The interesting framed Great War Palestine Third Battle of Gaza Officer Casualty trio and plaque awarded to Captain and Acting Major H.L. Kekewich, 1st/1st Sussex Yeomanry and 16th Sussex Yeomanry Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment, who saw service in command of ‘C’ Company at Gallipoli, and later took part in the defence of the Suez Canal and then during the advance into Palestine, and was serving as the Battalion’s second-in-command when he was killed in action during the attack on the Turkish lines in front of Gaza on 6th November 1917. A metals broker in the family business in London, and a resident of Kidbrooke Park in Forest Row near Hove, where he was the Master Scout with the Boy Scout group that he founded, he was the eldest of three brother’s to be killed in the war.
Trio, Plaque and Scroll: 1914-1915 Star; (CAPT. H.L. KEKEWICH. SUSS. YEO.); British War Medal and Victory Medal; (CAPT. H.L. KEKEWICH.); Memorial Plaque, named to; (HANBURY LEWIS KEKEWICH); Memorial Scroll, named to: ‘Capt. Hanbury Lewis Kekewich Sussex Yeomanry’. These are superbly framed in a hinged fitted case with scroll inset into the lid, and the trio and plaque inset into the base, both inner faces glazed, as designed to rest open on a mantlepiece.
Condition: Extremely Fine.
Hanbury Lewis Kekewich was born on 30th July 1885 in London in the family’s home in Ebury Street, the son of Lewis Pendarves and Lilian Emily Kekewich, nee Hanbury, his father being a metal broker agent, and Hanbury was the eldest of three brothers. His mother was the daughter of Sampson Hanbury, part of the brewing family of Truman, Hanbury, and Buxton’s. As of 1891 he was living with his family at Twisden’s in Foots Cray near Bromley, Kent, and then went on to be educated at Eton College through to 1903, having been housed in Broadbent House.
Having left school and joined the family business, he travelled for the firm, being noted as on an incoming passenger list in 1907 on a ship travelling from New York to Liverpool, and her made another return journey from New York in 1912. As of 1911 he was living at Kidbrooke Park in Forest Row near Hove, Sussex, and working as a metal merchant in his fathers business, along with his brother George. He later had a home in Clapham Common, London, but whenever he was down from London at Kidbrooke Park, he was kept busy as the Master Scout with the Boy Scout group that he founded in Forest Row.
Kekewich who was originally commissioned into the Territorial Force as a 2nd Lieutenant with the Sussex Yeomanry on 31st May 1910, and was then mobilised on the outbreak of the Great War as a Lieutenant and temporary Captain with the 1st/1st Sussex Yeomanry, and serving with the machine gun section, he then commanded ‘C’ Company. Having married Dorothy Anne Lane at Saint Barnabas Church in Clapham Common on 1st November 1914, a daughter, Sylvia Lilian was born in 1916.
Kekewich was promoted to Captain on 3rd February 1915, and was based with his regiment at Maresfield, but in September 1915 it marched to Wrotham in Kent and then entrained for Liverpool, and on 25th September it embarked aboard the RMS Olympic, and headed for Lemnos where is arrived on 1st October. On the 8th October the 1st Sussex Yeomanry landed at Gallipoli, Kekewich in command of ‘C’ Company, and men soon started to come down with enteritis and other illnesses. Men of the regiment served in the trenches at Border Barricade and Fusilier Bluff. On 30th December the regiment was evacuated to Mudros, and it must having been then that Kekewich gathered the seed of a tree which having been planted, is now still standing at Pond House in Belsted, Essex, a plaque affixed to the trunk reading ‘Seed sent by Hanbury Kekewich from Mudros 1915’.
In February 1916 Kekewich was moved with his regiment to Egypt, and then took up positions to defence the Suez Canal and spent almost a year there. His battalion was retitled the 16th Sussex Yeomanry Battalion of the Sussex Regiment whilst located at Mersa Matruh on 3rd January 1917, and saw dismounted service under the command of the 230th Brigade in the 74th (Yeomanry) Division in Palestine. Kekewich was still in command of ‘C’ Company.
Promoted to Acting Major on 6th July 1917 for service with Battalion Headquarters, Kekewich was then appointed second-in-command of the 16th Sussex Yeomanry Battalion, and commanding the Headquarters Company during the attack on the Turkish lines defending Gaza. During the action which became known as the Third Battle of Gaza, Kekewich was killed in action on 6th November 1917, along with about 125 other members of his battalion, and he is buried in Bersheeba War Cemetery in Palestine, and is also commemorated by name on the Eton College War Memorial and the Forest Row War Memorial as well as on a plaque in the parish church there, and also is commemorated on the Hove Library World War I Memorial, and the Middlesex County Cricket Club War Memorial.
The Western Times reported his death on 19th November 1917 saying: ‘Captain Hanbury L. Kekewich, Yeomanry, killed on November 6, aged 32, was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Kekewich. He had been seven years in the Yeomanry, and was a very efficient officer.’
Aged 28 at the time of his death, his parents are then shown as living at 45, Brunswick Square, Hove, Sussex. The eldest of four sons, he was the last of the three of the sons to die in the war, his brother George had been died of wounds only a few weeks early during the Third Battle of Gaza on 28th October 1917 whilst serving with the County of London Yeomanry attached 103rd Machine Gun Company.