This post has been contributed by Jim Barrow.
Kenneth Salwey Howard and his twin sister Kathleen Philippa were born on 14 December 1879 at Gorsebrook House, off the Stafford Road, Bushbury, Wolverhampton (now the site of Wolverhampton University’s Science and Business Park). They were the youngest children of coal, brick and tile merchant Edward Matthew Howard and Laura Harriet Howard (nee Salwey) who was born in Ash, Kent, in 1841. Edward was the son of a vicar and Laura also came from a clerical family.
Kenneth and Kathleen were baptised on 14 January 1880 at Tettenhall. Their eldest brother, Arthur E. Howard, was recorded as becoming an articled clerk and being born in Nolton, Bridge End, Glamorganshire, Wales, on 2 February, 1874, but their other brother, Cecil William Howard, is recorded as being born on 4 July 1875 in Tettenhall (and/or Newbridge) and sister, Evelyn M. Howard, were recorded as being born at Newbridge or Tettenhall. Brother Henry Bernard Howard was born in 1877 in Wolverhampton. Another sister, Clara M., was recorded as being born at Bushbury in 1883.
In 1891 Kenneth was shown on the census as boarding at a private school at 39 Tettenhall Road, where the head was Eliza Reach, originally from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. The rest of the family were shown at Gorsebrook House, Bushbury.
Kenneth attended Wolverhampton Grammar School from 1891-1892 but he does not appear on the War Memorial there. However, a plaque was placed on a wall near the wooden panelled memorial recording his name, alongside those of the four masters who died during the War, after other First World War research revealed his connection with the school .
In 1901 he was at the House of the Society of the Sacred Mission, Mildenhall, Suffolk, where he is described as a student. Alfred Kelly, the head of the household, was the younger brother of society founder Herbert Kelly. The Society moved to Kelham, Nottinghamshire, two years later. Kenneth’s two grandfathers were both clergymen, so may have influence him being with the mission.
In 1907, at the age of 27, Kenneth was at Durham University, where he was a Non-Collegiate student and a member of St Cuthbert’s Society. He played cricket and rowed in the university’s Grey Cup Competition. He spoke in Union debates, and in his entry on the University roll of honour mentions a report in the Durham University Journal (vol XV111 no.11) in which he proposed that “The secular system is the only solution of the present education problem”. This was defeated by 29 votes to 5. His speeches were described as “clever but never really grasped the subject” and containing “some more false qualities and epigrams.” Despite this, he kept debating and held different offices, passing his first year Arts examinations in arithmetic and logic in summer 1908. There is no attendance record for the following Michaelmas term but he did attend Epiphany, Easter and Michaelmas terms in 1909, studying arithmetic and political economy.
There is no record of him completing his BA. By 1911 the census shows him as being an Assistant Master at the Royal School. In August 1914 he was a private in ‘A’ Company of the 79th Public Schools Battalion 16th Middlesex Regiment, who applied for a commission. He attested on 5 September 1914 and continued with the Public Schools Battalion until he was commissioned into the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) on 17 May 1915.
He was gazetted a Second Lieutenant in 1916 and a Lieutenant in July 1917, shortly afterwards becoming a temporary Captain “without pay and allowances” while employed as Brigade Physical Training Officer and bayonet training supervising officer and remained seconded. On 3 September 1918 he joined the 1st Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters in the Oppy sector, near Arras, France. His Battalion War Diary (WO 95/1721/4) says that, while serving with ‘D’ Company, he was mortally wounded by a sniper during action on the Rouveroy-Fresnes line near Oppy during the Second Battle of Arras: “In a fierce fight the counterattack was repulsed but Captain Kenneth Salway Howard was killed.”
His medal card shows that he was awarded the silver British War Medal 1914-1920 and the bronze Victory Medal 1914-1919. He is buried in Roclincourt Military Cemetery.
Kenneth’s brother, Henry, enlisted on the 19th July 1915 and survived with the Army Service Corps (Private Service number SS/13123) and the Labour Corps (Private Service Number 30229) leaving on the 7th March 1918 and being awarded the Victory Medal, British War Medal and the 1914 Star.
His eldest brother, Arthur Edward, served with the Canadian forces and Cecil was ordained, served in the Soloman Islands and then as a parish priest in New Zealand during the war.