Canadian war graves, Bodelwyddan

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Canadian war graves, Bodelwyddan

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More than 80 Canadian service men and women are buried outside St Margaret’s Church, Bodelwyddan. They were among 17,400 who were held at the Kinmel Park Camp, a short distance west of the church, when the First World War came to an end and for months afterwards. Most (c.15,000) had served in France and were moved to Britain to await ships home.

The camp was divided into areas for each of the 11 military districts of Canada, e.g. Alberta, Montreal and Manitoba. The European influenza epidemic of 1918-19 killed many at the camp. The Canadians there became increasingly frustrated at being kept in Britain for so long after hostilities had ended. They were bored, their diet was monotonous and they had little or no money to buy things like cigarettes. Their officers, however, enjoyed evenings in Rhyl or visits to London

By some accounts, troops at the camp learned in late February 1919 that large ships earmarked to take Canadians home had been re-assigned to troops from the USA who had seen relatively little service on the Continent. On 4 and 5 March 1919, disturbances broke out at the camp, and local residents feared the rebels would loot Rhyl. Five Canadian solders were killed (according to official accounts) and 28 wounded. Four of the five are buried at St Margaret’s including William Tarasevich, named by British authorities as the ringleader. At least one eyewitness said the number killed was higher. By the end of March, ships had been provided to take c.15,000 Canadians from Kinmel home.

When large numbers of angry young men returned to Britain from the fighting, the British Government feared that a Communist revolution, copying the 1917 Russian revolution, could begin in Liverpool. There’s a theory that Canadians were kept at Kinmel to quell such a rebellion. However, they may have simply been victims of a demobilisation system which was overwhelmed at the war’s end. There were riots at other transit camps in Britain too. The official history of the Canadian army’s overseas deployment says Canada's railways lacked capacity to move large numbers of homecoming troops from ports, and blames some of the rioting on modifications to the policy of "first over, first back", aggravated by cancellation of individual sailings.

Not all of the people buried in this area of the churchyard were Canadian. One was from Newport, South Wales. Some had emigrated to Canada from Britain or the USA. There is also a separate group of British war graves east of the Canadian graves.

Both women buried here were involved in medical care.

The memorial amid the graves is inscribed: “To the memory of Canadian soldiers who died at Kinmel Park Camp during the Great War. This memorial was erected by their comrades. Their name liveth for evermore.”

Click on a heading below to read details of the people buried here.

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Postcode: LL18 5UR

Surnames A-L
Surnames M-Z

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