Oct 29, 2013

Ernest Cockbill KENDRICK - KIA 6th April 1918


Ernest Cockbill Kendrick was born in South Melbourne in September 1897. He is the fourth son of Mary Caroline Cockbill and Alfred John Kendrick and was always known as "Jack".
 
on 18th October 1915, Jack enlisted in the AIF at Melbourne and was allocated to the 46th Battalion and given service number 2415. He was 18 years and one month of age, he was 5' 5" tall, had blue eyes and had light brown hair.

He did most of his training at the Broadmeadows camp prior to his departure on board the HMAT ANCHISES in March 1916.


above: Troops waiting to board HMAT Anchises, Port Melbourne, March 1916


As part of the 12th Brigade of the 4th Australian Division, the 46th Battalion arrived in France on 8 June 1916, destined for the Western Front....


above: map showing area where Sailly le Sec is located.


At 3.00pm on  2nd July 1916, Jack Kendrick, along with the rest of the 46th Battalion - including Ray Bartram and Jim Clegg - marched onto Sailly, a distance of 7 miles. It was here that they encountered heavy enemy artillery and shelling. 

On 11th July they were still in the trenches where the 46th Battalion occupied the front line.

by the 4th August the 46th participated in it's first major battle at Pozieres......

The Battle of Pozières was a two week struggle for the French village of Pozières and the ridge on which it stands, during the middle stages of the 1916 Battle of the Somme.




29 August 1916 the 46th Battalion were in Albert through till early September.  The weather at this time was extremely wet, with very heavy rain commencing on 29th about mid-day & cont'd without stopping till 31st. Trenches being waist deep in mud and water.

Albert was the main town behind the lines for the Allies nearest to the 1916 Somme battlefields. It lies on the main D929 road that runs east to Bapaume across the Somme battlefields, and west to Amiens in the other direction (although the D929 now diverts to the south around Albert, the original road still runs through it).



None of us can imagine what these men went through, day after day, week after week. Even months, crawling through muddy trenches, often waist deep in thick mud, most times climbing over their mates that had been either gassed or bombed. Such devastation for these young men to witness. Not able to 'go home' for a well cooked meal or even a decent nights sleep!  

At the end of September in 1916, the Battalion made an unsuccessful raid  consisting of 3 Officers & 46 other ranks against Hollandscheshuur Farm Salient.Very little is written of some of these 'smaller battles', nevertheless they were just as ruthless as any other.


Mid November 1916, the 46th were back in the front line again, this time at Fricourt, about three miles due east of Albert....

above:
Looking towards Fricourt and Fricourt Wood. WW1
  (image off the Flickr site)


the following from the 46th Bn diary:

Battalion marched from Fricourt at 8:00am and reached Bernafay Wood at 11:30am where it rested and proceeded to the front line at 1:30pm. marching in platoon via Delville Wood to positions NW and SE of Guerdecourt and relieved the 12th Battalion.

Companies were led across the open in the dark to their positions, the going was very bad owing to many disused trenches, shell holes and wire. Intermittent shelling was experienced throughout the operation but no less was sustained during actual advance and relief was completed without loss but some casualties were experienced, among which it is much regretted was Captain F. O. Purnell. O. C. "C" Company and officer of great promise who was killed.

The state of the trenches were very bad owing to the recent wet, these were impassable at first but were gradually improved.

No cooking was possible on the front line but a certain amount was done in "Tommy Cookers" and on Braziers in Support Lines. Owing to the fact that all supplies had to be brought 5 miles on pack animals nightly, much difficulty was experienced in obtaining anything except actual rations and water.


above: Such was the use of horses on the Western Front that over 8 million died on both sides fighting in the war. Two and a half million horses were treated in veterinary hospitals with about two million being cured enough that they could return to duty. 

Charcoal was too bulky to be carried and the use of wood was not advisable as any smoke immediately caused hostile shelling, the whole position being under enemy observation.

From 12th to 16th weather was fine and dry with severe frost on nights of 15th and 16th. On the latter night there was a slight fall of snow which turned to sleet and rain early on 17th and the wet continued for 24 hours making conditions in trenches "very bad".

on the 18th November: Jack was
admitted to 5th Aust Field Ambulance with Trench Feet.



With regards the health of the troops, there were a large number of cases of sickness including bronchitis, influenza, rheumatism, but very few were serious. There being no accommodation for sick in the line a large number had to be evacuated, but were only away for a few days. Sickness was caused by lack of shelter and hot food in most cases which was unfortunately unavoidable. Stringent precautions were taken to combat TRENCH FEET with satisfactory results. Number of cases of this was under 2%.

ABOVE: TRENCH FEET:Trench foot is a medical condition caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to damp, unsanitary, and cold conditions. The use of the word trench in the name of this condition is a reference to trench warfare, mainly associated with World War I. Affected feet may become numb, affected by erythrosis (turning red) or cyanosis (turning blue) as a result of poor vascular supply, and feet may begin to have a decaying odour due to the possibility of the early stages of necrosis setting in. As the condition worsens, feet may also begin to swell. Advanced trench foot often involves blisters and open sores, which lead to fungal infections; this is sometimes called tropical ulcer (jungle rot).

If left untreated, trench foot usually results in gangrene, which can cause the need for amputation. If trench foot is treated properly, complete recovery is normal, though it is marked by severe short-term pain when feeling returns. As with other cold-related injuries, trench foot leaves sufferers more susceptible to it in the future


Just six weeks later, by 3rd January 1917, the 46th had once again arrived at Fricourt, where they stayed until the end of the month.
The winter of 1916 / 1917 was long, wet, cold and miserable and many suffered with the cold and of course frostbite and trench feet.  By the 26th March 1917, Jack was admitted to the 1st Australian General Hospital with frostbite, but 5 days later he was transferred to the 3rd London General Hospital with a severe case of Trench Feet. He was in hospital for three months and not discharged from hospital until 19th June.

In the meantime the 46th went on to battle in the Battle of Messines, which took place from 7th through till the 14th June 1917.

Jack stayed in England and did not rejoin his unit in France until 24th December 1917.

some notes from the diary of the 46th Battalion...

New Years Day - 1st January 1918 - found the 46th Battalion still near Peronne and was made the occasion of a holiday for the men, but the Officers spent the morning in making a reconnaissance of ground for a Brigade scheme, which was to eventuate the next day, 2nd January.

2nd January: The air was clear and the ground covered with snow, but the going was good.

10th January: ... the Battalion marched to Godewaersvelde, again the roads were slippery with many steep inclines and men constantly fell.

13th January: Snow and icy winds prevailed.

16th January: Rain fell and a thaw set in - everything turned to mud. Trenches and saps fell in and the shelters of the men were flooded.

17th January: Rain and snow making things very uncomfortable.

31st March 1918: The day passed quietly, both sides doing a little shelling, we more than the hun. One shell landed in our support trench killing two men and wounding four others including Lieut. R. F. Foster of "B" Company. This Officer has since lost his leg and the Battalion lost a keen young Officer.

1st April 1918: ..... at 8:30am without any preliminary bombardment, the enemy attacked Battalion left flank.

2nd April 1918: Enemy aircraft were very lively today, flying low over our lines. We do not seem to have as many anti-aircraft guns as the enemy.

3rd April 1918: at 8:10am the enemy opened a heavy bombardment on our lines and followed it up by a spirited infantry attack.

4th April 1918: Rain fell at intervals during the day and the men were far from comfortable.  At midnight 4th/5th word was received to be ready at a moment's notice as there were indications of an enemy attack next morning.

5th April 1918: the Battalion was on the move to reserve trenches at Lavielle at 6:30am. We had barely arrived at our destination before the enemy barrage came down.


Two light draught horses and two mules killed by shell fire in Henencourt.

By 7:50pm we were on the move again and relieved the remainder of the Brigade in the front line.

During the day the enemy had taken possession of the  railway line, so our front line now ran from E.8 central ......

The relief was rendered strenuous on account of the mud which made progress slow, but it was completed by 12.15am. The 49th Battalion was on our right and joined up and on our left was a regiment of the 12th Division. The 45th, 47th, and 48th formed supports and reserves.
 


6th April 1918:
at Lavielle
.... meanwhile orders were received from Brigade to advance the right company and occupy a particular trench. There were conflicting opinions as to whether it was occupied or not by the enemy, also as to the distance it was from our present position.

Lieut. Bull and two scouts went out to reconnoitre, (?) but all three were wounded, and it was almost daylight when the Officer was brought in. The trench was occupied and held at least one Machine Gun.......

7th April 1918: when darkness set in, we were relieved by the 22nd and 23rd Battalions, the relief being complete by midnight and the Battalion marched to St. Laurent Farm near Bresle.

Our casualties during the whole period in the line were 1 Officer, 49 O/R killed, 10 Officers wounded and 117 O/R wounded. The proportion of killed is high, but it was due mostly to Artillery and T.M. fire both of which are more deadly than fire from rifles. 

* O/R: Other Ranks.

above map shows the area's of Lavielle (red) & Bresle (purple) and where "Jack" Kendrick was killed..

on reading the Battalion diaries for this time frame I came across the menu for the month of April:




assuming his last meal would have been breakfast on the 6th, he would have had Boiled Bacon and a cup of tea!

meals for the previous day (5th April) were:

Breakfast:  "meal destroyed by shell fire"
Lunch:        Dry Rations
Dinner:       Stew and a cup of tea.

Ernest Cockbill Kendrick
is remembered at the
Villers-Bretonneux Memorial
and at the
Australian War Memorial
for all time.





In November 1921, the mother of Ernest Cockbill Kendrick received a letter from the Australian Imperial Force Office, requesting information on the identification of his Next of Kin so that the War Medals can be disposed of properly. She returned the letter immediately with the following words scribbled across the face of it:

My husband has not been heard of for eight years - I am legally separated from him. Mary Kendrick.






The following family members were attached to the 
46th Battalion and prior to WW1 
were unknown to each other.

 

Raymond Everard Bartram....... KIA 07 June 1917

Ernest Cockbill Kendrick .......... KIA 06 April 1918

James Herbert Clegg ............... KIA 02 July 1917


  Raymond and James fought in all three of the  following battles.
Ernest fought at Pozieres and Sailly-le-Sec.

Battles of Pozieres, Messines, and Sailly-le-Sec.




LEST WE FORGET

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with grateful thanks to the Australian War Memorial and the National Archives of Australia for allowing family history researchers and general public access to their data of which most can be found on this blog.


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3 comments:

  1. Wonderful. I am enjoying the series and understand how much work goes in to them. Great presentation and very well written.

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  2. So well presented Leone, especially the image of the ship over the sea. It was hell on earth for Ernest and the others.

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  3. Hard to read but so important that we do NOT forget the hardships these boys and young men went through. I too am enjoying reading them although I've been in tears more than once. Thank you for sharing.

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