This blog posting has been prepared by volunteer Ann Eales.
Date of Death: 29/04/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Flying Corps 23rd Sqdn. and Staffordshire Yeomanry
Grave Reference: VII. A. 3.
Cemetery: CAMBRAI EAST MILITARY CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of William Marter Furniss and Margaret Edith Furniss, of The Gables, Trysull, Wolverhampton.
On the Wolverhampton Grammar School website about “Old Wulfrunians who died in World War One,” this entry is included with a photograph:
Kevin Robert Furniss (1908 – 1915: age 19) 2nd Lieutenant in the Queen’s Own Regiment of Yeomanry and attached to the Royal Flying Corps, was the elder son of Mr W M Furniss of Trysull. He is remembered here as a singularly earnest boy of a very amiable and affectionate nature. In the OTC he became Lance – Corporal and distinguished himself in shooting, being selected to represent the school at Bisley in 1914. He was also a signaller and Bandsman. On leaving school he qualified for Woolwich (note this refers to the Royal Engineers) but failed to gain admission and accepted a commission in the Yeomanry. In October 1916, he volunteered for the RFC, rapidly acquired his technical and practical training, duly received his wings, and in April this year, left for France. Though the youngest in his squad, he was speedily made Machine Gun Officer. When flying 40 miles behind the German lines on April 23rd he was shot down. Six days later he died of his wounds and was buried at Cambrai.
The RAF Museum blog also includes an entry about him, along with a photo montage:
In our latest blog entry we examine the short career of Royal Flying Corps Pilot Second Lt Kevin Furniss whose career with the Corps lasted just over 14 days. Belinda Day, Assistant Curator at the RAF museum at Cosford, wrote on 20th May 2014 about the collection donated to Cosford in 2013 by his half niece after the death of his younger sister, Muriel. Muriel had collected a variety of objects and documents relating to Kevin and they are now one of our more comprehensive collections as they tell the complete story of Kevin’s tragically short life. Kevin was born in Llanelly, Wales on 11 March 1898 but by 1910 the family had moved near to Wolverhampton and Kevin was attending Wolverhampton Grammar School.
One of the letters in the collection refers to Woolwich – “I cannot quite say I was glad to get your note this morning as I had hoped to be able to congratulate you on getting into Woolwich. I think the better thing will be to go for your own county regiment the South Staffs.” Kevin applied to the Staffordshire Territorials and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant (2Lt) in the Staffordshire Yeomanry. In 1917 Kevin transferred to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Much of his RFC training was conducted at the Central Flying School, RFC Upavon, Wiltshire. A letter from Kevin to his father in the collection describing a cross country flight, is fascinating reading.
The 1901 Census shows “Keven” R age 3, born at LLanelly living at Pontypridd with his mother Margaret E Furniss age 30, born in Ireland, his young sister Muriel J Furniss age 2 and Evelyn Berry, a servant. His father William was away from home on census day, and, age 33, occupation Electrical Engineer, was living at Number 45 Ashperton Green Cottages Ledbury, one of 3 boarders.
The 1911 census shows the family living at The Birches Farm Codsall, head of the household William Marter Furniss age 41 Electrical and Engineer born Hayling Island, his wife Margaret Edith Furniss age 40, born Carlow Ireland, Kevin Robert age 13 born schoolboy, Muriel Jessie age 12 schoolgirl born Pontypridd Glamorgan, William Marter Burne Furniss age 3 born at Codsall, Florence Briscall age 18, Hospital Nurse, a Trained Nurse and Lilly Probert Housemaid age 18, and Sarah Wall age 34 the cook
The death of Margaret Edith Furniss occurred on 15 October 1916. The Probate Notice see below shows that the family was living at The Gables Trysull. Perhaps Kevin’s Mother was ill at the time of the 1911 Census, hence a hospital nurse was employed, but at least she did know about Kevin’s early death the following year.
Kevin died in German hands, as recorded on the British Royal Air Force Officers Service Records 1912-1920. As shown on the Campaign Medal Index Card, Kevin’s medals were sent to his father at The Gables on 22nd December 1922.
William Marter Furniss was married again in 1918, to Eileen S. Burne. At the time of his death, on 9th April 1956, he was living at Penn Craig Penn Wolverhampton. He was well to do, with effects valued at £23,291 2s 8d shown on the Probate record.