Nelson, Gregory Vincent: Lieutenant


Digitized Service Record

Source: Listed in War Diary May 1916.


Gregory Vincent Nelson
Gregory Vincent Nelson

So says the Toronto World newspaper on March 10th, 1917 just 5 days after acting Major George Vincent Nelson was killed.

He joined the 18th Battalion on May 6, 1916 as a reinforcement after originally joining the 83rd Overseas Battalion on September 4, 1914. During his duty with the 18th Battalion, which spanned less than a year, he rose to Captain and then as Major.

The war diary antiseptically notes his arrival: “LIEUT. G.V. NELSON arrived as a reinforcement.”

Upon his death he is mentioned in greater detail:

May 5, 1917:  Company guides led in relieving Battalion and completion of relief was notified by code word ‘Bird’. 2 or wounded this morning now reported “died of wounds” MAJOR G.V. NELSON D Company commander was killed by a shell during the relief of battalion.

March 7, 1917:  Funeral of Major G.V. NELSON at Mont St. Eloy.

Grave of Major GV Nelson 18th Can Infantry Battalion. July 1918
Grave of Major G.V. Nelson, 18th Can Infantry Battalion. July 1918

Perhaps the original grave marker offers a testament to his Battalion’s regard for Major Nelson. I much prefer it to the current marker.

Current Grave Marker
Current Grave Marker

The text of 2 articles about this Canadian soldier help put dimension to the man:


Was Youngest Major in Canadian Forces and Son of Well Known Newspaperman

Major Gregory Vincent Nelson, the youngest son of Francis Nelson, sporting editor of the Toronto Globe, was killed in action Monday of this week while serving on the western battlefront with the 18th Battalion of the Canadian forces. It was only a New Years’s while he was not yet 21 years of age, that Lieut. Nelson received promotion to the rank of major. It is said he was probably the youngest major in the Canadian army.

He left Toronto as a lieutenant in the 83rd Q.O.R. [Queen’s Own Rifles] Battalion, and put in a summer’s training with that unit at Niagara camp. Prior to that he was a member of the Canadian Officer’s Training Corps.

In France he had seen much active service, taking part in the operations both at the Ypres salient and at the Somme. All his senior offices have been killed in action.

Lieut. Nelson was educated at St. Andrew’s College. He was a prominent hockey player, and noted as an expert goalkeeper. His father has for a number of years been a judge at the Woodbine for the Ontario Jockey Club and had only just left this week for Hot Springs Ark., where he was to act as a judge at a race meet which commenced Wednesday. His home is at 96 Winchester street.

Source: Toronto World March 10, 1917

Press Clipping Toronto Star March 10, 1917
Press Clipping Toronto Star March 10, 1917

Photo with caption: MAJOR G.V. NELSON, son of Mr. Francis Nelson, who as killed in action, March 5. He received his training at the Niagara Camp in 1915, and went overseas as a lieutenant in a Toronto battalion.

Toronto Star – March 10, 1917

Word was received in Toronto yesterday that Major Gregory Vincent Nelson, youngest son of Mr. Francis Nelson, sporting editor of the Globe, had been killed in action on March 5. The late Major Nelson was just 21 years of age and had been overseas one year. Prominent in hockey, lacrosse, canoeing, and swimming circles, he was among the first to offer his services. He went to Niagara Camp in the spring of 1915, where he took his officers’ training with the late Major Charles W. Moss [Charles A. Moss] and other well-known Torontonians, and became attached to Col. Genet’s unit. When the drafts were asked for he stepped forwards as a volunteer and was sent overseas in charge of a number of men. He took further training at Shorncliffe, and was given special duty, but shortly attained his desire to get to France. He served at the Ypres salient, and at the Somme. For his exploits in the offensive he received his captaincy on the field, soon afterwards earned his majority. His death occurred at the Ancre.

His parents live at 96 Winchester street. He is also survived by one brother, Harry, and once sister, Mrs. Geo. Cornell, Rutherford, N.J.

Source: The Toronto Star, March 10, 1917

A collection of relevant images below.

“Killed in Action”
March 1917 War Diary Page 3
March 1917 War Diary Page 4
The Toronto World March 10 1917 Clipping
Press Clipping Toronto Star March 10 1917
Press Clipping Toronto Star March 10 1917 with text
Source: Toronto Telegram. March 1917. Via Per news clipping post by David Archer at 18th Battalion Facebook Page (not group).

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