Private Harry William Keene

Harry William Keene was born in Toronto, Ontario on November 14th, 1891, the son of Thomas and Catherine Keene. He had three younger sisters, Ann, Kathleen and Alice. Harry was employed as an engineer, and was living at 4 Classic Ave, Toronto with his family when war broke out.

Harry enlisted with the C.E.F., 74th Battalion in August, 1915. Shortly after arriving in England in April, 1916 Harry was assigned to the 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade, and later assigned to the Canadian Machine Gun Corps within this brigade. He fought with the Canadian Machine Gun Corps in the Battle of the Somme, the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the Battle of Passchedaele.

During the Battle of Passchendaele, on October 29th, 1917, Harry was seriously injured with a shrapnel wound to the head. He spent four months recovering in England before he was deemed 'fit for duty'. He also received a D.C.M. for his bravery during this battle. Canada - An Illustrated Weekly Journal, April 6, 1918, recounts the events that led to Harry being awarded the D.C.M.: "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during an attack. His machine gun was blown up and he was buried, and the only man with him was killed. He at once repaired and cleared his gun, and resumed firing unaided. Later, he was wounded, but remained with his gun unil he was ordered by an officer to go to the aid post. He set a splendid example of courage and devotion to duty."

Harry went on to fight at the Battle of Amiens. On August 8, 1918 he was killed in action during this battle. The two letters below explain some of the circumstances that surrounded his death.

This account was provided by Harry William Keene's nephew David G. Benner.


The Letters
 
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