838528 Pte. Alfred James Hill was born in London, England, on May 31st, 1895. Emigrated to Canada, Alfred found work as a sailor on the Great Lakes. With the shipping season on the lakes closed for the winter, Alfred found himself living in the port city of Owen Sound, Ontario, waiting for spring.

Twenty-one year old Alfred attested to the 147th Battalion, in Owen Sound, on January 7th, 1916, and would have been billeted locally until the 147th Battalion mobilized in Owen Sound in May, to finalize the administration and organization of the unit, just prior to their departure for Camp Niagara later that month. As the conditions in this Camp were wanting the unit moved to the new training facility of Camp Borden in late June.

While undergoing training at Borden, Alfred would take some unauthorized time off and forfeit a days' pay for his actions.

The unit received their orders to proceed overseas in September and while en-route to Halifax, there was an outbreak of diphtheria and they were detained in Amherst, Nova Scotia, for over a month. Prior to leaving Owen Sound or while in Amherst Alfred married. His wife, Florence, continued to live in Owen Sound where she collected the monthly separation allowance cheque from the government and the required allotment of Alfred's pay while he was overseas. 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. Alfred was taken on strength of the 4th C.M.R. on April 21st, 1917.

Reporting for duty on May 11th, Alfred served with the unit over the summer when he received a whiff of gas that took him out of the line for a day, though he served on through the battles of Hill 70 and Passchendaele and into the battles of the final 100 days. It was during the preparations for the Battle of Arras that James received a second dose of gas when the Germans launched a pre-emptive artillery barrage while the unit was relieving a British unit in the front lines.

Returning to the unit in early October, a case of Pyrexia almost immediately hospitalized him for the remainder of the war.

838528 Private Alfred James Hill was struck off strength of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on March 19th, 1919.

Biography credit: George Auer, with thanks.