Bust of Joseph Kaeble at the Valiants Memorial in Ottawa
5 May 1892|
|Died||9 June 1918
|Buried at||Wanquetin Communal Cemetery Extension, France|
|Service/branch||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Years of service||1916 - 1918|
|Unit||22e Battalion (Canadien Francais)|
|Battles/wars||World War I †|
Joseph Thomas Kaeble, VC, MM (5 May 1892 – 9 June 1918) was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He was the first French Canadian soldier to be decorated with the VC and Military Medal.
He was born on 5 May 1892 in Saint-Moïse, Quebec. He joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force in March 1916. Kaeble was a corporal in the 22e Battalion (Canadien Francais), CEF during the First World War. On 8 June 1918 at Neuville-Vitasse, France, Kaeble performed an act of bravery for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross. He died whilst doing so.
For most conspicuous bravery and extraordinary devotion to duty when in charge of a Lewis gun section in the front line trenches, in which a strong enemy raid was attempted. During an intense bombardment Corporal 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. Corporal 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.
Transported to hospital, Corporal Joseph Kaeble died of his wounds the next night, 9 June.
Burial and legacy
He was buried in the local cemetery in Wantequin, some seven miles west of Arras (Wantequin memorial/cemetery: Plot II. Row A. Grave 8. Headstone).
On February 10, 2011, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced that the nine new vessels in a new class of midshore patrol vessels would be named the Hero-class patrol vessels. The second of the new vessels was named CCGS Caporal Kaeble V.C., and was presented to the Coast Guard on November 13, 2012.
- Frances Willick (2012-11-13). "New Coast Guard patrol vessel honours hero: VC winner Kaeble remembered November 13, 2012 - 8:12pm By FRANCES WILLICK Staff Reporter". Halifax, Nova Scotia: Halifax Chronicle Herald. Archived from the original on 2012-11-19. Retrieved 2012-11-19.
A newspaper account published in 1918 described his actions: “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.”
- "Government to consider arming coast guard vessels: Defence Minister Peter MacKay makes revelation in Halifax". CBC News. 2012-11-13. Archived from the original on 2012-11-19. Retrieved 2012-11-19.
The Caporal Kaeble V.C. Hero-class vessel was named after Joseph Kaeble, a First World War soldier who earned a posthumous Victoria Cross for stopping a German attack.
- "Ministers present new Coast Guard ship named for fallen hero". Metronews. 2012-11-13. Archived from the original on 2012-11-18.
Canada’s defence and fisheries ministers were on hand Tuesday to present a new Coast Guard ship named for the first French-Canadian to receive the Victoria Cross.
- Barbara Mottram (2012-11-13). "Ministers Shea And Mackay Present the CCGS Caporal Kaeble V.C.". Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Archived from the original on 2012-11-18.
The Honourable Gail Shea, acting Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Member of Parliament for Central Nova, today presented the second of the Canadian Coast Guard’s new Hero class vessels, the CCGS Caporal Kaeble V.C.
- The London Gazette: . 13 September 1918. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
- "Harper Government Names New Coast Guard Vessels in Honour of Canadian Heroes". Canada News Service. 2011-02-10. Archived from the original on 2012-11-18.
- Bryin Weese (2011-02-09). "Fallen Heroes to be honoured with namesake ships Thursday". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on 2012-11-18.
- "Canadian Coast Guard's "Hero Class" Of Vessels". Department of Fisheries and Oceans. 2011-02-10. Archived from the original on 2012-11-18.
- Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
- VCs of the First World War - Spring Offensive 1918 (Gerald Gliddon, 1997)
- Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
- In memory of Corporal JOSEPH KAEBLE (service/personal details, citation, relevant documents, burial information)
- Legion Magazine Article on Joseph Kaeble
- Find-A-Grave profile for Joseph Kaeble