Purvis, William James


1930 WJ Purvis
RSM WJ Purvis 1930

135333 Battalion Sergeant Major William James Purvis was a veteran of World War I and a Sergeant Major in the QOR 1925-30. He joined the Queen’s Own in 1903 and attended the trip to England in 1910 as the Colour Sergeant of D Company.

At the time of his enrollment into the 74th Battalion CEF in July of 1915 he had already served 12 years in the Queen’s Own, was married to his wife Jessie and listed clerk as his occupation. He landed in England in April 1916 and shortly afterwards was confirmed in his appointment as Company Sergeant Major which normally carried the rank of Warrant Officer II. The 74th Bn was disbanded in September 1917 most of the soldiers providing reinforcements to the Canadian Corps in the field. Purvis was retained in England initially, carrying-out administrative and instructional duties in various camps. In August 1918 he was posted to France to the Canadian Corps School then to Belgium. In May 1919 he returned to Canada where he was demobilized from active service. He returned to the QOR where he attained the rank of Battalion Sergeant Major of the 2nd Battalion in 1925. He died in 1964 at the Camp Hill veteran’s hospital in Halifax Nova Scotia. 

Born: 19 Dec 1880 Toronto Canada

Former Svc: 12 years QOR

Religion: Presbyterian

Trade: Clerk

Date of attestation: QOR 1903, 74 Bn CEF 15 Jul 1915

Married: Mrs Jessie A Purvis

Died: 18 February 1964

New Image
Color Sgt Purvis 1910

Timeline of service:

  • 1903, joined QOR;
  • 1910, listed as Col Sgt on list of pers going to England;
  • 1915, 15 July, attested to the 74th Bn CEF, at Toronto, (QOR quota);
  • 1916, 9 April, arrived in England via the SS Empress of Britain;
  • 1916, 18 July, confirmed in rank as Company Sergeant Major;
  • 1916, 18 July, transferred from 74th Bn to 51st Bn, carried out administrative and instructional duties in various posting throughout England;
  • 1917, 20 May, admitted to Canadian Military Hospital at Hastings for Rheumatic Fever;
  • 1917, 13 March, promoted acting WOII and appointed as Company Sergeant Major, from a certificate signed 10th June 1920;
  • 1918, 18 August, proceeded to France attached to Canadian Corps School;
  • 1919, 3 May, returned to Canada via HMT Mauretania and discharged from active service 11 May;
  • 1925, listed as Battalion Sergeant Major, 2nd Battalion Queen’s Own Rifles;
  • 1930, appears in a photo of the WO’s and Sgts as WOI.

His WWI records can be found here.

Photo of the Staff Sergeants and Sergeants attending the 1910 trip to visit the Buffs. Purvis is second row fifth from the left beside RSM Brittain.

To see the complete series of photos from the 1910 England trip click here

Purvis Tunic 01076b
Tunic from the museum collection identified as belonging to RSM Purvis


Purvis appointment scroll
Scroll attesting that Purvis was Acting Sergeant Major (WOII) during 1st WW



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