Private SPTS/4774, 23rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers.
Killed in action 27th July 1916, age 20.
Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
Student of textiles.
Kenneth was born in Coventry in 1896. He completed his secondary education at Bablake School before attending the Technical Institute in Coventry. Having successfully completed his course at the Technical Institute, Kenneth found work as a clerk in a textile works. Academically minded and keen to forge a career in the textile trade, Kenneth sat and passed the entrance exam at the School of Technology in Manchester in 1914 to complete a BSc in Textiles; a position he was preparing to take up when war was declared.
During the course of his studies, Kenneth resided at Hulme Hall. After his death, Kenneth’s mother wrote to the Rev Nicklin, the Warden at the time,saying; “During the time he was in Manchester he appeared to have been very happy at the Hall and he many times said how much he appreciated your kindness and advice whilst residing there.” That Kenneth enjoyed his time at the Hall reflected in his studies as he received first class passes in the City and Guild of London Institute Technology examinations in 1915 for Cotton Spinning and Cotton Weaving. When starting in Manchester he also enrolled in the OTC. After the exams Kenneth developed appendicitis and for a period was left very weak. From December 1915 he went into the works of Messrs. Levinstein, a dye firm, as a chemist. Upon recovering fully, he enlisted with the 30th Battalion Royal Fusiliers.
In June 1916 after completing his training, Kenneth was posted to France to join the 23rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers who were operating near the Somme. Despite the Battle of the Somme raging from 1st July, the Battalion were located in a particularly quiet section of the front line for the first ten days of the month.
As casualties began to mount, the Battalion were called upon to provide support, arriving on the Somme on 20th July. After further training and preparation they received orders that they were to take part in an attack on Delville Wood on the morning of 27th July. There had been fierce fighting in the woods for almost two weeks, with the South African Army particularly taking severe casualties. The initial attack was launched at 7.30am, by 9am they had captured a line 50 yards from the northern perimeter of the woods. The Battalion soon came under heavy enemy resistance. At some point during the subsequent fighting, Kenneth and a fellow Private were sent back to Battalion Headquarters with an urgent message. Under heavy shelling they scrambled out of the relative safety of the trenches and made their way back across the shattered woodland through which they had just advanced. It was the last time they would be seen alive.
As Kenneth’s body was never recovered, his parents duly received a telegram informing then that he had been reported as Missing in Action. It was six months later that his parents received news confirming Kenneth’s death, having met up with a wounded colleague of Kenneth’s in hospital who confirmed he had seen him killed. In a latter the the Hulme Hall warden in January 1917 Kenneth’s mother said: “Despite not wanting to stop his studies, Kenneth felt the need to do his bit by enlisting and was trying to look on the bright side of things, hoping to soon be able to return to his studies.”