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Frederick Kenmir (1893-1917)

Spennymoor cabinet maker served in the Royal Marine Divisional Engineers

Frederick Kenmir was born in Spennymoor in 1893. His father was John George Cawthorne Kenmir (1869-1944). Originally from Coxhoe, cabinet maker John helped establish the family firm of Kenmir Brothers who made furniture. From humble beginnings in 1897, the firm grew to be one of the major employers in Spennymoor, other than the mines.

Frederick’s mother was Margaret “Maggie” Vincent (1872-1943), an ironworks stoker’s daughter from Spennymoor. His parents married in 1892 and during their marriage had seven children, two of whom died in infancy. Frederick was the eldest child. In 1901 he was living at 118 Craddock Street, Spennymoor and at the time of the 1911 census was at 32 South Street, Spennymoor. The 1911 census records his occupation as a cabinet maker, working in the family business.

Frederick enlisted in the Royal Marines Divisional Engineers on 8 December 1915 and became Sapper 5609/S. He was assigned to 2nd Field Company attached to the Deal Battalion of the Royal Naval Division. His skills as a carpenter would be useful in the work of constructing and repairing all of the more important military works used by his battalion.

In early 1917 Frederick’s company was on the Somme in France. The first days of the year restricted military operations to just surviving the mud, rain, snow and freezing conditions. However, operations began in the Ancre valley on 10 January 1917 to push back the Germans on a four mile front. It is reported that as these operations proceeded Frederick was killed in action by shellfire on 15 January 1917.

Frederick was buried in Aveluy Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France. He is remembered on a number of memorials in Spennymoor. Kenmir Brothers commissioned a Plaque 1914-18 commemorating all of their employees who died. It was originally in their headquarters but is now at Spennymoor Town Hall. He also appears in the Book of Remembrance 1914-18, Town Hall, Spennymoor and the Roll of Honour 1914-18, St Paul’s Church, Spennymoor.

Frederick Kenmir was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal for his service in World War One.

Civil Parish: Whitworth

Birth date: 08-Dec-1893

Death date: 15-Jan-1917

Armed force/civilian: Navy

Residence: 118 Craddock Street, Spennymoor (1901 census)
32 South Street, Spennymoor (1911 census)

Employment: Cabinet maker (1911 census)

Family: Parents: John George Cawthorne Kenmir (1869-1944), Margaret “Maggie” Kenmir nee Vincent (1872-1943)
Siblings: Beatrice Kenmir (1897-1899), William Kenmir (1899-1901), Lillian Kenmir (1902-1972), Blanche Kenmir (1903-1983), Flora Kenmir (1906-1996), Arthur Kenmir (1910-1985),

Military service:

2nd Field Company
Royal Marine Divisional Engineers
Royal Naval Division

Medal(s): British War Medal
Victory Medal

Memorial(s): Aveluy Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France
Book of Remembrance 1914-18, Town Hall, Spennymoor
Plaque 1914-18, Kenmir Brothers, Spennymoor
Roll of Honour 1914-18, St Paul’s Church, Spennymoor

Gender: Male

Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham