James Roylance KINSEY
Rank: Sapper
Number: 625031
Unit: 6th Battalion Canadian Engineers
Date of Death: 8 August 1918
Age: 20
Cemetery: Adelaide Cemetery, Villers-Bretonneux, Somme, France

James had been born in Urmston but, at the time of the 1901 Census, the family was living at Chadkirk Farm, Romiley, where his father, also called James Roylance, was the farm bailiff. James had married Helen Taylor in the late spring of 1896. Their son was born on 18 August 1898.

At some point, the family emigrated to Canada. James, senior, would earn his living as a contractor, whilst his son became a teamster. They lived at Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. Both joined the Canadian forces in 1916. The older James enlisting on 3 January 1916 and his son on 2 March.

The attestation papers of both men can be viewed on-line at the Canadian National Archives. James, junior, will have been  a well built athletic figure, standing 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighting150 pounds. He had a 36 inch chest, which he could expand by a further 3 inches. He was of medium dark complexion with brown eyes and hair. James had recorded his religion as Church of England. After training, James will have joined his unit, as one of a number of troops replacing casualties, towards the end of 1916.

8 August 1918 saw the beginning of the Second Battle of Amiens which would spell the end of the War three months later. As engineers, James and his mates would not be called on to fight (although they had trained as infantry and knew what to do if needed). Their tasks would be to assist with the construction of strongpoints, etc when the enemy positions had been captured.

During the evening of the 7th, they moved towards the front line and stayed in a wood called the Bois l'Abbe, near the small town of Villers Bretonneaux. During the night, the men watched great numbers of tanks, infantry and cavalry moving up ready for zero hour at 4.20am.

The Battalion's War Diary records "At 6am, the Battalion, less "A" Company, moved forward along trench "D" through Cachy, south of the railway line at Villers Bretonneaux and established HQ in what was the enemy's reserve line a few hours before. During the march forward, large quantities of war material was noticed, also a great many prisoners and a considerable number of enemy dead. "A" Company moved forward further than the Battalion and was engaged on invaluable work for the Field Artillery. The retirement of the enemy was as rapid as it was possible to be and at one time, the Artillery were fighting in front of the infantry. The road on which we advanced was shelled considerably and 625031 Sapper J R Kinsey was killed by shellfire......."

James will, no doubt, have been buried by his mates at the roadside and the position marked. After the Armistice in November, Adelaide Cemetery was greatly extended when James' and nearly 900 other bodies were exhumed from isolated burial areas and brought to their final resting place. James' father survived the war and returned to live in Fort Saskatchewan.

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