This is part of a series of essays about the First World War casualties commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Massachusetts.
Notwithstanding the dates on his gravestone and enlistment record, John R. Gientner was born at Ashland, Massachusetts on 2 May 1868, the fifth of the eight children of Rudolf and Mary Gientner (many records show the family name spelled as ‘Gentner’). His father had emigrated from Germany and worked as a shoemaker. John Gientner worked as a blacksmith and metal fabricator.
Enlisting first into the Militia, he joined 52nd Regiment (Prince Albert Volunteers) before he enlisted at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on 23 October 1914 for war service; he was allocated the number 73470. On his enlistment he gave his name as John Lynch and his date of birth as 4 May 1879. He joined the 28th Battalion (Northwest), and with it embarked for the United Kingdom on 29 May 1915. The battalion arrived in France on 18 September 1915, as part of 6th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division. On 10 November 1916 the battalion was out of the line near Aix-Noulette when a shell hit the ‘C’ Company officers’ cook-hut killing one officer and two other ranks and wounding one officer and three other ranks, including Gientner who suffered a gunshot wound to his right leg. Treated initially at No. 22 General Hospital at Camiers, he was evacuated to England to 2nd Western General Hospital in Manchester and at the Military Hospital in Eastbourne. In early 1917 he returned to duty but, unfit for service as an infantryman, he was posted to 4th Labour Battalion at Seaford. The battalion moved to France in March 1917 and in May Gientner was promoted to lance corporal. The unit was renamed 2nd Canadian Infantry Works Battalion in March 1918 and the following month Gientner was posted to England being ‘overage’ and joined the Canadian General Depot at Shorncliffe. In September 1918 he sailed for Canada. He was treated in Canada for a urinary complaint before being discharged unfit for further military service on 20 November. After his discharge, he undertook out-patient treatment under the control of the Invalided Soldiers Commission.
John Gientner was struck by a car and killed near the New City Hotel in Worcester, Massachusetts on 12 April 1919. He was buried in Hope Cemetery, Worcester in the family plot (Lot 2468), which is in the centre of the cemetery. He is not commemorated in the First World War Book of Remembrance.
1. (Back) Those killed were Captain John Arthur Cullum MC, Croix de Guerre; 73881 Private Walter Dixon; and 438496 Private Thomas Clifford Kirkup. The wounded officer was Lieutenant Albert Humphrey White.
2. (Back) The Invalided Soldiers Commission was part of the Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-Establishment. Upon discharge all officers and soldiers passed to the control of the Commission if they required ‘medical treatment on account of their suffering from tuberculosis, epilepsy, paralysis or other diseases likely to be of long duration or incurable, or on account of their being mentally deficient or insane’. See: Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-Establishment. (May 1918). Report of the Work of the Invalided Soldiers’ Commission. Ottawa: J De L Taché.
3. (Back) The ‘Circumstances of Casualty’ register records his death as being on 26 May 1919, which may have been the date of notification.