This blog was produced in collaboration with the students and Christine Ritsma of Stratford Northwestern Secondary School, and the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies.
By Marisa Winkel, Noelle McLellan and Dani Bale
Born 24 December 1887, Albert Hansford grew up living at 132 Water Street in Stratford, Ontario when he enlisted in the Perth Regiment—a militia unit—at the age of twenty two. After the First World War was declared, and six years after serving with the Perth Regiment, he enlisted with the 71st Battalion. At the time, Hansford was Anglican by faith, with dark hair and was 5’9” in height. He had been working as a woodworker, and when he became apart of the 71st Battalion, he was twenty eight years of age.
Hansford served as a Private, the lowest military rank, with the 71st of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The Battalion recruited and was mobilized in Woodstock, Ontario and departed for England in April 1916. It, however, was absorbed by other overseas battalions upon arrival in France, including the 72nd in which Hansford eventually joined. The 71st Battalion was officially disbanded on 11 April 1918. The 72nd Battalion, which included the absorbed men from the 71st, was awarded fifteen battle honours. It participated in some of the most important battles in Canadian history such as Vimy Ridge, the Somme, Ypres, Passchendaele, and Canal du Nord.
When he returned from the war in 1919, Hansford spent six or seven months taking part in a vocational training course in Gasoline Tractor Repair and Operation with the Macdonald Thresher Company of Stratford. He was also a recipient of a disability pension due to the injuries he sustained during the war. In 1919, he received a pension of $10 with an allowance for his wife and two children of $6.60—his total pension being $16.60 per month. By 1930, his disability had worsened. He was assessed at 60% disability and received a 20% disability pension, increasing his monthly pension to $28. In 1932, he was again assessed a higher disability—this time 70% with a 40% disability pension. He received a $56 monthly pension with his wife receiving $10 and his children receiving $16 bringing his total monthly allotment to $82.
During the war, Hansford received a gunshot wound to the upper portion of his right arm, significantly weakening the grip of that hand. He also had pneumonia due to infection and exposure. After the war, he lost his thumb and pointer-finger and also dislocated his right shoulder multiple times due to being shot. Everyday life was difficult for Hansford, as he could not return to his old job as a carpenter. He took the tractor repairing course in 1919 so he could return to the workforce.
Hansford died at 71 years of age on April 6th, 1957 due to an inconclusive cause. He is buried at Stratford Avondale Cemetery.
To view Alfred Hansford’s military service record at Library and Archives Canada, Click Here