James Kenneth Forbes was born April 16, 1892 at Inverness, Scotland, the son of James and Isabella Forbes of Stratton, Broadstone Park, Inverness, Scotland. While in Scotland James trained in the Royal Insurance Company office in Queen's Gate. Around 1913 he left Inverness for Toronto, having received an appointment in the Imperial Bank. As a result of his business abilities, he won a promotion to the Imperial Bank in Revelstoke, where he worked as a discount clerk.
James Forbes was one of 25 men from Revelstoke who were accepted into the Second Canadian Contingent. He signed his enlistment papers on November 9, 1914 at Victoria. His regimental number was 51155. He was 22 years old, single, 5’ 9 ½” tall, fair hair and grey eyes. His religious affiliation was Presbyterian. He claimed to have five years of military experience with the Royal Horse Artillery. In January 1915 James Forbes, along with Walter Robinson and other Revelstoke men, were chosen to reinforce the Princess Patricia Regiment which was already on the front line in France. The Princess Patricia was the only fully equipped and combat ready regiment in the Canadian Army at the beginning of the war. They proceeded into the front line ahead of the First Contingent of Canadian Volunteers.
James Forbes died on April 22, 1915 at the Second Battle of Ypres. He, along with Walter Robinson, were the first two men from Revelstoke to die in the First World War. He was 23 years old. At the time of his death he was a Private with the 16th Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Manitoba) Regiment.
The June 5, 1915 edition of the local newspaper carried this news about the heroics of James Forbes:
“Private Forbes and his comrade were in the great charge which the Canadians made, and they had the pleasure of meeting and congratulating each other on being unwounded after passing through the thick of the fighting. On the following day the Germans shelled the Canadians with shrapnel and high explosives. A brave deed was performed by Private Forbes, who saw a comrade fall about 40 yards from his trench. Private Forbes, along with another, got out of the trench, and carried the wounded Canadian, whose leg was broken, into the trench, and helped in rendering first aid. After the severe fighting the Canadians were relieved, and while a party was in the trench, Private Forbes was struck by a piece of shrapnel in the head and died instantly. His death gave great regret to his comrades, who had seen his coolness and daring during the severe fighting.”
The body of James Forbes was never found or identified and his name is memorialized on the Menin Gate (Ypres) Memorial in Belgium. His name appears on both the Courthouse and Cenotaph plaques.