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James Bernard Walker

November 7, 2022

James Bernard Walker

A teacher from Bury’s Green who served in the Canadian Forestry Corps

The second son of a Bury’s Green farmer, Jim became a school teacher, but when war broke out he did his duty and enlisted. Rather than serving one of the combat branches of the military, he joined the Forestry Corps.

The British High Command expected that Canadians (being from the Empire’s ‘woodyard’ after all) would be particularly able transform the trees of Britain and France to meet the military’s wooden needs—crates, duckboards (wooden slats on a frame placed on the bottom of trenches as a primitive walkway), construction timbers and countless other projects. Material was harvested in Britain and France, because transatlantic shipping was too scarce and perilous to carry common lumber. 

Walker was gassed in the conduct of his duties, and struggled to breathe for the rest of his life.  The humidity of Ontario summers bothered him, so like many who had lung injuries, he hoped to make a life in the drier air of the west. But he never regained his health, and died of tuberculosis in January 1921 at Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, age 24.  When he passed, his younger brother Henry, was notified and travelled by out by train to bring Jim home. He is buried at St. Peter’s Church, Bury’s Green.

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