Private David Aikin was born in Belfast, Ireland, on September 21, 1892, to parents David and Jane Aikin. As British Home Children (Bernardo Homes), David, age 8, and his brother William, age 10, were sent to work in Canada in 1901, followed by their younger brother John, age 8, in 1905. Prior to his enlistment David lived in Wheatley, Ontario, with wife Elsie Myrtle Aikin and their two children.
Aikin enlisted March 17, 1916, in Chatham, Ontario, with the 186th Battalion, and sailed to England on the S.S. Lapland, arriving in April of 1917. Sent in June to join the 18th Battalion in France, Aikin was killed by shellfire on August 21, 1917. He was buried at Aix-Noulette Communal Cemetery Extension, Aix-Noulette, France.
Both of David Aikin’s brothers also served in WWI. Private John Forrest Aikin, with the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles, was killed in Belgium on June 2, 1916. Private William Aikin, who had enlisted alongside David in Chatham in March of 1916, was the only one of the three to survive the war and return home to Canada.
The Collection’s only letter chronicles Aikin’s 1917 deployment overseas, beginning March 22 in Chatham, Ont., and ending April 8 upon his arrival at Liphook, England, for training at Bramshott. Included is a description of the S.S. Lapland’s collision with a mine on April 8, just prior to docking at Liverpool.
Surname spelling is highly inconsistent throughout external links and documents, variously appearing as “Aiken,” “Aikens,” “Aikins,” “Aitken,” “Aitkin,” etc.
Pte. David Aikin’s service record (Serv/Reg# 880497) and Home Children record (#162105) can be viewed/downloaded through Library and Archives Canada.
Burial information is available at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
A memorial page honouring Aikin can be visited online at the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.
The Canadian Expeditionary Force Roll of Honour for the Fallen British Home Children of Canada, and the Registry of British Home Children Who Died in the First World War, aremaintained by Home Children Canada (British Home Children Advocacy & Research Association).
Pte. John Forrest Aikin’s service record (Serv/Reg# 112169) and Home Children record (#57649) at Library and Archives Canada.
Pte. William Aikin’s service record version 1, version 2, (Serv/Reg# 880498) and Home Children record (#99979) at Library and Archives Canada.