Rifleman Kingsley Louis Strangman, R/5935, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, 3rd Battalion, D Company, No. 16 “Rhodesian” Platoon.
Killed in Action 8 May 1915 at the age of 24
Remembered with Honour but with no known grave, YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL, Panel Reference: Panel 51 and 53.
Son of Frederick W. and Alice M. Strangman, of Erin Vale, Somerset West, Cape Province, South Africa. A farmer who left South Africa 3rd October 1914, to enlist in the K.R.R.C.
Kingsley Louis Strangman was born on Erin Vale Farm in 1891, he was the son of Frederick William and Alice Mildred Strangman. He had one brother, Austin Strangman and 2 sisters Doreen Strangman and Kathleen Strangman.
“In 1868 Edward Strangman bought the property (now known as Erinvale Estate, a Golf and Residential development in Somerset West) for the sum of £800. Being an Irishman, he changed the name in memory of his home country to “Erin Vale” (Irish Valley). After his death, his son Frederick continued to farm and had two sons – one of whom was killed in World War One. As his remaining son was a chemist and had no interest in the farm, it passed on to Frederick’s two daughters Doreen and Kathleen when he died in 1942. Major alterations were made to the manor house, masterminded by Doreen who passed away in 1981. The sisters were the last to farm at Erin Vale.” Source: Erinvale Estate History.
As a young man, he was a member of the Rondebosch Cadet Corps, sadly, as yet, I have not been able to establish which school and or University he attended. His record in the Cadets stated that he could ride, was a first class shot and that he had spent time with S.A.R. (South African Rifles). His medical examination, carried out in South Africa, had him at Grade A fitness.
On 3 October 1914, he travelled to England aboard Union Castle Line S.S. Kildonan Castle arriving at Tilbury on 21 October 1914, it usually took about 16 – 18 days for the passage to England. He enlisted in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps on the day before he arrived in London?
He became part of the Rhodesian Platoon, see picture, he is in there somewhere:
“A formative shot of men of the original Rhodesian Platoon of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps (during the course of World War I, there were several such platoons). Taken in November 1914 at the KRRC training depot at Sheerness, Kent, before the platoon went to the Western Front. In the centre of the second row from the front sit the 16th Marquess of Winchester and the platoon’s commanding officer, Captain John Banks Brady. The majority of the men pictured were killed in action, with most of the others severely wounded.”
Only 12 members of this original platoon survived the war. That he was not a Rhodesian appears to have applied to many British South Africans who joined similar units.
“In October 1914, on board the ship (Union Castle Line S.S. Norman, arrived London 4th. November 1914) that took the first draft of Rhodesians from Cape Town to Southampton was Henry Paulet, 16th Marquess of Winchester, who had links with Southern Rhodesia dating back to the 1890s. Coming across Captain John Banks Brady who led the Rhodesian volunteers, the Marquess asked where Brady’s party was headed. Brady said they were on their way to war in France. The Marquess suggested to Brady that since it might be difficult to prevent his men from being separated during the enlistment process, it might be wise for the Rhodesians to join the King’s Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) where he could keep a close watch on them through his connections with the Winchester-based regiment.”
3rd Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps were in Meerut, India, part of Bareilly Brigade, Meerut Division when war broke out in August 1914. They returned to England arriving on the 18th of November and joined 80th Brigade, 27th Division at Magdalen Hill Camp near Winchester. They proceeded to France via Southampton on the 21st of December 1914 landing at Le Havre.
He underwent training at Winchester until 20 December 1914 as part of D Company, No.16 “Rhodesian” Platoon.
“On arrival in England the Rhodesians underwent several weeks training at the KRRC training depot at Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. The training was intensive and went on from 06h00 to 21h00, seven days a week. While at Sheerness the Rhodesians broke the Regimental rifle range record of seven years’ standing. Most, if not all of the Rhodesians knew their way around a rifle, having spent much time in the Rhodesian bush hunting big game; whereas many of their English counterparts had never held a rifle. Each batch of Rhodesians that passed through Sheerness lived up to the reputation established by that first draft of being “crack” shots.”
“In December, the Rhodesians were sent to France, joining the 3rd Battalion KRRC (3/KRRC), mustering as No. 16 “Rhodesian” Platoon, ‘D’ Company, with Captain Brady as its commander. In the wake of the formation of an explicit KRRC “Rhodesian” platoon, Rhodesian volunteers began to concentrate in the KRRC and, within the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, both of which raised Rhodesian platoons. The Regiment was soon thought of as Rhodesia’s ‘own’ regiment.”
He returned to England on 10 January 1915, where he served with 5th. Battalion, it is not clear if he was wounded, he returned to duty in France with the 3rd. Battalion on 1 April 1915.
Second Battle of Ypres 22nd Apr to 14th May
St. Eloi, 8th May 1915.
“The 3rd and 4th Battalions were seriously involved on 8th May. The Germans continued to try to break through and the fighting was severe.
The enemy used gas on 24th April, and 1st, 2nd and 5th May; it was always accompanied by a heavy bombardment which completely destroyed our trenches.
The Battalions were relieved on the night of 13th/14th May. Both received high praise from the Divisional and Corps Commanders and the thanks of the Commander-in -Chief.”
Losses, killed or missing in action:
3rd Battalion (in 25 days): Officers 17; Other Ranks 525 (of which one was Kingsley).
On 8 May in the Second Battle of Ypres he was killed in action, his body was never recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial – its large Hall of Memory contains names on stone panels of 54,395 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the Salient but whose bodies have never been identified or found. On completion of the memorial, it was discovered to be too small to contain all the names as originally planned. An arbitrary cut-off point of 15 August 1917 was chosen and the names of 34,984 UK missing after this date were inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing instead.
His parents, after some official “paperwork”, received his medals on 31st. August 1921. He was awarded the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.
His parents also received the “Dead Man’s Penny” – The Memorial Plaque was issued after the First World War to the next-of-kin of all British and Empire service personnel who were killed as a result of the war.
The plaques were made of bronze, and hence popularly known as the “Dead Man’s Penny”, because of the similarity in appearance to the somewhat smaller penny coin. 1,355,000 plaques were issued, which used a total of 450 tonnes of bronze and continued to be issued into the 1930s to commemorate people who died as a consequence of the war. The plaques were issued in a pack with a commemorative scroll from King George V. Though sometimes the letter and scroll were sent first.