William was the youngest of four children. Leah was the eldest born in 1888, with twins Lillian and Lorne born four years later in 1892. Sadly, Lorne passed away just three months after he was born. William Jr. was born two years after the twins.
The family was very active in the Simcoe Street Methodist, now United, Church in Oshawa. Both Leah and Lillian were members of the choir for decades and all three of the children attended Sunday School at the Church.
According to his attestation papers, documents he signed upon enlisting to serve in the First World War, William was 5 foot 4.5 inches tall and had blue eyes, brown hair, a medium complexion and a scar above his nose. Information such as this was recorded to help identify soldiers. At the time he enlisted, William had been working as an upholsterer. William James Garrow Jr. enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Montreal on August 30, 1915 at the age of 21.
We know that during his time overseas, William saw action in both France and Belgium. William’s letters home provide us with a glimpse of what life was like for a young soldier in the trenches of the Western Front.
Upon arriving overseas, William joined up with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, the Princess Pats, as a replacement on the front lines in December 1915. William was fighting with the Princess Pats at that Battle of Mount Sorrell when he lost his life between June 2–4, 1916.
The family received official word of his death through a telegram sent approximately two weeks later.
The letters came to be a part of the estate of his two sisters, Leah and Lillian and all but one are addressed to either both or one of the sisters. According to their great-nephew the Garrow children were very close and the death of William Jr. had a devastating affect on a family still mourning the death of Lorne.
Simcoe Street Methodist Church – Boys Class Sunday School
William Garrow Jr. is at the end of the last row, standing on a bench.
Photograph courtesy of Simcoe Street United Church