About Arnold Henry Grant Kemball
Lieutenant Colonel Arnold Henry Grant Kemball
Lieutenant Colonel Arnold Henry Grant Kemball was born on January 4th 1861 in Belgaum, India, the son of Major General John Shaw and Dora Kemball. After completing his formal education at Sandhurst in 1880, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1st Battalion Royal Scots Regiment. Joining the 5th Gurkha Rifles of the Indian Army he rose to the rank of Captain. During his early service in India, Lieutenant Colonel Kemball saw action in the Black Mountain Expedition in 1888, Hazara 1891, North West Frontier 1897-98 and Tirah Expeditionary Force 1897-98. He was mentioned in despatches for his service on the North West Frontier and Tirah. After being promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1905 he was selected to command a battalion of the 5th Gurkha Rifles. In 1907 he was promoted Colonel and commanded the 5th Gurkha Rifle Regiment until his retirement in 1910.
Upon his retirement, Lieutenant Colonel Kemball with his wife Alvilda, daughters Dorothy and Gerda, moved to Kaslo, British Columbia to begin a fruit orchard. In 1912, he was made a Companion of the Bath for his service in India.
At the outbreak of World War One, Lieutenant Colonel Kemball volunteered for service in the Canadian Army, initially on the rolls of the 107th Regiment in Fernie B.C., and was soon appointed Major and Deputy Commanding Officer of the newly formed 54th Kootenay Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. During initial training of the battalion in Vernon in July 1915 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and given command of the 54th. Leading the battalion through training in Canada and later England, he arrived in France on August 14th, 1916 where the battalion joined the newly formed 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade of the 4th Canadian Division. After familiarization training in the relatively quiet sector of the Ypres Salient in southern Belgium, he led the battalion to the Somme, a sector of very heavy fighting since July 1, 1916. The period spent here was marked by extremely harsh weather conditions which put the men of the 54th under great stress. In an action on November 18th 1916, Lieutenant Colonel Kemball led the 54th Kootenay Battalion in the highly successful attack on Desire Trench. For his gallant leadership, Lieutenant Colonel Kemball was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.
After the success at Desire Trench, the 54th Kootenay Battalion marched north to the Vimy Front to join the rest of the Canadian Corps. In late February 1917, the 54th Kootenay Battalion was ordered to carry out a large trench raid in conjunction with other battalions of the 4th Canadian Division. This raid was to be carried out with gas instead of the customary artillery barrage. On March 1st, 1917 Lieutenant Colonel Kemball, foreseeing that the raid had little chance of success, defied orders and personally led two companies engaged in the raid. The companies lost direction in the poor visibility and he moved to lead the left-hand company on the proper bearing. While trying to find a gap in the wire, he was killed by German fire. Of the 405 soldiers participating in the raid, over 200 were casualties. On March 3rd, a temporary truce to recover the fallen was arranged. Recognizing Lieutenant Colonel Kemballs devotion to duty, the Germans returned his body with great respect. He is buried at Villers Station Cemetery within sight of the Vimy Memorial. Lieutenant Colonel Kemball is memorialized on a plaque commissioned by his men in Kaslo, British Columbia and in the books Vimy by Pierre Berton, the official Canadian History of WW1 published in 1963, and most recently in the books on gas warfare on the Canadian Front "No Where to Run" by Tim Cook (1999) and "Surviving Trench Warfare" by Bill Rawling.
Kemball came from a family with long ties to the British Military and government -