Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthDecember 9, 1891
Place of BirthTunbridge, Kent
CountryEngland
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinAlbert Ernest Dunmall (brother), Seven Oaks, Kent, England
Trade / CallingButcher
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental Number426607
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion46th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentMoose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Address at EnlistmentMoose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Date of Enlistment19/03/1915
Age at Enlistment23
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of Death30/08/1979
Age at Death87
Buried AtWaverley Memorial Gardens, Winnipeg, Manitoba
PlotGarden of Love - 56 - Plot 1

Dunmall, Arthur

Private Arthur Dunmall enlisted in March 1915 and served for four years in the UK, France and Belgium. He survived the war and returned to Canada in August 1919.

Arthur was the son of Albert Dunmall and Eliza Foster of Tonbridge, Kent, England. Albert was a butcher by trade and he owned and operated a butcher shop on High Street in Tonbridge. Eliza was from Ditton, Kent and they were married in December 1885. They had four sons: Albert Ernest (1887), Arthur (9 December 1891), John Robert (1894) and Henry (1897). The boys lost both of their parents early, Eliza in 1906 at age 44 and Albert in 1910 at age 46.

Arthur became a butcher like his father and in 1909 when he was just 17 he immigrated to Canada. He arrived in August on the Empress of Ireland, listed as a butcher going to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and planning to work as a farmer. An aunt and uncle had immigrated two years earlier and they were farming in the Moose Jaw area. In December 1911 he went back to England for a four month visit, returning to Canada the following spring. Two years later his younger brothers John Robert and Henry joined him, embarking from Liverpool in March 1914 on the Virginian, their destination listed as Saskatchewan. The war started that summer and all three of them enlisted, Arthur in 1915 and John and Henry in 1916. Albert was still in England and he served with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.

Arthur signed up first, joining the 46th (Saskatchewan) Battalion on 19 March 1915 in Moose Jaw. His occupation at the time was butcher and next of kin was his oldest brother Albert Dunmall in Seven Oaks, Kent, England. After training over the summer the battalion left for England in October, travelling by train to Halifax and embarking from there on the SS Lapland. Two months after arriving in England Arthur married May Rosetta Kelvie on 27 December 1915 in Upchurch, Kent. May was from the village of Ditton, the hometown of Arthur’s mother, which was about 15 km from Tonbridge. She was one of nine children of George and Elizabeth Kelvie. Two of her older sisters had emigrated, Blanche in 1913 to Michigan and Alice (Mrs. John Buckland Freeman) in 1914 to Kenora, Ontario.

Arthur trained in England for ten months. When he left for France in August 1916 his wife was expecting their first child. In France he was transferred to a new unit, the 44th Battalion, which was in the 10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Division. Shortly after joining them Arthur was attached to Brigade Headquarters so he may have worked in administration rather than in the field. In July 1917 he rejoined his original unit, the 46th Battalion.

In October 1917 the Canadian Corps moved to the Ypres Salient in Belgium for the Battle of Passchendaele. Artillery shells and heavy rains had turned the battlefield into a wasteland of mud, swamp and water-filled shell holes. The Canadians suffered 15,000 casualties at Passchendaele, with many of the missing and dead lost in the mud. Afterwards they returned to a quieter sector of the front line near Arras and over the winter they received reinforcements to bring the units back up to strength. In July 1918 Arthur was given two weeks leave in England. His first child, daughter Edith, had been born the previous spring and she was a year old by then.

The final period of the war, known now as the Hundred Days Offensive, started on 8 August 1918 with the Battle of Amiens and ended in November with the Armistice. The Canadians had some of their greatest victories during that time. Arthur was back from his leave in August and at the end of the month his unit moved from the Amiens area to Arras. On 1 September they were heavily shelled as they moved forward to take part in the attack on the Drocourt-Queant Line (2-3 September 1918). The battle itself was two days of almost continuous fighting. Afterwards Arthur was out of action for the rest of September due to shell shock, one of 320 casualties his unit suffered in the operation. When he rejoined his battalion at the beginning of October they were just west of Cambrai. The fighting had moved away from trench warfare into a more open phase and on 11 November when hostilities ended the 46th Battalion was 10 km from the Belgian border. They remained in France over the winter and Arthur returned to the UK in April 1919. He was transferred to the Saskatchewan Regiment Depot and he served in England for another four months. He embarked for Canada on 13 August 1919 on the SS Baltic, along with his wife and daughter, and he was discharged on 28 August in Halifax.

Arthur and May settled in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and their second child, George Leslie Arthur, was born there in April 1920. Around 1921 they moved to Kenora, Ontario where May’s sister Alice (Mrs. John Buckland Freeman) was living. Arthur worked as a butcher at Squire’s Butcher Shop, which operated from about 1922 to 1928, and he joined the local branch of the Canadian Legion. In 1929 Arthur and May left Kenora and moved to Winnipeg where they lived for the next fifty years. Their son George had a long career with the police force in Winnipeg, serving as a detective for many years. During the Second World War he was a pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1940 to 1945. He flew Sterling aircraft in Italy, France, Norway and Denmark.

Arthur passed away in Winnipeg on 30 August 1979, at age 87, and May followed three months later. They are buried at Waverley Memorial Gardens in Winnipeg. Their daughter Edith had died in 1961 and George passed away in 2014.

Arthur’s brother John Robert was killed in action in October 1917 and he’s buried in France. Their brother Henry survived the war and returned to Canada in August 1919 with a war bride. Henry’s only son Robert Earle Dunmall died in the Second World War while serving with the Royal Artillery. He’s buried in Tunisia ( CVWM).   Arthur’s oldest brother Albert stayed in England after the war. His son Kenneth served as a pilot with the Royal Air Force in the Second World War and he spent three years as a German prisoner of war.

By Becky Johnson (2xgreat-niece of May Dunmall née Kelvie)

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