Information about birth

Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Gravesend, Kent, England, United Kingdom

General information

Last known residence:
148 Castlefield Avenue, Canada
Day laborer

Army information

England, United Kingdom
Canadian Expeditionary Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
 —  Canadian Infantry, 18th Bn. (Western Ontario)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Crest Farm, Passchendaele, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Aeroplane Cemetery
Plot: I
Row: F
Grave: 21

Distinctions and medals 4

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 ‘Place of death’

My story

James Prisley was born in 1889 in Gravesend, Kent, England. In 1912 he immigrated to Canada. The 23-year old went to live in Toronto with his sister Ann Grace, who had already emigrated to Canada. James started working in construction as a Laborer. In January 1916 James enlisted for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was attached to the Canadian Infantry 18th Battalion, part of the 4th Canadian Brigade, of the 2nd Canadian Division. By November 1917 the 2nd Canadian Division had been brought to Flanders where it was to participate in the final stages of the Third Battle of Ypres.

On the 6th of November 1917 the 2nd Division attacked the village of Passchendaele with the 6th Canadian Brigade. Roughly three hours after the attack had commenced the Division had captured all their objectives. After three months of fighting the village of Passchendaele and the eastern crest beyond were now in Allied hands. Meanwhile the 4th Brigade was in reserve. It did not engage on the 6th of November and the 18th Battalion had to carry material and ammunition to forward position throughout the day.

During the night of the 8th and 9th of November the 18th Battalion moved up to the frontline on the Passchendaele Crest, relieving portions of the 22nd and 25th Canadian Battalions. The 18th took up positions in the ruins of what once was the village of Passchendaele. Owing to the bad weather and the continuous shelling of the hillcrest the frontline and support lines were in poor conditions. The mud and water in many places being waist deep. The Battalion remained in these ghastly positions until they were relieved on the 12th of November 1917. During these four days the men were nearly constantly exposed to the elements and the frontline trenches were frequently shelled. The rear country and the tracks leading up to the front were also subjected to continues German artillery fire, making it very difficult to evacuate the wounded to regimental aid posts and bring up rations and ammunition.

Casualties were high. Forty-five men of the 18th Canadian Battalion were killed in action between the 9th and 12th of November 1917. Six officers and sixty men were wounded and one officer and twenty-five men were exposed to gas. One of the men who were killed in action was Private James Prisley. He fell on the 9th of November 1917, possibly due to German shellfire while holding the line near Crest Farm. His comrades buried the 28-year old near the Canadian frontline, just east of Crest Farm. James was buried next to Corporal Albert Rose, of the 18th Battalion, who was also killed in action on the 9th of November. In 1925 the remains of both men were exhumed and interred in Aeroplane Cemetery, where James Prisley and Albert Rose still rest side by side.

Files 2

Sources 6

"Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Uniform, 2018, pg. 160-161.
Sources used
Circumstances of death
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Service Record
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The Long, Long Trail
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War Diary Canadian Infantry 18th Bn.
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