Cpl. Charles Stanley Kinrade - Vimy Ridge Veteran
My grandfather, Charles Stanley Kinrade, joined the Canadian army in 1916 in Trail, B.C. where he was a company painter. At 32 he was deemed to be too old to be in a fighting unit so joined up with the 1st Canadian Overseas Pioneer Detail. He arrived in England June 29th, 1916 and his unit was immediately shipped across to France to join the Somme offensive where he was involved with digging trenches, bringing up shells, burial details and the such. After the "Summer of Hell" on the Somme he was assigned to the 3rd Entrenching Battalion where he and his conmrades spent the winter laying rail track and grading roads so the British and Canadians could bring up guns and shells to get ready for spring offensive (Vimy).
In the Vimy sector the 3rd Entrenching were involved with digging and building the many hidden trenches that would mask the movement of troops getting ready to attack Vimy Ridge. During the battle my grandfather was a stretcher bearer. He once told me about the freak snowstorm that helped the attack because it went straigjht into the eyes of any Germans who survived the bombardment. The other thing I remember him saying was that when he stood on the ridge a few days later it was remarkable to see green fields on the German side after a year of living in brown mud.
In May 1917 he was transferred to the 29th Battalion from Vancouver (Tobin's Tigers) to become an infantryman and was wounded in the wrist in August 1917.
He was returned to his unit in October 1917 just in time for the Passchendale campaign where he once said to me:
"We could only travel at night because there was no way to move unseen during the day. The paths were duckboards, slippery wood-plank roads held together with rope. You always kept your hand on the pack of the man ahead of you so you wouldn't go off the duckboards. Every night one or two guys would slip off the boards and drown in the huge, muddy shell holes. You couldn't stop to help them because you couldn't see where they were and, if you did, you might slide off. I sometimes think of those boys. It was a bloody shame. The whole area wasn't worth fighting over."
In August 1918 he was involved in the huge offensive at Amiens where he saw tanks for the first time. He was shot in both legs and that ended the war for him. He was taken to the huge aid station in Rouen, France, and then to a hospital in North Hamptonshire, England.
In December 1918 he joined the Canadian soldiers waiting in Wales to be shipped home.They didn't know that a shipping strike in England slowed the repatriation process and the cold and rain began to erode the mens' health. More than few Canadian soldiers who survived the war began dying of the Spanish flu and respiratory ailments. Charlie was involved in the Kimmel Park Mutiny where Canadian soldiers rioted against terrible living conditions, bad food and inadequate medical facilities.
Finally in January 1919 he was aboard the "Empress of Asia" which took him across the Atlantic Ocean through the new Panama Canal to be repatriated in Vancouver. His War Service Gratuity pay helped him buy civilian clothes and he headed back to Trail.
Charlie died in 1983 at the age of 99 1/2. He would have been upset to know that he never got his letter from the Queen for turning 100!