Kenneth C North
Date of birth: 31.03.1887
Date of death: 21.10.1914
Area: Stanley, Wakefield
Regiment: 4th (Queens Own) Hussars
Family information: Husband of Frances Evelyn North nee Berry
On the 4th August 1914, when war was declared, the 4th (Queens Own) Hussars were attached to the 3rd Cavalry Division, based in Dublin. The 4th Hussars, in Division, sailed directly from Ireland to France, landing on the 18th August. Hostilities began on the 23rd August at Mons, in Belgium. However, by the 26th August, after the German Army had breached the defensive lines at Le Cateau, the Allied armies were forced into a series of withdrawals. The withdrawal continued to the River Marne, by which time the German lines had become stretched and the advance stalled.
The Allied armies began their advance from the Marne on 6th September, the same day that the 3rd Cavalry Division was transferred to Gough’s command. One week later, the 4th Hussars were pushing down the valley of the Aisne, towards Conde, when the cavalry, under Gough’s command, was renamed the 2nd Cavalry Division. After two weeks fighting on the Aisne, the British Expeditionary Force was withdrawn and sent northwards to Flanders. The 2nd Cavalry Division left the Aisne by road, on 3rd October, arriving at St Pol on the 9th October. Now without horses, they were to fight as infantry. The Fist Battle of Ypres began on the 10th October 1914, with phases at La Bassee, Messines, Armentieres and Langemarck.
On 17th October, the day after the 4th (Queens Own) Hussars had driven the enemy out of Bas Warneton, Lieutenant North had returned to the village. There he climbed the church tower and sketched the German trench line to the south. This information was then passed on for use by the Artillery. By 23rd October, the Cavalry Corps was located between Messines and Hollebeke, with orders to entrench and hold out at all costs.
On the 29th October the German Army launched a major assault, between Gheluvelt and Messines. The attack commenced under cover of fog at 5.30 hrs, with no preliminary bombardment. The British line was broken at some places, but the enemy did not exploit these gains. The following day, the German attack was aimed at capturing the Messines Ridge. By 10.00 hrs the German infantry had captured Zandvoorde and turned their attention towards the Comines canal and Hollebeke.
Lieutenant North was in charge of the Maxim Gun detachment when, on 30th October, they were isolated near Hollebeke. However he managed to get both guns away in a wheelbarrow, with his detachment covering the withdrawal. The following day, the 31st October, Lieutenant North and his detachment were covering the canal bridge half a mile north of Hollebeke when they were shelled by enemy guns. Lieutenant North was killed, but the 4th Hussars defended the bridge until relieved.
Lieutenant North was initially buried on the north bank of the canal, under the bridge near where he fell. After the war his grave was brought into the Oak Tree Dump Cemetery, which is located 5 km south of Ypres, on the road to Armentieres. The cemetery now contains 111 burials from the First World War, 5 of which are unidentified.
On the 26th June 1920, a tablet in the memory of Kenneth Croft North was unveiled in St Mary Magdalene Church, Outwood. The tablet is in the form of a bronze profile of the Officer, on a base of Sicilian marble.
Kenneth Croft North, born in 1887, was the son of Arthur and Mary Fearnley North of Leeds. His father was a solicitor and his mother was the daughter of Samuel Croft, a builder and Alderman of Leeds. His parents had married in 1880 and for a time lived at Oak Lea, Far Headingley and at Gledhow Hall, Headingley, Leeds. Later the family moved to Fieldhead, at Stanley near Wakefield, the home of his widowed grandmother, Mary Croft. At the time of the 1901 census Kenneth Croft North was a boarder at Oatlands College, Harrogate, but that same year was admitted to Rugby School.
He remained at Rugby School until 1906, when he was admitted to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. On gaining his commission in 1907 he was posted to the 4th (Queens Own) Hussars, serving in South Africa. In 1910 Kenneth Croft North was promoted to Lieutenant. On 9th December 1911 Kenneth Croft North married Frances Evelyn Berry, the second daughter of Henry Berry of Donisthorpe House, Moor Allerton, Leeds. After their marriage Lieutenant North and his wife lived at Star Hill, Hartford Bridge near Basingstoke, Hampshire.