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Cyril Kinsella

After being wounded at Ypres, Cyril Kinsella modelled for sculptor Walter Allward, before returning to the fighting.

London, England

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First World War

Biography

Cyril Kinsella was born in 1897 in London, England. His father soon passed away and his widowed mother had to place him in a children’s care home. Kinsella was sent to Canada at age 11 and he would spend the years that followed as a farm worker in several places in Ontario, eventually being sent to Brant County. When the First World War broke out in August 1914, he became one of the earliest Canadians to enlist when the 17-year-old recruit lied about his age and joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Kinsella saw action in the 2nd Battle of Ypres that began in Belgium in April 1915. He was wounded and suffered shell shock in the fighting there and was deemed unfit for service. He returned to Canada and, in a twist of fate, would cross paths with sculptor Walter Allward in 1916. The artist felt that young Kinsella would be a perfect model for one of the figures that would be part of a new monument to Alexander Graham Bell being built in Brantford. Kinsella posed for the statue but was already growing dissatisfied by civilian life. He managed to re-enlist in August 1916 and would again serve in the trenches overseas. He was wounded that December but returned to the front.

Kinsella survived the war and eventually settled in California where he was a rancher for more than 40 years. In an interesting coincidence, Walter Allward – the man who Kinsella had helped in the creation of the Bell monument – would go on to design the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. This striking monument in France honours our soldiers who served and died in the First World War.


Where they participated

Photo provided by British Home Children Advocacy & Research Association (BHCACA), photo source: the Fegan Homes in England

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