John William Kemp
Service number 20816

Surviving the war and having returned to Australia, Gunner John Kemp was back in England in the 1920s, serving in the Royal Air Force.

In September 1924 via the RAF records office at Middlesex, Aircraftman Kemp applied for the British War Medal and Victory Medal to which he was entitled for his service in the AIF during the Great War.

The son of William and Louisa Kemp of Canungra, John was a 21-year-old locomotive fireman when he enlisted in Brisbane on November 16, 1915.

He left Sydney with the 33rd Battery of the 9th field Artillery Brigade on the HMAT Argyllshire on May 11, 1916 and after arriving at Devonport on July 10 went to Lark Hill for further training.

John paid a high price for being absent without leave for five days in September and then a week in November, forfeiting a total of 63 days pay.

On November 24 he proceeded to France, which was experiencing its worst winter in decades, joining the 3rd Division Ammunition Column. On February 21, 1917, John was attached to the 3rd Division Train as a loader.

He rejoined the 3rd Divisional Ammunition Column on detachment on November 4, and continued in this role until May 1918, as part of the supply chain feeding the voracious field guns at the front.

In a conflict defined by artillery, it was a massive task involving rail, tramways and horse-drawn transport and as ammunition stores and transport were prime targets for enemy guns and aircraft it was also a dangerous assignment.

John was invalided to England with a medical condition in May 1918 and did not return to the front.

He was at the military hospital at Sutton Veny when the war ended and on December 20 was discharged to the Command Depot at Weymouth.

On January 1, 1919, John married Caroline Sheppard, a 29-year-old widow from Bournemouth, who was six years his senior.

He embarked with his wife and child on the Canberra on July 23, 1919. The ship docked in Sydney on September 16 and John was discharged from the AIF on October 31.

An ammunition dump with vehicles of an ammunition column attending to collect.

(Image: Public Domain.)

“Went on to serve in the RAF after the war.”


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