Monday, 22 August 2016

Manitoba's WWI Fallen: Private Thomas Cronley 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 100 Manitobans who died in action. For more about this project and links to other posts, follow this link.

Above image: Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Thomas Cronely was born March 11, 1879 in Manchester, England. He married Ina Nickols and the two immigrated to Canada, the exact year is unknown.

The couple first appear in the Winnipeg Henderson Directory in 1907, at a rooming house at 393 Logan. His occupation is listed as bricklayer. 

In 1910, they are the homeowners of 51 Gertie Street and Thomas is working for contractor Thomas Kelly and Sons. By this time, their family of five children had started.

Winnipeg Tribune

Thomas enlisted on January 10, 1916 with the 101st Battalion and while waiting to go overseas took a job as a live-in caretaker at St. Julien Apartments, 508 McMillan Avenue. After he left, Ina and the children lived briefly at the Fortune Block on Main Street, then 361 Langside Street.

He embarked for England on July 6, 1916 aboard the S.S. Olympic. Soon after their arrival, Cronley was transferred to the 17th Battalion with whom he went to France on August 27th. In the field he joined the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish).

On the night of October 8 -9, 1916, Cronley went missing in action with no details of what happened. On August 11, 1917 he was "For official purposes presumed to have died on or since 09-10-16."

159 Evanson St., Google Street View

Until the end of the war, Ina continued to lived at 361 Langside, a resident-owned rooming house with about five suites. by 1920 she is living at a three-room rooming house at 159 Evanson.

It must have been a  time of great hardship for Ina. She was a widow with five children and there are no other Cronleys or Nickols listed in the Henderson Directory, from 1918 - 1920, indicating that there were likely no other family members here.

Thomas' pay records indicate that his $20 salary stopped being sent to Ina in December 1916. It is unclear what the reason was. In April 1917 a cheque for four months back pay was sent.

Top: Wedding photo of Thomas Cronley, (See full version at Ancestry)
Bottom: January 28, 1921, Winnipeg Tribune

On January 25, 1921 Ina Cronley died at General Hospital at the age of 41. Her death and funeral notice in the Free Press and Tribune did not provide a cause of death.

It is unknown what happened to her five children.

Canadian Great War Project entry
Canadian Virtual War Memorial entry
Attestation Papers and Military File

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