Letters from the Front

Maurice Acheson

Facts about Kinmel Park Made Public

Calgary Daily Herald published Tuesday, June 17, 1919

Tuesday, June 17, 1919

Transcribed by: marc


Revelations Relevant to Trouble by Y.M.C.A. Man and English Bishop

 Interesting facts in relation to the riots among the Canadian troops which occurred at Kinmel Camp are disclosed in the following letter from Maurice Acheson of the Canadian Y.M.C.A.:

Y.M.C.A. Hut 4, Witley Camp, Surrey, England, May, 1919:

Dear Sir – It has been my great pleasure and privilege to have been associated with the Canadian Y.M.C.A. in their work in this hut among the Canadian troops. Lately there has been a certain amount of rioting and disorder in some camps, but this has been greatly exaggerated, and though the men were not wise in doing what they did, they certainly had much provocation. What generally happened was that a very few men started in the riot and then many joined in just for amusement. Now I know that owing to the exaggerated reports which appeared in the newspapers a great many people both in England and in Canada have a very mistaken idea as to the discipline of the Canadian soldiers in camps. For three years I have lived in this hut, right in the midst of the men, and I can testify to the excellent order and discipline of the Canadian troops. In this country we have all greatly admired the magnificent bravery of the Canadian soldiers at the front, and it is greatly to be deplored that an utterly wrong impression as to their discipline and good behavior in camps should have become prevalent. I was greatly pleased to see a letter from my friend the Bishop of St. Asaph to the Times in which he speaks very highly of the excellent behavior of the Canadian troops  in the camp near Rhyl. I have enclosed a copy of this letter and would be glad if you would kindly insert it, together with my letter in your paper.

May I send my greetings to any Canadian soldiers whom I may have had the pleasure of meeting in this camp, and who may, perchance, read these few lines.

Yours faithfully,

Maurice Acheson

 

 

The following is the letter which appeared in the London Times:

 

To the Editor of the Times:

Sir, As one who is closely associated with and a near neighbor of Kinmel Camp, I venture to ask you to grant me space for a brief statement on what recently happened. I desire to keep as distinct as may be possible the causes in this particular outbreak and the question of the discipline of the Canadians in this camp.

Kinmel last autumn was assigned to the Canadians, and for three months has been for them a demobilization camp. More than 40,000 men have already passed through. Discomforts in a camp thus perpetually changing are inevitable. The general and his staff have done their best to remove these discomforts when the men have complained that coal is scarce, that the huts are cold, that the floors are draughty to sleep on and the blankets scanty, and the food not always appetizing. These things have been borne with patience. But “cancelled sailings”, coming week after week to war-worn men, yearning for home, have been a serious matter. A man arrives in Kinmel, having been told that he is to sail in a few days for Canada and having received his l.p.c. (last pay certificate). Weeks pass, and he is still there. He may have been in the fighting line and sees those who have had little or no fighting allowed to sail before him. Thus the fire began to smoulder. It burst into flames when in illustrated Canadian papers the men saw the acclaimed arrival of conscripts who had done no fighting. One of them said to me “It is a bit hard that these fellows should have the home cheers.” Whether he fire was fanned into flames by Russians or aliens I know not: my only aim is to give as fully and fairly as I can the whole circumstances. I have seen a good deal of camps during this war. I have no desire to palliate what happened at Kinmel. But I doubt whether Englishmen would have borne similar conditions without a protest. I am certain Welshmen would not.

As to the behavior and character of the men in Kinmel Camp, I can speak with personal knowledge. Those in charge of the canteens which I know well, speak in high praise of the conduct of the men. The superintendent of the largest hut in the camp – he speaks with long experience – week after week reports to me the admirable conduct of the men who throng to his hut. The ladies resident in this neighborhood opened of their own accord a canteen for Canadians who crowd into our village –city on Sundays. Amid the hundreds that have visited that canteen there have not been one single incident of rudeness or roughness. We in this countryside are indeed proud to have among us those men who have fought so gallantly for the motherland.

Your obedient servant

A. G. Asaph,
The Palace of St. Agaph, March 10

 

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