Pte King John Cecil

  • Date of birth: 10/10/1888
  • Place of birth: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Date of death: 10/11/1917
  • Place of death: Venture Farm, Belgium
  • Cause of death: Killed in action (K.I.A.)
  • Age: 29
  • Profession: Farmer
  • Country: Canada
  • Rank: Private
  • Service number: 1883101
  • Enlistment date: 09/05/1916
  • Enlistment place: Hanna, Alberta, Canada
  • Last known unit: Canadian Infantry, 5th Bn. (Western Cavalry)
  • Force: Canadian Expeditionary Force


Additional information

John Cecil was born in 1888 in Sydney, New South Wales. He was the son of Cecil Foster Keyworth and Lucia Harriet Harwood. John emigrated to Canada in 1908. According to the 1916 Canada Census John lived in Bow River, Alberta, where he worked as a farmer. In 1914 he had married Lilian Dean Swift. They had three sons together. John volunteered in May 1916 for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. One year later he served with the Canadian Infantry, 5th Battalion (Western Cavalry), part of the 2nd Canadian Brigade of the 1st Canadian Division, which participated in the final stages of the Battle of Passchendaele.

On 10 November 1917 the Division advanced with the 2nd Canadian Brigade to the North of Passchendaele. Its final objective was Hill 52. This Hill, half a mile North of the village, was an excellent observation point and would place the allies on top of the Passchendaele Ridge. The 7th and 8th Canadian Battalions were the first to attack. The 5th Battalion was in support at the hamlet of Meetcheele, they were to reinforce the 7th and 8th Battalion if necessary. Immediately after the attack a German plane spotted the support positions of the 5th Battalion. Moments later the German artillery started shelling the area, completely obliterating the trenches the Battalion had dug on the previous day. John’s Battalion suffered heavy casualties due to the constant shelling and was forced to move all companies a couple of times.

All went well at first and the 7th and 8th Battalions respectively took Vindictive Crossroads and Venture Farm. However the British 1st Division on their left had been pushed back, exposing the left flank of the Canadians. The right flank also came under pressure. Every further advance towards Hill 52 now became neigh to impossible. “A” and ”C” company were subsequently called for by the 8th Canadian Infantry, and took up positions between Venture Farm, Virtue Farm and Vocation Farm, while “B” Company was sent up to Vindictive Crossroads to support the 7th Canadian Infantry. Especially “C” Company, in full view of the Germans on Hill 52, was subjected to heavy shelling while holding the line at Venture Farm.

Private John Cecil King, 29-years old, was killed in action on 10 November 1917. He was a member of a Lewis gun crew, and was killed shortly after the Battalion attacked. His gun crew moved forward to take up a more advantageous position, while they were digging in a shell landed close by, killing the entire gun crew. John left behind a young wife and three young children. He has no known grave and is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.