Home Canadian Army Guatemalan Volunteer Fireman Delcompare

Guatemalan Volunteer Fireman Delcompare

Memorial – His name as it is inscribed on the Tower Hill Memorial. The 480 fallen Canadians lost at sea, are honoured on this Memorial. May they never be forgotten. (J. Stephens)

A Remarkable Contribution to Canada and Allies in the First World War

The Latin American community has long been an integral part of Canada’s rich tapestry, contributing to various aspects of Canadian society. In times of conflict, individuals from Latin American countries, including Guatemala, have demonstrated unwavering dedication and bravery by serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. This article pays tribute to the remarkable contributions of Fireman Arnulfo Delcompare, a Guatemalan who volunteered during the First World War. He died on 15 March, 1918 at the age of 19 and his story epitomizes the shared values and enduring bond between Latin America and Canada.

During the First World War, the SS Armonia Ship (a Canadian Transport steamship) played a crucial role in supporting Allied efforts. This vessel, equipped with a powerful 1X3-cylinder triple expansion engine, was an essential link in the transatlantic transportation network. However, tragedy struck on 15 March, 1918, when the SS Armonia fell victim to a German submarine, UC-67, near Porquerolles Island in the Mediterranean. The ship, en route from Genoa to New York in ballast, was torpedoed and sunk resulting in the loss of several lives including Fireman Delcompare.

The 8 casulaties were: Fireman Abdullah Muhammad (SS Armonia, Indian Merchant Service), Fireman Ahmad Farid (SS Armonia, Indian Merchant Service), Greaser Conde Jose (SS Armonia, Mercantile Marine, born in Spain), Fireman Delcompare Arnulfo (SS Armonia, Mercantile Marine, born in Guatemala), Fireman Japsa Caid (SS Armonia Mercantile Marine Born at Aden), Second Engineer Mercer William (SS Armonia, Mercantile Marine, born in Cork), Fireman Muhammad Sumali (SS Armonia, Indian Merchant Service), Master Watson J.C. ( SS Armonia, Canadian Merchant Navy).

Among the casualties of the SS Armonia sinking was Fireman Delcompare, a valiant Guatemalan soldier. Fireman Delcompare, born in Guatemala, selflessly served in the Mercantile Marine and demonstrated immense bravery in the face of adversity. His role as a fireman required him to maintain the bunkers close to the stokehold and boiler room, ensuring the efficient firing of furnaces and the proper functioning of the ship. Firemen like Delcompare also had the arduous task of clearing ash and maintaining the fires to sustain the ship’s speed and performance. Their essential role in keeping the engines running was vital for the vessel’s success.

Through the First World War, the Canadian and Allied merchant ships and mariners of the Merchant Navy played a crucial role in transporting personnel, munitions, weapons, and food to Great Britain and Europe. This massive undertaking involved navigating treacherous waters, evading German U-Boats and mines that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Allied personnel and thousands of ships. Canada’s Grand Armada, in October, 1914, saw over 31,000 troops transported on 31 ocean liners escorted by Royal Navy warships as they sailed for England. In the face of this daunting challenge, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Merchant Navy rose to the occasion, with the former expanding significantly and the latter overcoming shortages to bravely serve their country and fight for freedom abroad.

Fireman Delcompare’s story represents the courage and sacrifice of Guatemalans and the wider Latin American community who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces. Their contributions to Canada’s military history exemplify the strong bond between Latin America and Canada, founded on shared values and a commitment to defending the principles of justice and freedom. It is crucial to honor and remember individuals like Fireman Delcompare, whose selflessness and bravery serve as an inspiration to future generations. Memorials, such as the Tower Hill Memorial in London, United Kingdom stand as a testament to the fallen Canadian seafarers, including Fireman Delcompare. Let us pay tribute to these remarkable individuals who have played an indelible role in shaping Canada’s history and defending its values.

By: Captain Rey Garcia-Salas