J53950 Boy 1st Class William Kenneth Edge, Royal Navy
Born on 1st January 1901 in Stoke Lyne, Bicester
Died on 31st August 1964 in Luton
William Kenneth Edge was born in Stoke Lyne, Bicester, Oxfordshire, the fourth of the 5 children of Frederick Charles Edge and Fanny Alice née Golder.
His oldest brother Archibald Francis was born on 13th December 1892, followed by Edward Christopher Frederick on 2nd August 1894. His sister Victoria Evelyn was then born on 26th May 1897 and his youngest brother William, who died as an infant, in 1903.
In the 1901 Census, Kenneth’s family lived at Swifts House, Stoke Lyne, Oxfordshire. His father was a Domestic Stud Groom. However, in the final Quarter of 1903, shortly after the death of her infant son William, Kenneth’s mother, Fanny Alice died aged 38. She left four children: Archibald, 11, Christopher, 9, Victoria, 6 and Kenneth, 2.
However, in the Spring of 1907, Kenneth’s widowed father Frederick married Annie Peverell in the Bicester District of Oxfordshire. By 1911 they lived at the Red Lion in Little Missenden, Buckinghamshire where Kenneth’s father was the Licensed Victualler. Kenneth was the only child at home on Census night; his brother Archibald and sister Victoria were with their Grandparents, but we do not know whether they were living there or just visiting.
Joining the Little Gaddesden Boy Scouts 7
K Edge aged 14 joined the Lion Patrol of the Little Gaddesden Boy Scouts in June 1915. The Scouts met at the Armoury, at 27 Little Gaddesden, the home of their Scout Master, Harry Temple. Miss Bridget Talbot was their President and Mr Humphrey Talbot their Treasurer. Over the next year, before joining the Royal Navy in June 1916, Kenneth won his Pathfinder and Ambulance badges. He, his father and his sister Victoria had moved to Little Gaddesden where his father became Hotel Keeper of the Bridgewater Arms Hotel.
Scouts in the other Patrols who served were: Stanley Austin, Albert Basford, Sidney Bellamy, Edward Bunn, Philip Collier, Donald Goodman, Francis Green, Gerald Green, Arthur Halsey, Frank (Henry F.) Johnson, Arthur Pinnock, George Pinnock, Arthur Whitman and Jim Whitman.
Kenneth’s Naval Service Record lists his previous occupation as a Dairyman; Milk Roundsman had been crossed out. He almost certainly worked at Bridgewater Farm, the dairy farm adjacent to the Bridgewater Arms Hotel. The farm was then owned by the hotel owners and managed by members of the Andrews family; milk could either be delivered or be collected from the farm.
On 2nd June 1916, Kenneth joined the Royal Navy as a Boy Sailor 2nd Class, service number J53950. He was then 15½ years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall with a 33½ inch chest; he had light brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion.
His initial training took place at the shore training establishment HMS Ganges at Shotley near Ipswich where, on 1st December 1916, he was promoted Boy Sailor 1st Class. A week later he was posted to HMS Dreadnought at Sheerness. She was then the flagship of the Third Battle Squadron, whose role was to protect the East Coast following the bombardment of Lowestoft by part of the German High Seas Fleet the previous year. Subsequently, in March 1918, HMS Dreadnought became flagship of the Fourth Battle Squadron, a role she held until the end of July 1918.
From 7th August to 13th September 1918, Kenneth was based at HMS Pembroke, a shore barracks at Chatham. Then, from 14th September to 15th November 1918, he served as a Boy Sailor 1st Class aboard HMS General Craufurd, a Lord Clive Class Monitor, built in 1915 to engage German shore artillery in Belgium. When the ship was put into reserve after the Armistice, Kenneth returned to HMS Pembroke at Chatham. For his War Service, Kenneth was awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.
An addition to the Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour 9
The original, pre-Second World War, wording on the left hand panel of the Little Gaddesden War Memorial on the village green read:
This memorial is erected in honour of the one hundred and thirty six men who went from the villages of Little Gaddesden, Hudnall and Ringshall and served in the war of 1914 = 1918. The names of those who gave their lives for their country are cut on the stones here. The names of those who returned to England are preserved in the Church.
However, the Church Roll of Honour lists only 119 men; one of those omitted is Kenneth Edge, possibly because he did not move to the village until about 1915. His name has been added to the 2018 Centenary Revision of the Roll of Honour.
Continued Service in the Royal Navy 1
On 1st January 1919, his 18th Birthday, Kenneth Edge signed up for 12 years’ service in the Royal Navy and was promoted to Ordinary Seaman. His Naval Service Record lists his ships and rank:
- 27th January 1919 – 8th July 1919, Ordinary Seaman, HMS Pembroke I at Chatham
- 9th July 1919 – 13th August 1919, Able Seaman, HMS Pembroke I
- 14th August 1919 – 6th November 1921, Able Seaman, HMS Gibraltar, a destroyer depot ship
- 7th November 1921 – 23rd June 1922, Able Seaman, HMS Pembroke I
- 24th June 1922 – 6th April 1924, Able Seaman, HMS Despatch, 5th Light Cruiser Squadron, China Station
- 7th April 1924 – 31st December 1924, Leading Seaman, HMS Despatch, 5th Light Cruiser Squadron, China Station
- 1st January 1925 – 7th March 1925, Leading Seaman, HMS Weymouth, a light cruiser in the Nore Reserve
- 8th March 1925 – 27th April 1925, Leading Seaman, HMS Pembroke I
Discharged from the Navy by Purchase 1
On 28th April 1925, Kenneth Edge was discharged from the Royal Navy by purchase and joined the Royal Fleet Reserve. By then he had completed just over half of the 12 years to which he had signed up on his 18th Birthday. Throughout his period of service, his character was recorded as very good.
The 1925 Electoral Register shows Kenneth living with his father and stepmother at The Bridgewater Arms, Little Gaddesden, where he had been registered as an Absent Voter since his 21st birthday in 1922.
In 1931 William Kenneth Edge married Winifred Edith Lomas. They lived first at 17 Hillborough Road, Luton and moved to 5 May Street, Luton by 1933. By 1939 William worked, according to the 1939 Register, as a “Progress Engineer Inspector”.
Then, in 1944, Kenneth married Miriam Dean; their address in 1945 was 59 Bury Park, Luton and their son Kenneth was born in 1951.
William Kenneth Edge of 58 Hillary Crescent, Luton died in the Luton and Dunstable Hospital on 31st August 1964.
On November 12th 1929 at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden, Kenneth’s sister Victoria, aged 32, married Arthur Ralph Kibby, 26, a Clerk resident in Little Gaddesden and son of Walter Samuel Kibby, Army Pensioner. The Kibbys lived at 14 Little Gaddesden, almost next door to the Edges at the Bridgewater Arms.
In 1916 Ralph Kibby, aged 13, took over as the organist of Little Gaddesden Church when Douglas Harrison the Schoolmaster (also the Church Organist and Choirmaster) was called up for military service. Ralph was church organist until 1934; he was also organist at the Ashridge College Chapel for some fifty years, having joined Ashridge College as a Clerk in the 1920s.
By September 1939, Ralph and Victoria lived at 3 Ashridge Cottages, Little Gaddesden. However, in his 1976 Burial Register entry, Ralph’s address was recorded as Ashridge College. He and Victoria, who died aged 88 in 1985, are buried in the New Churchyard.
7. The Little Gaddesden Scout Diary 1912 – 1922, HALS, Hertford, Acc 3131
9. Leonhardt, John (ed), 2002, A Century Remembered – a celebration of the Millennium in Little Gaddesden, Rural Heritage Society of Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Ashridge
14. Little Gaddesden Marriage Register
15. Little Gaddesden Burial Register
Do you have any questions about the information recorded here? Or do you have any further information that you can share with us about those from Little Gaddesden who died or fought for their country? In either case, please contact Jane Dickson at email@example.com.
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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson