First World War Memorial Plaque sent to the family of Pte Henry William Krimmel.
By: Captain Michael M. O'Leary, The RCR
Henry William Krimmel attested for overseas service with the CEF at Halifax, NS, on 22 August 1915. He was a Canadian Permanent Force soldier who had previously served in the British Army and in Bermuda with The RCR. He served overseas with The RCR until late 1917 when he transferred to the 7th Light Trench Mortar Battery. In late March 1918, Krimmel was badly burned in an accidental fire, and died of shock a few days later on 4 April 1918.
Slightly below average sized for the era at 5 ft 5 1/2 in and weighing about 118 pounds, Henry William Krimmel was recorded as having a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. An experienced soldier when he joined the Canadian Army, he carried tattoos gained during his earlier service in the British Army, described as "St George and the Dragon on his chest a parrot and butterfly on his left forearm and a peacock and birds on right forearm".
Henry William Krimmel was born 11 March 1883 at Bethnal Green, London, England. His father, H.W. Krimmel, lived at 285 Corfield St, Bethnal Green during Henry's CEF service. Henry's service record notes in 1922 that his mother was deceased.
Later in his service Henry gave a next of kin and address as c/o Mrs R. Simmonds Mission House, Glasgow Terrace, Lupus St, London S.W., England. He also identified one sister, Mrs L. Chubb living at 34 Harcourt Rd., Stratford, England.
Krimmel served in the British Army for 8 years, 46 days with the Royal Sussex Regiment from 4 Oct 1901 to 18 Nov 1908.
There is no indication in his Canadian service records whether he served in the 1st or 2nd Battalion of the Royal Sussex. During this period the 1st Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment served at Sitapur (1902), Rhaniket (1904), Rawalpindi (1905), Umballa (1906), and Solon (1908). The 2nd Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment served at Shorncliffe (1902), Malta (1904), Crete (1905) and Ireland: Belfast (1907).
Henry William Krimmel was taken on strength The Royal Canadian Regiment (The RCR) in Toronto, ON, on 17 September 1913. He was assigned regimental number 12217.
His character on release from the British Army was recorded by The RCR as "exemplary" and was likely transcribed from his discharge certificate.
Henry William Krimmel was in good health during his early years of service. He was noted as requiring no hospital admissions in either Toronto or Halifax or while in Bermuda during his Permanent Force service.
Henry William Krimmel served with the Regiment in Bermuda (1914-15) and, after returning to Halifax, NS, with the Regiment, attested for overseas service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) on 22 August 1915. His regimental number was replaced with the CEF service number 477501.
Krimmel disembarked at Boulogne with The RCR on 1 Nov 1915. He served continuously with the Regiment and was briefly hospitalized from 29 April to 5 May 1916 for a laceration of the left wrist.
On 23 Jul 1916 he was attached to the 7th Light Trench Mortar Battery, the brigade mortar battery for the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade, to which The RCR belonged. While serving with the Battery, he was granted a "Good Conduct Badge" for 2 years service on 20 Nov 1916. He also enjoyed a 10-day leave period between 20 Dec 1916 when the leave was granted and 3 Jan 1917 when he returned to his unit.
On 1 Oct 1917, Krimmel was finally struck off the strength of The RCR and officially transferred to the 7th T.M. Bty. He was granted a further 14-day leave period which ran from 30 November to 15 December 1917.
Krimmel was attached to the 1st Army School of Cookery at Bethune from 21 Mar 1918. On the night of 28/29 March 1918, Henry William Krimmel suffered severe burns to his hands, face and head. This occurred accidentally in a storeroom in which he was sleeping while at the 1st Army School of Cookery. Krimmel was admitted to 8 Canadian Field Ambulance and also the 57th Casualty Clearing Station. He died from the shock of his injuries on 4 Apr 1918.
Henry Krimmel was paid $1.00 per day as a Private. In addition to this pay he received 10 cents daily Field Allowance. Krimmel had Assigned Pay to his sister, Mrs L. Chubb, 34 Harcourt Rd., Stratford, England. (Sister). This assignment of $15 per month commenced 1 April 1918 and only one payment was made on his behalf before his death.
On 6 April 1918, by order of G.O.C. 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade, a Court of Enquiry was assembled "In the Field" for the purpose of enquiring into and reporting upon the circumstances surrounding the injuries occasioned by fire to No. 477501 Pte Krimmel H. 7th Canadian Trench Mortar Battery on 29 Mar 1918
The officers of the Court were Capt L.M. McCarthy; Cdn. Railway Troops (President), Lieut E.W. Duval; P.P.C.L.I. and Lieut. G.S. Ashby; 42nd Cdn. Battalion.
Evidence heard included the following statements:
No. 136165 Pte J.E. Webb, 7th Canadian Trench Mortar Battery - "On the night of March 28/29th, I was on gas guard from 12 midnight to 3.00 a.m. at CROSS STREET, and at about 2.00 a.m. when passing
No. 455223 Pte F.E. Stewart, 7th Canadian Trench Mortar Battery - "At or about 2.00 o'clock on the morning of the 29th March I was awakened by Pte J.E. Webb and told that the storehouse immediately adjacent was on fire. I, along with others, grabbed fire buckets and assisted to extinguish the fire. I have no knowledge or opinion as to the cause of the fire. Pte Krimmel had spent the evening with us playing cards in our bunk room and left about 12 o'clock. There was no liquor consumed during the evening in our hut."
No. 475775 Cpl. J.H. Blair, 7th Canadian Trench Mortar Battery - "About two o'clock on the morning of the March 29, I was awakened by Pte J.E. Webb and told the storehouse was on fire. I supervised the extinguishing of the fire. On examining the storehouse later in the morning I noticed that with the exception of two at the bottom a pile of roughly 24 mens' packs was entirely destroyed. There was an old fireplace in this storehouse but never, to my knowledge, was the fireplace used since the 7th Cdn. Trench Mortar Battery took over the storehouse. I saw Pte Krimmel at 10.00 p.m. 28th March; he was quite sober. There was no liquor in the camp, nor do I think he had left the camp that evening."
Lieut. J.F. McNeill, Royal Canadian Regiment, attached 7th Canadian Trench Mortar Battery - "As Officer i/c. 7th Canadian Trench Mortar Battery (Rear), in my rounds on the 28th March I noted that the fire buckets were properly filled. The men had received proper instructions as to action in event of fire. The fire which occurred in the storeroom at about 2.00 a.m. 29th March was quickly extinguished. We had no oil in the camp this date. Pte Krimmel was not using lamps in either cookhouse or the storeroom in which he slept."
Lieut. J.F. McNeill, The RCR, attached 7th Cdn T.M. Battery, on being recalled, produced a copy of the unit's Fire Orders which were not preserved in Inquiry file.
The Court's conclusions, based on the presented statements and evidence, were as follows:
"In the matter of the circumstances concerning injuries occasioned by fire to No. 477501 Pte Krimmel, H. 7th Canadian Trench Mortar Battery, 29-3-18, the Court, having heard the evidence of available witnesses, are of the opinion that the testimony given is not such as would be able to form a definite opinion as to the cause of the fire. The Court regrets its inability to secure evidence from No. 477501 Pte Krimmel. It is of the opinion that no negligence on the part of others contributed to the injuries sustained by Krimmel or loss of property as a result of the fire."
The findings of the Court of Inquiry received concurrence from Brigadier General Hugh M. Dyer, Commanding 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade on 9 April 1918. The recommendations prepared for his signature stated: "I concur in the findings of the Court, and recommend that, in the view of the fact that all necessary precautions for the prevention of fire appear to have been taken, the articles destroyed to be replaced at the expense of the public."
The Report on Accidental or Self-Inflicted Injuries prepared following Krimmel's injury and death described his injuries as "Burns, face, head and hands. Fairly severe."
The brief description of events was recorded as "Gas Guard discovered fire in room where the above was sleeping. He immediately gave the alarm and went to the assistance of the injured man. Other men put out the fire."
The Commanding Officer's opinion was given that Krimmel was off-duty at the time of the accident, but that neither he nor others were to blame for Krimmel's injuries. No disciplinary action against any member of the unit was recommended.
477501 KRIMMEL, Henry William Krimmel had completed a will leaving all his "real estate" and his "personal estate" to Mrs Krimmel (93 Field Rd. Forest Gate, Essex Eng.). This will was completed on 13 Oct 1915. The will form included the annotation that "Personal estate includes pay, effects, money in bank, insurance policy, in fact everything except real estate."
The Record in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial for Krimmel reads:
In memory of Private HENRY WILLIAM KRIMMEL who died on April 4, 1918.
Krimmel is commemorated on Page 443 of the First World War Book of Remembrance. The seven Books of Remembrance lie in the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill. Together, they commemorate the lives of more than 118,000 Canadians who, since Confederation, have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving Canada in uniform. The First World War Book of Remembrance was the first Book of Remembrance created, and is the largest of the Books, containing more than 66,000 names.
Krimmel is buried in the Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France. (Grave Reference: III. D. 55.) The cemetery is south of the village of Aubigny-en-Artois and the Cemetery Extension is behind it. Aubigny-en-Artois is approximately 15 kilometres north-west of Arras on the road to St. Pol. After turning into the village from the N.39 on the D.75, the Cemetery lies south on a road leading from the centre of the village.