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Garnett, K.G., Lieut., M.C., Croix de Guerre with Palm (France) 1917

Kenneth Gordon Garnett book (Private Collection)

Kenneth Gordon Garnett book (Private Collection)

Boat race 1914 Garnett 5th seated from the left

On board the HMY Zarifah

Berwick Advertiser Friday 31st August 1917

In the Putney Vale Cemetery is the Commonwealth War Grave of Lieutenant Kenneth Gordon Garnett, serving with the 111th Battery, 24th Brigade, 6th Division Royal Field Artillery who died 22/08/1917.

Kenneth Gordon Garnett was born in Tynemouth on the 30th July 1892, the youngest son of Dr William Garnett, D.C.L., of the The Chestnuts, Branch Hill, Hampstead, London, N.W, (until after 1921) (1911 Redington Road). [was the Principal of the Durham College of Science, Armstrong College], and his wife Rebecca, [née Samways], daughter of the late John Samways of Southsea, Hants, also brother to Lieutenant William Hubert Stuart Garnett.

When he was aged 7, a mission was held at Lyndhurst Road Church in which he went to some meetings with his parents and brothers and sisters, amongst his papers was a card that read:-"I earnestly desire to be a Christian, signed Kenneth Gordon Garnett, 1899. When aged 9, in the summer of 1901, he went to Arolla, where his big brother [James Clark] Maxwell gave him his first lesson in climbing. " I remember how Kenneth insisted on carrying his own rucksac from Evolene, and when we knew he was tired we would try to steal the contents from his sac".

Kenneth ascended the Lyskaan and all four peaks of Monte Rosa in one day, returning to the Riffelalp without showing any sign of fatigue.

Kenneth Gordon Garnett was educated at St Paul's School from 1904 to 1911, (the same school a certain Bernard Law Montgomery attended), as a scholar, then admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge, with a scholarship, as a pensioner on the 25th June 1911. His residence address in 1911, lodging with French professor of physiology, Augustus Waller, was at 32 Grove End Road, St Marylebone.

His two bothers were already scholars of Trinity College, Cambridge, having left St. Paul's School with the top Mathematical (school leaving) Scholarships. Maxwell and Stuart had been both been secretaries of the Public School's Scripture Union, and Ken took up the same work. One of the masters writes:- "I knew him intimately at St Paul's; he was a great help to me in 'E' Club. I admired him immensely and was proud to enjoy his friendship, which I was hoping would ripen as time went on. His intellectual and athletic attainments alone would have made him notable, but I admired and loved him most for his winning personality and his Christian character."

Here he obtained a First Class in Mathematic Tripos in 1912, resulting in a B.A.

In his second and third years Kenneth would spend much of his time on the river, and reading for his Mechanical Sciences Tripos, resulting in rowing in the College Eights in 1913, which his boat went a head of the Lents, then stroked the Clinker Fours to victory, with his best friend J.A Ritson, and rowed in the May Races. Then rowed at Henley helping to win the Ladies Plate for the First Trinity, and in the Light Fours, then at Ely was selected for the 'Varsity' boat race in 1914.

The race took place on 28 March and Cambridge won by 4½ lengths, time 20 minutes and 23 seconds, Oxford 39, Cambridge 31, ending a run of five Oxford victories.

'There was a nice breeze from the south with a touch of east in it. Both rowed 38 at the start, and though Oxford led at first, Cambridge were level at the end of a minute. Soon after Oxford got ragged and Cambridge gained fast, were clear at the Mile, two lengths ahead at Hammersmith, winning in the end by four and a half lengths.'

[The Cambridge crew consisted of Bow D I Day. 11.6. 2, S. E. Swann. 11.13. 3. P. C . Livingston. 13.7, 4. J. A Ritson. 13.7, 5. K. G. Garnett. 13.12, 6. C. S. Clark. 13.1, 7. C. E. V. Buxton. 12.21/2, Stroke G. E. Tower. 11.12, Cox L. E. Ridley. 8.7,. Five members of this crew would die in World War 1. Also note that K.G. Garnett is the heaviest of all the crew. Oxford Bow R. W. Fletcher was also killed in action.]

His great-great nephew, Tobias Garnett rowed no 4 for Cambridge in 2008.

In July 1914, he sailed with his brother William Hubert Stuart Garnett in the ketch 'Idler' to Norway and other Cambridge rowing men who had been at Henley. He reached Stavanger at 1 a.m. in a fog after 36 hours of very rough weather off the Norwegian Coast. The Harbour Master remarked that he could understand such a crew crossing the North Sea, but he could not understand how they got into Stavanger without a pilot in such weather. Almost immediately after the return of the party from Norway war was declared, a Mr Steane Price of Hampstead, lent William his brother, the steam yacht 'Zarefah' of 279 tons.

Kenneth then joined Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and Mercantile Marine Reserve, as an Able Seaman - PZ/2812, he also secured for his brother a crew from his rowing friends to man the steam yacht, two of William's friends were members of the Royal Cruising Club, appointed as officers, to man the vessel. They then offered their service's to the Admiralty. It was first intended that the 'Zarefah' (ex‑MARETANZA V), should serve as a Hospital tender to the North Sea fleet, but when there seemed to be little chance of 'scraps' in the North Sea, she was transferred to mine sweeping duties. Pendant No O.

His brother William was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander Royal Naval Reserve, Kenneth, now Able Seaman (AB PZ/2812), Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, and the other Cambridge men served under him as A. B.'s and petty officers. The 'Zarefah' soon became the flagship of the Mine-sweeping Admiral to the North Sea. One of her principle duties was to chart the minefields for the Grand Fleet. She was entrusted with the duty of guiding the mine-sweepers and buoying the Channel in front of Nieuport for the safety and guidance of the monitors on the night preceding the bombardment of that port in December 1914. On that occasion spent three hours within a mile of the German Guns on [the] Nieuport coast.

Ushaw Magazine Some Humours of Mine Sweeping by Edward Charlton, page 214 to 219, confirms the following story : At the beginning of the war, permission was obtained from the Admiralty by some yachtsmen to fit out a vessel for Naval work, and a small yacht was provided at once by a patriotic gentleman for this purpose. The officers held commissions in the R.N. Volunteer Reserve, and the crew consisted mainly of Cambridge undergraduates, small yacht owners and rowing men. In fact, she could man her lifeboat with men who had pulled that year at Henley, including one from the winning 'Varsity' eight in 1914

Their experience were strange at first, as the Coastal Officers, not being properly acquainted with their standing, and she having no Naval books or acquirements, the vessel was promptly arrested and lodged in a safe harbour until the Senior Officer on visiting her discovered that one of the Able Seaman was a near relative of his.

This vessel afterwards did exceedingly good work as Flagship of Mine Sweepers until relieved by a larger vessel belonging to a French Duke. The crew of gentleman, for these were a J.P., and millionaires' sons amongst the A.B.'s., were indeed a pleasure to serve with, once the peculiarities of the situation had been mastered.

In January 1915, the crew were dispersed and with their Commander were transferred to the 'Sagitta' a much larger yacht.

Kenneth obtained a commission in the Royal Field Artillery [111th Battery, 24th Brigade], on the 27th of January 1915. Went to France on the 3rd February and was stationed near La Bassee. He was accidentally shot in the leg on the 26th February and was admitted to the 7th Stationery Hospital, and returned to London on the 3rd March 1915. After six weeks in the Nursing Home, Bruton Street, with a badly fractured tibia, he was given six weeks out on crutches. He immediately arranged to go to Trinity, and occupied a set of ground floor rooms, and keep a term, and if possible, get his degree. At the end of the six weeks he took his degree in honours in the Mechanical Sciences Tripos, and received as a Blue, [the colour of the uniform wounded/hospitalised would wear], a wounded soldier, and a dearly loved friend, a great ovation in the Senate House, where he appeared in Khaki.

He was offered three home appointments from the Government, tempted that he was, he turned them down. Replying:- "I could not stay at home and have married man fighting for me."

Kenneth left England on the 16th October 1915 with John Deverell, whom he called "the boy." His letters are full of gaiety, but never complained of hardship. He said his rations were quite good. A non smoker and did not drink, as he said, he did not acquire the taste. He was stationed around Ypres during the winter of 1915/16. On the 19th December 1915 Sunday he wrote a letter to his mother:-" Mr Dear Mother....We had an interesting experience this morning, which might easily have ended tragically; as it was, it has merely prepared us, so that we shall be safe next time, praise God. However it was not pleasant. At 5-30 am. the enemy machine guns started making a beastly noise, and soon afterwards Blakemore, our Captain, came into my room in a tremendous hurry-"gas attack, tumble out quickly-helmets on." So I shoved on a coat and a pair of gun boot, a helmet and dashed out to the guns. We had already opened fire when I got there, but the sentry had not warned the men that it was a gas attack-as a result they all got a dose before they returned to put their helmets. I couldn't get the beastly tube mouth piece for exhaling to work-the rubber had stuck-and so I soon got in a bad way. Meanwhile most of my detachment- I could only look after one gun-through not having on their tube helmets to start with, were pretty bad. So Blakemore dashed into our pit-and it was very bad in the pits-loaded and fired one round, and I carried on 'earthing' the rounds, loading and firing. Luckily No 2 (the range setter) was all right, and for some time he and I and afterwards, Thomson, Blakemore's servant ran the guns when I had to give up; I felt sure we were done in though I was not in a funk-I told the men (and I had to shout through the helmet) to trust in Jesus and this was an easy way to die.....then just later my helmet started to work and things went better. I am now at our "O Pip." Gas would be worse here, but quite withstandable with our helmets on. Never mind-many rats and mice here in the trenches have been slain-or rendered inactive-bless the Boshe {sic} for that.... Yes it's a great life- I really thought my end had come this morning-a curious feeling-Heaps of love to all..."

Next day he wrote to his father:- " Just out of the trenches where I've really had a good time. The Bosch [sic] has been shelling at the average rate of one per minute for the last twenty-four hours. We've been retaliating too, with much effect-altogether it has been a great spree. The whole ground shakes ....but you know it really is a great game being out here and being shelled is the best fun, if taken in the right spirit. The signal men now copy my catchword, to any very near and noisy crump; Come straight on, don't knock.. The Babe."

At Delville Wood, on the 24th August 1916, whilst acting as liaison officer he was shot in the neck and was paralysed, taken to the No. 2 Stationery Hospital at Abeville, where his father visited him, he was then transferred to the Empire Hospital, Vincent Square, where he lay on his back for a year.

While in this hospital, Kenneth was presented with the Military Cross by H.M. King George, for his scientific work and ingenious devices, was also awarded the Croix de Guerre (with palms) for gallantry under fire. Whilst there he was called the sunshine of the hospital. He was then moved to Lady Cornelia Wimbourne's Hospital, Templeton House, Prory Lane, Roehampton, where he died at 1.20 am on the 22nd August 1917. Buried at Putney Vale Cemetery.

He was unmarried.

Shields Daily News 24/08/1917:

NEWS OF LOCAL MEN. Killed and Wounded in Action. LIEUT. K. G. GARNETT, FORMERLY OF TYNEMOUTH. Lieut. K. G. Garnett, R.F.A., M.C. has died of wounds received in France. Lieut. Garnett was a son of Dr Wm. Garnett, who was Principal of the Durham College of Science (now Armstrong College) from 1884 to 1892. He was born in Tynemouth on July 28th, 1892, and had a distinguished career at Cambridge, where also he took part very successfully in boat races. He was severely wounded in the Somme fighting on August 21st, 1916, and for his military service received the Croix de Guerre and the Military Cross, which was handed to him in hospital by the King.

He never made a will and his solicitor Salter and Lees were acting on his behalf, they had wrote a letter to the War Office dated 17th September 1917, asking if there was any due amount of monies due from Army Funds. His father Dr William Garnet was entitled to take out Letters of Administration. His estate was approximately £683.

On the 29th June 1917, Garnett was examined by a Medical Board.

The report reads:- He is suffering from a gun shot wound of the spine, received Aug 24.16. in the upper Bursal region. Entrance on left side of neck. No exit. Entrance wound healed. He has partial paralysis of the legs and trunk, particularly on the right side. There is considerable loss of sensation in the right side. The left arm is a little wasted and there is a patch of ……? on the left side wrist. A supra pubic cystostomy was performed owing to …… He is confined to his bed. He has no control of his bladder or rectum. He cannot walk.

His Captain (now a Major) R. B. Purey Cust? wrote:- " He was a very good friend to me, and I learned so much from him in the short time. I hope you realised how much he was really loved and respected out here, and what a lot of good he did by his example and perfect devotion to duty, which was second nature to him".

He writes further "I shall never forget his friendship, and I know there are many in the 111th who remember him with gratitude. I was told the other day that when he was hit near Waterlot Farm, (Deville Wood) and instantly paralysed, he told his signallers with him not to mind about him, and how glad he was to die for his country and about the better life he was going to... I did not catch is exact words- but this was, of course, typical of him, and I thought you would like to hear it...Its just like what he said in the gas attack two years ago at Ypres, where his section was rather in trouble, and showed what was uppermost in his thoughts all the time."

Dr Horton also wrote:-"I feel a kind of heart-break to-day, for Kenneth was such a glorious creature, in his manly strength and child-like faith, in his courtesy, his reverence and his love,"

Also a Herbert George, a Y.M.C.A. worker in France:- "I think I hardly know, or have known, a finer type to hold up before the young manhood of England than your Kenneth. He was in every truth a modern Knight..... He at any rate, has entered the land of the living, and I for one shall always thank God for such Christian knighthood as was typified in 'Ken'. "

De Ruvigny Roll of Honour

The Times 22/08/1917.

LIEUTENANT KENNETH GORDON GARNETT, M.C., R.F.A., who died of wounds on the 21st inst. after a year's illness, was the son of Dr. William Garnett and Mrs Garnett, of Hampstead. He was educated at St Paul's School and Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1914 he rowed No 5 in the Cambridge winning eight, and also rowed for Leander in the same year. On the outbreak of war he and several of his Cambridge friends joined the crew of the Zarepha, of which his brother, the late Lieutenant Stuart Garnett, was lieutenant-commander. For five months he was engaged in the adventurous work of mine-sweeping. Then in January, 1915, he entered the Royal Field Artillery, and in the following month went out to France. In March he was shot in the leg, and returned home. When convalescent he went up to Cambridge and completed his honours degree course successfully, though still on crutches. He was offered three home billets, but declined them, as (to use his own words) he did not wish to stay at home and let a married man fight for him. Returning to the front in October, 1915, he worked with his battery for 10 months. He was wounded in the spine on August 24, 1916, and for the past year has been nursed at the Empire Hospital, Vincent-square, and latterly at Templeton House, Roehampton. He was awarded the Military Cross and received his decoration from the King a few weeks ago, while at the Empire Hospital. He also received the Croix de Guerre from the French Government.

The Times 24/08/1917

LIEUTENANT KENNETH GORDON GARNETT, M.C., R.F.A., was the youngest son of Dr. and Mrs. William Garnett, of Branch Hill, Hampstead, and was born at Tynemouth on July 28, 1892. he was educated at St. Paul's School and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He went up to Cambridge in October, 1911, and the following summer obtained a first class in the First Part of the Mathematical Tripos. In his second and the third years he divided is time between rowing and reading for the Mechanical Sciences Tripos. In 1913 he represented First Trinity in the Lent races, and, with his friend J.A. Ritson (since killed in action), in the May races, at Henley where they won the Ladies' Plate, and in the Light Fours. In the same year he rowed in the University Trial Eights, and in 1914 he rowed No 5 in the Cambridge Eight that defeated Oxford in the last race before the war. In July, 1914, he was a member of the Leander crew at Henley. On the declaration of war he and several undergraduate friends manned the steam yacht Zarefah, under the command of his brother Stuart, whose Sea Scouts formed the remainder of the crew. In the summer of 1915, however, when his brother resigned his commission as lieutenant-commander in order to join the R.F.C., he transferred from the R.N.R. to the R.F.A., and early in 1916 he was accidentally wounded abroad. While under treatment at Cambridge during the term of 1916 he obtained a second class in the Mechanical Science Tripos, and immediately afterwards returned to his battery at the front. On August 21, 1916, while observing for his battery, he was shot in the neck and paralysed. Sent home to England, he had spent a whole year lying on his back. For his military service he received the Croix de Guerre and the Military Cross, which was handed to him in Hospital by the King. Mr Garnett took as much pleasure in Rock-climbing, ski-ing, and sailing as he did in mathematics and rowing. On one occasion he ascended the Lyskann and all four peaks of Monte Rosa in one day, returning to the Riffelalp without showing any sign of fatigue.

Kenneth Gordon Garnett is remembered at Tynemouth on T36.01, in T36.14 and in T36.16

He is also remembered at the Isle of Wight Memorial, with his brother Lieutenant H.S. Garnett, also The Parish Church of St John in Hampstead Memorial.

Kenneth was also a student at the Royal Institute Of Chemistry, where he is remembered at Pro-Patria

Mrs Garnett, Kenneth's mother issued a book as a Memorial to her son with personal photos and some letters, see WWI KENNETH GORDON GARNETT, Royal Field Artillery YPRES Delville, which was available on E-bay.

Trinity College War Memorial Cambridge.

His brother details are as follows :

'Lieutenant William Hubert Stuart Garnett, who was killed at a Flying School on Thursday, was the second son of Dr William Garnett, late Educational Adviser to the L.C.C. [London County Council] Educated, like his elder brother Mr J C M Garnett, Principal of the Manchester School of Technology, at St Paul's School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was a scholar, he appeared as eighth Wrangler in 1902 and in the first class of the Mechanical Sciences Tripos in 1903.

Although he has died at the age of 34, he had lived a full and varied life. For a time he worked as a practical engineer and brought out a remarkable text-book on the turbine, and, being called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1905, he practised for some time, travelling the Western Circuit. He became interested in the National Insurance Scheme, on which he wrote a book with Mr Arthur Comyns Carr. Afterwards he gave up practice on appointment as Assistant Legal Adviser to the National Insurance Committee. An enthusiastic Alpine climber, and an ardent yachtsman, with a practical knowledge of seamanship and of the navigation of the Channel and North Sea, such as is possessed of few amateurs, he took keen interest in the Boy Scout movement, and in particular in active sea-scouting, on which he wrote a book, which has had a wide circulation. In order the better to devote himself to work among boys he lived for many years - and down to the outbreak of war - at Limehouse. When war broke out he obtained from Mr Steane Price the loan of his yacht Zarefah, which he manned, both as to officers and men, mainly with Cambridge graduates and under-graduates. The Zarefah was engaged in the mine-sweeping service. In the summer of last year, Mr Garnett, who had attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander, gave up his naval duties in order to join the Royal Flying Corps. He was an observer for several months in France, where his inventive genius had effective play, with the result that he was recalled home and joined the staff of the Central Flying School. Early this year he qualified as pilot. Lieutenant Garnett married, in August of last year, the only daughter of Mr and Mrs Bradley, of Streetley, Warwickshire. The funeral will take place at noon today at Charlton, near Upavon. Dr and Mrs Garnett are at a base hospital with their youngest son, [Lt K G Garnett] who was dangerously wounded about three weeks ago.'

Information extracted from the Times Digital Online service - report in the Times of 23/09/1916.

Photo and history of W.H.S. Garnett
Hampstead Parish Church
Boat Race Where Thames smooth water glides
Northumbrian World War 1 Commemoration project
The CWGC entry for Lieutenant Garnett

St Pauls WW1 Roll of Honour

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk