Herbert Charles Kendall (1883 to 1918)
(My Great Grandfather)
Herbert (Bert) Kendall, circa
spring 1915, outside the Heath and Reach Weslyan church, Bedfordshire.
Herbert's pre war life.
Herbert Charles Kendall was born on 11 December 1883
at 10 School Lane in Kettering, Northamptonshire. He was known locally
as Bert, his family being:
George Thomas Clarke Kendall (Herbert's
father, left). George was born in Orton, Northamptonshire
to Charlotte Dorcas Kendall, later Pinnock (who passed away
on the 3rd February 1899) and an unrecorded father. George
started his working life as a farm labourer in Orton, near
Rothwell before he found work in the growing shoe industry
in Kettering, working as a 'Shoe Presser' and later a 'Bussman
Shoe trader'. By 1901 he was the owner of The Woolpack Inn,
4 Horse Market, Kettering (now called Henry's). George owned
several properties in the town, living in 56 Russell Street
in Kettering - fifty yards from the Stonemasons Herbert worked
at - where he remained until his death on the 28th January
1927. George was 71 (the same age his wife was when she passed)
and is buried in the Kettering cemetery, next to his mother
and eldest son.
Martha Annie Kendall (Herbert's
mother, left). Martha was born in Kettering, the daughter
of Samuel Roughton - a prominent local musician, who's statue
can still be seen in Kettering today. Martha died Saturday
19th March 1932 aged 71, and was buried with her husband the
day before the 14th anniversary of their second son's death
Norton Kendall (Herbert's brother, middle of group photograph).
Harry was born 4th December 1882, the eldest Kendall boy!
He lived at 56 Russell Street in Kettering from sometime after
the Great War until his death in 1945. Harry was buried alongside
Charlotte (his Grandmother) and next to his parents, 30 years
to the day that Herbert was operated on in Egypt following
his wound on Gallipoli, and Harry's descendants lived in the
same house until recently. His widow, Eleanor Ellen Kendall
lived until December 1971, when she was buried with him, aged
John (Jack) Roughton Kendall (Herbert's
brother, left side of group photograph). Jack was born around
December 1885. The third son, he married Georgina Brewer from
Hertfordshire and worked as an Engineer before, during (at
Rolls Royce) and after the war. Their son, Maurice Kendall
became one of the most prominent Statisticians of his time,
writing 'Kendall's advanced theory of Statistics' amongst
many other titles, which was revised many times and is still
used as a core text even today. In 1974 Maurice was knighted
and six years later received the Peace Medal for his work
on the world fertility survey.
William (Will) Thomas Kendall (Herbert's
brother, right side of group photograph). Will was born 2nd
March 1899 and was conscripted into the army in April 1917,
once he reached service age. He served as Private G/25909
with the 10th battalion, the Queens Regiment and survived
the war despite being wounded. He was demobilised in January
1919 and returned to civilian life. By 1932 he was married
to Lou and lived in Sutton but I have not traced him definitively
beyond there, although it appears he worked in hospitals after
the war and moved to South Wales at some stage.
George Kendall (Herbert's brother,left). Ernest was born
25th April 1887 in Kettering, and worked as a barber in his
early working life until he went to America in June 1909.
He returned to England and married Mabel Helen Driver in Kettering
late in 1910. The couple lived in King's Norton, Birmingham
initially, where they had their sons John Roughton Kendall
(named after Ernest's brother) in 1911 and Ivan Kendall in
1913. Ernest returned to America in 1914 and his family followed
in August 1915. In June 1917 Ernest enlisted into the American
Army who had joined the war but did not serve abroad. They
lived in Newburgh, New York, where Ernest worked for the Underwood
Typewriter Company. By 1930 they owned their home and Ernest
was a Commercial Traveller for the same firm. In WW2 Ernest
was again drafted, at which time he lived in New Jersey and
the couple passed away in 1970, in Florida.
By 1901 Herbert was a 'Stone Cutter', later
a 'Stonemason' and eventually a 'Stonemason Journeyman' who worked
for Cox's Stonemasons (who are still on St. Peters Avenue in Kettering
today). His brother Jack was a noted amateur performer and actor
and Herbert himself enjoyed performing light opera, notably Gilbert
and Sullivan. Whether they performed together or not is open to
the distance from her home, his future wife worked "in service"
for a vicar in Kettering, where it would appear they met.
On 11th September 1909, Herbert married
Ellen Elizabeth Hack (pictured left around 1930, long
after Herbert's death in action) from Heath (now called Heath
and Reach), near Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire.
They married in the Heath Parish Church,
where Herbert is standing in front of with three of his children
in the top picture.
During their marriage they had four children:
Elizabeth Kendall (my Grandmother, pictured left in June
1954 after her only son had returned from the Korean War).
Annie was born 3rd March 1910. Although some documents record
her birth at Lanes End, Heath and Reach, Leighton Buzzard,
Bedfordshire, it is possible that she was born in Eastbourne,
Sussex, probably whilst her father was working there as a
Stonemason Journeyman. She lived in Linslade and Leighton
Buzzard her entire life and died 19th February 1981 at Rothschild
Road, Linslade, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, aged 70. She
is the eldest child, on the right, on the photo at the top
of the page.
Hilda Georgina Kendall was born
9th October 1911 at No. 2 Clifton Villas, Cromwell Road, Cold
Ash, Newbury, Berkshire, probably whilst her father worked
in the area. Hilda survived a childhood attack of Meningitis
and lived her life in Leighton Buzzard and Great Brickhill
areas of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. She can be seen
on the left in the photo at the top of the page.
Herbert George Kendall, born 20th
December 1913 in Heath and Reach and died 22nd December 2003
outside the Leighton Buzzard library in Bedfordshire, aged
90. George as he was known, is the baby in the pram in the
photo at the top of the page and lived much of his life in
Evelyn Kendall was born 13th December
1915 (the same birth date as my daughters) and died 26th October
1975, aged 59. I do not know much about Evelyn, although I
believe she owned a wool shop in Enfield or North London at
some stage in the 1960's or 1970's.
Herbert's service in the Great War
Herbert enlisted into the army very early in September 1914, aged
almost 31. He went to the newly opened Recruiting Office in Leighton
Buzzard and initially served in D Company (Dunstable and Leighton),
of the 5th Battalion of The Bedfordshire Regiment.
is shown on the left early in their training, in a group photograph
of D Company. Below and to the left as you look appears to be his
brother-in-law, Joe Hack, although this is unconfirmed.
Once recruitment swelled their ranks, a reserve battalion was formed
and, because he was just over the standard age limit for overseas
service, Bert was transferred into the 2nd/5th (Reserve) Battalion.
In early 1915, the age parameters were changed and Herbert was moved
back into the 1st/5th battalion, where would see 3 years of service.
The Battalion started its training in Romford, but was stationed
at Bury St Edmunds from September 1914 until Easter Monday 1915,
after which they marched to Norwich. Following a brief stay there,
they marched to St Albans for their final training, and it was whilst
stationed here that they conducted their 'Farewell to the County'
march in July 1915, before being sent overseas. They sailed from
Devonport, Plymouth on Monday 26th July 1915, and Herbert's Medal
Index Card shows he entered the war on Tuesday 10th August 1915,
landing on the Island of Mudros, the British entry point to the
Herbert served in Gallipoli in the Machine Gun Section of the
1st/5th Bedfordshire Battalion,
162nd Brigade, 54th Division from September 1914 until wounded in
October 1915. The Battalion acquitted themselves with noted gallantry
and lost almost 50% of their number in their attack
along the Kiretch Tepe Ridge 15th August 1915 but were involved
in no other major offensive actions in Gallipoli.
From 29th September to 2nd December, the Battalion was posted
into the North ANZAC Sector to hold the line opposite Sandbag Ridge
and Hill 60. During October 1915 scenes of the bloodiest hand to
hand fighting were recorded during repeated night raids on a Turkish
outpost in No-Man's Land called 'Bulgar Bluff'. The position fell
and was retaken repeatedly over the weeks, during which time Herbert
was wounded in the stomach. Battalion strength in the War Diary
was recorded as 256 on 31st October, having lost over 800 soldiers
since landing in August - less than 200 would be left by the time
they were evacuated from the peninsular.
On 30th October 1915, Herbert was operated on in No. 5 Canadian
Stationary Hospital, Cavalry Barracks, Arbassia (Alexandria, Egypt)
by Lt-Col. Etherington and returned to his Battalion some months
later, after convalescing. 1916 was an uneventful year, spent mostly
in rebuilding the shattered Battalion and defending the desert outposts
around the Suez Canal. 1917 saw the campaign resume and something
around this time appears to have returned Herbert home. Although
unspecified, this appears to be an adverse reaction to an operation
and could have been the result of an illness, injury or wound.
When fit for active service again in January 1918, Herbert was
transferred into the Lewis Gun section of the 7th
Battalion, The Bedfordshire Regiment of the 54th Brigade,
18th (Eastern) Division in France. He spent a brief period in the
dreaded, uncomfortable Houlthulst Forest sector, north of Ypres,
during the depth of winter. Within days or a few weeks at the most,
his battalion moved from the northern most sector of the line to
the southern most sector, as a result of the British army taking
over a new part of the Western Front from their French allies.
On 21st March 1918, the German army launched a massive offensive
against the thin, overstretched line of General Gough's Fifth Army.
Herbert and the 7th Battalion were involved in the heavy fighting
during the opening phases of "Operation
Michael", and stubbornly held the Crozat Canal in the area
south of St Quentin, between Mennessis and Jussy.
Late in the morning of 23rd March, the ever shrinking 54th Brigade
was ordered to fall back onto a ridge east of Faillouel, which they
held between 1pm and 4pm. On receiving further withdrawal orders,
they were caught in the village by the rampant German forces that
had already broken through around Jussy to their north and taken
the village, all but destroying the 11th Battalion of the Royal
Fusiliers in the process. By the end of 23rd March, the entire Brigade
could muster around 400 men from its initial strength of 2,500,
but fought on.
Herbert Charles Kendall falls in action, 23rd March
After enduring 3 and a half years of war in
6 different countries, Herbert was killed in action Saturday 23rd
March 1918, around Faillouel, as the Bedford's stubbornly fought
their way out of German encirclement during the desperate British
defence. A full narrative of the battle including maps and photographs
of the battlefield today can be seen here.
Herbert was 34 years old, and left a wife and
4 children. His Service Papers were destroyed during the Blitz of
WW2 and he is one of many thousands of soldiers who has no known
grave. He is commemorated on Panels 28 & 29 of the Pozieres Memorial
to the Missing of the Fifth Army, the Kettering War Memorial, and
is remembered by his Great Grandson every day. Although unconfirmed,
I believe he may lie in the Grand Seracourt cemetery, 8km south-west
of St. Quentin, as around a quarter of the cemetery appears to be
the final resting place of unknown soldiers from the 54th Brigade
who were killed in that battle on that day.
During his service Herbert earned 3 Campaign
Medals; the 1915 Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal, although
they were returned when issued, so were never received by his family.
The only memento of Herbert that has survived - apart from the photograph
- is an Army Issue Field Compass (see below) that found its way
to Herbert's Great Grandson (Steve Fuller) in 2005 - 90 years almost
to the week after Herbert himself found it amongst the debris on
a battlefield in Gallipoli.
90 years on from Herbert's first battle ...
A few weeks after the 90th anniversary of Herbert's
first battle - on the 25th September 2005 and completely out of
the blue - I received an email from a man called Lee who claimed
to have something that belonged to my Great Grandfather. My heart
skipped a beat; it turned out that he had undertaken research for
a lady who wanted to find out about her ancestor in the Great War
and she had given him a few WW1 items in gratitude for his help.
Amongst those items was a Compass from the war. He had spent the
best part of a year trying to locate a relative of the man who had
found it on a battlefield in Gallipoli and written his name on its
90 years on, the writing was still legible
and the Compass and case still in superb condition. The original
owner was Lt A.F. Harding, who I just so happened to have included
a quotation from in my battle write up on the Kiretch Tepe Sirt
action of 15th August 1915. Lt Harding, it seems, served in the
11th London's, lost the compass in the action and it was picked
up by a Private the following day - 16th August 1915. On its case
Pte H.C.Kendall 4400 M.G.S. 1st/5th Beds Regt on One Tree Hill Gallipoli
Peninsula August 16th 1915'
Well, you could have knocked me down
with a feather!
That Wednesday Lee and myself met up
at the National Archives in London and he gave me this most treasured
of possessions! Two six foot plus men fawning over a 90 year old
compass with tears in their eyes must have looked rather bizarre
to onlookers! And there we sat chatting about it, Herbert Kendall,
Lieutenant Harding and various other subjects until research called
us back to the archives.
What can I say about this man (Lee)
that hasn't already been said by my friends and acquaintances? What
a terrific man and a friend for life.
How the compass made it back to Blighty
in one piece and ended up in a barn in Oxfordshire 90 years later
we can only guess for the moment, but there seem to be family connections
between its original owner and the family who's barn it lurked in
for years, with the only other link between Herbert and them being
Machine Guns as all three served in Machine gun sections or Corps.
Whatever route it took, I can only say I'm very pleased it made
its way back!
Lieutenant Alan Francis Harding
As for the original owner - Lt
A.F. Harding - he was wounded in the leg the day Herbert
picked his compass up, so I presume he dropped it when wounded,
although I have no evidence to support that other than the coincidence
of the date. Lieutenant Harding survived the war and led an extremely
full life, becoming a decorated Officer in the Machine Gun Corps.
By 1918 he was Lt-Colonel with a Military Cross to his credit and
died 'Field Marshall', Lord Harding of Petherton' no less, according
to p131 of Richard Holmes's book 'Tommy'.
Having served alongside my Great Grandfather on Gallipoli and
in France in the first war, he served alongside my Grandfather too,
in the British Eighth Army who fought in North Africa and Italy
in the second war of 1939-45. Although unlikely that he knew either
of my ancestors as they would have moved in very different circles,
the odds of them all being in the places they were when they were
must be quite slim!