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Jonathan Saunders

Remembering First Officer KIA with Royal West Kent's

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Jonathan Saunders

Remembering Lt Colin Knox Anderson, who sadly became the first officer fatality to the Royal West Kent Regiment in the Great War.

At the outbreak of the Great War Colin Anderson left his home at Star Hill and his employment in Rochester as a civil engineer to join the 1st Bn of the Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment). He had been a Special Reserve officer with the 3rd Bn of that Regiment since 1908.

Anderson had been brought up locally, the family living at "Hollywood" in Frindsbury, although he had been a boarder at Malvern College during school terms. He was a well known local sportsman – a keen footballer and opening bowler for the Band of Brothers and other clubs.

The 1st Bn Royal West Kent's were one of the very first British units to engage the Germans in the Great War. This took place in the early morning of 23rd August 1914, when "A" Company was detailed to cross the canal bridge at Tertre and provide a defensive cover for a reconnaissance party of Cyclists and Hussars.

Unbeknown to the British army the German advance through France was more rapid than had been anticipated and suddenly "A" Company, about 200 strong, faced two entire German battalions supported by artillery.

The West Kent's opened fire at about 500 yds range and although heavily outnumbered they were successful in holding the enemy on the other side of the canal whilst they made a fighting withdrawal back across the bridge.

On this first day when the British army were involved in fighting on the Western Front, Colin Knox Anderson of Rochester, became one of the first British army officers killed in action in the Great War. It had been quite early on in the fight when he was hit, killed instantly by a gun shot wound to the head. Due to the retreat across the bridge his body had to be left behind but was buried by the Germans in what is now known as Hautrage Military Cemetery in Belgium. He was 26 years of age.

His father was anxious to have some form of local memorial to his son and found a suitable interest in the proposed building of a new church at the top of Rock Avenue, Gillingham. A sizeable donation followed and a memorial tablet to Lt Anderson was placed in the wall of the newly built St. Augustine's church to record his sacrifice.

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DavoT

He is remembered. Rest in peace Colin.

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Jonathan Saunders

As this may have some interest to those interested in our current Remembering Today, L/Cpl William Joseph Valentine 1/RWK, I bring this back to the top of our Forum for 23 Aug 2010.

Regards,

Jonathan S

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