The five soldiers who lost their lives in the Kinmel Camp Bodelwyddan at the end of the World War I still attract the interest of locals and historians. Their deaths remain shrouded in mystery nearly a century on from the incident…
St Margaret’s Church
The five soldiers lie among 85 of their Canadian comrades who were buried at St Margaret’s church in Bodelwyddan.
You would be forgiven for thinking these five brave Canadians died in service or were victims of the flu pandemic that swept through their camp. But these five men were tragically murdered and the culprits seem to have disappeared into thin air.
They were killed during a riot in the Kinmel Camp Bodelwyddan in March 1919. Top historians are still none the wiser to what actually happened – they even suspect that more soldiers could have perished in this way. If there were more deaths would they show up within the official figures?
One of the soldiers was Corporal Joseph Young and his touching gravestone reads:
“Someday, sometime, we’ll understand.”
The Riots of Kinmel Camp Bodelwyddan
On March 4, 1919, a two-day riot began in the Kinmel Camp. This camp was holding approximately 17,000 Canadian troops who were all waiting to be returned to their home shores.
The riot came about because the soldiers were tired of the cramped conditions they were living in. The weather was absolutely awful due to winter coming in and many of them were perishing from the flu.
This led to a two day rebellion which left the five troops dead and another 28 injured. The British officers had been constantly promising the Canadian troops that they could return home. They even mentioned that there were some spare ships earmarked for their journey.
The problem is that these ‘spare’ ships ended up being used to transport American troops back to their homeland instead. The Canadians got wind of this and also discovered that the majority of these soldiers had not been involved in any fighting.
During the riots large gangs of troops broke into the officers and sergeants messes and caused huge amounts of damage. Local shops in the area were also broken into and ransacked due to the troops belief that the shop owners were making healthy profits off them.
The British army was sent in to restore order but it failed miserably at first and the rioting went on until the 5th of March. Forty one rioters were later Court-Martialled and 24 were tried and convicted of mutiny. Reports indicate that a lot of the sentences were later on rubbished and the soldiers became free men again.
When the bodies of the five men were discovered there seemed to be a lack of effort in the investigation. The coroner’s report on the five deaths stated that their ‘assailants were unknown’. This led to the deaths not getting officially covered in the aftermath of the riots.
The Kinmel Camp Bodelwyddan mystery was subject to 75 years rule of military secrecy. This has led to a number of former soldiers and locals looking for answers to these questions.
What happened to these five brave men and were they the only ones to perish in this strange, unsolved manner?