I first noted Kenneth Frost’s name when I was researching the 1st Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment. He arrived to join the battalion on 17 November 1914 when it was at a low ebb and being rebuilt at Merville after virtual destruction in the First Battle of Ypres. The battalion’s war diary never mentions him again and I never really followed up to see what happened to him.
And then, years later, I came across this when carrying out a study of a different regiment:
Kenneth Frost’s service record revealed his story, some of which was filled in by correspondence between his father and the War Office.
- On 22 June 1909 he enlisted as Private 709 of the 28th (County of London) Battalion of the London Regiment (Artists’ Rifles). At the time, Kenneth was aged 18, was employed as a clerk and lived with his widowed father at 11 Mayford Road, Wandsworth Common in South London.
- He was embodied for full-time service on 5 August 1914 and signed the Imperial Service Obligation at the Tower of London on 10 November 1914.
- Recently promoted to Corporal, he went to France with the battalion on 26 October 1914. It proceeded to Bailleul where it was then established as an as an Officers Training Corps.
- Kenneth was appointed Temporary Second Lieutenant (on probation) and posted to the 1st South Staffords, joining it on 17 November.
- His father said that Kenneth served with the South Staffords for approximately six weeks and then went for four or five weeks for machine gun practice at the School of Instruction for Officers at Saint-Omer.
- He was finally commissioned as a Temporary Second Lieutenant on 27 January 1915, although the eventual public announcement in the “London Gazette” did not come until 19 February 1915.
- Kenneth was posted to the 1st Battalion of the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment). Its diary reports his arrival on 16 February 1915. The battalion was in billets in Bailleul.
- He was killed in action on 22 February 1915.
17 February 1915:
18 February 1915:
19 February 1915:
20 February 1915:
21 February 1915:
The dead were Sgt L/6335 Frederick William Davies and Pte S/8810 William Charles Chamberlain, neither of whom have a known grave, and Pte 7430 Herbert Manning and L/Cpl 967 Alfred Steane, both of whom are known to be buried in Tuileries British Cemetery in Zillebeke.
22 February 1915:
Kenneth Frost has no known grave today and his memory is commemorated by his name being inscribed on the Royal West Kent Regiment panel at the Ypres Memorial (Menin Gate).
In all, records show that 22 officers and men of the battalion lost their lives this day. Of these, 8 including Lieut. John Edward Guy Brown, are known to be buried at Tuileries British Cemetery; 1 man lies in Bedford House Cemetery (possibly having been evacuated and died of wounds); and finally 1 man lies a distance away in Poelcapelle British Cemetery, his remains having been identified from his ID disc during battlefield clearance in 1923.
Further family tragedy
Kenneth’s elder brother Captain Alan Frost, also of the Artists’ Rifles but aattached to 259th Company of the Machine Gun Corps, was killed in action in East Africa on 17 October 1917. He now lies in Dar-es-Salaam War Cemetery. Alan had originally been buried in Mtama Cemetery in Tanganyika and was brought into Dar-es-Salaam in 1968.
Kenneth and Alan are both commemorated at the war memorial at St Mary Magdalene Church, 210 Trinity Road, Wandsworth Common, London SW17 7HP.
- Service record of Kenneth Frost: National Archives WO339/23373
- War diary 1st South Staffordshire Regiment: National Archives WO95/1664
- War diary 1st Royal West Kent Regiment WO95/1553
- “London Gazette” (thegazette.co.uk)
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission (cwgc.org)