007 – Kenneth Grant Drake

Private Kenneth Grant Drake Died of disease
29 January 1919

The churchyard of St. John the Evangelist Church at Sutton Veny contains the remains of 142 Australian soldiers and one Australian nurse, most succumbing to a range of diseases as another winter set in.  After the Armistice the No. 1 Australian General Hospital was located here among the hutted camps that were scattered around the area. Kenneth Drake had been involved in the cadets whilst at school but stated later that he had evaded service.

In July 1917 he volunteered for enlistment but failed the medical examination. This did not deter him from trying again in August 1918 at which time he managed to pass the medical examination and be accepted into the Australian Imperial Force. With lower numbers willing to volunteer it is possible that despite his slight build, his less than ideal physical condition was overlooked. He was allotted to the General Service Reinforcements – Tasmanian Reinforcements 3 leaving Australia on board the SS Zealandic on 5 October 1918.  Two days after arriving in England he was allotted to the 12th Battalion which was still in France. The expectation being that he would join them in the field after being given leave.

Whilst on leave Private Kenneth Drake contracted broncho-pneumonia and on 2 January 1919 was admitted to the 1st Australian General Hospital at Sutton Veny. He died there on 29 January and was laid to rest at 3pm on 5 February. According to the report of his funeral – his coffin was carried to the graveside by 6 Australian soldiers acting as pall bearers, the Last Post was played and then three volleys fired over the grave. The funeral was attended by a number of Australian soldiers who were in camp at Sutton Veny.