Second World War - Lynsted Memorial Project

Harry Stephen AMOS (of Lynsted)

b. Q1, 1906
d. 2nd June 1942. Aged 36

'D' Company
23rd Kent (Lamberhurst) Battalion
Home Guard

Lynsted Churchyard extension
Died following a live firing exercise

Grave for Harry Stephen Amos in Lynsted Extension Graveyard

Harry was born in High Halstow in the Hoo St Werburgh, Registration District" during the first quarter of 1906, son of Thomas William (a shepherd) and Frances Jane (née Holyer) Amos. Harry had a sister, Rose Eva, and a brother George Edward. George would also lose his life serving in WW2.

In the 1911 Census the family has moved to Box Cottage, Tonge. The picture, below, shows Harry as a member of the Teynham football team.

Harry Stephen Amos in the Teynham Football Team as cup winners

In 1932, Harry married Doris Lily Kite of Wilkins Cottages, Greenstreet, Lynsted, in Lynsted Church. Harry went on to work as the bailiff to E W Hussey of Scotney Castle Farm and lived in Clay Pit Cottages, Little Scotney Farm, Lamberhurst, where he worked up until his death 10 years later. Harry and Lily had two children, Neville born in 1936 and Michael in 1940.

The Lynsted with Kingsdown Society is indebted to Barbara Uren, author of The Lamberhurst Book of Remembrance for allowing us to reproduce below the story of how Harry met his death:-

Harry was a member of the Lamberhurst contingent of the Home Guard, who often trained with the Regular Army at Stair House, Lamberhurst.

A "million to one chance" was responsible for the death of Harry Amos, who, at 8pm on June 1st, during a "blitz" (live fire) exercise on Lamberhurst Golf Course, was hit, in the back, by a ricocheting bullet, which had glanced off a hidden stone in the Butts, several yards away from him. He was taken to Pembury Hospital where he died a few hours later. An inquest was held and a verdict of "accidental death" was recorded.

"Harry Amos, a member of the Lamberhurst Home Guard, was training with the resident Army group, who were billeted at Stair House, when the incident occurred. The Home Guard trained with all the unites that were billeted there. On the day that Harry was killed we were doing assault course training, under live fire, supervised by the NCO of the Sherwood Foresters. Sadly Harry was hit by a ricochet bullet and died shortly after. He was buried at Lynsted New Churchyard with a military style burial party of Home Guard members of which I was one."

Ron Skinner (former member of 'D' Co . HG).

On Saturday 6th June his coffin was conveyed to the Home Guard Headquarters, (in Coggars Hall) from Pembury Hospital. Where a short service was held in his honour before he was taken to his final resting place at Lynsted, by a detachment of his fellow Home Guards.

Extract from Lamberhurst Parish Magazine June 1942:-

The Home Guard attended the morning service at the Parish Church on June 14th, to do honour to the memory of their comrade, Harry Stephen Amos, who was killed accidently while on duty as a Home Guard. The Vicar in his sermon spoke of him as one who was faithful and trustworthy in his calling, and among men friendly to all. He joined the HG from a sense of duty, but what at first was only duty became to him and interest and a pleasure. Everyone who knew him spoke well of him, and his example and influence were always good. He might be said to have lived an old fashioned simple and godly life. His chief interest was in his home, and the sympathy of all went to his wife and children in their sudden great sorrow.

Kent and Sussex Courier of 12th June 1916

What was described as a "million-to-one" chance was responsible for the death of 36-year-old Harry Stephen Amos, of Little Scotney Farm, Lamberhurst, who died in Pembury Hospital after he had been hit by a ricocheting bullet while on a "blitz" course. The inquest at the Hospital on Thursday was conducted by the Coroner (Mr J.H. Soady), Mr Cecil Vinall representing the War Department.

Major D.F. Mills, Kent Home Guard, said deceased was a trained member of his company. On June 1 they were carrying out exercises on Lamberhurst Golf Course, the men having to cross open country and trenches while live ammunition was being fired in the direction. On the course there was a wall running from North to South, and two Bren guns were fired by a Sergt.-Major and a Corporal. On the evening of the accident the exercise commenced soon after 8pm. Witness was preparing a smoke generator when he heard a shout behind him, and saw three men on an obstacle. Suddenly one of them fell, and when witness went to the spot he found he had been shot. Witness sent for the doctor and the ambulance.

By Mr Vinall: The object of the firing was to create noise and realism. C.S.M. Smith, R.A.S.C., a qualified instructor, said he was on the course with the Home Guard using a Bren gun with live ammunition. The safety butts were 16 yards from the gun, and the wall 32 yards. It was left to his discretion how and when to fire. He had seen no other ricochet that evening. Just before the accident he saw two men helping Amos up the wall. At that time witness was firing at the butt in front of him, and he could see the bullets kicking up dust and dirt. He noticed deceased fall, and he thought the men on the top had let him drop. After examining the bullet found in deceased's body witness pronounced it to be "definitely a ricochet." It might have bounced off a stone in the butts.

Arthur George Leonard, of the Home Guard, said that while he was helping deceased up the wall the latter suddenly exclaimed "I've been hit," and dropped.

Dr J.J. Bell said deceased had a lacerated would on the right side of the back and a fracture of the right shoulder-blade, and was completely paralysed from the arm-pits down. An X-ray examination showed a fracture of the vertebral border of the right scapula and a fracture of the spine. After the bullet had been removed deceased progressed satisfactorily for the first two hours, but then grew weaker, and died from shock and respiratory failure.

The Coroner said it had been given in evidence that this realistic "blitz" training was regarded by the Army authorities as a proper part of the training of the armed forces. It was obvious that the more realistic the training the more useful it was, but it followed that risk was increased. He was satisfied that the shot was not a direct one, but one which had ricocheted. He returned a verdict of "Death from Accidental Causes," adding that the exercise was properly carried out.

Sympathy was expressed with the relatives.

Mr Harry Amos, whose tragic death while on Home Guard exercises is reported on another page, had been in the employ of Mr E.W. Hussey, Scotney Castle, as farm foreman at Little Scotney Farm for ten years. He was 36 years of age, and leaves a widow and two children to mourn their loss. On Saturday morning the coffin containing the mortal remains was conveyed from Pembury Hospital to the Home Guard Headquarters, where a short service was held in the presence of members of the Home Guard with their officers, Major Mills, Capt. Weller and Lieut. Toller. The funeral service was at Lynsted, and was conducted by the Rev. L.E.A. Ehrman. A detachment of the Lamberhurst Home Guard was present under the command of Major Mills, with Capt. Weller. The chief mourners were Mrs Amos, Mr and Mrs T. Amos, Mrs T. Amos, Mrs J. Kite, Mr and Mrs J. Amos, Mr W.J. Kite, Mr S. Kite, Mrs H.H.G. Gridley and Mr S. Holyer. Amongst others present were Mr and Mrs E.W. Hussey, Admiral J.W.C. Healey, Mr Orpin, Scotney Estate Bailiff, and Mrs Orpin, Messrs C. Brissenden, F. Skinner, F. Walters, W. Bishop, J. Veness, W. Rabson, W. Law, H. Humphrey (fellow workmen), and Mr J. Birchall.

Harry's widow, Doris never remarried, and she died in Canterbury Hospital on 6th November 2001 at the age of 91. They are buried together in Lynsted churchyard extension.

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