- Foreign & Commonwealth Office
- Part of:
- Archive commemorating overseas WW1 Victoria Cross recipients and Canada
- 20 June 2016
The story of Canadian First World War Victoria Cross recipient Joseph Thomas Kaeble.
70 men from Canada received the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry, during the First World War. As part of the Centenary Commemorations the people of the United Kingdom marked their gratitude to those courageous men by presenting a bronze memorial plaque to their home country engraved with their names. The plaque is now displayed at the British High Commission Ottawa. This archive tells their stories.
Name: Joseph Thomas Kaeble
DOB: 5 May 1893
Place of Birth: St Moïse, Quebec, Canada
Date of Action: 8 to 9 June 1918
Place of Action: Arras, France
Regiment: 22nd Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force
Joseph Thomas Kaeble was born on 5 May 1893 in St Moïse, Quebec, in French-speaking Canada. He worked as a mechanic before enlisting in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1916. He later joined the 22nd Infantry Battalion in France and was awarded the Military Medal.
Corporal Kaeble was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for his bravery on 8 to 9 June 1918 near Arras in France. He was in charge of a machine-gun on the Canadian line when there was an intense enemy attack. His citation explains:
For most conspicuous bravery and extraordinary devotion to duty when in charge of a Lewis gun section in the front line trenches, on which a strong enemy raid was attempted. During an intense bombardment Cpl. Kaeble remained at the parapet with his Lewis gun shouldered ready for action, the field of fire being very short. As soon as the barrage lifted from the front line, about fifty of the enemy advanced towards his post. By this time the whole of his section except one had become casualties. Cpl. Kaeble jumped over the parapet, and holding his Lewis gun at the hip, emptied one magazine after another into the advancing enemy, and, although wounded several times by fragments of shells and bombs, he continued to fire, and entirely blocked the enemy by his determined stand. Finally, firing all the time, he fell backwards into the trench, mortally wounded. While lying on his back in the trench he fired his last cartridges over the parapet at the retreating Germans, and before losing consciousness shouted to the wounded about him: ‘Keep it up boys; do not let them get through! We must stop them!” The complete repulse of the enemy attack at this point was due to the remarkable personal bravery and self-sacrifice of this gallant non-commissioned officer, who died of his wounds shortly afterwards.
Corporal Kaeble died of his wounds on the night after the attack. He is buried at Wanquetin Communal Cemetery, near Arras in France. A mountain, streets and buildings are named after him in Canada. In 2012 a Hero-Class patrol vessel used by the Coastguard, was named in his honour.
Published: 20 June 2016