Kenneth Koeppen WENDT

Poppy

WENDT, Kenneth Koeppen

Service Number: 4630
Enlisted: 4 September 1915, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Second Lieutenant
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: St Peters, South Australia , 17 July 1898
Home Town: St Peters, Norwood Payneham St Peters, South Australia
Schooling: St Peters College
Occupation: Student
Died: Killed in Action, France, 6 May 1917, aged 18 years
Cemetery: Vaulx Australian Field Ambulance Cemetery
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board, St Peters All Souls Anglican Church Honour Board WW1, St Peters All Souls Anglican Church K.K. Wendt Cross, St Peters All Souls Anglican Church Stained Glass Windows, St Peters Heroes War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

4 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 4630, Adelaide, South Australia
7 Feb 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 4630, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
7 Feb 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 4630, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Miltiades, Adelaide
6 May 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 10th Infantry Battalion, Bullecourt (Second)

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Biography

Kenneth Koeppen Wendt of Adelaide was born at St Peter’s South Australia in 1898. When he enlisted on 27 August 1915, Kenneth was  still a student at St Peter's College and a senior cadet in A Company 78th Battalion.  He dropped his middle name when he signed the attestation form on 4 September and two days later marched into D Company, 2nd Depot Battalion at Exhibition Camp.

In November, he joined the 14th quota of reinforcements for the 12th Battalion but on 1 January joined the 4th quota for the 32nd Battalion. A fortnight later, the plan was changed yet again and he joined the 14th quota for the 10th Battalion, which sailed from Adelaide aboard HMAT Miltiades on 7 February 1916.

At the end of May, eighteen-year-old Private Wendt sailed from Alexandria aboard the Tunison and after being in transit at Divisional Base Depot, Étaples, joined the 10th Battalion in France and took part in the heavy fighting at Mouquet Farm.

In November, Lance Corporal Wendt went to England to attended officer training at No 6 Officer Cadet Training Battalion; he returned to the battalion at Shelter Wood Camp as a second lieutenant on 19 March 1917. 

At 4.20 a.m., on the morning of 15 April when parts of four German divisions attacked the Australian 1st Division’s line, the 11th Battalion, 3rd Brigade was holding an extended length of the line between Louverval and Lagnicourt.

Captain Charles Pope, 11th Battalion was in command of one of three critical posts located well forward of the line and as his post was considered by his CO to be the most important of the three, had ordered Captain Pope to hold it all costs. When a large enemy force surrounded the post, Pope sent Private Ambrose Gledhill back to get more ammunition. Gledhill ran into a number of Germans along the way, one actually tried to surrender to him but Gledhill with more important issues on his mind simply swore at the German and carried on with his task. Upon reaching the HQ, Gledhill reported the situation to Captain Reginald Hemmingway who quickly dispatched an NCO and fifteen men to resupply and support Pope. Along the way, the resupply party found their way barred by at least 50 Germans and with no hope of passing through were forced to return.

When the Germans completely isolated the post, Pope realising the situation was hopeless ordered his men to continue fighting and although they fought desperately to hold their post it, like the other two, were rushed and the men in all three forward posts were killed.

The dogged resistance offered by Pope and his men was not in vain, for it had allowed time for a line of trench to be formed, which was connected to the supports.

To this were brought up shortly after daybreak, two companies of the 10th (South Australia). Two of their platoons under Lieutenants Dougall and Wendt, were at once used by Hemingway for dislodging the party of the enemy which had nested itself in the old trench in his front, … [i]

Second Lieutenant Kenneth Wendt was killed in action on 6 May 1917 while leading his men in a bomb attack; he was 18 years of age. His brother Captain Alan Koeppen Wendt, (OS) was mentioned in despatches while serving in the 3rd Light Horse Regiment and survived the war.



[i] ibid., p. 373

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Biography contributed by Glenunga International High School

Australian association with WWI was a result of military opposition of Britain against Germany. Australian political leaders at the time pledged full support as a dominion of the British Empire, with approximately 420,000 citizens enlisting for military service, from the 4th August 1914. The first notable operation involved the disembarkation of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force at Rabaul on 11 September 1914 prior to acquirement of New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago. On 25 April 1915, the landing of Australian Imperial Force associates on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey generated military conflict which in due course ceased with an evacuation of allied troops. Throughout 1916 and 1917 Australian forces participated in a series of military encounters on the Western Front and in the Middle East, with substantial mortality rates and limited advancement. The succeeding year, troop engagement in pivotal campaigns brought Germany to surrender on 11 November, 1918. For Australia specifically, World War I remains the costliest conflict in terms of casualties with 60,000 killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner (Australian War Memorial, 2017).

Kenneth Koeppen Wendt was the son of Mrs. Jane Wendt and Mr. Herman Wendt, born on the on the 9th August 1989 at St Peter’s South in Adelaide, Australia. Whilst attending St. Peter's College of Adelaide, Wendt obtained military training through affiliation to Senior Cadets in the 78th Battalion of St. Peters resigned (Australian Imperial Force, 1915). His brother, Captain Alan Koeppen Wendt, joined the 7th Reinforcement of 3rd Light Horse Regiment serving until the rectification of World War I (The AIF project, 2017).

Although Wendt’s enlistment occurred on the 27th of August, 1915, attestation papers were officially processed on the 4th September of the same year. Upon recruitment, Kenneth Koeppen Wendt was appointed the service number of 4630.

Wendt remained in the D Company, 2nd Depot Battalion at Exhibition Camp from September 1915. In November, he joined the 1st Depot Battalion of Morphettville, prior to relocation to the 14th quota of reinforcements for the 12th Battalion on the 16th November 1915. Commencing from the 1st of January the following year, Wendt was transferred to the 4th quota of the 32nd Battalion.

On the 16th of January, Kenneth Koeppen Wendt was promoted as a private for the 14th quota of the 10th Battalion of the Australian Infantry Force. The unit embarked aboard HMAT Miltiades on 7th February 1916, arriving at Suarez on the 11th March.

At the end of May, reinforcements of the 10th Battalion sailed from Alexandria aboard the Tunison after transit at Divisional Base Depot in Egypt, joining the 10th Battalion in Étaples, France. The unit proceeded to take part in in the heavy fighting at Mouquet Farm, Pozieres. By October 24th, Kenneth Koeppen Wendt had been appointed Lance Corporal in field.

In November, Wendt travelled to England as a supernumerary soldier of the 10th Battalion A.I.F to attend officer training at Balliol College Oxford, Number 6 Officer’s Cadet Battalion. He obtained his commission, returning as a second lieutenant on the 19th March 1917. Wendt was subsequently relocated to Infantry Reinforcements in France, before joining the 1st Australian Divisional Base Depot in Étaples on the 18th March 1917 (Australian Imperial Force, 1916).

Bullecourt was one of several villages in northern France to be exceedingly fortified as well as incorporated into the defences of the Hindenburg Line in March 1917 to which the German army had withdrawn in order to shorten their front. The relocation was promptly investigated by the British and empire forces, resulting in offensive attacks around Arras in early April 1917. Contributing to the operations, a campaign was launched at Bullecourt on 11 April 1917 resulting in approximately 3,300 casualties as well as 1,170 prisoners. Within due course a renewed attempt was made to secure the fortified village of Bullecourt with Australian and British military forces.  After advancing at 3.45 am on the 3rd May 1917, troops were met opposition which unfulfilled the envelopment plan (Australian War Memorial, 2017). Second lieutenant Kenneth Koeppen Wendt was one of many killed in action between the 3rd and 7th May 1917, passing away on the 6th May aged 18. Wendt was buried at Vaulx advanced Dressing station Cemetery, South-West of Vaux-Vraucourt, 3 miles North East of Bapaurre (Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 1920). In 1920, stained windows were erected at the All Souls Anglican Church of Payneham, St Peters to commemorate the death of Kenneth Koeppen Wendt and remain untainted to this day (RSL Virtual War memorial, 2017).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Australian Imperial Force, 1915, Attestation paper 4630, National Archives of Australia, [ONLINE] Available at: https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=8381122&S=15&R=0

Australian Imperial Force, 1916, Casualty Form-Active Service 4630, National Archives of Australia [ONLINE] Available at: https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx?B=8381122&S=15&R=0

Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 1920, Graves registration report form W.3372 (draft), Commonwealth War Graves Commission [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.cwgc.org/find-war dead/casualty/614846/WENDT,%20KENNETH%20KOEPPEN#carousel2

Australian War Memorial, First World War 1914–18, https://www.awm.gov.au/atwar/ww1/

Australian War Memorial, Enlistment statistics, First World War, https://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/enlistment/ww1/

Australian War Memorial, Second Battle of Bullecourt, https://www.awm.gov.au/military-event/E73/

The AIF project, Alan Koeppen Wendt, https://www.aif.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=318822

RSL Virtual War memorial, St Peters O7 - All Souls Anglican Church, https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au/explore/memorials/867#                

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