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The Australian servicemen killed in the First World War included many with Kent connections

By Alan Smith
Newly enlisted Australian soldiers at the Broadmeadows training camp, August 1914
Newly enlisted Australian soldiers at the Broadmeadows training camp, August 1914

Many servicemen who fought and died for the Australian Imperial Forces in the First World War were originally from Kent, one man's research has revealed.

Amateur historian Andrew Bratley was himself born in Maidstone and still has relatives in Allington, but he now lives in Perth, Western Australia, where he is a town planner in local government.

The former Maplesden Noakes Secondary School pupil said: “It was through my father, John Bratley, that I developed an interest in the First World War. Together, we discovered we had 14 family members who had served in the Great War, and on my frequent trips over, both my father and myself have visited sites along the Western Front.

“The most recent trip we made was in December, when we visited Mons and Tertre.

“When I got home it made me think about those from Kent who had served and died for the Australian Imperial Forces during the First World War.

“I began researching war memorials here in Western Australia. To date I have examined 52 memorials, which together recorded the deaths of 3,700 servicemen.

“My research has revealed that 223 of those were from Kent, with probably 24 from the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells areas.”

The gravemarker at Mont St Quentin
The gravemarker at Mont St Quentin

Among those, Mr Bratley found was Cecil Down, a private in the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) who enlisted at Helena Vale in Western Australia on September 25, 1914.

He was the son of Lizzie Down of 38 Hedley Street, Maidstone. He was born in Maidstone, but attended the Skinners School in Tunbridge Wells. He worked as a bank officer in Katanning, Western Australia, before joining up. He was killed in action at Gallipoli, on May 5, 1915. He was 22. His death is recorded on the Lone Pine Memorial in Turkey.

Another of those found by Mr Bratley is Thomas Dines, a private in the AIF who enlisted at Blackboy Hill, Western Australia on October 31, 1914. He was born in Boughton Malherbe and his father William Dines was then living in Lower Shipway, Willington, Maidstone. Pte Dines died on May 5, 1915, of wounds received fighting at Mustapha In Egypt. His memorial is in the Chatby Military and War Cemetery, Alexandria, Egypt.

Andrew Bratley beside a memorial to his great, great uncle killed in the first year of the Great War
Andrew Bratley beside a memorial to his great, great uncle killed in the first year of the Great War

It is Mr Bratley’s intention, when his research is complete, to make his findings publicly available.

In the meantime, he would like to hear from anyone in Kent who has any information about locally born men who ended up fighting for the Australians.

He can be contacted on andrew.gillsfc@gmail.com

Among those Kent-born Australian fighting men identified by Andrew Bratley are:

John Bowles, Private, Australian Imperial Forces, died 14/9/18 at The Somme, aged 35. Living Mount Barker, Western Australia, son of Mr and Mrs Bowles of Martins Farm, Boughton Monchelsea.

William Craddock, Petty Officer Stoker, Royal Australian Navy, died 17/10/18 of pneumonia, aged 38. Living North Williamstown, Victoria, son of William and Sarah Craddock of Tovil.

George Hodgkin, Able Seaman, Royal Australian Navy, died 14/9/14, aged 27. Son of G.Hodgkin of Platts Heath, Sandway, Maidstone.

Henry Hodgson, Sergeant, AIF, died 9/8/18 at the Somme, aged 40. Living at Darlinghurst, New South Wales. Born in Maidstone.

Jabez Kingsley, Private, AIF, died 25/6/18 at the Somme, aged 46. Living at Perth, Western Australia. Born in Maidstone.

Leslie Norley, Sergeant, Australian Field Artillery, died 14/9/17 at Menin Road, Belgium, aged 24. Living Woodanilling, Western Australia. Son of William and Eliza Norley of Salisbury Road, Maidstone.

Leopold Florence Scarlett, Lieutenant, Royal Australian Navy, died 14/9/14, aged 25. Son of B. Florence Scarlett of Penenden House, Maidstone.

William Watt, Private, AIF, died 9/10/17, aged 44. Living Coburg, Victoria, Australia. Born in Maidstone.

Charles Akehurst, Private, AIF, died at Gallipoli 22/8/15, aged 20. Living Gladstone, Australia. Son of Charles Morgan and Harriet Akehurst of Southwood Road, Rusthall, Tunbridge Wells.

William Challen, Lance Corporal, AIF, died 19/8/16 at the Somme, aged 25. Living Hobart, Tasmania. Son of George and Blanch Margretta Challen of Fern Bank, Hildenborough.

Walter Engley, Private, AIF, died 20/5/15 at Gallipoli, aged 26. Living Perth, Western Australia. Born in Tunbridge Wells.

Clarence Judge, Private, died 20/7/16, aged 28. Living Perth, Western Australia. Son of Alfred William and Susan Judge of Goudhurst Road, Marden.

Albert Manktelow, Private, AIF, died 1/11/16 aged 37 at the Somme. Living West Wyalong, Australia. Brother of John Manktelow of Riverside House, Lamberhurst.

William Leaney, Private, AIF, died 11/4/17, aged 18 at the Somme. Living Nimbin, New South Wales. Born at Harrietsham.

Alan Pentecost, Private, AIF, died 22/8/16, aged 29 at the Somme. Living Port Pine, Australia. Son of James and Frances Pentecost of Napier Street, Tunbridge Wells.

Thomas Pentecost, Lance Corporal, AIF, died 29/5/15 at Gallipoli, aged 27. Living Brisbane, Queensland. Born at Pembury.

James Preston, Gunner, Australian Field Artillery, died 7/10/17, aged 22. Living Midura, Victoria. Born at Tunbridge Wells.

William Sellens, Private, AIF, died 5/8/16 at the Somme, aged 31. Living Kew, Victoria. Born at Marden.

Frederick Smith, Private, AIF, died 14/10/17, aged 20. Living Mullewa, Western Australia. Son of Alfred Ernest and Fannie Rhoda Smith of Forest Road, Tunbridge Wells.

Robert Woollett, Private, AIF, died 5/4/18 at the Somme, aged 33. Living South Melbourne, Victoria. Born at West Peckham.

Arthur Wallis, Private, AIF, died 21/3/18, aged 26. Living Adelaide, South Australia. Son of E. Wallis of William Street, Tunbridge Wells.

Eric Jarrett, Trooper, Imperial Camel Corps, died 28/3/18 in Syria, aged 23. Living Elliston, Australia. Son of Frederick and Jessie Jarrett of Cambrian Road, Tunbridge Wells.

Sgt Henry Hodgeson and his colleagues in the Australian Army
Sgt Henry Hodgeson and his colleagues in the Australian Army
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