Kenneth Lloyd 1922-1945

My Uncle Ken was killed in 1945, near the end of World War 2. This is a memorial to an uncle I never knew, as remembered from family oral history and from what I can find online.

My maternal grandfather Robert David Lloyd was born in June 1894, near Carnarvon in North Wales. He served with the Welsh Fusiliers in World War 1, learning to speak English while in the army. He was badly injured in action, his life probably saved by a prayer book in his breast pocket.

He married my grandmother Florence Annie Davies (born September 1901) in 1921.

Kenneth William Lloyd was born in 27 May 1922 in the district of Forden. Two brothers and two sisters were also born in Wales.

The family wanted to emigrate but couldn’t get assisted passage due to my grandfather’s health as a result of his war wounds. He was an electrician, and also a keen photographer. In the late 1920s sold photos he had taken of a train crash to the press, and the money from this was enough to buy tickets to New Zealand. they reached their final destination, Queenstown, in 1929. Three more children were born there, including my mother.

The Wakatip Mail records Kenneth Lloyd (along with his brother Norman) in P. II in the Queenstown Public Schools breakup in December 1929. He was dressed as a clown in the Fancy Dress Dance in December 1930, and again in the Poster & Fancy Dress Dance in December 1931. He was in Std 3 in 1932.

Ken played the banjo (and his mother the piano) at a social function in Arthurs Point in January 1940 to farewell his brother Norman who was leaving to rejoin his ship H.M.S Leander.

In 1940 the Lloyd family were farewelled from Arthurs Point. They moved to Monowai, where Robert Lloyd had a new job at the power station there. Monowai, south of Te Anau and Manapouri in Fiordland, was about as far from the war as you could get but the road into the power station was guarded by armed sentries.

Ken enlisted in the Infantry Brigade and embarked with the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force in 1943. He served in the Italian Campaign, and was killed in action in the Spring Offensive on 12 April 1945. The Germans surrendered in Italy on 2 May 1945. My father also served at the tail end of the war in Italy.

Portrait, Weekly News - This image may be subject to copyright

The Italian campaign:

These excerpts  cover the time of Ken’s death on the 12th April – IV: Gate-crashing the Santerno Line

Sappers from 6 Field Company began work before nightfall on the 11th on a bridge in 28 Battalion’s sector. Despite harassing sheil and mortar fire the approaches were bulldozed before it was dark, which allowed the bridging train to get to the site without delay.

Within the next two hours two squadrons of 18 Armoured Regiment, 32 Anti-Tank Battery and 28 Battalion’s support weapons were safely over the river. A squadron of 20 Armoured Regiment crossed just before dawn on the 12th, followed by the third squadron of 18 Regiment. The other two squadrons of the 20th used a crossing in 6 Brigade’s sector, where much bulldozing had to be done before one Ark tank was placed on top of another to make a bridge.

During the advance they met stronger opposition than had been expected—from tanks and machine guns.

By about 5 p.m. on 12 April the New Zealand Division was firmly on its first objective just short of Massa Lombarda. German tanks, horse-drawn transport and motor vehicles, packed with men and gear, could be seen from the air retreating along the roads from the town.

When General Freyberg learnt of the congestion of vehicles and guns trying to get away from Massa Lombarda, he telephoned Brigadiers Bonifant and Parkinson at 6.45 p.m. and told them to probe ahead; he also rang Brigadier Gentry (9 Brigade) and said it appeared the enemy was ‘pulling out on rather a big scale.

Fifth Brigade attacked with 23 and 21 Battalions. The 21st had left its location near Lugo in the morning, crossed the Santerno in the evening, and passed through 28 Battalion, which went into reserve at Sant’ Agata. Supported by tanks of C Squadron of 18 Regiment, 21 Battalion entered Massa Lombarda shortly before midnight without meeting the enemy, and reached the objective about 1 a.m.

Reading through the detailed account of the advance  I wonder at what stage my uncle may have been killed. It’s impossible to know. It seems unlucky to have been a casualty at that stage with the opposing forces largely in retreat, but millions of people were unlucky during World War 2.

Lake Wakatip Mail 26 April 1945

Article image

Article image

Ken is buried in the Faenza War Cemetery, along with 1151 other Commonwealth casualties.

My mother visited her brother’s grave with my sister in the 1990s – there was a clap of thunder when they arrived at the cemetery, and another as they left.

My mother wrote in her memoir:

My second eldest brother, Norman, joined the Navy as a cadet at 15, but he was actually involved in the war right from the start when he was about 16 I think, which really ruined his life I think.  He had some horrific experiences I believe.  The only sort of news we were interested about was letters coming from his ships.

Then my oldest brother Ken, he was man-powered into the army eventually and he was sent away off overseas.  But we had great plans, when he came back from the war he was going to buy a farm and I was going to be his land girl and he was going to buy me a horse.

…after that year went by they had what they called the Cow Club.  They ran half a dozen cows from the village for milk and when I first started correspondence, my brother that was in the navy was home for some reason.I think he was probably an invalid at home, he was in a pretty bad way I think and he started milking the cows.  Someone had to milk the cows, I think he got paid about a pound a month, something like that, for milking the cows and delivering the milk round these 14 houses.

Then Norman went back to the navy again and I took over the cows myself, I used to milk the cows in the morning and night and deliver the milk.  I used to love it, I loved working with the animals.

Animals and farming was my life.  I was just dying for Ken to come home again so that we could get into the farm life.

Before he got into the army he had been man-powered into working at the Fortrose Dairy Factory and that’s where he really wanted to have a farm.  He talked of it once or twice, I thought I didn’t really care where he goes as long as he has a horse and a cow there, a dog and cat, but it would have been easier in those days to get into a farm.

My mother was 12 at the time Ken left for the war, 14 when he was killed. Dreams dashed. The wars changed a lot of things for many people.

Previous Post

10 Comments

  1. Traveller

     /  April 25, 2018

    Thanks for this touching and poignant memory Pete. So many lives lost, hopes and dreams dashed and a lifelong emptiness for devastated family members.

    I’ve got a bad back this morning, so unable to make the War Memorial at dawn, but hubby and our friends all there as we do annually. A solemn time Kiwis stand together remembering our collective sacrifices and reflect on our past, present and future.

    Here in Auckland, I hear Phil Goff spoke earnestly – a nephew killed in Afghanistan and a Great Uncle killed at The Somme and another Uncle in the Pacific. I’ve spoken here of my family’s losses and know there’s not a “several generations in Aotearoa” not impacted .

    Special reflection for Ken, your Mum and your family this ANZAC day and to others in the YOURNZ community.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/ManUnitedWorld/status/496289076245700608/photo/1

    • Gezza

       /  April 25, 2018

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 25, 2018

        I have very mixed feelings about bringing bodies home after all this time. They are with their comrades in the war cemeteries…but I can see why people want them back home. What a decision.

        The skateboarders who used the edge of the Unknown Soldier’s tombstone seemed stricken at the idea that disrespect was intended; I am sure it was just thoughtlessness. The soldier might well have not minded if he knew, he was likely to have been the same age as them.

        Seeing the names of boys who had enlisted well under-age (John Smith, enlisted as Fred Brown or whatever ir was) who had died at 14 and 15 at Ypres was a shock, even though I knew that it had happened. Suddenly it seemed real.

  2. Seabird

     /  April 25, 2018

    Thanks for the memory Pete. Interestingly, my Dad was in C Squadron of 18th Regiment. He was wounded at one stage and was able to carry on after some time in hospital, and returned home, but really affected by what he saw and was involved in, and never really spoke of his experiences. LEST we forget. We will remember them.

  3. Kitty Catkin

     /  April 25, 2018

    My grandfather was too young for WWI (I have a photo of him and his brother looking very serious in cadet uniform, ready and waiting to go if they had to)

    I don’t know who went from that side of the family, just that my great-aunts and uncles on my grandmother’s side did in WWII. My mother was a child at school, and she and a friend would sneak out of the dorm at night to see the bomb raids on the Belfast docks. There probably was no rule about this, as it would have been assumed that nobody would be daft enough to DO it.

    My grandmother had no qualms about crossing the border and smuggling things like butter back from neutral (?) Southern Ireland.

    As a teenage nursing student, I knew the old WWI soldiers, as they were the old men of the time. Many had hideous nightmares about things that they hadn’t thought about for almost 70 years. It’s chilling to think that some would have been my age then when they went. I knew one who’d been at Gallipoli (he had some minor thing that the District Nurse or whatever they were called attended to, and I was with her as part of the training) I saw his medals and (I think) uniform, certainly other things, photos and so on….his wife was still lovely in old age and their wedding photo was stunning. What a privilege it was to have known him.

    I have an odd little book called An Anzac’s Bride by Mrs Patrick MacGill (cashing in on her husband being a well-known writer ?) After 100 years, the paper is fragile, and so is the cover, as they don’t look as if they were good even then. The story is melodramatic as all get out, but it’s a nice little curiosity to have, even if it’s not great literature. I read it again recently as a handbag book.

    One of the names on the memorial at Hamilton Museum is Thomas Atkins. I bet that he wished that his parents had restrained their sense of humour, he’d never hear the end of it in the army. There are quite a few unusual enough names for it to be obvious that all of them (three or four) were from one family, especially when it’s a small town. Someone from this house would have gone, I suspect, to one of the wars.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 25, 2018

      Or both.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 25, 2018

        The PDT/s seem to be showing their respect for the dead and the survivors of the two world wars (and others) by downticking these things, I see.

        • Traveller

           /  April 25, 2018

          I think we can take an educated guess at who the PDTs are KC

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  April 26, 2018

            I think so, too.

            They seem to do it for the sake of it, which, of course, makes their downticks meaningless.

  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  April 25, 2018

    Although the Holocaust was not part of the war, it coincided with it, I can never see photos of the people without wondering if any were they were the Jewish relations in Europe who were never heard of again. Distant ones, but even so…