Sixteen Kings

The descendants of Peter and Mary King from South Australia - one family’s contribution to World War One

Saturday, 30 August 2014

The Story of the sixteen Kings - now the story of the seventeen King's

For more than 10 years genealogy has been my hobby. I have spent countless hours in libraries trolling through microfiche records; corresponding with relatives near and far and more recently searching the internet for the next small piece of information that will add to the puzzle. After my mother’s death I inherited all of her photos and memorabilia which have been sitting in my filing cabinet for years.

As anyone who has undertaken the task of sorting through old family photos will attest there is nothing more frustrating than discovering that no names or details of the mystery person whose image is tantalizing displayed in front of you were recorded or even worse that there is no one around to ask. Shifting through the old shoe box of black and white and sepia photos I uncovered a number of photos of men in army uniforms. Of more interest were some hand written photo postcards sent to my grandmother Mary Adelaide King (Addie) from her brothers serving overseas during the First World War.

Fortunately someone had taken the time to write names on many of these photos. One in particular became my favourite; it was a photo taken in Egypt of seven Australian soldiers in their slouch hats and uniforms sitting on camels with the Sphinx in the foreground and the Pyramids in the background. This was the standard tourist photo of the day and their are hundreds of similar photos in circulation. On the back was a handwritten letter to Addie from her brother Charlie who was also in the photo. I loved this photo so much I had it restored, enlarged and framed, it now takes pride of place on my study wall. To me it epitomizes the youthful exuberance of a group of young Aussie men who were about to undertake the biggest adventure of their lives in a strange new country. The streets of Cairo would have been so alien to a bunch of boys from Country South Australia. The photo was taken before any of these men had seen active duty.

To coincide with Anzac Day 2007 the Australian National Archive released for the first time the military records of all those who served during World War One. This has given me the opportunity to glean a small insight into some my distant relatives who were faces on photographs kept in a filing cabinet. The following information has been obtained about 16 members of the King family all of whom are direct descendants of Peter King 1831-1907 and Mary O'Brien (my great grandparents) who enlisted in the Army to serve their country during the First World War. King was my mother’s maiden name and her immediate family grew up around Manoora, Burra and Morphett Vale in South Australia. All of these men were brothers, uncles or cousins of Addie King.

The parents of Peter King were Peter King 1799-1881 and Margaret 'Peggy' Dwyer 1804-1886 who sailed to South Australia arriving at Port Adelaide in 1845 from Devon and Cornwall with their two sons Thomas aged 15 and Peter aged 13. The family settled in Morphett Vale in rural country and became one of the earliest pioneer families of South Australia.

Stop Press - after this blog was created I discovered another member of the King Family that I had been unaware of and as such there are in fact 17 Kings. Detailed below is a brief summary of each of their war records.

The records do not accurately indicate the conditions or the pain and suffering these men had to endure while fighting a hostile enemy in South Africa, Europe and the Middle East. ANZAC Day has new meaning for me because I now have an insight to these seventeen brave men who enlisted to fight a war on another continent so we can today enjoy the freedom that we take for granted. Four of these men paid the ultimate price with their lives.  

Alexander King 1873-1915 (Father Peter King b.1831) - Addie’s uncle

In July 1898 it was reported that Alex heroically and courageously entered Block 12 mine at Broken Hill to rescue 2 of his fellow miners who had been overcome by smoke and were trapped in a shaft from certain death. Later Alex was awarded a certificate  for his bravery from the Royal Humane Society of Australia.

On the 5th of February 1902 Alex who was born Reynella South Australia enlisted at Kapunda at the age of 29 years and 1 month to join the Commonwealth Contingent for Service in South Africa. His occupation was given as groomer and prospector, he was 5 ft 11 inches tall and had blue eyes. Colonial troops were valued for their horsemanship skills which came in handy on the highveldt. Alex having groomed horses for a living would have been an excellent horseman. In 1902 he sailed with the 9th Contingent and served in the 4th Battalion Commonwealth Horse, by the the time he arrived the war was all but over so his role was largely peace keeping. He returned home 12 months later. 

Alex was a keen footballer and on his return he again took up the sport playing for the local Manoora AFL club.

He enlisted a second time 45 days after Britain declared war on Germany on the 17th of September 1914 at the age of 41 years and 8 months. At the time of his enlistment his profession was recorded as a veterinary dentist and had grey hair. He was assigned to the 9th Light Horse Regiment. His previous service and skills as a horseman may have been why he was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal in January 1915. Made up of predominantly of South Australians this regiment departed Melbourne on the ‘Armadale’ in February 1915 arriving in Egypt and as horses were found to be unsuitable for the Gallipoli terrain they were deployed without their horses.

His regiment was used as reserves for the disastrous attack on the Nek Gallipoli Peninsular which took place in August of the same year. They suffered nearly 50% casualties attacking Hill 60. Exhausted and under strength they played a defensive role until they left the Peninsular in December. The records indicate Alex was hospitalized for a nervous breakdown in June and was sent back to his unit in July 1915. Alex was killed in action by a bullet to the chest on the 6th of August 1915 in the Dardanelles.

He is buried at Ari Burnu Cemetry Gallipoli Turkey overlooking the tranquil waters of Anzac Beach. 

Louis (Lewis) Augusta King 1876-1957 (Father Thomas King b.1855) - Addie’s eldest brother

He was born in 1876 and left Australia in 1900 at the age of 24 to fight with the British in the Boer War. He served with the South Australian Mounted Rifles and sailed with the Sixth Imperial Bushmen Contingent to South Africa in 1901 and returned in April 1902 after hostilities ceased. He had the rank of Lance Corporal but was promoted to Sergeant before his return in 1902.

When the First World War broke out he was 38 years old and married with children. 

His son Leslie served in the Second World War.

Peter King 1887-   (Father Thomas King b.1855) - Addie’s brother

Peter who was from Manoora SA enlisted in July 1915 at the age of 28 years 9 months, he was 5 ft 10 inches and had grey eyes, his occupation was listed as a motor driver, he was married to Ida at the time with 2 small children. He was assigned to the 6th Reinforcements 27th Battalion AIF and deployed to France in October 1915. In 1916 he was redeployed to the 10th Battalion and after suffering light casualties he was transferred to England where he finished his service as a driver.

Brigadier-General S. Price Weir made the comment that in his diary he had a record of a gallant act performed by Peter King while serving with the 10th Battalion A.I.F. which reads:
“Fleurbaix, France, 19th June, 1916 – while the enemy was shelling our 300 yard line, two men were wounded out in the open.  One of them managed to get under cover.  Peter King ran out of the shelter where he was taking cover and picked up the other man.  He had only carried the man a short distance and was near a dug-out which was being heavily shelled, when a high explosive shell burst within six feet of him.  Both King and the man he was carrying were thrown violently to the ground.  King immediately got up again and seized the wounded man.  Men from the trench shouted to the King to place the wounded man he was carrying in the nearest dugout.  This King refused to do, but carried the wounded man thirty yards down the trench away from the area which was being heavily shelled”.

During his time in England Peter was first promoted to Lance Corporal in 1917 and then to Sergeant in 1918. Having survived the war Peter was discharged in 1919 and returned to South Australia.

Peter also enlisted at the outbreak of World War 2 but his army records are not yet available.

It appears he continued his career as a driver and was awarded the OBE Medal (Civil) / British empire Medal (Civil) in 1937 for his service as a government driver and bodyguard to the then Premier.

Thomas King 1892-  (Father Thomas King b. 1855) - Addie’s Brother )

Tom also from Manoora SA enlisted 30th November 1914 at the age of 19 years and 4 months he was 5 ft 4 inches and gave his occupation as machinery expert. He sailed for Gallipoli in December 1914 where he was initially assigned to the 13th ASC. Sickness saw him transferred to London via Malta for treatment. In February 1916 his unit was dispatched to France and he was assigned to the First Field Bakery Unit. Tom was promoted from Private to the rank of Corporal and acting rank of Sargent.

A bout of syphilis had him transferred to London. Until his discharge in 1920 he was in and out of hospitals with a variety of ailments however it was acute bronchitis that eventually saw him unfit for further duty. One good thing came out of his time in London was that Tom married Susan Kensit in 1918. They returned to Australia after Tom’s discharge in 1919.

Charles King 1890-1915 (Father Thomas King b. 1855 - Addie’s brother)

Charlie from Manoora SA enlisted on the 25th of August 1914 at the age of 23 years and 1 month just 3 weeks after Britain declared war on Germany, he was 5 ft 11 inches tall and had blue eyes, his occupation was listed as labourer. He was assigned to the 10th Battalion AIF as a driver. This Battalion of South Australians was raised within weeks of war being declared and together with the 9th, 11th and 12th Battalion’s formed the 3rd Brigade. 
They departed on the 20th of October and arrived in Egypt December of 1914 after only several months of basic training. The 3rd Brigade was the covering force for the ANZAC landing at Anzac Cover Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915. They were heavily involved in establishing and defending the front line of the ANZAC position.The 10th Battalion helped defend the beach head against the Turkish counter-attack in May before joining the failed August offensive. 

On the 3rd of February 1915 Charlie was promoted to Company Driver. Almost 12 months after enlisting Charles was killed in action at Gallipoli on the 6th of August 1915. His body was originally buried at Victoria Gully Gallipoli but was later exhumed for fear of it may wash away in heavy rains and was reburied at the Lone Pine Cemetery Brown’s Dip Plot 1 Row G Grave 5.

In an ironic twist of fate Charlie was killed on the same day as his uncle Alex.

It should also be noted that 4 sons of Thomas King (my great Grandfather) enlisted and one was killed in action.          

William Leonard King 1882-1972  (Father Thomas King b.1855 - Addie’s brother)

Will a farmer from Manoora SA enlisted in September 1915 at the age of 33 years and gave his occupation as farmer. This was just 6 weeks after losing his brother at Gallipoli. He was assigned to the 14th Light Horse Regiment and arrived in France on the Western Front in 1916. After being promoted to Gunner he was shot in the arm and wounded in action in June and again in September of 1917. After convalescing in England on both occasions he returned to his unit in France in 1918 only to be gassed and then found unfit for active duty. In January 1919 he returned to South Australia and it is believed he never married.

Arthur David James King 1893 -  (Father David King b. 1867) - Addie's cousin

Arthur a farmer from Warracknabeal Victoria enlisted on the 30th of July 1915 at the age of 21 years, he was 5 ft 8 inches tall and had brown eyes. He embarked for Alexandria in January 1916 and was assigned to the 6th Battalion 14 reinforcements and transferred to active duty in France. In September 1917 he received a gunshot wound to the arm and was hospitalised to England. He returned to his unit in March 1918 and returned to Australia in January March 1919.

Percival Stephen Edward King 1894-1974 (Father David King b.1867) - Addie’s cousin

Poor Percy from enlisted at Bendigo with his brother Arthur in July 1915 at the age of 20 years 7 months but was discharged 5 months later as medically unfit because the Army could not provide him with boots to fit his extraordinarily large feet.

Clarence Andrew Charles King 1897-   (Father David King b.1867) - Addie’s cousin

Clarrie a farmer from Lalbert Victoria enlisted with his brother Archie in April 1916 at the age of 18 years 10 months and was 5ft 9 inches with brown eyes. He was attached to the 38th Battalion and later 6th Battalion AIF as a stretcher bearer. He was wounded in action in France in February 1917 and after returning to his unit was gassed in 1918 after being invalided to England due to trench fever and returned home to Australia in 1919.

Archibald Raymond King 1896-1917 (Father David King b.1867) - Addie’s cousin

Archie a farmer from Lalbert Victoria enlisted with his brother Clarrie in June 1916 at the age of 20 years, he was 5ft 8 inches and had brown eyes. He was assigned to B Company 38th Battalion AIF which sailed to Plymouth in October 1916 and then on to France. During the harsh winter of 1916-17 they were heavily involved in raiding German trenches.

He suffered a gunshot wound in Belgium after fighting in the trenches of the Western Front and died of his wounds on the 28th May 1917 in an army field hospital.

Archie, pictured below is buried at the Strand Military Cemetery, Belgium Plot 3 Row A. 

It should be noted that 4 of David King’s 5 sons enlisted and of those 2 were killed in action. 

Leslie John Denyer 1893-1965 (Mother Margaret King b.1863) – Addie’s cousin

Les who was a farmer from Kerang Victoria enlisted in April 1917 at the age of 23 and was assigned to the 35th Battalion. He left Australia in 1917 and saw active service in France 1918 before returning home in 1919. 

Walter Thomas King 1892-1919 (Father Peter King b.1860) – Addie’s cousin

Tom from Karkarooc Victoria enlisted 13 November 1914 at the age of 20 years 11 months and was assigned to the 3rd Light Horse Battalion. He saw service in France and Belgium but was discharged in 1916 on medical grounds and died in 1919 after returning to Australia from Tuberculosis.

Arthur Norman King 1893-1918 (Father Peter King b.1860 -1905) - Addie’s cousin

Arthur enlisted in September 1914 at the age of 25 years 2 months giving his occupation as a Laborer from Reynella SA. He was initially assigned to the 8th Light Horse Regiment who landed at Gallipoli in May 1915 but following a series of medical issues he was transferred to the 3rd Machine Gun Battalion. The 3rd AIF were involved in battles with the advancing Germans at Passchendale, Villers-Bretonneux and Morlancourt.

He was killed in action 31 August 1918 while fighting in France and he is buried at Hem Farm Military Cemetery the Somme in France (Plot 11 Row E Grave 6).

Leslie William King 1897-1968 (Father William King b.1856) - Addie’s cousin

Les a labourer from Kilkenny SA enlisted in November 1917 at the age of 20 years and 3 months at 5 ft 9 inches and was assigned to the 27th Battalion 6th Reinforcements and later the 9th Light Horse. In 1918 they disembarked for Egypt.
He returned to Australia in 1919 after contracting malaria.

Allan Lancelot King 1894 – (Father Charles King b. 1865) – Addie’s Uncle)

Allan a 5 ft 8 inch farm labourer from Hopetown Vict enlisted in May 1917 at the age of 23 years 11 months and was assigned to the 14th Reinforcements and later the 1st Squadron Light Horse departed April 1918 and on arrival in Egypt was sent to an isolation camp with the mumps. His rank was Trooper but it appears he saw no active service and returned to Australia in April 1919 after the end of the war.

Roy Alexander Cyril King 1892-1965 (Father Charles King b.1865 -Addie’s cousin)

Roy a farmer from Warracknabeal Victoria enlisted in February 1915 at the age of 22 years and 7 months was 5 ft 6 inches with brown eyes. He was assigned to the 5th Division which sailed for Egypt in May 1915 as an ammunition carriage driver. He was reported to be an excellent athlete and in 1918 won the division middleweight wrestling championship. He returned to Australia in March 1919.

Gordon Charles King 1896-1964 (Father Charles King b. 1865) - Addie’s cousin

Gordon who resided in Kerang Victoria enlisted in May 1917 at the age of 21 years, 5 ft 10 inches blue eyes stating his occupation as a farmer. He was attached to the 14th Regiment Camel Corps however much of his time in the army was spent in and out of hospitals in Egypt and in May 1919 he was discharged as medically unfit after not seeing active duty and returned home. 

Postcard from Egypt

Attached is the back of the Egypt postcard dated January 1915 sent to Addie Blight by her brother Charlie soon after his arrival in Cairo. In the letter he consoles his sister that her brother Tom has enlisted but optimistically hopes that Tom will not see active service and they will both return by Christmas.

I have attached the family tree of Peter King and Mary O'Brien which will help to illustrate the family connections.