Date of birth: 30th July 1888
Parents: Sheldon and Fanny Kench
Wife: Lydia Marguerite Spark (nee Baldwin, formerly Kench)
Address: 142 Emscote Road
Occupation: Worked alongside father at the family mill at Emscote
Leonard Sheldon Kench was born in Leamington on 30th July 1888. He was baptised at All Saints Church Warwick on 29th August 1888. He had two older sisters Fannie and Marion who were born around 1883.
Leonard’s father, Sheldon Kench, was a town councillor for Warwick Town Council for a number of years and was active in the Warwick community in his day.
Leonard’s sisters both married and became Fannie Oldacres and Marion Price.
Paul Kench writes: ‘Leonard joined his father’s business in 1908, having served his apprenticeship under Percy Townsend at the Albion Flour Mill at Worcester.’
At the time of the 1911 census, Leonard was living at Rock Mill House, Milverton, Leamington Spa with his parents. They had two live-in servants. Rock Mill House is on the Leamington side of the boundary with Warwick and is alongside Rock Mill and a short distance from Emscote Mill, both Kench family businesses.
Leonard married Lydia Marguerite Baldwin in 1912 and they had a son Anthony, who was just two years old when his father died in 1916. Anthony went on to serve as a pilot in WWII.
Paul Kench ‘At the onset of WW1 in 1914 several employees from the mill left to serve in the army, followed by Leonard in October 1914 – leading to Leonard’s death in 1916 that presented major management problems at the mill as Sheldon had returned to cover his son’s wartime absence.’
Leonard’s cousin, Frank Lawrence Kench, served in WWI as part of the NZ Expedition. He survived the war and returned to New Zealand where be married and started a family.
The following article is a full copy of Leonard Sheldon Kench’s entry in the Oundle School World War I Memorial Archive. Our sincere thanks to the Archivist at Oundle School and C Pendrill – Yarrow Fellow
LEONARD SHELDON KENCH 29 JUNE 1916
Wednesday 29 Jun 2016
Captain Leonard Sheldon Kench of Dryden House died on 29th June 1916. Six days earlier, he had been seriously wounded by a hand-grenade whilst out in front of the trenches, not far from Neuve Chapelle in France, leading a working party. He was buried in the cemetery of Longuenesse near St Omer in France.
A native of Warwick, he joined the Territorials before the war and took a commission in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and was promoted Captain soon after the war started. He reached France early in 1916.
At Oundle, he was in Dryden House in North Street from 1902-1906. He was keen on the OTC and a good shot, being a leading member of one of the first Oundle shooting teams to be sent to Bisley. Here, he and another boy called Dawson were the best shots for Oundle.
After leaving Oundle he was sent as a milling pupil to Worcester. He had married in 1912 and was 27 years old at the time of his death.
The following excerpts appeared in the Warwick Advertiser on 15th July 1916:
A memorial plaque was situated ‘on the right of the West Door’ in All Saints Church but was sadly lost following the demolition of the old church. It read:
‘In loving memory of
Leonard Sheldon Kench of this Parish.
Captain in the Royal Warwickshire Regt. T. F.
who died of wounds in France
June 29th 1916 in his 28th year
and was buried at St Omer’
Rank & Number: Captain, not given
Regiment/Service: 2nd/7th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Brigade/Division: 182nd Brigade, 61st Division
Date of death: Thursday, June 29, 1916
Cause of death/Battle: Died of wounds
Commemorated/Buried: Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, Pas de Calais
Awards: British War Medal, Victory Medal
Commemorated locally at: All Saints Church
Here is a copy of a page from the London Gazette from 25th August 1908, showing Leonard as a Second Lieutenant with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment’s Volunteer force:
Excerpt supplied by Paul Kench of New Zealand, whose Grandfather, Frank Lawrence Kench, was Leonard’s cousin:
‘He held a commission in the Territorial Force for some time. On the outbreak of war he rejoined his regiment and was shortly afterwards gazetted Captain. He was in training with the z/yth Royal Warwickshire Regiment until they were moved up to the front early in 1916. On the night of June 23, 1916, he was out in front of the trenches with a working party, when he was badly wounded by a hand grenade. He died from the effects of this wound on June 29, 1916.’
Here is a letter written by Leonard’s father, Sheldon Kench, to Mrs Baldwin, Leonard’s mother in law. It seems that she had heard news that Leonard’s company had ‘run away’ from him when injured and he wanted to explain that this was not the case:
- Paul Kench
- All Saints Church
- C Pendrill – Yarrow Fellow
- Oundle School
- Unlocking Warwick Research Group
- Warwick Advertiser excerpt courtesy of Warwickshire County Record Office