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Percy Kendall

Percy Fewster Kendall was the second son of Henry and Sarah Ann (nee Sellars) Kendall who married in Malton during the last quarter of 1876. A the time of his birth in the second quarter of 1881 they lived in  in Belle Vue Terrace on Cemetery Road (now Princess Street). Percy was baptised at St Leonard’s church sometime in 1881.


By 1891 thefamily had moved to what is now the right hand half of 16 Newbiggin, next to the Blue Ball and the older two boys were both at school, presumably in Greengate.

1891 Census resident at Newbiggin, St Leonards, Malton, Yorkshire, England

Henry, Kendall, Head, Married, Male, 51, Gardener Domestic Servant, Whixley, Yorkshire

Sarah A, Kendall, Wife, Married, Female, 37, -, Pocklington, Yorkshire

Charles H, Kendall, Son, -, Male, 13, Scholar, Malton, Yorkshire

Percy F, Kendall, Son, -, Male, 10, Scholar, Malton, Yorkshire

Robert W, Kendall, Son, -, Male, 4, -, Malton, Yorkshire

In 1900 Henry died and Percy became the family breadwinner, taking over his father’s work as a gardener.

1901 Census  resident at 16, Newbiggin, Malton, Yorkshire, England

Sarah A, Kendall, Head, Widow, Female, 47, Dressmaker, Pocklington, Yorkshire, England

Percy F, Kendall, Son, Single, Male, 19, Gardener (Not Domestic), Malton, Yorkshire, England

Robert W, Kendall, Son, Single, Male, 14, Errand Boy, Malton, Yorkshire, England  

Percy did not stay long at home after this, as on 16th January 1902 he joined 34th battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry and served in South Africa for just under a year, being discharged on December 3rd 1902.  It is possible that he was wounded during this time as he is recorded as having scars on the back of his head and his left ankle. However these may simply have been accidental, given that he would have been a mounted soldier, who prior to enlisting would have had little or no experience of riding!

On leaving the army he applied to join the West Riding Police on 17th January 1903.  At this time he was 5 foot 8 inches tall with brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. It is also noticeable that he wrote a neat hand and that he spelt his second name as “Fewester.”

He was accepted on 1st February and posted to West Morley where he remained until June 1906 when he was transferred to Otley, by this stage being a Constable, First Grade.

On 26th June 1906, Percy married Lily Farrar in St Martin’s Church in Brighouse and during the third quarter of 1908 their daughter Marian was born in Otley.

On 1st February 1909 Percy resigned (compulsorily) from the police force. Whether this was the end of a fixed term contract (it was exactly 6 years since he joined the force) or whether he had done something to blot his copybook is not clear.  He returned to the gardening as a means of support and they continued to live in Otley until at least 1911.

1911 Census  resident at 31 Courthouse Street Otley, Otley, Yorkshire, England

Percy Fewester, Kendall, Head, Married, Male, Gardener Domestic, 39, Malton Yorkshire

Lily, Kendall, Wife, Married, Female, House Duties, 27, Hipperholme Yorkshire

Marion, Kendall, Daughter, Single, Female, Infant, 2, Otley

Somewhere around 1912 the family moved back to Malton and took up residence in Wheelgate Square, a number of small houses in the area behind Suddaby’s Crown Hotel.

For some of the next few years Percy worked as an insurance agent, but for a time he also worked as an attendant at the Norton Picture House.

During this time he also joined the local branch of the Territorial Army and became a member of “H” Company, 5th Yorkshire regiment.  By the time that war was declared in 1914, he had risen to the rank of corporal, no doubt as a result of his previous military experience.

At the outbreak of war he was recorded as one of the men of the 5th Battalion left Malton immediately as recorded by the Malton Messenger of 5th August 1914.



Scenes which will be long remembered by the inhabitants of the town were witnessed in Malton on Wednesday, when the Territorials (“H” Company 5th Battalion Alexandra Princess of Wales’ Own Yorkshire Regiment) marched from the headquarters in Old Maltongate to the railway station. The men quickly responded to the call and were ready on Tuesday night. Many of them were in the streets until a late hour, mingling with the crowds which gathered near the Messenger office and other parts of the town. It was at first understood that they would leave for an unknown destination at 8.30 on Wednesday morning, and the streets presented a busy scene; gradually, however, it became known that they were to leave at 12.30, and long before that time the streets from the headquarters in Old Maltongate to the Railway Station were lined with people who were eagerly discussing the grave crisis.

About half-past twelve o’clock a move was made from headquarters, Lieutenant Pickles being in command of about 65 men, preceded by the White Star Band, which played lively airs on route to the station. The territorials, who turned out smartly, were cheered again and again as they marched past, men on the pavements waving hats and sticks and women waving handkerchiefs and shouting “good-bye” and “good luck”. On nearing the station the band turned aside near the Goods Yard and allowed Lieutenant Pickles and his men to walk into the station, to the hearty cheers of the vast crowd which had assembled there. The band fell in at the rear and passed onto the station platform, where the Territorials were drawn up near to the telegraph office.

It was impossible to admit all the followers into the station but a large number succeeded in in gaining admission, mostly those who had relatives in the ranks. The men were very cheerful, and there was a good deal of hand-shaking before the train in which they were to leave arrived.

In the brief interval a representative of the “Messenger” held a conversation with Lieutenant Pickles who stated that they were going on to Scarborough to await orders.

At about 10 minutes to one o’clock the train arrived, and after more hand-shaking and “good-byes” Lieutenant Pickles and his men took their seats. The band played “Auld Lang Syne” and many pathetic incidents were witnessed amongst the crowd of men and women on the Norton end of the station as the train passed out, the male portion of those on the platform uncovering their heads as the band played the National Anthem.

The 1/4th and the 1/5th Battalions of the Yorkshire Regiment were both in the 150th Brigade of the 50th [Northumbrian] Division and their activities in the First World War were very similar. Both Battalions went to same areas at the same time and fought in the same Battles - in the same trenches, but often on different days etc. Both were Territorial Force Battalions and whereas the 1/4th Yorks was comprised of men from the North part of the North Riding of Yorkshire, the 1/5th Yorks was formed of men from the South part.
They were known as the Scarborough or Beverley "Terriers" and originally these two towns, along with neighbouring Driffield, Malton, Pickering, Bridlington, Filey etc provided the Volunteers.

In 1915 the Battalion became part of 150th Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division. In early April the Division was warned that it would go on overseas service and entrainment began on 16 April, landing at Boulogne.

An advance party who left Newcastle on April 15th and arrived in France on the morning of 17th April. On the 18th they were joined by the rest of the Battalion and after less than 24 hours in Camp were entrained, arriving at Cassels at 6.0 am and marched twelve ‘hot and very tiring’ miles to billets outside the village of Steenvoorde, where they finally rested, for three whole days. On the 23rd they were on the move again, proceeding by Motor Buses to Vlamertinghe and from thence marched to A Huts at Ypres arriving just as the German army had attacked at Ypres, using poison gas for the first time. ‘As they tramped along the pave road, with Vlamertinghe and Ypres ahead, the boom of guns became even louder. Crowds of refugees were met, hurrying westwards with handcarts perambulators and almost any kind of vehicle laden with all the worldly possessions left to them’

That night they moved forward to the banks of the Yser Canal in support of 2nd Zouaves. The Battalion lined the Canal banks under the shelter of a ridge before daylight, the men shortly afterwards digging themselves into shelter holes. B Company, which was somewhat exposed, suffered minor casualties from overdropping bullets.

That morning they had their first experience of shell fire, but over the next few days were fully involved in the chaos of the Battle of Ypres and sustained heavy casualties – a true baptism of fire, and Captain Thomson had his first experience of writing letters of condolence to the families of his men.

In May the battalion was moved to an open field in Brielen where they dug in and companies were rotated to Sanctuary Wood and Zouave Wood where they came under gas attack as well as shelling, continuing to sustain losses.  By the 8th May, the Malton Messenger carried an article reporting that in order to enable speedy replacement of casualties sustained by the 4th and 5th Battalions the height requirement had dropped to 5’1”.

The end of June saw them billeted in farms near Dranoutre and in mid-July they were moved to the area of Armentieres and received reinforcements from England. August through to November were largely uneventful, with the Battalion mainly based in the Asylum in Armentieres with occasional periods in trenches, in alternation with the 4th Battalion.

In December they were moved to Poperinghe, where they went into trenches at Dickiebusch. Here they once again alternated between trenches, dug-outs and huts with a steady flow of casualties, presumably continuing through January. Unfortunately the relevant sheets of the Battalion war diary have gone missing, but assuming that they stayed in the Dickiebusch area, they will have continued to come under a fair amount of shelling and a good deal of sniper fire.

It would seem that Percy Kendall fell victim to the latter as he was admitted to 17 Casualty Clearing station with a  serious gunshot wound in his back on 22nd January. He died there five days later on 27th January 1916.

A Sister at the clearing station immediately wrote to Lily making the situation clear to her , following it up with a second letter the day after, and the letters were published in the Malton Messenger.


Mrs Kendall of Wheelgate Square Malton has received the following letter from Sister M. Wharton in charge of 17 C.C. Station , France dated 22nd of January. :-

“I very much regret having to send you bad news. Your husband, Sergeant Kendall was admitted to us today suffering from a severe wound in the abdomen. His condition is most critical, but you may rest assured that everything will be done that can be done by the sisters and doctors. I will let you know how he progresses. He sends his love to you and the children”

Writing the next day, sister Wharton states: “I very much regret there is no improvement in your husband’s condition.”

Sergt. Kendall is very well known and popular in Malton. He joined the 5th Yorks. Territorials prior to the war. He suffered from rheumatic fever and had only rejoined his battalion a week before he met with his wound. The greatest sympathy will be felt locally with the sergeant and his wife and children in their great anxiety.

Within the week Lily received another letter, this time from the chaplain at the clearing station informing her of Percy’s death, which again was published in the Messenger.


We regret to state that news has been received to the effect that Sergt. Percy Fewster Kendall, Malton, 5th Yorkshire Regiment, has died in hospital from wounds received when fighting in France. It will be remembered that in our last issue  we announced that he was suffering from wounds and was then in a critical condition.

Under date Jan. 27th last, Mrs Kendall, who lives with her little daughter in Wheelgate Square has received the following letter signed by D. Ellis Rowland :-

Dear Mrs Kendall, - as Church of England Chaplain here (with the British Expeditionary Force, France), I have the sorrowful duty to write to inform you of the death of your husband. He was admitted into this hospital a few days ago with a gunshot wound in the back and his case was quite hopeless from the first. However we have the best of surgeons in this hospital, and after being operated on he regained consciousness.

I first saw him on Saturday, and last saw him at about 11.30 last night. He died about 12.15. he naturally suffered a good deal, and his death at least was a happy release. He had every comfort and attention. We often had prayer together during those days he was here. I buried him today, with another of his comrades, in a soldier’s grave in the cemetery attached to the hospital. May God who has called him away to His service, be your protector and give you consolation in your sorrow. – believe me, yours faithfully D. Ellis Rowland.”

The deceased was a native of Malton, but was for a time in the Police Force at Otley. He returned to Malton about four years ago and for a time held an appointment as an attendant at the Norton Picture House. Previously he was an insurance agent, and well known and respected in Malton and the district. Since he went to the front he had suffered a good deal from rheumatism, being laid up in hospital, but was in the fighting at St Julien. Much sympathy is felt for his widow and little girl.

As mentioned in the chaplain’s letter, Percy shared a grave in Lussenthoek Military Cemetery with Private J. Connelly of the 7th Northumberland Fusiliers who died the same day.

Lily seems to have left Malton and returned to her parents who kept the Black Swan in in Brighouse. In the third quarter of 1918 she married John E. Whittles in the Halifax area, probably in Brighouse. She died aged 65 in the last quarter of 1949 in the Calder atrea, probably in Brighouse.

In addition to Malton, Percy is also commemorated on the war Memorial at Brighouse, West Yorkshire and is also commemorated along with several other Malton men on the Northen District , St John’s Ambulance Memorial at Trimdon Station Community Centre.

In Malton, Percy is commemorated on the town memorial and curiously, given that he seems to have spent all his time in Malton living in St Leonard's parish, on the memorial in St Michael’s Church.