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Coleshill Remembers Database.

Coleshill Remembers World War 1

As a free service to the World War 1 commemoration year, ST-IT Limited have created and are hosting a free database of Coleshill connected veterans.

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Coleshill, Warwickshire

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Entry for Private John Royston








43rd Regiment Canadian Militia

Year of Birth


Date of Death



John Royston was born in July 1896, probably in Birmingham, to parents John and Harriet Royston. His father, a Brushmaker/ Enameller, died in 1899 in the Infirmary of the Birmingham Workhouse. His mother died three years later, leaving John to be cared for by his grandmother Bridget Royston. When she became ill and was sent to the Workhouse, John went to live with his Uncle George and Aunt Selina in Warwick Street, Birmingham, but this arrangement did not work out and John was taken under the care of the Aston Guardians. The Aston Guardians sent John to live at St Paul’s Home, Coleshill, on the 3rd May 1905, and he made his first Holy Communion on 8th December 1909. John was emigrated to Canada by the Catholic Emigration Association, sailing from Liverpool on the Corsican on the 21st April 1910 and arriving in Quebec on the 30th April 1910. He would have initially been sent to the St George’s Home (a receiving Home for emigrated Catholic children) and from there was sent to live with a family in Ottawa, Ontario where he worked in market gardening. He was discharged from the care of the Catholic Homes on the 31st December 1914, when he had reached the age of 18. Following the outbreak of war, John Royston enlisted in the 43rd Canadian Militia on the 31st July 1915. He died only ten days later, whilst still in Canada, after a swimming accident in the Ottawa River. It is likely that he enlisted in the 43rd Regiment, 77th overseas Battalion, but died before he had been fully attested. Private Royston drowned on the 10th August 1915 and was buried after a military funeral in Section AR 27, Grave 23 of the Ottawa Beechwood Cemetery. He is remembered on the War Memorial in St Teresa and the Sacred Heart, Coleshill.

Ottawa Journal 11th August 1915 SOLDIERS DIVE FOR BODY OF COMRADE Remains of Second Victim of Double Drowning in Ottawa Not Yet Recovered Up to noon to-day the body of Private W. J. Royston, of the 77th Battalion, CEF, who, together with Private john McLean, was drowned in the Ottawa River near the foot of Bank street, had not been found, despite the organised search of members of the 77th Battalion all last evening and this morning. Willing hands were lent to the search in the dozen or more young lads, who dived for the body. Shortly after their noon lunch at the Cambridge restaurant yesterday afternoon, the two young soldiers intimated to their companion, Private Nolan, that they intended to go bathing from the pier in the Ottawa River, between Kent and Bank streets. Private Nolan arrived on the scene about one o’clock and found their clothing on the pier but no sign of his companions. After a short search of the neighbourhood he informed his office on Sparks street and then the police. A search was at once instituted and the body of young McLean was discovered by a newsboy who was diving. Alsonso Claude by name, better known in his circle as “Frenchie.” The body was brought to the surface and later removed to Roger and Burney’s morgue. Search for the body of Royston has so far proved fruitless. Pte. McLean, 18 years of age, was born in Kent, England and for some time has lived in Ramsayville, Ont. Pte. Royston, 20 years of age, is also a native of Kent, England, was employed on a farm in the Ottawa district. Both lads enlisted on the last day of July. Parents of both boys predeceased them, but Pte. McLean has a sister living to whom his personal effects will be sent. It is likely that a military funeral will be held for the deceased but so far no arrangements have been made until the other body has been found. Particulars as to how the double drowning occurred are unknown, as the boys were alone in the vicinity when they went bathing. A deep gash was found on McLean’s head when the body was recovered and it is thought he struck a rock when diving. The water at the pier is not very deep.

Ottawa Journal 13th August 1915 NEWSBOY FINDS BODY OF OTHER SOLDIER WHO WAS DROWNED IN RIVER The body of Pte. W. J. Royston, of the 77th Battalion, who was drowned on Tuesday while bathing in the Ottawa River, was found this morning at 9.15 by a newsboy who was roaming in the vicinity. The body was floating, and was 50 feet to the right of the pier from where it is thought he entered the water. By means of a pole the body was brought to shore and later taken to Roger and Burney’s morgue, Laurier avenue. The funeral was held this afternoon at 2 o’clock from the undertaking parlours.
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