b. 17/02/1896 Uxbridge, Middlesex. d. 21/06/1957 Lougheed, Alberta, Canada.
Cecil John Kinross (1896-1957) was born on 17th February 1896 at Dews Farm, Harefield, near Uxbridge, Middlesex. His father, James Stirling Kinross, was originally from Perth, Scotland, and travelled to Texas and became a cowboy for a time before returning to the UK. He took over Flanders Farm, Hurley, Warwickshire in 1888, before moving to Harefield in 1891, where he was in partnership with his brother John until 1894. He married Emily Alice Hull in 1891. They emigrated to Canada aboard RMS Empress of Ireland from Liverpool, arriving on 12th March 1911. They settled on a farm near Lougheed, Alberta and James became a JP. Cecil had four siblings.
Cecil was educated at Hurley School, Warwickshire, Lea Marston Boys School, and Coleshill Grammar School, near Birmingham. As a young man, he was injured by a plough, which scarred his shins for life. He was working on a farm when war broke out, and he enlisted in 51st Battalion in Calgary on 21st October 1915. He sailed for England arriving on 18th December and was posted to 9th Reserve Battalion at Shorncliffe, Kent on 28th December. After a bout of German measles, he headed to France on 15th March 1916.
He became a runner for D Company and gained a reputation for dodging bullets. As a result he was nicknamed “Hoodoo”. When newcomers were assigned to him, bets were taken how long they would last. He was attached to 7th Canadian Trench Mortar Battery from 23rd May until 25th August. His luck ran out in an attack on Regina Trench on the Somme on 8th October, when he was hit by shrapnel in the right arm and side. He rejoined his unit a month later, and took part in the assault on Vimy Ridge in April 1917. Later that year, he took part in the fighting around Lens and was granted leave from 28th August to 15th September.
Shortly after the attack (on Passchendaele Ridge) was launched (28th October 1917), the company to which he belonged came under intense artillery fire, and further advance was held up by a very severe fire from an enemy machine gun. Private Kinross, making a careful survey of the situation, deliberately divested himself of all his equipment save his rifle and bandolier and, regardless of his personal safety, advanced alone over the open ground in broad daylight, charged the enemy machine gun, killing the crew of six, and seized and destroyed the gun. His superb example and courage instilled the greatest confidence in his company, and enabled a further advance of 300 yards to be made and a highly important position to be established.
Cecil was evacuated due to his wounds to Britain and admitted to No 2 Military Hospital, Canterbury on 3rd November. He was eventually transferred to 21st Reserve Battalion. The VC was presented by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 6th April 1918. He was arrested shortly afterwards by military policemen who assumed he was impersonating a VC winner, but was released when he produced the VC with his name on it.
On 7th December he transferred to the Canadian Concentration Camp at Kinmel Park in North Wales and on 20th January 1919 sailed for Canada. He was declared medically unfit and discharged on 17th February 1919. He had partial ulnar paralysis and suffered recurring headaches from the gunshot wounds received at Passchendaele. Despite his injuries, he resumed farming at Lougheed, Alberta, having been given 160 acres of land by the Canadian Government.
He attended the 1929 VC Dinner at the House of Lords and VC Centenary Celebrations in 1956. He was a confirmed bachelor and was well known for his eccentric behaviour. When he was admitted to hospital for the removal of his tonsils, he insisted on no anaesthetic. On another occasion he was teased about the amount of courage it took to earn a VC compared to jumping in a frozen lake. He promptly took off his coat and jumped in. Cecil died alone in his hotel room in Lougheed, Alberta on 21st June 1957. He was buried in the Soldier’s Plot of Lougheed Cemetery, Alberta. Among the pallbearers was Alex Brereton VC.
In addition to the VC, he was also awarded the British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953. The medals were handed over on permanent loan to the City Hall in Sir Winston Churchill Square, Edmonton, Alberta on 9th November 2015 by John Kinross Kennedy, Cecil’s nephew.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: . ON PERMANENT LOAN TO EDMONTON CITY HALL FEB 2016
BURIAL PLACE: LOUGHEED CEMETERY, LOUGHEED, ALBERTA, CANADA. SOLDIERS PLOT.
Bill Mullen – Images of the Kinross VC grave in Lougheed, Alberta, Canada, and his VC Stone at Harefield War Memorial.
Edmonton City Hall – Image of the Kinross VC Medal Group.