The churchyard at Bodelwyddan is the source of a great
deal of controversy. It contains the graves of victims of the Spanish
flu pandemic of 1918-19 who were based in the nearby Kinmel Park
Military Camp. More controversially it is also the burial place for a
number of Canadian soldiers who were awaiting repatriation after the end
of the First World War. Various stories have circulated over the years
about a riot in the camp which resulted in the deaths of five of the
Canadian soldiers on 4-5th March 1919. I quote the official Church
website.. " a riot occurred in the camp when the ship allocated to
return the troops to Canada was diverted to carry food supplies to
Russia, and five Canadian soldiers were killed in the disturbances and
subsequently buried in St Margaret's Churchyard; a common story is that
they were executed for mutiny, but this has been denied by the Canadian
Department of National Defence."
For what it is worth I can offer my twopenn’orth.. or rather my mother's
twopenn'orth of information. My mother was born in 1918. She lived some
9 miles from Bodelwyddan in Colwyn Bay and she remembers the story
thus: "The Canadian and British soldiers fought among themselves. Some
soldiers were killed in the fighting and they were buried in the Marble
Church." (The source of my mother's information would probably have
been her father, my grandfather, who also served in the First World War.
Make your own mind up about which version is the most truthful, but I
tend to believe the spoken word rather than the official versions.)
Whatever the truth of the matter it was a very sad episode for the poor
young men who had survived the horrors of the World War only to suffer
again in what should have been a place of refuge. It may be some
consolation to relatives of the soldiers that the graves are well tended
and there is a memorial to the Canadian soldiers within the churchyard.
Mar 30, 2013 by brian pollitt
I served in the 37th Royal Artillery Training Regiment at Kinmel Park Camp from 1954-56. Our Regiment attended church services in St Asaph Cathedral on several occasions but no soldier in my unit was at any time made aware of the killing and burial of Canadian soldiers at the conclusion of World War I. This was evidently regarded as a matter of considerable sensitivity and I became aware of it only a number of years later as a student of military history. The burial of the facts of the case as well as the bodies suggests the episode to have been entirely shameful.
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