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James Lewis Kemp Rank: Gunner Service: 64th Battery Canadian Field Artillery, CEF Service Number: 335188 Date of Birth: April 24, 1895 Place of Birth: Syracuse, New York, US Date of Enlistment: November 6, 1917 Place of Enlistment: London, Ontario Address at Enlistment: 69 Mile St., Stratford, Ontario Age at Enlistment: 22 Height: 5 feet, 9 inches Complexion: Dark Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown Trade: Student Religion: Presbyterian Next of Kin: Wesley Kemp (Father) 69 Mile St., Stratford, Ontario James Lewis Kemp was the son of Wesley Kemp and Katherine Lewis Kemp. He was born in Syracuse, New York on April 24, 1895. In 1900 the family was living with his grandmother, Mary J. Lewis in the US. His father, Wesley was born in Canada; his mother in New York. At the outbreak of World War I, James was a student. On June 5, 1917, at the age of 22, he completed the required registration for the US draft. His family was then living at 125 Grace St., in Syracuse. Shortly after this the family moved to Canada and James then enlisted in the Canadian Military on November 6, 1917.
Attestation Paper (click to enlarge)
The National War Monument depicts 22 Canadian servicemen and women from all branches of the forces and other groups engaged in the First World War. At front, to the left, a Lewis gunner, to the right, a kilted infantryman with a Vickers machine gun. Following these are a pilot in full gear and an air mechanic of the Royal Canadian Air Force, as well as a sailor in the Royal Canadian Navy from HMCS Stadacona. Two mounted figures - a member of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade and a dispatch rider - are emerging from the arch, side by side, followed by two infantry riflemen pressing through the arch and behind them are the men and women of the support services, including two nurses from the Militia Army Medical Corps, a stretcher bearer, and one member each of the Royal Canadian Engineers and the Canadian Forestry Corps. Further, there is one member each of the Canadian Army Service Corps, the Canadian Signals Corps, the Corps of Canadian Railway troops, the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, and the Motor Machine Gun Corps. There are three additional infantrymen; all six carry among them respirators other items of the "basic load" carried by every member of the infantry.
The National War Monument
In the years following the First World War, James shared stories of his wartime experience with his son Richard. He considered himself a “very lucky man” to have survived the dangers faced as a gunner. On one occasion he was transporting artillery. The wagon, filled with artillery shells being moved to the front, was being pulled by donkeys. As they slowly reached a hilltop, without warning the donkeys bolted and headed down the slope on the other side, where they stopped. Within minutes an enemy shell burst on the hill where, had the donkeys not bolted, James, the donkeys, and the shells would have been hit. At another time James had a close encounter with death while riding on the back of a horse. Near the front lines, James became the target of an enemy sniper. The bullet missed him but hit the horse. The bullet entered the horse just below where the bend of James’ knee fell against the side of the horse. James was thrown to the ground unhurt, as the horse fell. The worst experience, according to James, was being caught in the gas attacks during battles. For his son the National War Monument in Ottawa held special significance as James would tell his son that he was the figure of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. “You see that soldier up there with the artillery? That’s me” That story had been passed on by his son Richard, to a friend, who in his later years, much to his disbelief and disappointment, discovered such was really not the case. The family of Gunner James Kemp have donated his medals and pay-book to the National War Museum in Ottawa.
US WWI Registration card (click to enlarge)
British 18 pounder gun team moves up during the Battle of the Canal du Nord, September 27, 1918 (IWM)
Remembering James Lewis Kemp
James Lewis Kemp (1895-1985) Photo: Osgoode Hall Law School (1922)