Laurie, William Little

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William Little Laurie
4 December 1896 – 14 September 1987
Col W.L. Laurie (1).jpg
Nickname Bill
Place of birth York, Ontario
Place of burial Woodland Cemetery, Kitchener, Ontario
Allegiance Canada
Service/branch Canadian Army
Awards OBE
Colonel William Little Laurie, OBE, (4 December 1896 – 14 September 1987) was a Canadian soldier who served in both the First and Second World Wars as well as in Canada's North.

Early Life

William was born on 4 December 1896 to parents John Laurie and Helen Little at York, Ontario. In the 1901 and 1911 census, he is shown with two older brothers, James and Stuart, and a younger sister, Bessie, and living in Scarborough.

His trade listed when he attested for service in the First World War is wireless operator.


At the outbreak of the First World War, he was serving in the militia with 2nd Field Company, Canadian Engineers.[1] He attested on 12 January 1916 at Toronto as a Sapper, Regimental No. 541605, and arrived in England on 25 March. He was taken on strength of the Canadian Engineer Training Depot on 19 April. He embarked for France on 25 June and joined the Signal Pool at Abberville France. On 24 July 1916 he was taken on strength of "CA" Cable Section, part of the Canadian Corps H.Q. Signal Company. His stay was short lived as on 14 August he was sent to 4th Canadian Divisional Signal Company. His stay was again short as on 7 September 1916 he was returned to the Canadian Corps Signal Company, this time to service with the Canadian Corps Wireless Section. On 13 January 1917 he was slightly wounded above his left eyebrow when his dugout was blown up which required treatment at the Casualty Clearing Station where he remained until rejoining his unit on the 22nd. On 18 June 1917, he again joined the Canadian Corps H.Q. Signal Company. He was appointed Lance Corporal on 3 October 1918 just prior to the end of hostilities. He proceeded to England on 11 May 1919 and then on to Canada on 6 June prior to being discharged at Toronto on 16 June 1919.

He evidently joined the militia and was commissioned after the war as he was trained in line telegraphy in February/March 1923 and received his Class "A" certificate.

In 1924, established a station of the Northwest Territories and Yukon Radio System at Edmonton.

He supported the Hudson Strait Expedition of 1927-28 along with three other members of the RCCS.

Starting in 1930, he led a project to install radio beacons across the prairies to aid the navigation of aircraft of the postal service.

In 1932 he was a member of Canada's official delegation to the I.T.U. meeting in Madrid. Following on this, in 1937 he was a delegate to the regional Pan American Radio Conference which was convened at Havana, Cuba in 1937.

He was appointed Commanding Officer of 7th Corps Signals, later renamed 1st Canadian Corps Signals, until April 1942 when he was appointed Chief Signal Officer at 1st Canadian Corps Headquarters.

At the beginning of 1943 the role of Director of Signals was re-established, having ceased to exist on 8 December 1940, and Col Laurie was appointed to the role. He held the position until 1946.

For his service during the Second World War, he was made an Officer in the Order of the British Empire.[2]

Personal Life

He married Charlotte Valentine (1894 - 1975) on 1 October 1935.[3][4]

Related Pages

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See Also

Laurie, William L.: my Army recollections; University of Victoria


  1. First World War Service File, Library and Archives Canada.
  2. The London Gazette, Supplement 37599. 4 June, 1946. Page 2824.
  3. Archives of Ontario; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Registrations of Marriages