Dunhurst 1905.3 - 1908.2: Bedales 1908.3 - 1913.2

Terence came from a well-travelled military family; his father was a professional soldier.  There is a little confusion about his birthplace.  In the 1901 census it was recorded as “Hereford City”, but, on 8th October 1896, he was baptised in Canterbury; his parents’ names were given as Henry Gerard Hagan Kennard, Lieutenant in the 5th Dragoon Guards, and his wife Annie and their address was “Ivy House, off the Dover Road”.  In 1911, on census day at Bedales, his birthplace was given as Canterbury and he also entered that on his application for a commission in 1916 so I think that solves the problem.

Henry Gerard Hagan Kennard, born in 1871, is said to have been educated at Eton and The Royal Military College at Sandhurst but I don’t have first-hand evidence for this.  The 5th Dragoon Guards were posted to India in 1893 and Henry was the right age to have gone out there with them.  In India he met Nancy (Annie) Poyser who had been born there in 1875, the daughter of Richard Poyser, who by 1895 was the Principal Veterinary Officer in Bengal, with a very distinguished record in the Afghan War; he was mentioned in despatches and received the CBE for his services in 1896.  Henry and Annie were married in Meerut, Bengal, in January 1895.  Presumably Henry had some home leave, hence Terence’s birth in England in 1896.

The regiment was posted to South Africa in 1899, just before the outbreak of the Boer War.  It might have been the commencement of hostilities that sent Annie on her way home; whatever the reason, first daughter Dulcie Hazel was born somewhere in France on 19th April 1900.  By the end of March 1901 Annie, Terence and his young sister were settled in Ledbury, Herefordshire; Henry was probably still in South Africa as at the end of the War he received the Queen’s Victory medal, awarded to those who had served between 11th October 1899 and 31st May 1902.  He also was awarded the King’s Victory Medal, available only to those who had served for at least eighteen months before June 1902 and had been in the conflict on or after 1st January 1902.  This latter medal was awarded with two clasps, but unfortunately it isn’t specified in which of the four conflicts (Orange Free State: Transvaal: Elandslaagte: Defence of Ladysmith) he had been involved.  On 28th August 1901 he advanced to the rank of Major.

As second daughter, Tertia Doreen, was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, on 11th March 1906 it appears that, after the war, he was joined by his wife and elder daughter. At the time of Tertia’s birth Terence was already at Dunhurst.  The Bedales Junior school under Russell Scott had moved in 1905 from Hillcroft (where it had been founded in 1902) to the purpose-built buildings at Dunhurst, so nine year old Terence, arriving just before his ninth birthday, was one of the early pupils there.  (It is sad to record that all four of the small boys who arrived there in September 1905 were to die in the First World War.)  Terence moved up to Bedales at the age of twelve in September 1908 (when he was the ninth youngest boy in the Senior School) and remained there until the end of the summer term in 1913 when he was almost 17. (I don’t know where Dulcie was educated but Tertia spent five terms at Dunhurst and one at Bedales in 1916 – 1917.)

On 12th August 1907 Henry Gerard Hegan Kennard was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Reserve and on 8th December held the Rank of Brevet Colonel, possibly when he became commanding officer of the 5th Dragoon guards.  He, his wife and daughters were at Curragh Camp in Ireland on census day 1911 (Terence was at Bedales) but soon after that he retired on half pay.  It is possible that he, Annie and the girls then went out to the East but I have no proof of that.

Terence was successful and seems to have enjoyed his time at Bedales.  In prize work in Spring 1909 he was amongst the 8 pupils in the youngest group awarded first prize for their singing and he also received second prize for his drawing.  By Spring Term 1910 he had moved up to the Third Division and accumulated 7 stars for unnamed activities.  The May 24th edition of The Bedales Chronicle records he won the Long Jump in the Second Division, achieving 4 feet 7¾ inches.  This was also the first term in which he appeared in the end of term Cricket reports, playing in the successful 3rd XI which beat Churcher’s by 53 runs. Over the years he graduated to the 2nd XI (finally gaining his colours in June 1912) and, in his last term, played occasionally in the Boys’ or Masters’ 1st XIs.  Terence was moderately successful in gymnastics and in swimming competitions throughout his Senior School career but doesn’t feature in academic records and, unlike many of his contemporaries, was taking no external exams in his final year in the school; clearly he was not destined for university nor his father’s military career.

Several letters to Mr Badley or to the Editor of The Bedales Chronicle recount his experiences after leaving school.  They are detailed and, I think, interesting and you can read them (and his letters from the Front) on the Bedales Digital Archive.

From a letter written in 1915 it appears that the original intention had been for Terence to become an engineer but, as he wrote, “I found engineering not in my line and so left after a month, and did a year's rubber planting in Lower Burmah”.  He had arrived at Mergui “about a day and a half from Rangoon, on the Tenassarini river” on 6th November 1913 where he joined a group of eight, “all ripping chaps”, who had been there almost three years; consequently, after work, there were cricket matches and lots of tennis.  Terence found the work interesting, starting at 5am and working until 2.30pm when the heat became too much for the local workers. He had been sad to have his camera stolen in Rangoon but the two photos he sent back, one taken by his father and the other by himself on the same camera, reveals that he at least was in the area and they met up fairly regularly.  The letter of June 1914 gives a detailed explanation of how a rubber plantation worked and Terence concluded by writing, probably describing his own inclinations, “For any fond of an open-air life in the sun and not fond of examinations … I would recommend planting as a good life, with pay from the start.”  A little knowledge of book-keeping and an aptitude for languages were essentials for success, “as there are numerous tongues to be mastered”.  It seemed as though Terence was set to complete his three years there and hoped his six months leave would cover the period of the OB meeting that year.  The outbreak of war in 1914 changed all that. 

The letter, printed in The Chronicle in March 1915, reveals that his parents were in Burma (possibly the girls were with other family members in England).  On 25th December he wrote, we “were all about to return home … as my father was recalled for service.  I had bought winter suits and packed my box”, when he received a telegram offering him a very lucrative job in the Malay States.  Terence had intended to volunteer on return but he was unsure about “the medical test” and had heard that many eighteen year olds were not being accepted for service.  His father also indicated that it would help the family finances if Terence took the job.  Rather reluctantly – he was going to miss “the biggest thing that’s happened since BC 50” – and he was only getting the job because many young English planters had already left to volunteer, Terence moved to Selangor River Estate, Kuala.  Having become competent enough in the languages needed in Burma, “I have to throw all those languages away and start Tamil and Malay”.  He was to run an estate of 600 acres mostly full of trees and the rubber tapping season was about to begin so he kept very busy.

From 1915 to1918, and therefore covering the period of the Easter Rising, Colonel Kennard was officer Commanding the Dublin garrison with a collection of troops from regiments such as the Sherwood Foresters, the South Staffordshires and the Pembroke Yeomanry (mentioned in his letter of 12th May 1916 to the Secretary of State for Ireland, reporting some of the deaths as a consequence of the “Sinn Fein Rising”).  Already by this time Terence had returned to England and volunteered for service.  On 14th January 1916 he attested for service “for the Duration of the War” and was appointed a Cadet Gunner in the Royal Horse Artillery.  By March 1916 he was applying for a commission, recording that he had served for 4 months as a private in the Moulmein Volunteer Rifles in Burma and for 8 months in the Malay States Volunteer Rifles, retiring in November 1915 “in order to join for active service”.  He was passed as medically fit on 31st March and on 11th April a Major in the RHA declared him fit to serve “on the conclusion of his course of training at a RA Cadet School”.  Terence Evelyn Kennard was Gazetted a Second Lieutenant on 25th May 1916.  In 1918 Mr Badley recorded that he did his training in Ireland; possibly this was the last time he saw much of his family.

Life in the RHA seems to have suited Terence very well; his four letters from the front provide one of the most graphic descriptions of the life of a young English subaltern that any Bedalian wrote at this time.  He must have been sent to France fairly soon after he was commissioned, just in time to take part in the Battle of the Somme, as the two letters eventually published in The Bedales Chronicle on 22nd October were written perhaps in late July and certainly on 14th August.  Even on the worst days, if it was possible Terence climbed to the highest viewpoint to take in the dreadful splendour of the scene. Despite the carnage of men and horses, it would appear that he emerged unscathed.

The letter of 3rd August found its way into the 17th December edition of The Chronicle and painted a picture of the chaos on the Somme at that time and the difficulty of moving troops from one part of the Front to another, without mislaying some en route, and delivering them safely to the correct destination.  “No officer there seemed to know where the 9th Division were, so you see I made my first acquaintance with the ‘Practical Joke Department’; looking for Divisions on the British front is like looking for a needle in a haystack.”  Mission accomplished he wangled a lift back on a lorry “so thick with dust that you couldn’t see the opposite wall.  I was white all over by this time”.  He concluded, “There is not much water here so I had a bath in the Somme at that camp where that lorry put me down.  We have to take the horses a mile to water three times a day.”

A communication entitled “This leaves us still in the pink” in the edition of The Bedales Chronicle of March 1917 highlights one aspect of the war which kept Bedalians happy - each other’s company, their love of nick-names and repartee.  I have slightly rearranged the text to clarify it. “Crundwell was sitting in his mess when in stalked two figures, one tall, one small.  ‘Great Scot! Its Slug! (George Murray). And whoever is that hidden under that tin hat? By Jove it’s Gillie! (L. L .Whyte)’. After a few minutes we discovered that Winser and Kennard were both in the same neighbourhood. …. Tonight is the happy result. ….. We really think we must be winning the war when Bedalians are as thick as this.” After some general conversation “an argument broke out about which type of gun was responsible for the successes.  Yes the field gunners do all the talking but it’s The Heavy Mortars … that fling the weight about. … And the argument ends in general optimism.”  This meeting took place in comfort “There are six armchairs in the room, a roaring fire, piano, gramophone and everything that could be desired.  So we cannot write the true ‘letter from the front’ but refer you for that to Kennard’s letters last year.”  Four of the five, Murray, Crundwell, Winser and Kennard himself, were dead by a little over a year later: only Whyte survived.  The same edition also printed a letter from the trenches by Terence – the last of his that appeared in The Chronicle.

In November 1917, I think back in England and based at Reading, Terence Kennard applied for a transfer to the Royal Flying Corps and on 20th was sent to a training camp in Winchester. A week later he was promoted full Lieutenant (Gazetted on 27th) and after completing his training on 20th January 1918 he was sent to No 5  Squadron RFC as a Corps Observer. He was, apparently, an immediate success.  His Squadron Commander wrote, “he was extraordinarily good at his job… very early on he gained an excellent name among us as being an excellent shot on the range from a machine, and later he was conducting shoots with the artillery about twice as soon as most observers. ... He had a quiet but complete self-confidence which was not conceit, for he imbued confidence in me by proving what he could do and never bragging about it afterwards.”

Terence’s death on 26th February 1918 occurred in a tragic accident. Mr Badley wrote in September 1918: “The machine had only just left the ground; apparently the engine must have given trouble and in trying to get back quickly to the aerodrome a turn was attempted at a very low altitude and they crashed into the ground. The machine was destroyed and both (pilot and observer) were killed instantaneously.”  “His Flight Commander considered him the most promising fellow in his Flight and I in the whole Squadron”, wrote the C/O.

Terence was buried in the Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension, North-west of Arras, Plot XI. J. 7. His family received a letter, dated 20th April 1918, telling them that he was buried in that cemetery.  At that time the grave would have been marked by a wooden cross, treated for preservation, and bearing details of his Regiments, birth and death dates.

The letters published in The Chronicle give a much more vivid picture of one of the quieter Bedalians I have researched and that is why I have quoted them at such length. Colonel Kennard again retired from the army after the war and in 1919 was awarded the CBE for his distinguished services during the war; he died in1946.

Sources: The Bedales Archives: TNA @ Kew: Military websites: genealogical sites: National Archives of Ireland