Tribute To Trooper George Frederick Kennedy

Photograph of a Royal Northwest Mounted Police (RNWMP) cap badge as worn by members from 1904 to 1919.

 

 

 

The following extract from the “Final Investigative Report – RNWMP/Canadian Expeditionary Force (Siberia) Pre-deployment BC Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation – Influenza/Pheumonia death – Coquitlam, B.C. 1918.”

 

 

 

This document was submitted by the author – Jonathan Sheldan for this information of members of our Vancouver Division.  This document is aimed at gaining support to have a Force member added to the BC Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation Monument in Victoria, BC:

Synopsis

On October 18th, 1918, Trooper George Frederick KENNEDY, died of influenza and pneumonia at the Coquitlam Military Hospital, Port Coquitlam, BC. 

1-31-2012-11-17-50-AM

At the time of his death, KENNEDY was a member of B Squadron, Royal North West Mounted Police. KENNEDY had joined the RNWMP on 24 August 1918 at the age of 34 years in Calgary, Alberta.

He was born at Hudson’s Hope, Peace River, BC.  KENNEDY had previously worked in “fur trade and survey work” and upon joining, agreed to serve overseas as part of “Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force.”

1-31-2012-11-16-38-AM

KENNEDY was initially posted to Regina upon volunteering for service and after basic training, was placed on the “advance party” under command of Captain (Superintendent) Arthur W. Duffus. The advance party left Regina on 6 October 1918 via “Train No.1” to Coquitlam.

The onward movement plan was to be via ship to Victoria (Willows Military Camp) then on to Vladivostok, Siberia.

Tragically the “Spanish Influenza Epidemic” was starting and was rapidly spreading across Canada.

It is known that five additional Troopers (Privates) died of influenza at Depot (Regina) with three others members eventually being deposited at various locations during the move from Regina to Victoria. It is understood that those three recovered from their illness.

6-24-2013 9-19-09 PM

KENNEDY’s name was recorded in the “Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance” on page 440. His name is not recorded on the RCMP Honour Roll, nor is his name recorded on the National Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial in Ottawa.

Siberian Expedition – Precipitating Incident

The abdication of Czar Nicholas II of 1917 Russia lead to a peace treaty between Russian Bolsheviks and the Central powers of the Austro-Hungarian, German and Ottoman Empires. The motivation for this treaty can be attributed in part to the vast numbers of deaths
having taken place amongst the Russian military and civilians compounded by the suffering caused by critical shortages of all necessities of life. The remaining military was badly led, and suffering greatly from internal decay and was in effect, crumbling.

The treaty and accompanying humiliating loss of land, people and resources, combined with mounting domestic tension, led to the creation of the “White Russian Movement” and formation of anti-Bolshevik military forces to counter the actions of the new Bolshevik government. The Russian Forces fighting on the Eastern Front were withdrawn after this treaty allowing for a reciprocal withdrawal amongst the Central Powers. Those “Central Power” forces were then being re-assigned to the Western Front against the Allied Nations.

Fearing this onslaught of troops, an Allied Intervention Force was agreed to by countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Japan, Czechoslovakia, Poland, the United States, France, Estonia, Romania, Serbia, Italy, Greece, China and Canada.

On August 12th, 1918, the Privy Council of Canada passed Order-in-Council PC 1983. This order authorized the formation of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (Siberia) with B Squadron, RNWMP being designated specifically as a Mounted Police/Cavalry component of this newly formed military unit.

The entire force was to become the “Canadian Expeditionary Force (Siberia).” 

A six part series on the creation and demobilization of “B” Squadron RNWMP can be viewed by clicking here.

RNWNP vs C.E.F.S. Status

Members of B Squadron, RNWMP were duly sworn in under standard “Attestation Papers” as recruit members slated for duties as part of the “Royal North West Mounted Police Siberian Cavalry C.E.F.” The Attestation papers clearly asked whether such volunteers would be willing to be attested to serve in the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force.”

Civilians were actively recruited for such assignment so long as they were not under previous orders for the Military Service Act meaning they were not already ordered to appear at a “Draft Centre.” This recruitment specified overseas service but again, they were clearly recruited as mounted policemen for service in a cavalry unit.

Official transfer from the RNWMP to the CEF(S) appears to have taken place on 1 October 1918. This placed the members on unpaid “Leave of Absence” (LOA) from the RNWMP for the duration of their military service.

Further difficulty in answering this aspect of this investigation is that RNWMP  documentation also shows that for command and control purposes (as well as provision of meals, training and billeting) the men of B Squadron were under command of the RNWMP up until the time of deployment and in most cases, even after returning to Canada when “demobilization” was to occur.

In effect, it is the writer’s opinion that KENNEDY was a RNWMP member at the time of his death and his tombstone clearly states his “Regiment” as being RNWMP notwithstanding that he was on “active Military service” and was presumably paid and assigned duties simultaneously as a military member and a RNWMP member.

It should also be noted that the present day “RCMP Guidon Fact Sheet” states that:

The left hand corner of the Guidon bears the Royal Cypher with the initials (RCMP) of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and its predecessor organizations – the (NWMP) North-West Mounted Police and the (RNWMP) Royal Northwest Mounted Police – are on the other corners. In the centre of the Guidon is the current badge of the RCMP.

1-22-2012 8-28-00 PM
Placed on either side of an below the badge are the honours for the five theatres of military operation in which Mounted Police members served and lost lives, North West Canada 1885, South Africa 1900-2, France and Flanders 1918, Siberia 1918-19, Europe 1939-45.”

Guidon_Siberia

Epidemiology of Spanish Influenza

Influenza has been one of the greatest mass killers in human history and remains so to this day. The arrival in Autumn 1918 of the so-called “Spanish Flu” was believed to have been exacerbated by the movement of soldiers in close confines on troop trains. The presence of battlefield shelter locations near to associated military camps and hospitals and their proximity to civilian populations made the situation and transfer of the illness exponentially worse.

The reference “Spanish Flu” has been explained by some to exist due to wartime news restrictions not extending into neutral Spain. Many early reports on influenza related deaths originated in that country although the outbreak itself is the subject of great conjecture as the original spawning site.

It is thought that at least 21 million people died worldwide; more than were killed in the fighting in the First World War.

Soldiers returning home from the trenches at war’s end brought with them the flu virus itself and tragically, otherwise healthy age groups were hit very hard by the strain involved in the epidemic.

By the time the pandemic had run its course, 50,000 Canadians were dead.

Death Attributable to Police Service

After induction into the RNWMP, recruit members were initially assigned to training at Depot Division, Regina. Members so assigned were housed in the close confines of barracks undergoing training for the duration of their initial service and their movements away from
Depot were strictly controlled.

As the primary function of a new recruit was to learn their new function, members would not have freedom of movement and any “occupational illness” contracted in the close confines of the barracks would travel and spread. Tragically, in a way similar to the outbreak of illness at Fort Steele (Typhoid outbreak – 1887) deaths also occurred within the confines of Depot and the outbreak spread beyond Depot amongst the Advance Party setting off through BC en-route to Siberia.

Rank Nomenclature at time of death

At the time of his death, George KENNEDY was a member of the RNWMP. As a new member of the RNWMP, his nominal rank was “Constable” however it appears that the terms “Trooper” and “Private” have both been used simultaenously in various documents.

It is noted that Trooper and Private are an equivalent military rank generally used to differentiate between Cavalry (Mounted) and Infantry units.

The headstone present on KENNEDY’s grave at Vancouver’s Mountain View Cemetery and some records including the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance utilize the rank of Private for Kennedy.

It is the intention of the writer to recommend the use of the rank “Trooper” for KENNEDY as being the most historically accurate.

Military Hospital, Coquitlam, BC

 The actual building that would become the “Coquitlam Military Hospital” was known as the “Agricultural Hall” for the first few years of its existence. Constructed prior to the First World War, “Aggie Hall” was officially opened on September 12th, 1912. It had been built by the local Agricultural Society and soon became a community focal point for events.

The Coquitlam Military Hospital is believed to have been designated a military hospital and opened on 3 October 1918. 

The facility was operational only for approximately one month and closed on 13 November 1918 when it changed to being an “Officers’ Hospital” still under military control.

The structure itself was torn down in 1976.

BC Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation Guidelines 

RCMP National Memorial Guidelines: (From Administration Manual
22.9.)

1. 1. General

1. 1. 1. The names of members, special constables, auxiliary constables and reservists, who have lost their lives while in the performance of operational police functions, in which there  was the element of life threatening risk, will be inscribed on the Cenotaph, in the Honour Roll Book, on the Memorial Wall Plaque in Regina and on the HQ Memorial in Ottawa.

It is noted that the entire section and following subsections appear to be silent on the matter of wartime loss of life as a serving member, as a member on “leave of absence” as well as those members who have been seconded to military units but are still carrying out “the performance of operational police functions, in which there was the element of life threatening risk.

It should be further noted that there is considerable disagreement between the various “Police and Peace Officer” and “RCMP Honour Rolls” in existence in Canada. The RCMP Honour Roll does not  appear to recognize First World War related police deaths while on active military service however, it does recognize those who perished during similar Second World War active military service. 

No wartime service members have been added to the National Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial in Ottawa.

Conclusion

According to the guidelines of the BC and Canadian Law Enforcement Memorials, Trooper George KENNEDY was acting as a sworn police member on “law enforcement duties” at the time he contracted influenza and pneumonia. He succumbed to an illness that was directly attributable to his service as a member of the RNWMP and should be duly recorded as having lost his life in the service of the citizens of Canada and British Columbia.

The recommended entry (for the BC Monument) will be:

Tpr. George F. Kennedy – 1918
Royal North West Mounted Police – C.E.F Siberia

Final Comments made by Jonathan – “I have researched all of the additional historical names that we have added to the Bastion since its creation in 2004 (we started at 94 names in 2004 and now have 117 names.  

We have thankfully added very few over recent years due to present day “line of duty deaths” although even one is too many.

If any of your readers have any “leads” on potential line of duty deaths that occurred in BC, I would very much like to hear from them.  My email address is jprs.forensics@gmail.com.”

6-25-2013 10-37-30 AM

Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software