Remembering the Sevenoaks Anzacs; a visit to the war graves

I’ve written before about some of the Sevenoaks ANZACS. In particular,  George Marshall and his friend, Arnold Jarvis, who emigrated to Australia together in 1912, possibly with another friend, Kenrid Horace Davey. Tina and Robert Higgs are related to Arnold Jarvis and were the first relatives of a man named on the Sevenoaks War Memorial that I met on a glorious summer day in August 2014 when we held a special service at the memorial to remember the outbreak of war, one hundred years to the day. At the time, I hadn’t found any relatives of Arnold’s friend George Marshall and so, during the ceremony, Tina lay a cross to remember George as well as one for Arnold. Since then I’ve been very pleased to meet Tim Marshall, George’s Great Nephew and we’ve all exchanged emails. Tina and Robert have recently visited a number of family First World War graves and have written an account of their visit, including a trip to George’s grave.

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It’s always special for family members to visit the graves of their relatives and I’m pleased to share Tina’s account of their trip in memory of both friends and the sacrifice they made:

My husband and I have recently returned from visiting the WW1 graves in France and Belgium of six of our great-uncles, plus the best friend of one. This was something we had been intending to do for several years and at last we were on our way.

We travelled from our home in Peterborough to France via Eurotunnel, and stayed for a week at a gîte just south of Lille. This was a fairly central location, with the furthest cemetery being 1 hr 10 mins away and the nearest 30 mins. We visited two memorials at Thiepval and Loos (Dud Corner) and five military cemeteries at Bulls Road, Dozinghem, Carnières, Calvaire (Essex) and Dernancourt. The smallest, with only 54 headstones, was in the picturesque village of Carnières and the largest, commemorating over 72,000 men, was Thiepval. The cemeteries were of similar appearance in their design, with a Great Cross, Stone of Remembrance, Grave Register and Visitors’ Book. The book and register were stored in an unlocked metal box in the wall, but there was never any sign of vandalism or graffiti. The cemeteries were all immaculately kept.

Two of the men are remembered on the Sevenoaks War Memorial – Arnold Jarvis and George Marshall. They were best friends who emigrated to Australia in 1912, no doubt full of excitement and optimism for their new lives. They enlisted in the Australian Infantry Force and ended up in France, where they died.

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Headstone of Arnold Jarvis

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Headstone of George Marshall

Another great-uncle, Harry Underwood, is remembered on the Knockholt Memorial. The family lived in Star Hill Road, Chevening, where his father was a gamekeeper.

At Dozinghem we met a young Belgian couple who told us that they often visit the cemetery and feel much love and respect for the men who lost their lives there. This was so heart-warming to hear.

At each grave we laid a small wooden cross and said a prayer. We left for home feeling reassured that our loved ones are at peace and not forgotten.

Since Tina’s visit, further research has led to the discovery of extracts from two letters that Arnold sent home during the war, to the Reverend Thompson at St Mary’s, Kippington, Sevenoaks, which were published in the parish magazine, the first in Spring 1915.

Ulysses. – here I am, really a soldier at last. This is a family large boat, and it is carrying (number censored) of us fellows: we all belong to the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade. None of us have the faintest idea as to our destination, whether it will be England or Egypt. We have just passed Aden and the voyage has been magnificent. we are getting 5s. a day, and 1s. a day deferred pay, and we all put in about ten weeks hard training before we came on board. I am sorry that I must not tell you much of our doings yet, but if we come to England and get a day or two off, of course I shall come up to the Vicarage to see you all. I have not been sea sick and I am quite happy. Do wrote to me often.

A later extract is introduced in the magazine with the news that after 12 weeks silence, a letter had arrived from Arnold, who had been wounded at the Dardanelles and had written from hospital in Egypt.

Heliopolis Hospital

June 8th

I received a slight wound in my leg, it is nothing in itself, but poison or something has got in so I cannot put my foot to the ground, however I hope soon to be out of this, although I am getting very good treatment. We had a very rough time of it for six weeks, with two days in the trenches and two days out all the time. Our Company lost nearly all its non-commissioned officers and several officers before we had been in the firing line an hour. It seemed awful at fist to see ones own friends being shot dead all round you, but afterwards everything seemed natural. I had several very marvellous escapes – in the first half hour a machine gun was turned on us and we had no trenches then, one bullet took a piece out of my trousers and another hit me in the jaw and took half a tooth out, another made a furrow in my leg and I had a piece of shrapnel in my back. I shall never forget it if I live another two centuries. There is a great fascination about it all and I am longing to be back, it is a nuisance to be lying here when there is so much to do, and I want to get back to my pals.

Update: July 2017

Tim Marshall and his three sons, Stuart, Doug and Gary, visited the grave of George Marshall on the centenary of his death on 13th July and later visited the grave of Arnold Jarvis, meaning that both families have now visited the graves of the two friends. A few weeks earlier, Stuart and joined me at the annual ANZAC service at Westminster Abbey to remember his uncle.

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Tim Marshall with his sons at the grave of their Uncle George

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Stuart Marshall and Matthew Ball on ANZAC Day

 

Kenrid Davey – An ANZAC from Sevenoaks

Following my appeal for information relating to any of the Sevenoaks Anzacs, I was pleased to hear from Keith Davey, a great nephew of Kenrid Davey, who was one of six men I had listed from the Sevenoaks area who had emigrated to New Zealand before the outbreak of war.

image003Kenrid Horace Davey

Kenrid Horace Davey was born in Riverhead in late 1888, the son of David Davey and his wife, Elizabeth, known as Lizzie. The 1891 census shows the family living on Chipstead Lane with David working as a plumber and painter; Kenrid was one of six children then living at home. By 1901, the family were living at The Old School House in Chipstead.

Leaving for New Zealand

There is a Horace Davey, aged 24 listed on the passenger list for the Ionie, which departed on 23 May 1912 for New Zealand. It’s possible that this is Kenrid and interesting to note that both George Marshall and Arnold Jarvis were also on board. Like Kenrid, both George and Arnold emigrated and later fought, serving with the AIF, but unlike Kenrid who survived, they are remembered on the Sevenoaks war memorial. It is interesting to speculate that they knew each other and were making the trip together.

Kenrid’s service records show that was working as a butcher when he enlisted and was 5’4″ tall, weighing 155 pounds. He gave his next of kin as his father who by then was living at Saint William’s Villa, Dunton Green, while his nearest relative in New Zealand was his older sister, Phyllis.

He embarked from Wellington on 9 October 1915 as a Rifleman in 1st Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade bound for Suez and served in Egypt for the remainder of 1915 before leaving for the Western Front the following year. He was wounded in his left arm by a shell on 10 September 1917 at Ypres and was invalided to England two weeks later.

His papers show a largely exemplary service record with just three disciplinary incidents: being AWOL for 2 hours in November 1916 (lost 14 days pay), trotting a horse on a cobbled road in January 1917 (lost 7 days pay) and for being without his helmet in March 1917 (lost 8 days pay).

Kenrid returned to New Zealand and died in 1968. His brother, Keith Davey’s grandfather, Sidney Charles Davey, also served having enlisted on 29 August 1914 and joined the Royal Engineers, eventually being promoted to Lieutenant.

image002Sidney Charles Davey

Keith also mentioned that several cousins of Kenrid and Sidney had also lived in the Sevenoaks area and fought during the war, including Horace James Taylor, a cousin through their mother Lizzie’s sister, Emma, who had married Alfred Taylor.

A Cricketing Cousin

Horace Taylor was born in Sevenoaks on the 26 December 1895 and his father, Alfred, would have been well known in the town as a harness and saddle maker. The 1911 census shows the family living at 50-52 London Road (which was also known as Belgrave House) with Horace and his younger brother Alfred listed as being at school and their older sister, Millicent, recorded as an assistant school teacher.

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 14.54.50Horace James Taylor

Both boys attended Sevenoaks School as day boys; Horace could have attended any time between 1904 – 1912  and according to the Sennockian (1922) he left the school in 1912 and became a bank clerk.

Horace enlisted in late August 1914 when he was nineteen, joining the West Kent Yeomanry and saw service with them at Gallipoli and in Egypt before going on to serve in Palestine and France. He served as a Private, albeit holding the rank of corporal for two brief periods. By June 1918 Horace had returned to England to attend a cadet course, and he spent the remainder of the war working at the Larkhill Reception Camp in Wiltshire.

He is named on the Sevenoaks School’s Honour Board, in the 1914 Roll of Honour and on the roll of local serving men in St Nicholas’ Parish Church. His brother, Alfred, also saw service having joined the London Regiment (2nd Battalion) on the outbreak of war, but in 1916 was transferred to the West Riding Regiment (13th Battalion). Both brothers survived the war.

Horace was known for his interest in and talent for cricket, first displayed at School when he played in the First XI 1910 – 1912. He was later a member of the Kent County side between 1922 – 1928. Horace married Doris Austin in Tonbridge in 1935 and lived on until 1961.

Research has shown a further link with one of the men named on the Sevenoaks war memorial. In January 1916 Horace and Alfred’s sister, Millicent, married their former fellow pupil, Arthur Thompson, son of the Sevenoaks Post Office Superintendent.

imageArthur Herbert Thompson

Arthur was killed later that year in the September during the Battle of the Somme. The Sevenoaks School Quarterly obituary speaks of “his young wife, whose courage under her cruel loss has taught us all a lesson of endurance and faith”. Arthur’s brother,  Sidney Ernest Thompson, had died on 25 September 1915 and is buried at Greatness cemetery, Sevenoaks.

My thanks to Keith Davey and Sally Robbins, Archivist at Sevenoaks School, for their invaluable help with this post. Please do get in touch if you have a link to any of the other Sevenoaks Anzacs or men named on the war memorial.

Searching for the Sevenoaks Anzacs

Many men from Sevenoaks and the surrounding area decided, in the early years of the last century, to seek a better life and emigrate, either by themselves or with their families. Some headed to Canada and others to Australia and New Zealand. I have written in my book, Sevenoaks War Memorial, The Men Remembered, about those who were killed while serving with Australian or Canadian forces.

H06329Francis George Carnell

Those who served with the Australian Imperial Force include the oldest man remembered on the war memorial, Francis George Carnell. Francis was born in Sevenoaks in 1859 and had spent time in Africa, serving as a captain in the Cape Mounted Rifles and in peacetime as part of the Cape Mounted Police. He was thirty five when he arrived in Australia and enlisted soon after the outbreak of war on 5 September 1914. Francis was fifty five and serving at Gallipoli when he was shot in the chest in August 1915. He was evacuated to a hospital ship where he died of his wounds three days later.

The other Sevenoaks Anzacs named on the memorial are George Lauder Hutchison Drummond, a Presbyterian who served with 11th Australian Infantry Battalion; friends Arnold Jarvis and George Marshall, who emigrated together in 1912; Frederick Harold Bourne, a sergeant with 13th Australian Infantry Battalion, who was awarded the Military Medal; Frederick Herbert Clouting, a sergeant with 16th Army Service Corps, who was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and George Richter, the last of the Sevenoaks Anzacs to be killed, who was fatally wounded by shellfire in August 1918. As well as the excellent photo of Francis Carnell, I have been able to find newspaper photos of both George Richter and Frederick Bourne and met relatives of Arnold Jarvis and George Marshall. I would very much like to hear from anyone else connected to these men, all of whom have fascinating stories of bravery and sacrifice.

IMG_2038Frederick Bourne

Tracing these men made me curious as to how many others from Sevenoaks made a similar journey and then fought with their adopted country’s forces. Fortunately, the Australian and New Zealand service records have survived in excellent condition, many having been made freely available online and I have been able to compile the list below:

Australia

Thomas James Allen, enlisted 21 February 1917

William Waters Avis, enlisted 26 August 1914

Frank Barton, enlisted September 1915

Henry Blake, from Shoreham, enlisted 1916

Harold Victor Brooker, from Otford, enlisted 22 November 1915

Hildren Berkley Henn, enlisted 25 April 1918

Horace Brooks, enlisted 28 February 1915

John Reginald Carey, enlisted 4 September 1915

Jack Chandler, enlisted 4 September 1914

Eric Duce, enlisted 24 July 1915

William Edgar, enlisted 26 January 1915

Arthur George William Farrants, enlisted 11 January 1915

George Fleet, enlisted 31 May 1916

George Thomas Gorham, enlisted 29 August 1914

William Gorham, enlisted October 1914

Walter Sylvanus Griffin, enlisted 18 March 1916

John Henry Henderson, enlisted 1 April 1916

William John George Kerry, enlisted 1916

George Henry Nevill, enlisted 20 September 1916

Robert Prendergast, enlisted 16 July 1917

Walter James Roots, enlisted 14 July 1915

George Henry Seal, from Chipstead, enlisted 28 January 1916

Horace Simmons, enlisted 29 November 1916

Frederick Walter Standen, enlisted 24 March 1916

John Basil Steane, from Shoreham, enlisted 26 August 1914

John Henry Tester, enlisted 2 March 1916

Cyril Henry Theobald, enlisted 1 March 1916

Charles George Wood, enlisted 26 January 1917

Oscar John Videan, enlisted 7 March 1916

Percy Wallis, enlisted 21 April 1915

Alec Waterhouse, from Brasted, enlisted 1 October 1915

Harry Worship, enlisted 8 September 1914

Together with the only woman I have discovered so far, nurse, Maie St Clair De Lisle.

New Zealand

Henry Bottle

George Holden Clarke, enlisted 1915

Harry Hodgson Cripps, enlisted 1916

Kenrid Horace Davey, enlisted 1915

William James Parsons, enlisted 6 April 1916

No doubt this is not the complete list but it gives an indication of the number of emigrants from Sevenoaks and the surrounding area who fought as Anzacs The youngest, John Henry Tester, was eighteen when he joined up, the eldest were in their forties. Some were invalided, some killed in action and others survived the war. Not all of those killed were commemorated in Sevenoaks or on nearby memorials, perhaps because they had emigrated with their entire families and there was no one left behind to ensure that their names were added. Some interesting stories have already emerged, such as that of Alec Waterhouse, who had a remarkable war. He was wounded in battle in France and taken prisoner. He escaped from PoW camp twice before making it back to the family home in Brasted. He related the whole story of his capture and escapes to a UK parliamentary group after the war and I am researching the full transcripts of his submission and that of a comrade who escaped with him. His brother William (Jack) also served with AIF and was wounded in battle. There are also photos of Alec and others of the men, such as Walter James Roots, a carpenter who was nearly fifty when he enlisted but gave his age as forty four.

500-3Walter James Roots

As we approach Anzac Day on 25 April and the hundredth anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign, I hope to hear from anyone with a connection to these men and women. All of them took the decision to leave Sevenoaks and seek a better or at least a different way of life in Australia and New Zealand. Later, they took the decision to enlist and crossed half way around the world once again to fight in the war. There is no doubting their bravery and I would be thrilled to hear from anyone who has a connection to any of these names.