Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 15, 1898
Place of BirthBallymacarrett, Belfast
Marital StatusSingle
Service Details
Regimental Number1109, 631534
ForceBritish Expeditionary Force
BranchRoyal Field Artillery
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathFebruary 3, 1980
Age at Death81
Buried AtEveleth Cemetery, Eveleth, Minnesota, USA
PlotBlock 1, Lot 52, Grave 4

Kemp, Peter Gillespie Muir

Peter Gillespie Muir Kemp was born on 15 April 1898 in Ballymacarrett, Belfast in northern Ireland. His father John Kemp, a ship rivetter, was from Port Glasgow in Scotland while his mother Sarah Havelin was from Glasgow, the couple marrying on 15 June 1888 in Port Glasgow. Children born to the couple in the Port Glasgow area were John (1889), William Havelin (1890), Jane Crawford (Jeanie) (1892), Robert (1894), Elizabeth Kerr (1900), Archibald Gardner (1902), David Houston (1905), and Sarah (1909). Children born elsewhere were Peter, and Margaret in 1896 in Barrow, Lancashire in England.

According to his British Army WW1 Medals Rolls Index card and as noted on page 716 of the UK, Military Campaign Medal and Award Rolls, with regimental number 1109 Peter first served with the Territorial Force Royal Field Artillery, and then with regimental number 631534 with the Royal Field Artillery, rank of Gunner for both. Given his service numbers, he likely served overseas with the 51st Highland Division, 255th Brigade. James Arthur, another lad born in 1898 in Port Glasgow who Peter would have grown up with, enlisted with the Territorial Royal Field Artillery (service number 1250) and then served with the Royal Field Artillery, 255th Brigade, 51st Highland Division (service number 631471). He was reported as killed in action on 16 May 1917 in France and is commemorated on the Port Glasgow War Memorial. Peter was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal for his service during the war. Other details of his service are unknown.

Peter’s brother Robert enlisted with Territorial Force, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise’s) in February of 1911. With the 5th Battalion, in early June of 1915 he arrived at Cape Helles, the rocky headland at the southwestern most tip of the Gallipoli peninsula, Turkey. It was the scene of heavy fighting between Ottoman Turkish and British troops during the landing at Cape Helles at the beginning of the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915. That August he was admitted to the No 15 General Hospital in Alexandria with diarrhoea, evacuated to England nine days later. Remaining in England, Robert was discharged from service in February of 1916 on termination of his period of engagement. He too was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

It appears that William was the first of the Kemp siblings to immigrate to Canada, a border crossing record from the United States to Canada found him arriving in Victoria, British Columbia in April of 1914, occupation given as blacksmith, the same as the 1911 Scotland census. Jeanie was the next to arrive, landing in Quebec on 7 June 1912 aboard the Athenia and on her way to her blacksmith brother William in Victoria. By the time of the 1921 Canada census, William was living in the RM of Perdue in Saskatchewan but would later settle in Hibbing and then Duluth, both in Minnesota in the United States. Peter’s sister Elizabeth arrived in Halifax aboard the Cassandra on 8 February 1921, on her way to Jeanie in Victoria. On 16 August 1922, in Victoria, Jeanie married George Baird, Elizabeth a witness on the marriage record. Elizabeth later returned to Scotland, arriving in Glasgow aboard the Assyria on 8 February 1923.

Peter immigrated to Canada in 1923, embarking from Glasgow on 3 August on the Cassandra and on his way to Winnipeg, Manitoba to work as a harvester. According to a later border crossing, Peter lived in Abernathy, Saskatchewan from August to November of 1923. On 16 May 1925, in St Louis County in Minnesota (likely Eveleth), Peter married Winnifred Hill, forename also spelled as Winnefred in various records. Born on 6 February 1906 in Eveleth, Winnifred was the daughter of James Hill, a blacksmith, and Elizabeth Annie Gilbert. From England, her parents had married during the third quarter of 1901 in the registration district of Redruth in Cornwall. After the birth of their son Edward Reginald in 1902, the family immigrated to the United States, with Annie and Edward arriving in New York on the St Louis on 24 January 1903, on their way to Eveleth to join James.

Two days after the marriage, Peter and Winnifred crossed into Canada at Fort Frances, Ontario, the border record indicating that they were on their way to Winnipeg. However the couple ended up in Kenora, Ontario in northwestern Ontario. At some point Peter joined the The Great War Veterans Association, Manitoba Command in Kenora so he may have lived there prior to his marriage as the GWVA merged with other groups in 1925 to form the Canadian Legion. Son Ronald James was born on 10 June 1926 in Kenora. An Alien Certificate of 23 May 1927 had Peter and Ronald going to Chisholm, St Louis County, Minnesota, via Warroad, where Winnifred’s parents were living. At the time of the 1930 US census Peter, Winnifred, Ronald, and daughter Winnifred were living in the Township of Balkan near Chisholm where Peter was working as a labour in an ore mine. Winnifred had been born on 8 February 1928. Other children born to the family in the St Louis County were William John (23 April 1931), and Havlin Gilbert (22 September 1933). By 1935 the family was living in Eveleth where Peter worked as a miner. During WW2, son Ronald enlisted with the United States Navy in June of 1944, serving until June of 1946.

Peter died on 3 February 1980, his death registered in St Louis County. At the time of his death he was survived by his children Ronald, Winnifred Sulentich, and Gilbert and families, and siblings Jean Baird (d 1988, Victoria, BC) and Sarah (d 2008, Inverclyde, Scotland). He was predeceased by his wife Winnifred on 12 August 1979, his mother Sarah (1932, Port Glasgow), father John (1940, Port Glasgow), siblings David (1913, Port Glasgow), John (1915, Port Glasgow), Margaret (Thomas) Whiteford (1934, Glasgow), Robert (1955, Kilmacolm near Port Glasgow), William (1958, Duluth), Elizabeth (1960, Greenoch near Port Glasgow), and Archibald (1970, Newham, London, England). Peter and Winnifred are interred in the Eveleth Cemetery in Eveleth, Minnesota.

By Judy Stockham

Grave marker photographs provided by J. Huntley.

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