My Great Uncle George
George's biography by Allan Kissack
George Kissack (my great uncle) was born 2nd Oct 1892, son of Thomas and Isabella. He was from a large family and he is at home, in Maughold, aged 8 in the 1901 Manx census. Later, like many at that time he travelled to Canada in search of a better life. In the Canadian census of 1911 we find him, single, living with his elder brother John and family. It looks like he worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) from the census and "railway experience" is recorded on his army attestation papers.
With the outbreak of World War 1, and still single, we find George joining the Canadian over-seas expeditionary Force (5th June 1915) at Winnipeg - terms of service being 'duration of war and 6 months after'. His age is 22 yrs 9 months and he stands 5' 6" tall according to his attestation papers. He joins the Royal Canadian Regiment and before long finds himself as a Canadian soldier returning on the SS Olympic to Europe (1-11 Apr 1916, Halifax to Liverpool) and the Western Front (6 June 1916 to RCR) at Ypres. Based in France first at Ypres then, at Vimy as part of the 3rd division, 7th Battalion he plays his part in the Great War, that was everything but great for those that had to endure the conditions at the time -
"In 1916 at Verdun and the Somme the casualty figures reached a toll of almost two million men. Yet this war of attrition and stalemate had two full years to run"Passchendaele, the Somme, Arras, Ypres - Places well known to many then, and now; and because of the slow progress of the war, known surely to George too: He would join his unit at Ypres and later move to Vimy. Vimy, a place familiar to many Canadian's today and etched in that country's history, would have been very familiar to George as he lived a day at a time in the network of trenches at it's base. And as 1917 dawned all 4 Canadian Divisions group together for the first time and prepared to attack the Germans that Easter.
On 20th January 1917, Manxman George, serving his new country Canada (but fighting for all of us to gain the freedom we now enjoy) is sadly killed aged 24 after 7 months front line service. The exact circumstances are unknown - could it have been a sniper or shell fire? we dont know for sure. The big Vimy attack was being prepared and the Candians where increasing the pressure on the Germans across the short stretch of no mans land - That Easter would see the Vimy Ridge attack - a major victory for the massed Canadian's and for the Allies.
George Kissack rests with others who paid the 'ultimate price' for our freedom in Ecoivres Military Cemetery, (Mont St Eloi, 8 miles NW of Arras,) France.