Andrew Owen Kirk

Four months later, on April 9, 1915, he was punished for being “Unshaven on Parade.”

Andrew Owen Kirk was a carpenter, unmarried, when he signed up on September 21, 1914, in Valcartier, Quebec, to serve as a private with the 1st Battalion. His father farmed near London, Ontario, as had his grandfathers. He was the oldest son in a financially-challenged family of 13 children. He had turned 21 just three weeks before he enlisted.

He would be part of the largest trans-Atlantic convoy to date. He would depart from Quebec on the SS Laureatic on October 4, 1914.

Soon he and the 40,000 other men in the first Canadian Division were training rigorously in England. The Canadians were camped on Salisbury Plain. The conditions were harsh. Before they embarked for France in February 1915, they endured four harsh winter months in the mud, cold, and rain.

On December 1, 1914, Andrew Owen Kirk was promoted from private to corporal. One month later, on January 1, 1915, he was demoted to private. Was he a rascal? Likely, but we don’t know.

Four months later, on April 9, 1915, he was punished for being “Unshaven on Parade.” He was sentenced to three days of kitchen duty. He misdemeanour and punishment were both trivial considering that by then the 1st Canadian Division was now serving in France and Belgium, engaging in battle intermittently. Was he a rebel? We don’t know.

He was one of the 5,506 killed at the Second Battle of Ypres. He died on April 28, 1915 of a gunshot wound to his left thigh suffered the day before. The place of death was No. 13 Station Hospital in Boulogne, France. He was buried in the military cemetery in Boulogne. That he was a victim we know.

A telegram was sent to his parents back home on the farm.

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