William Henry Shilson
Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada
Royal Canadian Infantry Corps
William (Bill) Henry Shilson was born on September 17, 1917, in Toronto, Ontario. A member of the Church of England, he was the child of William Henry Shilson and Agnes Flossie Shilson. His father had been a sapper with the Canadian Railway Troops during the First World War.
William Shilson had one sister Elsie Lillian and five brothers Albert, Edward, Frederick, Robert and Donald.
His brother Albert was a private with the 48th Highlanders of Canada and was badly injured in the battle of Ortona in Italy in 1944.
William was a truck driver for Mac’s Cartage of Toronto from 1938 until June of 1940. Previously he had worked for the Empress shoe factory from June of 1937 to October of 1938 doing general duties.
William lived at 95 Perth Avenue, Toronto, Canada at the time of his enlistment. He was married to Patricia Alice Ann McCarthy on May 6, 1939 and they had a daughter Deanna Marelynn on May 21, 1940.
According to his military records, he enjoyed boxing, swimming and skating. He played left wing when he played hockey, short stop when he played softball and inside line when he played rugby.
William Shilson enlisted in the Canadian Infantry Corps on October 1, 1940, after spending three months with the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment. He stood five foot three and a half inches tall and weighed 124 pounds.
He had blue eyes, brown hair; he was left handed, and considered a healthy man.
His basic training was taken at Camp Borden in Ontario during early 1941. He was attached on June 27, 1941 as a rifleman to the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. He was stationed in Sussex, New Brunswick. He was shipped overseas to the United Kingdom arriving at Gourock Scotland, on July 29, 1941.
William remained in the U.K. for the rest of 1941 through 1942 and 1943 until June 6, 1944 when he participated in the first assault wave during the D-Day invasion of France. Rifleman Shilson received a shotgun wound in the left leg that required hospitalization. Once he recovered from his injury, he was sent back to France to rejoin his infantry unit on August 12, 1944.
Rifleman William Shilson, aged 26, was killed on December 22, 1944 in action by the Queen’s Own Rifles against the enemy at Nijmegen in the Netherlands. The battle on the night of December 19-20 resulted in many casualties for his regiment. It is likely he died of his wounds two days later.
He was initially buried in the temporary cemetery called the Jonkerbosch War Cemetery, in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. He was awarded the 1939-1945 Star, the France-Germany Star, the Defence Medal, the War Medal and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp.
William Henry Shilson is reburied in the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, grave reference: II. B. 16.
The inscription on his headstone reads:
“Our loss is Heaven’s gain but you live on our memory. Wife and daughter.”
Tim and Sonja Loen’s family from Njimegen have looked after his grave since he died.
Biography: Matthew Mogilnicki – student from All Saints H.S., Kanata, Canada for Faces to Graves.
Biography made available for Faces to Graves courtesy of Vanessa Kirtz, teacher at All Saints H.S.
- Library and Archives Canada, WWII Service Files of War Dead, 1939-1947 * Veterans Affairs Canada, The Canadian Virtual War Memorial
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Casualty file
- pictures provided by Jessica Pietz, Bob Shilson and M.A. Shilson
- Battle information from the Queen’s Own Rifles Museum