Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthNovember 24, 1895
Place of BirthLowell, Massachusetts
CountryUnited States of America
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinCharles Patrick Kelpin, father, Stony Mountain, Manitoba
Trade / CallingStudent
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number910194
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Machine Gun Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentStony Mountain, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentApril 29, 1916
Age at Enlistment20
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJune 26, 1957
Age at Death61
Buried AtAssumption Roman Catholic Cemetery, Winnipeg, Manitoba
PlotGarden of Gethsemane Lot 203 Grave 1

Kelpin, Charles Arthur

Charles Arthur Kelpin was born on 24 November 1895 in Lowell, Massachusetts, USA. His father Charles Patrick Kelpin was from Ste Anne de Stukely, Quebec while his mother Marie Louise Brault was from Woonsocket, Rhode Island. The couple had married on 12 June 1893 in Lowell where Charles was working as a furniture dealer. The next year they gave birth to their first child, son Paul Brault (1894-1969). By the time of son Louis Henry’s birth in 1898 the family had relocated to Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora) in northwestern Ontario. The family was eventually to settle in Stony Mountain, Manitoba where Charles became the superintendent of the city of Winnipeg’s quarry. At one point he was also the general manager of Winnipeg’s water works construction (1916). Children born in Manitoba were Marguerite Mary (1900-1980), John Edward (1902-1994), William Alfred (1904-1904), Norah Louise (1906-1987), Olive Albina (1908-1987), Albert Joseph (1910-2001), and Mona Victoria (1913-2010).

Charles was living in Stony Mountain and going to school when he signed his attestation papers on 29 April 1916 with the 196th (Western Universities) Battalion in St Vital, Manitoba, now a suburb of Winnipeg. Based in Winnipeg, the unit began recruiting during the winter of 1915/16 in universities throughout western Canada. Charles gave his father Charles in Stony Mountain as next of kin and previous military service as one month with the Fort Garry Horse (Home Defence). During training at Camp Hughes he was hospitalized for most of June with a heart ailment. As a Private with the battalion Charles embarked from Halifax aboard the Southland on 1 November 1916.

Once arriving in England the battalion was absorbed by the 19th Reserve Battalion. In mid March of 1917 Charles was transferred to the Canadian Machine Gun Depot at Crowborough, arriving in France in late August, joining the 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade in the field on the 26th. According to the Canadian War Museum, in 1918 the unit fought tenaciously during the German March offensive, where it offered mobile fire support to retreating British forces. Later in the year, during the Hundred Days campaign, the armoured cars again fought in several important battles, offering machine-gun fire support to Canadian troops. Although successful in open warfare, the armoured cars had little off-road capability and therefore were limited when they encountered deep trench systems.

On 24 May 1918 Charles was awarded the Military Medal. From the brigade’s war diaries: ‘For conspicuous gallantry on Mch 25th at VILLERS CARBONNEL- when the whole crew of an armoured car had become casualties including the Battery Commander he carried on and made several attempts to save the car.’

In late August Charles was granted a fourteen day leave, and for overstaying the leave by one day he forfeited four days pay. In early December he was promoted to Corporal. With the end of the war Charles returned to England in early March of 1919 and embarked for Canada aboard the Adriatic on 12 April. Charles was discharged from service on 22 April in Montreal.

Charles’ brother Paul enlisted in Winnipeg in April of 1916 with the 34th Fort Garry Horse but was found medically unfit for service that October. His brother Louis went overseas with a draft to the 34th Fort Garry Horse in July of 1918, serving in Great Britain with the Canadian Reserve Cavalry Regiment.

After the war Charles returned to Stony Mountain, eventually succeeding his father as foreman of the quarries in Stony Mountain and later becoming manager. On 11 July 1924, in Winnipeg, he married Amy Elizabeth Burton. Born in 1896 in Welland, Ontario, Amy was the daughter of Edwin and Nellie (née McTaggart) Burton who were living in Winnipeg by the time of the 1911 census. Charles and Amy gave birth to three children, Kenneth Burton Louis, Patrick Edwin, and Donald Arthur.

Charles died on 26 June 1957 at his home in Stony Mountain. He was predeceased by his infant brother William (1904) and his father Charles in Victoria, British Columbia (1954). At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Amy, and sons Kenneth and Pat of Winnipeg and Donald of Stony Mountain. Also surviving were mother Marie in Victoria, his brothers Paul, Louis, John and Albert and sisters Marguerite Doyle, Norah Fatt, Olive Lacroix, and Mona Russell as well as two grandchildren. Charles is interred in the Assumption Roman Catholic Cemetery in Winnipeg. His wife Amy died on 13 February 1979 in the Dr Evelyn Memorial Hospital in Stony Mountain and is also interred in the Assumption Roman Catholic Cemetery.

By Judy Stockham

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