A studio portrait of Ryochi Kobayashi in military uniform; Vancouver, BC in 1916.
During the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a three-day ordeal that began on April 9, 1917, more than 7,000 Canadians died and 3,598 Canadians were wounded including Kobayashi, who was shot in the left arm.
Kobayashi was sent to Ramsgate Hospital in England where he was wounded again during an air raid attack before being being sent back to Canada and honourably discharged on May 17, 1918.
During The Second World War Kobayashi, his wife Masako and his children were sent to the Tashme internment camp where they had 2 more Children. When the War ended, they were given a choice — move east of the Rockies or be ‘repatriated’ to Japan.
Kobayashi chose Japan.
In May 1946, they and their seven Canadian-born children were among the first of the 3,964 “repatriates” to leave Canada. They went to Ryoichi’s birthplace, Hiroshima, which only a few months earlier had been devastated by a nuclear bomb.
At the start of the Korean War, Ryoichi and his four sons applied to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces. Ryoichi was rejected because of his age, but his sons were among the nearly 40 repatriated Japanese-Canadians who were accepted. By 1955, their son Yukata had been posted to Western command in Edmonton and two years later, the rest of the family returned to Canada.
Ryoichi applied for citizenship and was rejected by the presiding judge because of his poor English. Yukata, who had accompanied his father, challenged the decision. Pointing to the insignia pinned on his father’s lapel, Yukata explained that his father was a Canadian veteran of the First World War.
The judge relented.