Monday, 4 August 2014

Manitoba's WWI Fallen: Duncan Patterson of Winnipeg

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, I am working on a series of blog posts and radio shows that will look at some of the Manitobans who died in action. For more about this project and links to other posts, follow this link.

Photo source: The Soutar Home Page

Lance Corporal Duncan Patterson of the 16th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment) was the first known Winnipegger to be killed in action in the First World War.

A Scottish immigrant and decorated veteran of the Boer War, the Pattersons came to Winnipeg in 1912. By 1914 he was working for Thomas Kelly and Sons as a stone cutter on the construction of the legislature building. The family, which consisted of wife Mary, his mother and six children under the age of 11, lived at 517 Maryland Street but after he enlisted moved to a rooming house at 672 McGee Street.

March 15, 1915, Manitoba Free Press

Patterson was killed on March 14, 1915. An account of his death reads:

“While blazing away, Patterson was hit. The bullet struck his rifle as he was firing, between the stock and barrel, and glanced off into his neck and body. We tried to staunch the blood but Mowat, the stretcher-bearer, made signs ‘no good’ and whispered ‘jugular’. He was dead in a few minutes. We could see him die as he was the first man killed we were covered with his blood, we got quite a turn.”

March 26, 1915, Winnipeg Tribune

After Patterson was deployed overseas, the family moved once again, this time to Brandon Avenue, but that information did not reach the war office. As a result, the official telegram to notify them of his death did not reach them. According to a Winnipeg Tribune story of March 26, 1915, Mary Duncan said that she found out about the news when her 8 year-old daughter Rose brought her a copy of a newspaper featuring a story about a man with her father's name who had been killed.

Mary told the Tribune that she was very much against her husband going to war, but he assured her that he had made it through the Boer War just fine and would return safely from this one as well.

Patterson is buried in Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.

- Canadian Virtual War Memorial
- Duncan Patterson attestation papers
- Notice of death from the Winnipeg Free Press
- More about the Pattersons at the Soutar Family Page

This soldier's history has been pieced together using a number of sources. If you have additional information or would like to point out a factual error, please do so in the comments below or by email at cassidy-at-mts.net.

© Christian Cassidy 2014

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