Captain William Henry McKINLEY

Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment)
87th Battalion (Canadian Grenadier Guards)
Service Number:
Date of Death:
2 September 1918 - Killed in Action
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
I. A. 1.

Personal History:
William was born on 15th November 1886 at Newington, Kingston-upon-Hull, the son of John (Banker's Clerk) and Clara Jessie (née Kemp) McKinley (1891 Census RG 12/3919). He had an older sister, Maggie, and a younger brother, John (1901 Census RG 13/4474) In 1901 the family was living in Fearnley Road, Hessle, Hull, where William was being educated at Hull Grammar School. He emigrated to Vancouver, Quebec, Canada, from the port of Glasgow, in 1907, where he worked as a 'Lumber Agent'.
On 14th August 1909 Henry married Georgina Eyre, daughter of Robert Eyre of Buxton, at Christ's Church, Toronto. (After the War Georgina moved back to England to live at 59 Windsor Road, Buxton, Derbyshire.) They had three children, John Eyre, Robert Norman and Marguerite Catherine.

Military History:
William enlisted into the Canadian Grenadier Guards at Hamilton, Ontario, in October 1914 and served in France from 1916. The 87th (Canadian Grenadier Guards) Battalion, CEF was based in Montreal, Quebec. After sailing to England in April 1916, the battalion was stationed there as part of the 12th Infantry Brigade (until June) and then 11th Infantry Brigade of the 4th Canadian Infantry Division until August of the same year.

The Battalion War Diary shows that Battalion left Bramshott Camp for Southampton on 11th
August 1916 and sailed on the steamer "Archangel" the following day, arriving at Le Havre at
7.15 a.m. and served the duration of the war as part of the 11th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian
Infantry Division. The 4th Canadian Division was a part of the Canadian Corps in the Battle of
Vimy Ridge, which attacked and defeated the Germans, driving them from the ridge. The Battle
took place from 9th to 12th April 1917, was part of the opening phase of the  Battle of Arras.


William was gazetted Lieutenant, and was promoted to Captain on 27th December 1917
(London Gazette 5th March 1918) and was killed in action near Mont Dury 15 miles (24 kms)
east of Arras on 2nd September 1918 whilst leading his Company under attack under very
heavy fire. "It was due to Capt. McKinley's leadership that the position was eventually taken"
(De Ruvigny).

On the 1st September the 87th Battalion had received orders to concentrate near Vis en Artois, ready for the action of the following day. The Battalion War Diary for the 2nd reads:

"At 5.30 a.m. heavy barrage opened. Enemy's reply did not reach our assembly position. At 6.20 a.m. the Battalion moved forward by Coys from assembly position to that of readiness just west of MONT DURY. The assembly area was reach at 7.30 a.m. but the situation was still obscure. The C.O. consulted with the O.C. of the 75th Battalion and then hoping that by advancing on the left the situation on the right might be eased, decided to push on. Accordingly at 8.30 the Battalion went forward, 'B' Coy on the right, 'D' Coy on the left, 'A' Coy in support and 'C' Coy in reserve.

On reaching the crest of the ridge just east of the sunken road, the leading Coys came under heavy machine gun and shell fire, frontally and on both flanks. After great trouble the leading Coys managed to push out to a line 150 to 200 yards east of sunken road. 'A' Coy were close behind and 'C' Coy in the sunken road.

At 1.30 p.m. the C.O. advised Brigade that we could not hope to get further without artillery or tank support, and shortly after the G.O.C. stated that we could hold on to what we had and await further orders. The Battalion was accordingly re-organised in depth."

After details of the subsequent re-organisation: " .... completed about 9.00 p.m. At 10.00 p.m. the C.O. was called to Brigade and told that the operation would continue the following morning at 8.00 a.m. and a meeting of Coy commanders followed at which the plan was outlined"

The day's casualties were then listed as :"Killed: Capt. W.H. McKinley; Lieuts. L.F. Tasker, G.S. Fogarty.  Wounded: ...".
William was buried at the British Military Cemetery " .. on the Arras - Cambrai road." which is undoubtedly Feuchy Chapel, Wancourt. Wancourt was captured on 12th April 1917 after very heavy fighting, lost in March 1918, and retaken by the Canadian Corps on the following 26th August.

William Burial Register entry states that: "He was killed near the 'jumping off' point trench, during an attack on enemy positions south-west of Dury".

· Photo of Captain McKinley's grave courtesy of Gary Nelson
· De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, Volume 5, page 115.
· CEF Burial Registers

Commemorated on:
Link to CWGC Record
Captain McKinley's Grave at Feuchy Chapel
87th Battalion Memorial at Vimy Ridge
87th Battalion Memorial at Vimy Ridge
about the Battle of Vimy Ridge