B66005 Sergeant William Henry Middleton was born in Aberdeen, Scotland 17 May 1921 son of William and Barbara Middleton. The family emigrated to Canada through Montreal settling in Toronto. His father worked as a messenger for a stock broker and then as a civilian for the Toronto Police Force. This was during the depression and at one point they lived in cabbagetown populated by immigrants and which he described as a slum.
Middleton enlisted 9 September 1940. He gave his birth date as 17 May 1921 but, in reality it was 17 May 1923 so, like many young men in Toronto, he lied about his age. He was seventeen when he joined.
His service record notes that he was taken on strength with the Force Newfoundland on September 20 1940. The history of the Queen’s Own Rifles written by W.T. Barnard notes on page 153 that a concert was held on October 13, 1940 in Newfoundland and that Rfn. W.H Middleton sang. The regiment left Halifax on September 19 1941 and landed in Gourock Scotland on July 29 1941. On November 2 1943 he was confirmed in the rank of Corporal.
By then a Sergeant, Middleton landed on Normandy on 6 June 1944 with B Company commanded by Major C.O Dalton. He was wounded on 11 June 1944 with a major wound to his left forearm and recuperated at the Canadian General Hospital in England. He was discharged on November 22 1945.
After the war, he struggled to get consistent employment due to his low education. He worked at a bakery and with Brinks Security but in the late 1950’s he was able to get work at the Brewers Retail, which employed a lot of veterans. He took some management courses and worked his way up to a manager – managing three stores, one of which was in Mimico.
He lived in war time housing in Etobicoke on McCallum Court – on Royal York near the Queensway. These houses were owned by veterans and the high school Royal York Collegiate had about 1500 students, all of course baby boomers.
He never spoke about the war,even when his Legion friends were over. His wife – who he married in London on 9 December 1944 – was in London during the war with the Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWAC) and she spoke once about him carrying back some members of his unit after he had been wounded. He was very involved with the Legion Branch 27, particularly the committee working with veterans and their widows.
Middleton died on 19 January 1967 and is buried in the west end of Toronto.