Sunday, 29 May 2011

T R Kernick

Thomas Reginald Kernick
Born 1891 in Newquay  Killed in Action 8 March 1916 near Basra
Pte 2372 5th (Prince of Wales') Battalion (Territorials)

Thomas was the son of Frederick Kernick and Constance Hocking.  Frederick was originally a seaman, being master of his own vessel by the age of 22.  By his forties he and his family lived in Berry Road, Newquay and he gave his occupation as "Ship Owner".  By 1911 he was a "Collector of Taxes".  Frederick and Constance had four sons, Frederick (known as John), Richard (known as Arthur), Thomas (known as Reginald) and Alfred.  There were also two daughters, Grace and Mary, although Mary may have died at a young age.  

None of the Kernick boys followed their father to sea.  Three of them, John, Reginald and Alfred, became bank clerks.  John worked at Lloyds Bank in Truro and Alfred was working in Dorset.  It is possible that Reginald was working in Devon - he was not recorded at home in 1911 and he joined the Devonshire Regiment, based in Exeter.

According to the records, Reginald's battalion wasn't posted to Mesopotamia, which is where he died.  The second line 5th Battalion did land in Egypt in September 1915, and disbanded there in July 1916.  However, 1/4 and 1/6 Battalions were certainly in Mesopotamia, so perhaps Reginald was attached to one of these.  

The war in Mesopotamia was ostensibly about securing oil supplies for the Royal Navy and British operations in the region were originally small scale.  However, emboldened by early success the British pushed forward toward Basra and then Baghdad, but soon became overstretched as they needed to protect increasingly long lines of communication.  By the end of 1915 the British had been forced to retreat to Kut-al-Amara where they were besieged until surrendering in April 1916.

Between January and April 1916 there were a series of attempts to relieve the siege of Kut.  The Battle of Dujaila Redoubt was fought from 7-9 March 1916, and it is possible that this is where Reginald fell on 8 March.  I have found two other members of 6th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment who fell that day; Captain Dunn-Pattison and Pte Thomas Knight.  Like Reginald they are commemorated on the Basra Memorial.

Incidentally, a VC was awarded that day to Pte George Stringer of the Manchester Regiment who single-handedly kept the enemy at bay until his Battalion were able to withdraw in good order. 

Reginald's brothers John and Alfred joined up in 1915, John being attached to the Royal Garrison Artillery whilst Alfred served with the Royal Field Artillery.  Both were posted to Salonika and survived the war.  I cannot find any record of Richard Arthur Kernick's war record, though he lived on until 1974.  Alfred died in 1978.

The Kernick's old home on Berry Road is no longer there; it was redeveloped and is now operated by a Housing Association 

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