities. In total, he forfeited eighteen days' pay and received ten days Confinement to Barracks for being absent without leave.

At the end of September, the unit received their orders to proceed overseas, but they were detained in Amherst, Nova Scotia, for over a month when a number of soldiers contracted diphtheria. The unit finally sailed for Great Britain, on November 14th, 1916, aboard the ill-fated Titanic's sister ship, the S.S. Olympic. While onboard the ship Dennis once again ran afoul of authorities and was jailed for fifteen days for insubordination.

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. Private Confrey was taken on strength of the 4th C.M.R. on March 21st, 1917, in the buildup for the Battle of Arras: the battle that saw the Canadian Corps storm Vimy Ridge.

As the Canadian Corps descended the ridge and carried on with the advance, Dennis was hit by shrapnel on July 17th. Medically evacuated to England, the wound to his buttocks kept him out of the line until the following April. He saw action next during the battles of the final hundred days.

Making it through the Battle of Amiens, Dennis was wounded again, on August 28th, during the Battle of Arras, causing a fracture of the ulna of his left arm. Medically evacuated again, he did not return to the front lines, having received his "Blighty". Returning home on the Araguaya, in February of 1919, he was admitted to a military hospital in Whitby, Ontario, to receive further treatment for his wound. Here, yet again, he received penalties for going absent without leave.

838048, Pte. Dennis Confrey was struck off strength of the C.E.F. on May 8th, 1919, and reportedly passed away in 1926.

Biography and image credit: George Auer