James Ivall


Birth Date:
11 Jul 1885
Death Date:
28 May 1918
Service Branch:
Canadian Infantry, 28th Battalion
Service Number:

James Ivall was a grandson of Alexander “Sandy” Ival (1831-1911), who emigrated from Scotland to Canada in about 1837 and had ten children. James was a son of the third child, also called Alexander (1855-1922) and his wife Sarah. James was the third of their six children. He was born on July 11th 1885 in Morin Flats (now called Morin Heights), Quebec, about 50 miles NW of Montreal. He was baptised by the Church of England in Quebec in 1886. The baptism record reads “James, son of Alexander Ival, of the township of Morin, Argenteuil County, Province of Quebec, farmer and of Sarah his wife was born on the eleventh of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty five and baptised the fifth day of December one thousand eight hundred and eighty six.” 

The 1891 census showed Alexander Ival, aged 36, a farmer, living in Morin with his wife Sarah (28) and children Joseph (11), James (6), George (3) and Thomas (1 month). I can’t find James or his parents in the 1901 or 1911 censuses. The spelling of the family surname in Canada seems to have changed from Ival to Ivall over the years. In the 19th century, Ival is the most common spelling in records that have survived. In the 20th century, the name is normally recorded as Ivall.

On November 6th 1905, James married Catherine McCarthy in St Patrick’s Church, Montreal, which opened in 1847 and is known for its links with the Irish Canadian community. Catherine was a Roman Catholic born in Quebec and of Irish descent. She and James were both aged 20.

The 1916 census shows James and Catherine, both aged 30, living at Glenreagh, Edmonton, Alberta. Many inhabitants of Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes moved westwards in the early 20th century in order to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the development of the Canadian prairies. It seems that James and Catherine had no children, as none are listed with them. The census return says that James was a farmer, spoke English and French but could not read or write.

James joined the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force in Edmonton on 10th May 1916. He must have volunteered as conscription was not introduced in Canada until 1917. His attestation paper describes him as a carpenter and farmer. His height was 5 foot 11 inches, complexion ruddy, eyes grey, hair dark brown. He was assigned army number 231524.

I don’t have any information about James’s war service, except that on 28 May 1918 he was a Private in the 28th Battalion, Canadian Infantry. This was his unit when he died, aged 32, of shrapnel wounds to his face and left shoulder at No 56 Casualty Clearing Station that day. The nature of his wounds suggest that he was probably killed by a shell that exploded near him. He is buried at Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt, which is 16 miles SW of Arras. The No 56 Casualty Clearing Station was located at Gezaincourt at that time. James was probably brought there after being injured at or near the front line.

The war diary the 28th Battalion says that this unit was in the front line opposite Boiry Becquerelle between 26 and 28 May 1918. This is about 4 miles S of Arras. On the 26thThere was considerable hostile shelling between 8.30 am and 10 am” and casualties were 5 O.R. (wounded). O.R. means Other Ranks, that is soldiers who were not officers. On the 27th one O.R. was killed and one O.R. went to hospital. On the 28th there was “Usual intermittent shelling on front and support areas, during morning. Considerable enemy shelling experienced at night on sunken road and back areas.” One O.R. was wounded and one went to hospital. James could have been one of the casualties on any of these days.


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