Kenneth Wesley Smith
Highland Light Infantry of Canada
Royal Canadian Infantry Corps
Born in Delhi, Ontario, Kenneth Wesley Smith grew up in the religion of a Baptist. Kenneth’s father, Mr. George Albert Smith, (1880-1960) and his mother, Mrs. Louisa (nee Moon) Smith, (1887-1964) had three children: Reuben Albert Smith (oldest son), Mary Smith (middle daughter), and Kenneth Wesley Smith (youngest son). Unfortunately, Kenneth’s brother, Reuben, passed away on January 14, 1944 in London, Ontario due to heart issues. Kenneth completed the first form of High School at age 16. He lived on a farm in Tillsonburg, southern Ontario.
Before the war, Kenneth was employed in riveting and fitting for 10 months for the Fleet Aircraft Company in Fort Erie, Ontario, while earning a weekly wage of $40, a service station attendant for three months, earning a weekly wage of $15, and as a tobacco farm labourer which he did each summer.
At his enlistment, March 31, 1942, Kenneth Smith was interviewed
and described as “active and sociable in interest” but he was also listed as “not assertive or self-confident.” He was measured at five feet five and a half inches and weighed 148 pounds. He had black hair and blue eyes. He enjoyed sports such as baseball (he was a fielder), partying and hunting. Kenneth also enjoyed working with model airplanes.
His interviewer noted that he was “very much interested in the air force and wants to transfer to a ground crew. However, he was encouraged to remain in the infantry because he displayed “good NCO (non- commissioned officer) material.”
His basic training was taken at a centre in Kitchener, Ontario and then infantry training at Camp Borden in Ontario. He went overseas as reinforcement for the Highland Light Infantry of Canada regiment arriving in the United Kingdom on July 21, 1942. He qualified as a driver of wheeled vehicles on October 3, 1943. He also became a gunner for the two-pounder field gun.
His regiment, the Highland Light Infantry, landed at Juno Beach on June 6, 1944. During the Battle of Normandy,Private Smith was promoted to lance corporal on July 14 and then to full corporal on December 11, 1944.
After fighting through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and into Germany, he died in action on March 31, 1945 during the Battle of the Rhineland. Veterans Affairs Canada and Commonwealth War Graves Commission gives his age as 19 years old at his death.
Kenneth’s temporary burial took place in Vrasselt temporary burial ground, about 13 kilometres northeast of Cleve, Germany.
Corporal Kenneth Wesley Smith was reburied in the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, grave reference XX. E. 8.
The inscription on his headstone reads:
“A smiling and pleasant face, A kindly word for each, He died beloved by all.”
His military awards include the 1939-45 Star, France-Germany Star, the Defence Medal, the War Medal and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp.
Lina Pham, student from All Saints H.S., Kanata, Canada for Faces to Graves.
Biography made available for Faces to Graves courtesy of Vanessa Kirtz, teacher at All Saints H.S.
- Library and Archives Canada, WWII Service Files of War Dead, 1939-1947
- Veterans Affairs Canada, The Canadian Virtual War Memorial
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Casualty file
- pictures provided by Dan and Judy Brochu, and Vicki Blonski, Great niece of Kenneth