2341380 Gnr James (Percy) Percival Austin was born 24 March 1885 in Winnipeg, Manitoba the eldest boy of Albert and Mary Austin. He attended Upper Canada College in Toronto and Ridley College in St Catherines. While his father and younger brother (Bertie) excelled in golf, Percy’s athletics of choice were Track-and-Field and Rugby. After school he worked as a junior clerk with the Imperial Bank of Commerce in Montreal. Unsatisfied with banking, Percy moved to Port Dalhousie and managed a fruit farmed owned by his father. At some point before the First World War he joined the Queen’s Own as an officer for a year. During the First World War Percy served as a Gunner on the front lines with the McGill Battery of the 10th Siege Artillery. While at war he was diagnosed with “Neurasthenia due to service”. Commonly called Shell-Shock at the time, we know it today as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He spent his time after war living on a farm in Barrie where a married couple looked after him. Though Percy never recovered from the war, married, or had children, he returned to Spadina in the 1930’s and remained close with his family until his death in 1954.
With information from Spadina House Museum.
Timeline of service:
- Before 1917, served as officer in the Queen’s Own;
- 1917, 14 May, enlists in the McGill Siege Artillery Draft (CEF) as Gunner, Montreal;
- 1917, 5 July, arrived in England via the SS Justica;
- 1917, August, assigned to 10th Siege Artillery Battery, England;
- 1918, 2 April, proceeds to France assigned to 4th Canadian Siege Battery;
- 1919, 17 January, arrived in Halifax via the SS Olympic;
- 1919, 03 Feb, discharged from Army as medically unfit after 1 year, 8 months, 25 days on active service.
You can view his 1st WW Personnel Record at Library and Archives Canada here.