This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in California.
Norman Travers Simpkin is the only man commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the United States who served with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli—he was a troop sergeant in 2nd Light Horse Regiment, wounded in the attack near Quinn’s Post in August 1915.
This essay is about the single First World War casualty commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in North Carolina.
William Baxter Franklin was born on 11 November 1896 at Pigeon Township, near Canton, North Carolina. He was the fifth of the six children of John Baxter Franklin, a farmer, and Minnie Francis (née Penland). A few days after his third birthday, Baxter Franklin’s father died. Minnie was unable to provide for the children and they went to live with her parents, Reed and Lavonia Penland. The young family moved with their grandparents to Medicine Hat, Alberta in 1902.
By 1910 Baxter had returned to North Carolina and was working as a farm hand on a property at Pigeon. On 23 May 1912 he moved back to Canada and went to work as a teamster near the hamlet of Old Wives in Saskatchewan, where his brother Charles had bought land.
He enlisted very early in the war, on 27 September 1914, at Valcartier in Quebec, the primary training base for the First Canadian Contingent. Continue reading →