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Matthew Nurick McKenna (1885-1917)

Ferryhill coal miner served as an able seaman in the Royal Naval Division

Matthew McKenna was born in Ferryhill on 1 January 1885. His father was Tow Law born coal miner John McKenna (born 1853). His mother was Mary McKenna (born 1864) from Cassop. Matthew was one of seven known children in the family with four brothers and two sisters. The McKenna family were recorded living at 9 School Street, Hamilton, Scotland at the time of the 1891 census. By 1901 they had returned to England and were living at 30 Reading Room Row, Trimdon Grange. Matthew was working as a pony driver in a local coal mine. He married Isabella McKenna nee Lister in Easington in 1913.

Matthew enlisted as a private in the Durham Light Infantry on 2 September 1914 but just over a week later transferred to the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) at Crystal Palace. He was drafted to the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF) for operations in the Dardanelles on 28 June 1915 and joined Hood Battalion, Royal Naval Division. He was treated for enteritis in September 1915 and re-joined his battalion on 2 December 1915.

In 1916 Hood Battalion moved to France. On 10 November 1916 Matthew suffered an accidental bayonet wound to his left hand and was invalided to the UK ten days later. He was drafted to the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) on 15 June 1917 and re-joined Hood Battalion in France. The battalion war diary records that on 23 December 1917 the divisional headquarters was bombed and there were casualties amongst the battalion guard. It later records that four other ranks were wounded and that three of them, including Matthew, had subsequently died of wounds. He was treated at No 21 Casualty Clearing Station and buried in Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery, Somme, France. He is remembered locally on two memorials in Shotton Colliery detailed below.

Matthew Nurick McKenna was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal for his service in World War One.

Civil Parish: Trimdon

Birth date: 01-Jan-1885

Death date: 23-Dec-1917

Armed force/civilian: Navy

Residence: Ferryhill (Birth place)
9 School Street, Hamilton, Scotland (1891 census)
30 Reading Room Row, Trimdon Grange (1901 census)
Old File Sheds, 12, Dean Crescent, Shotton Colliery (Address for Widow at time of death)

Employment: Coal miner – pony driver (1901 census)

Family: Parents: John McKenna (b 1853), Mary McKenna (b 1864)
Siblings: John McKenna (b 1881), Charles McKenna (b 1889), Joseph McKenna (b 1891), Andrew McKenna (b 1896), Jane Alice McKenna (b 1897), Mary McKenna (b 1900)
Spouse: Isabella McKenna nee Lister

Military service:

Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Service Number KP/880
Able Seaman
Hood Battalion
Royal Naval Division

Medal(s): 1914-15 Star
Victory Medal
British War Medal

Memorial(s): Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery, Somme, France
Statue 1914-18, Shotton Colliery
Triptych 1914-18, St Saviour’s Church, Shotton Colliery

Gender: Male

Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham

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