Kenneth Gordon KEECH


KEECH, Kenneth Gordon

Service Number: 752
Enlisted: 27 August 1914, An original of G Company
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 2nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Rylstone, New South Wales, Australia, 14 August 1886
Home Town: Rylstone, Mid-Western Regional, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed in Action, Pozieres, France, 24 July 1916, aged 29 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Tamworth ANZAC Park Memorial Gates, Tamworth Methodist Church Circuit Roll of Honour, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

27 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 752, 2nd Infantry Battalion, An original of G Company
18 Oct 1914: Involvement Private, SN 752, 2nd Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
18 Oct 1914: Embarked Private, SN 752, 2nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Suffolk, Sydney
24 Jul 1916: Involvement Corporal, SN 752, 2nd Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières

500 killed that day!

Kenneth Gordon Keech joined the AIF 28th August 1914 and became part of C Company 2nd Battalion. About six weeks later, after some initial training they left Australia by ship. Originally they had been expecting to be sent to the UK for more training and to enter the European theatre, but the situation in the Dardanelles had become more intense and so they were sent to Egypt instead. (The training camps in the UK were also overcrowded at the time, this also added to the decisions made). They arrived there a couple weeks before Christmas 1914. On 5th April they joined the "Derfflinger" for Gallipoli arriving i the 2nd and 3rd waves on 25th April in the early dawn light. "C" company was held in reserve at first, then entered a battle to try and hold the line between "Walker's Ridge" and "Russell's Top" where they dug in for some time before being sent back to the beach area. Kenneth was wounded on his lower leg in June 1915, was evacuated back to Egypt where he was in hospital and then a convalescence camp, promoted to Corporal and eventually left Alexandria for Marseilles in March 1916. It looks like he rejoined his unit in the transport Section in August 1915, but I can't see as yet if that was in Egypt or back on the Peninsular. During March, April, May, June and July, the 2nd Battalion found itself in the Battle of the Somme, around the Pozieres region and encountered heavy fighting at times over a piece of land hardly worth worrying about in reflection and with 20/20 hindsight. The day that Kenneth was killed, 500 Australians also lost their lives out there in that hell hole! It is reported that he 'was blown to bits" and could not be buried, but is instead remembered at Villers-Brettoneux. He came from a very large family of 16 children, 10 boys, 6 girls, and his brother Aubrey Charles also enlisted and was killed in action October 1918. Their elderly parents wrote of their grief, and how they had been depending on Kenneth to continue the family farm and take care of them in their old age.

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Biography contributed by Stephen Brooks

Kenneth Keech was one of the very first Australians to enlist, and he left Australia during October 1914 for Egypt. He was from a family of 16 children, the son of Edwin Harris and Charlotte Henrietta Keech of Rylstone, New South Wales.

He was also part of the first day landing at Anzac Cove and he did much heavy fighting up until 8 June 1915 when he suffered a gunshot wound to the leg and was evacuated. Kenneth was a prolific letter writer and many of his efforts were published in newspapers of the day, with their vivid descriptions of training in Egypt and the fighting on Gallipoli. Kenneth rejoined his unit on Gallipoli during September 1915 and fought through until the evacuation.

He was killed in action at Pozieres on 24 July 1916, evidence in his Red Cross file suggests he was killed instantly by a high explosive shell. He has no known grave.

His younger brother, 3213 Pte. Aubrey Charles Keech 56th Battalion AIF, was killed in action in France on 1 October 1918, aged 23.