109402 Pte. William Houghton was born on 10th March 1887, in St. Giles, Camden, London, England, born to William and Eliza Houghton.

William was placed into an orphanage on 30th December 1892, aged five years, and was only seven when he boarded the SS Sarnia in Liverpool on 29th March 1894, with 300 other "British Home Children" bound for Canada and then onwards to Toronto, for a new life as an indentured farm worker and house servant.

In 1905, aged 18, William was released from his placements and subsequently joined the 25th Brant Dragoons militia, during which time, in October 1914, whilst riding a horse delivering mobilization dispatches, the horse fell injuring William's left knee.

In June 1912 William married Henrietta Miller, and the couple, residing in Paris, Ontario, had two children.

Come the call, William was quick to sign up, attesting into the first 4th CMR intake in Toronto on 27th November 1914. Assigned to 'A' Company, William, billeted in the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition Centre, in Toronto, trained through the harsh winter of 1914, followed by training at Niagara on the Lake, then Valcartier Camp. The 4th CMR was then joined with the 5th & 6th CMRs to form the 2nd CMR Brigade

In July 1915 the 2nd Division departed for England aboard the RMS Hesperian, arriving on 29th July at Plymouth, England. Following training in Kent, they were finally moved into the European war theatre. On 24th October, 1915, they marched from Caesar's Camp near Folkestone, to board steam ships for Boulogne, France, where they disembarked and boarded a train to Bailleul, on the French / Belgian border. Here they marched out to St Martin's camp within sound of the guns for the first time.

Although rotating in and out of the front line for the following few months, on 8th December 1915 William was admitted to the No.3 Canadian Field Ambulance with pleurisy, but was discharged on 17th December when he rejoined his unit. At some time in the winter of 1916 William became a batman (orderly / servant to a commissioned officer).

In September 1916, during unspecified manoeuvres in the Somme region, William was caught in shelling and blown off of his horse. After this time, through 1917, he was removed from front line duty due to complications from the pre-war knee injury, which had been further aggravated, and a severe flat foot condition, whereupon he was assigned a role as groomsman with the 2nd Central Ontario Reinforcement Depot and 8th Reserve Battalion.

In December 1918, William embarked the SS Northland at Liverpool docks and bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he arrived on December 26th.

109402 Pte. William Houghton was discharged from the services on 30th January 1919 in Toronto. Survived by his wife Henrietta and their now seven children, William passed away in April 1933.

Biography and images with thanks to Rob and Ron Houghton.