Archibald Bernard McPhail

When Archibald Bernard McPhail was born on April 23, 1918, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, his father, Archibald (1870-1941), was 47 and his mother, Cecelia (nee Garrow) (1876-1941), was 41. Archibald had five brothers and four sisters.

He married Reta Lillian Jones between 1941-1942. Her parentage is unknown (the marriage certificate was not available at the time of writing).

Archie Jr. and Reta had one daughter, Jeanette McPhail, born April 11, 1942.

Given his qualifications as a mechanic, Archie enlisted on January 10, 1941 (during WWII) in the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (the Rileys). He was not married at this time, just prior to his parents deaths later that year.

Archie eventually enlisted with the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve on July 24, 1942. At the time, he was married and was living with his wife at 67 Wexford Avenue South in Hamilton and he was working as a mechanic at City Chevrolet.

67 Wexford Avenue South, Hamilton (image courtesy Google Maps)
He eventually became a stoker for the HMCS Star. According to Wikipedia, between 1941 and 1945, HMCS Star enlisted and trained 7,490 officers, men, and women for service during the Second World War. The Star is currently docked in Hamilton at a National Historic Site.


He served aboard various ships in the fleet during his service, including the HMCS Cornwallis, Stadacona, Protecteur, HochelagaVenture and Chaleur II.

HMCS Protecteur (image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

It was aboard the HMCS Chaleur II (click link for a photo of the crew) that Archie met his untimely death on September 7, 1944.  His commanding officer's report indicates there was a large explosion that day, while the ship was at the naval base in Gaspe, Quebec.



At the time of Archie's death, Reta (and presumably Jeanette) were living at 1377 Main Street East, Hamilton (there is no longer a home at this address). After his death, Reta (and presumably Jeanette) moved in with a relative (Miss F. Jones) at 66 Beland Avenue (unknown whether this was North or South). The paperwork reflects that Reta was remarried at some point around 1948 to a man named Shelist and at that time was living at 1125 King Street East.

Archie's name is listed on page 391 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance.


His obituary, dated September 9, 1944 in the Hamilton Spectator reads:
McPHAIL - As the result of an accident, on Thursday, September 7, 1944 at Gaspe, Quebec, Petty Officer Archibald B. McPhail, R.C.N., beloved husband of Reta Jones, aged 26 years. The remains will arrive in Hamilton Sunday afternoon. Funeral Monday morning at 8:30, from Dwyer's private chapel to Holy Family Church. Interment at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
 The September 23, 1944 edition of the Lethbridge Herald indicates that Robert White, a Signalman, was killed around the same time. A review of Robert White's military files indicate that he was killed in Scotland on the same day, but obviously not in the same incident.


He's buried at Single Section 1, Row 8, Grave 6 at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Burlington.


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