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Imperial War Museum War Partnership logoFirst World War - On this day...... 23rd March 1918

 

Under review
Remembering the men from the Kingsdown and Creekside Cluster
who gave their lives in the First World War

On the centenary of their death, we remember

Herbert Ewart KADWILL (of Lynsted)
b. 22 May 1898
d. 23rd March 1918. Aged 19


Private, G/9035
10th (Service) Battalion
Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) (Kent Division)
Remembered with Honour
Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France - Bay 7
Killed in Action

Arras Memorial


Herbert was born at 7 Cellar Hill Cottages, Lynsted, on 22 May 1898, to Hernhill-born Joseph, a brickfield labourer, and Caroline Elizabeth (née Smith) a native of Faversham. The youngest of their six children, Herbert's older siblings were Florence Emma, Alice Ruth, Joseph Harry, Elizabeth Annie and George William. He was christened at St Mary of Charity Church, Faversham, on 28 April 1898.

On leaving school Herbert started an apprenticeship at the Conyer shipbuilding yard. He did not complete his apprenticeship as he left on his enlistment in Chatham in July 1915. On enlistment Herbert was just 17 and would not be eligible for posting overseas until May 1917. However, it is clear that, as with so many others, his eagerness to play his part meant he lied about his age and was sent to the front in mid 1916 at the age of 18.

On 4 May 1916, the 10th (Service) Battalion, Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) (Kent Division), was mobilised for war and landed in France. During 1916, they saw action on the Somme at the Battles of Flers-Courcelette and Transloy Ridges. However, at some time during this period Herbert's true age was discovered and he was removed from the front to guard German prisoners-of-war until he reached the age of 19 in May 1917.

During 1917, his regiment saw action at the Battle of Messines (7 - 14 June), the Battle of Pilkem Ridge (31 July – 2 August), the Battle of the Menin Road (20 – 26 September) and operations on the Flanders coast.

We know that Herbert came home on his first leave in November, at which time his battalion moved to Italy to strengthen the Italian resistance. It is not clear whether, on return from leave, he joined his battalion, or whether he re-joined them on their return to France in March 1918. The battalion's movements from the beginning of March up to Herbert's death on 23 March are detailed in the war diary:

Date (1917) Diary
1st March S. GEORGIO della PERTICHE (Italy): Situation Normal. Battalion Strength: 46 Officer; 846 Other Ranks.
2nd S. GEORGIO della PERTICHE: Situation Normal. "A" and "B" Companies and one half Battalion Transport proceeded by bus to PADOVA and entrained for FRANCE. Time of Entrainment 8.30 a.m. The remainder of Battalion embussed at 8.30 a.m. and entrained at PADOVA at 1.30 p.m.
3rd Situation Normal. Strength: 46 Officers; 842 Other Ranks.
4th-6th Situation Normal.
7th 2 a.m.: First half of Battalion arrived at DOULENS (Map Ref: LENS II FRANCE) detrained, and proceeded by march route to BEAUDRICOURT.
12 Noon: Second half Battalion detrained at MONDICOURT and proceeded by march route to BEAUDRICOURT.
Captain G.W. HINDLE awarded M.C. for Gallantry whilst in charge of a Patrol across the R. PIAVA on 19th February 1918. 21222 Private H. WAITE and 19795 Private W. STONE awarded M.M. for gallantry whilst on Patrol with Captain HINDLE across the R. PIAVA.
8th - 15th Situation normal. Strength: 46 Officers; 840 Other Ranks. [BEAUDRICOURT. Map Ref: LENS SHEET II]
16th BEAUDRICOURT: Re-organisation of 123rd Infantry Brigade carried out under new Army Order. This necessitated 11th Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment being disbanded, and the following Officers and 250 Other Ranks of that Battalion were taken on strength as from today.
LIEUT COL. A.C. CORFE, D.S.O.; MAJOR A.J. JIMENEZ M.C.; CAPT. R. KERR, M.C.; CAPT. C.F. HALL, LIEUT. L.E. HALE. LIEUT.COL. A.C. CORFE took over command of the Battalion from today.
The 20th Durham Light Infantry is transferred from 123rd to 124th Brigade.
17th - 20th Situation Normal. Strength: 51 Officers; 1070 Other Ranks.


The story of Herbert's last days, and the dreadful position he and the rest of the 10th Battalion found themselves in, is best explained in the words of Captain C.T. Atkinson in his book, "The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, 1914-1919":

"While the bulk of the 11th went off to Reinforcement or Entrenching battalions the draft which joined the 10th included Colonel Corfe himself, whose splendid example and leadership had been so important a factor in the great successes of the 11th. With him came Major Jiminez, Captains R. Kerr and C.F. Hall and Lieut. Hale, Colonel Corfe taking over command of the battalion from Major Wallis, who had been commanding since March 1st when Colonel Beattie had left on a month's special leave.

Battlefield Sketch MapWhen the bombardment which crashed down on the British lines on the morning of March 21st proclaimed in unmistakable fashion the beginning of the German attack, there was little delay about getting the Forty-First Division to the front. It was actually on its way to Albert when the battle opened, but its destination was altered and the trains diverted, and before midnight the 10th R.W.K. had detrained at Achiet le Grand. Next afternoon [March 22nd] it pushed forward to Fremincourt on the Bapaume road [See Sketch 43] and at 5 o'clock orders were received to prepare a position South of Beugnatre which was to join up with the 122nd Brigade on the Beugnatre-Bapaume road. The work had barely been started before the order was cancelled, and the 10th was ordered forward to Beugny to relieve the troops who were holding a line N. and N.E. of that village. These troops belonged for the most part to the Sixth Division, which had been in the front line near Lagnicourt when the attack started and had been forced back after two days of heavy fighting and stubborn resistance to a line four miles in rear.

By 3 a.m. on March 23rd the 10th was in position, and before daybreak new trenches had been dug, and all four companies were in line, A B C and D from right to left, facing about North just West of Morchies. On its left, though not actually in touch with it, for there proved to be a gap on this flank of nearly 1,000 yards, was the 124th Brigade opposite Vaulx-Vraucourt, on its right the 11th Queen's with the Nineteenth Division beyond them and nearer Beugny. The position was not a good one, the line ran through a valley and observation of what was happening on the flanks was difficult. During the early morning, however, the enemy made little serious attempt to press, though he started shelling about 8 a.m. and machine-guns caused some casualties. One of these was successfully rushed by a patrol ably led by Sergt. White, the crew being killed or taken, but at first the battalion had had few good targets. About 10 a.m. the enemy began to show in strength, delivering an attack in mass which was beaten back, while a whole battalion advanced over the ridge on the 10th's left flank, giving its Lewis-gunners a chance of which they took full advantage. From this time the shelling got heavier, and the enemy attacked repeatedly.

Against the 10th they made no progress, but between 10 and 11 the enemy pushed forward through the gap on the left of the 10th, and about the same time the troops on the right of the 11th Queen's retired. Soon after midday the Germans reached Lebucquière, South of the Bapaume road. On this the Forty-First Division issued orders for its advanced line to retire in conformity with the Nineteenth Division, who were falling back on Beugny. These orders apparently reached The Queen's, some of whom, though not their battalion headquarters, withdrew about 2.30 p.m. as ordered, but they never got to the 10th R.W.K., who continued to maintain their position long after their flanks had been uncovered by the retirement and though the enemy were some distance in rear. Indeed it was 6 p.m. before the Germans finally managed to overcome their resistance. About 1 p.m. [March 23rd] a runner who had been sent with a message to Brigade Headquarters had returned reporting that the enemy were between the battalion and its brigade and that it was impossible to get through, and shortly afterwards the enemy had begun to threaten from the flanks the trench and sunken road in which the headquarters of the two battalions [The 11th Queen's had the headquarters in touch with the 10th.] were defending themselves. For some time these were kept at bay, but converging attacks in increasing strength at last compelled the survivors to surrender to save the numerous wounded who had been brought in to this post. Colonel Corfe himself was among the wounded and the position was perfectly hopeless. The front line companies held out as long, they beat off all attacks and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy, until all ammunition was expended. Casualties had been heavy and the position had long been hopeless. But their long stand had been of great value in keeping the Germans back and enabling the main position of the Division to be maintained intact. To this line but few of the 10th got back. Captain Holden displayed great resource in extricating a substantial part of A Company, fighting his way back to the new defensive line in front of Beugnatre through the enemy who threatened to envelope him; here he collected his men with a few survivors of the other companies, but they were a scanty remnant, well under 100 in all. In this work he received great assistance from 2nd Lieut. Cheel and C.S.M. Cooper, both of whom distinguished themselves greatly. Colonel Corfe himself, Major Jiminez, Captains Waydeline and Hall, ten subalterns and over 400 men were returned as "missing." Two officers, 2nd Lieuts. Percy and Cooper, were wounded and the men known to be either killed or wounded came to nearly 50. Those who had reached Beugnatre were promptly reinforced with all the details, some 70 or so, whom Major Wallis could collect from the transport lines, but they saw no more fighting in this battle, being placed in reserve positions near Bihucourt, when next evening they fell back to Gommecourt……………
………… The 10th's share in the great battle had been briefer than that of either the 7th or 8th, and it had not been fortunate. The miscarriage of the orders which should have reached it turned its own tenacity into a misfortune. It was hard in particular on Colonel Corfe, whose fine record as the commander of a hard-fighting battalion was likely to have brought him before long to the command of a brigade, that his first action at the head of the 10th should have ended in his falling into the enemy's hands. But the fight which the 10th had put up did not go unrecognized; Captain Holden received the D.S.O., 2nd Lieut. Cheel the M.C., C.S.M., and L/Cpl. Laing and Ptes. Russell and Taylor the M.M."

Herbert was one of the 49 other ranks eventually confirmed as killed on Saturday 23 March 1917. None has a known grave. They are all remembered in Bay 7 at the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
Herbert's death was announced by his parents in the East Kent Gazette on 4 May 1918:

Kadwill, Herbert Ewart 23rd. March 1918 - killed in action on the Somme. Dearly loved son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kadwill of Cellar Hill, Greenstreet aged 20 - Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.

Herbert's parents state his age as 20, but he actually died a month before his birthday. They have also stated that his death took place in the Somme area, which was probably the last location of action they had been aware of.

On 18 May 1918, the Faversham and North East Kent News carried the following article on Herbert's death:

PTE. H. E. KADWILL

Mr and Mrs Joseph Kadwill, of Celler [sic] Hill, Lynsted, have lost the youngest of three soldier sons—Private Herbert Ewart Kadwill, of the Royal West Kent Regiment, who was killed in action a few weeks back. Eager to do his bit in the fighting, he joined up in July 1915, when he was little over 17 years of age and only about half-way through his apprenticeship at the Conyer Shipbuilding Yard. He went to the front about the middle of 1916 and was home on his first leave last November after a spell of 18 months. For a time after he got to the front he was employed in guarding prisoners of war on it being learned he was not then 19 years of age. Following his nineteenth birthday he got back to the trenches and was killed in action on 23rd March. The other two sons serving are Pte J H Kadwill, Lancers, who has been in India since 1910, and Pte G W Kadwill, Coldstream Guards, who is now in France. Mr and Mrs Kadwill have also a son-in-law in France; another, who has been wounded fighting with the Canadians, is about to be sent back to Canada for discharge; and a third, who came home from Australia, is engaged in war work in England. Mr Kadwill himself was engaged at one of our munition factories until his health compelled him to give up work and that he and his wife have 13 nephews in the forces, to show that their families are doing their bit splendidly for their country.

Both his brothers survived the war.

Herbert was posthumously awarded the British War and Victory medals.

Herbert is remembered incorrectly on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records, where he is registered as Herbert "Ewert" and "Ewers". In the Register of Soldier's Effects, Herbert is again misspelled as Herbert "Ernest Kadwell". It tells us that in July 1918 Herbert's father received the money owed in the amount of £15 6s 6d (£15.32½p). In November 1919 he also received the War Gratuity of £12 10s 0d (£12.50p). [See Appendix 2] Taken together these amount to roughly £1,600 in today's money.

On the first anniversary of his death, Herbert's parent's remembered him in the East Kent Gazette:

22nd March 1919
IN MEMORIAM

KADWILL. In loving memory of our dear Bert (Herbert Ewart), Royal West Kents, youngest son of Mr and Mrs Joseph Kadwill, of Greenstreet, who counted his life as worthless in the service of his country.

God make us worthy of those who have died,
These our loved our crucified.

Herbert is remembered on his parents grave in the Lynsted Churchyard extension.

Kadwill Family grave included Herbert Ewart Kadwill