Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Kinmel Riots


geraint
 Share

Recommended Posts

I shall be at Bodelwyddan tomorrow, Wednesday 4th March, amongst the Canadian graves at Kinmel Camp doing a piece for Radio Wales on the 90th anniversary of the Kinmel Riots/Mutiny. Five men lost their lives, and thousands were involved. The full story of the riots have been well covered on this Forum, and a 'Search' for 'Kinmel Camp' and Mutiny will give you a full account. Of the five, my thoughts will be with all five, but particularly with Private William Tarasavitch of the Canadian Railway Troops, who was thought to be a ringleader and bayonetted to death.

"Sometime, some time, we will understand" as the gravestone obituary of Corporal Young, also killed on March 4th 1919, reads.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

and my next door neighbour in St Asaph remembered it well, going up to the camp to get chocolate from the soldiers when the war was on, as well as in 1919

matt

i presume you have seen the old buildings from Kinmel in Trefnant, and St asaph (those ones went a number of years ago), but quite a few still survive

matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did a brief TV piece there (both Welsh/Canadian editions apparently) some years back, being woefully misrepresented in the credits as a "firearms expert"...as if! At least it gave me the chance for the first time in some years of handling an SMLE! Hope you get better cred with your interview.

I gather the Marble Church and cemetery is still a favourite stopping-place for Canadians, both individuals and group tours. The church used to sell booklets on the riots, but of course the vast majority of Canadian burials there were simple deaths from flu and pneumonia etc.

I think four of the riot fatalities are buried there, the other body was repatriated to Canada under a curious ruling that permitted those who died in the UK to be sent back at family request (unlike those who died in France).

What tickled me also was that of the couple of dozen Canadians convicted following the riots was one who originated in the rural village of Clynnog Fawr just beyond Caernarfon.

Have a good visit Geraint - weather permitting!

LST_164

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Geraint

Do you know if the man referred to in the following extract which is said to come from "The Kinmel Camp Riots" by Gordon Ellis - Country Quest Dec 1980 - was Pte William Tarasavitch?

"This discontent was translated into wild action on the evening of Tuesday, March 4, 1919, when a Russo-Canadian, with the cry of "Come on, Bolsheviks", led a crowd of soldiers on the rampage between the huts which made up the camp and (sic) smashing everything in their path."

LST

The Canadian soldier whose body was repatriated was Gunner J.F. Hickman of the CFA, apparently killed by a stray bullet. He was buried at Bodelwyddan on March 10th 1919 but then later exhumed and taken to his next of kin at Dorchester, New Brunswick.

Myrtle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mathew

There are long memories regarding the camp! I'm not sure where you are refering to in neither StAsaph nor Trefnant; very interesting, and I would appreciate any further info you may have.

LST

Weather was fantastic - BBC equipment crashed 4 minutes before live link. We recorded a piece for tonight instead. Gillan , the 'faithful guard'; and Tarasavitch and Young , two rioters; and Haney the 'innocent bystander' are there. The other innocent bystander - Hickman, was disinterred and taken to Canada. As you saythe 83 other Canadian graves are those who died from November 1918 (when the whole Kinmel camp was handed to the Canadians as their main transit camp). DoWs are also located there, as well as the flue pandemic victims of spring 1918. One nurse amongst them. From a Welsh point of view Clive, te Clynnog lad is intriguing. In fact the whole Welsh Canadian contribution is a fascinating topic of which I know very little. I have five Ruthin names who went and served with the Canadians.

Myrtle

It's the same man Myrtle. He was Sapper William Tarasavitch, of the Canadian Railway Troops, his surname appears mis-spelt on numerous occasions.

The paragraph you quote comes from The Times, 7th March. The report was an extremely dubious and machiavalian piece of reporting reliant on a single source - the War Office. It contained deliberate lies (A Brunswickian Major and VC holder trampled to death, a hundred casualties, civilian women molested, drunken sprees, fires uncontrolled, a mob of 5000 advancing on Rhyl, 15 civilians arrested, Bolshevick ring- leaders) All of them lies.

On March 10th, The Canadian Camp Commandant and authorities wrote protesting against such inaccuracies, and a small print full-retraction was printed on that date in The Times. But it was too late, as the country had absorbed the original report to such a degree that the seeds of confusion sown are still believed today.

What can be believed, is that Tarasavitch was of Russian origin, who embraced Canada his new country with enough fervour as to volunteer to serve in the war. There was a strong anti-emigre feeling in Canada (not unlike the 'Poles are taking our work' feeling here.) He was present in the initial meeting in Montreal Camp and was elected a spokesman, and was in the front line of poorly armed mutineers (stones and broken rifles used as clubs) when he was set upon, singled out, and stabbed to death 'his stomach ripped and bayoneted by persons unknown' (Coroner).

That initial Times report mudied the waters most greviously - which is what it was intended to do!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Geraint

Thank you for clarification on Country Quest article which seems to have taken information from the Times. I thought that it sounded a rather dubious account.

Myrtle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

as for Trefnant its the village hall, have a lok, if you are going from Denbigh to St Asaph the building is on the right at the crossroads, the 2 in Stasaph, were workshops of some discription, we used to play in them as kids, distaintly realeated to the man who ownwd them Arthur jones. I have not heard anything for years, but there were 2huts i believe on local farms with graffittii on from the war, i remember a lot in the local press many yearsa go, will try to did some of it out if i can find it (just about to move house). many happy memories playing at kinmel before the A55 went in..

matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Julie. Not sure, and neither was the BBC man, either tonight or tomorrow!

Matthew.

I know the village hall - so it came from Kinmel! I thought it was a Memorial Hall built of new in the early 20s! Bought from Kinmel eh! I do recall stories about a graffiti ridden shed, was it on the Gwaenysgor or the Llewenni Estates? Good stuff this! More detective work. Post anything you find here Mat. Were you from Kinmel? And what about StAsaph?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

well i'm from st asaph originally, you can see the names of my taids brothers on the role of honour i the cathedral. . i can see here an article from the daily post from 1994 that states the door from a shed with candain writing was at the grange in rhewl, this was from mr evans who ran steptoes in Rhuthin (is it still there? - i remember getting death plaquee from him at £3 each)...another one on the same hut from 1988 bought in 1919 taken apart then rebuilt, like the others i remember. also an interview in the rhyl jounal from 1980 by bill houlston who also remembers the riots..a few more articles from the vale avertisor on that same shed, all the writings are from soldiers from new brunswick...i';; see what esle i have

matthew

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's ringing bells here as well! I didn't keep any though. Idris Evans is still running Steptoes! Scan 'em on if you get a chance.

Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Diolch Meic

Not a very accurate report! For a person with such an intense interest, he should have known that only four of the killed are buried there!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Diolch Meic

Not a very accurate report! For a person with such an intense interest, he should have known that only four of the killed are buried there!

As you said G not very accurate. It fails to mention that the Canadians had not been paid. there was a sever shortage of blankets and supplies in general. And that any officer or senior NCO who had any influence what so ever was already home in Canada. I am not condoning what happened, but! there was a lot of stuff happened that was conveniently forgotten and reports on the incident lost. Were there more than five fatalities ? We will never know.

A very interesting thread. Cheers Rob.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Matthew

Stopped at Trefnant yesterday to have a look at the Kinmel hut. It's an odd construction! the 1920' new built Memorial hall has half a Kinmel Camp hut as a front entry, and the other half as a back entry giving the whole building a cruciform appearance! The two St Asaph 'workshops'? Can you be a little more specific on location?

I'll ask Idris about the door today!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Matthew

Had a long talk with Idris. About twenty years ago he was approached by a local farmer from Rhewl to clear a shed, and was told that there was an 'interesting door' there. The farmer had bought a complete army hut from Kinmel as industrial development expanded in the old camp. The door was covered on the inside with graffiti dated from November 1918 to April 1919, by Canadian soldiers who were there during the flu and riots. The Canadian Embassy got to hear about it, and Idris donated the door to The Ottawa Military Museum, free of charge, and it is still there.

Neil

You reached it finally!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Geraint PM on its way.

Great story on the door. I will have a look and see if I can find anything on it on this side of the pond.

Cheers Rob.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Matthew

Had a long talk with Idris. About twenty years ago he was approached by a local farmer from Rhewl to clear a shed, and was told that there was an 'interesting door' there. The farmer had bought a complete army hut from Kinmel as industrial development expanded in the old camp. The door was covered on the inside with graffiti dated from November 1918 to April 1919, by Canadian soldiers who were there during the flu and riots. The Canadian Embassy got to hear about it, and Idris donated the door to The Ottawa Military Museum, free of charge, and it is still there.

Neil

You reached it finally!

pity i did niot this a few yeaers ago as i spent some time in the museum! ah well next time then, thanks for the info anyway, good to hear it was saved

matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Matthew

Stopped at Trefnant yesterday to have a look at the Kinmel hut. It's an odd construction! the 1920' new built Memorial hall has half a Kinmel Camp hut as a front entry, and the other half as a back entry giving the whole building a cruciform appearance! The two St Asaph 'workshops'? Can you be a little more specific on location?

I'll ask Idris about the door today!

the st asaph ones went about 20 years ao, if coming via the upper denbigh road, down the hill over the river then left, there used to be agri electrics, think thats gone then a grocers, it was in the back of that, 2 large sheds, looked like repair workshops to me, an old black smiths was there to. all gone sheltered housing now i think, must be 20 years since i saw the hall in trefnant as well!

matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rob + Matthew

Thanks for those references lads. Appreciated! Agrielectrics is now a Summerfields. I'll check out the back - just in case when I next pass by.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Geraint,

It did take a while, i suspect i'll have another cross border adverture in the coming weeks. possibly thursday.

Neil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is the said hut door from Kinmel it is in the Canadian War Museum But not on display at the moment. My thanks to a fellow member Ken MacLean of our sister Great War CEF Forum for supplying the photograph.

Cheers Rob

post-56-1236701393.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rob! Brilliant! Well done man!

Any chance of a photo of the flip side (with the graffiti)? I never thought I'd get so excited over a door!

Geraint

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have dropped a line to Ken to see if he can get the inside of the door photograph for us. If you notice top right you can see the top of a hinge I think that is the flip side fingers crossed.

Cheers Rob.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...