yeovil at War
Kenneth shorland Aplin
Killed in Action with the British Expeditionary Force
Kenneth Shorland Aplin was born in Yeovil in 1892, the son of James Shorland Aplin (1862-1929) and Mary Eliza née Hunt (b 1856). His father was Company Managing Director of Aplin & Barrett's West Country Creamery of Newton Road. In the 1901 census James and Mary were listed living at Overdale, Preston Road (immediately next door to Cemetery Lodge) with their two sons; Kenneth aged 8 and 3-year old Morley, as well as a cook and a nurse. By the time of the 1911 census the family were listed (albeit temporarily) in Egham, Berkshire, where 18-year old Kenneth gave his occupation as a law student.
Although it is not clear when or where Kenneth enlisted (his Service Number is unknown) it was almost certainly at the outbreak of hostilities and he joined the 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers as a Second Lieutenant.
The 2nd Battalion was formed in August 1914 in Dover. It was part of 12th Brigade in 4th Division. Training took place in Norfolk before the Battalion went to France, landing at Le Havre on 22 August 1914.
The 2nd Battalion was the first of the Inniskillings to see action at the Battle of Le Cateau.
The Battle of Le Cateau was fought on 26 August 1914, after the British and French retreated from the Battle of Mons and had set up defensive positions in a fighting withdrawal against the German advance at Le Cateau. On the morning of 26 August, the Germans arrived and heavily attacked the British forces. Unlike the Battle of Mons, where the majority of casualties inflicted by the British were from rifle fire, Le Cateau was an artilleryman's battle, demonstrating the devastating results which modern quick-firing artillery using airbursting shrapnel shells could have on infantry advancing in the open. Holding their ground tenaciously against superior odds despite taking heavy casualties, by mid-afternoon, the right, then left flanks of the British, began to break under unrelenting pressure from the Germans. That night, the Allies withdrew to Saint-Quentin. Of the 40,000 British troops fighting at Le Cateau, 7,812 British casualties were incurred, including 2,600 taken prisoner.
After the Battle of Le Cateau the 2nd Battalion of the Inniskillings settled down to the daily life of trench warfare. Second-Lieutenant Kenneth Aplin was killed in action on 1 November 1914. He was aged just 22.
Kenneth Aplin's military Roll Card.
Men of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 1914.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Kenneth Aplin.
Ploegsteert Memorial, Hainaut, Belgium
The Ploegsteert Memorial commemorates more than 11,000 servicemen of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in this sector during the First World War and have no known grave. The memorial serves the area from the line Caestre-Dranoutre-Warneton to the north, to Haverskerque-Estaires-Fournes to the south, including the towns of Hazebrouck, Merville, Bailleul and Armentieres, the Forest of Nieppe and Ploegsteert Wood. The original intention had been to erect the memorial in Lille. Most of those commemorated by the memorial did not die in major offensives, such as those which took place around Ypres to the north, or Loos to the south. Most were killed in the course of the day-to-day trench warfare which characterised this part of the line, or in small scale set engagements, usually carried out in support of the major attacks taking place elsewhere.