KEEN, Arthur John
(Service number )
|First Rank||Last Rank|
|Date||14 June 1879||Place of Birth||Waimate|
|Date||12 September 1918||Age||39 years|
|Address at Enlistment||Deer Lodge, Powell County, Montana, USA|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Fred KEEN , Waimate, South Canterbury, New Zealand|
|Medical Information||Physical build - stout. Height - medium. Hair - brown. Eyes - blue|
|Served with||USA Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation|
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|Last Unit Served With|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
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|PoW Serial Number|
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|New Zealand Memorials|
Arthur John Keen was born on 14 June 1879 at Waimate, the son of Frederick and Annie (née Tofield) Keen. Frederick and Annie, who married in 1871 at Stewkley, Buckinghamshire, England, came to New Zealand with at least one child, Albert Keen. Albert was born in 1872. Six sons and one daughter were born to Frederick and Annie at Waimate, South Canterbury, from 1877 till 1889. Sadly, some died young – Lilly Louisa (1881-1882; 1 year), Edward Thomas (1882-1883, 6 months), Guy Thomas (1889-1889, 16 days). Mr Frederick Keen was the county ranger for Waimate and the collector of dog tax for many years. Arthur was probably educated at Waimate District High School, like his older brothers. In early January 1889, when Mr F. Keen and his family were returning by dray to Waimate from the bush, an accident happened. The bolt holding the shafts became loose, causing the shafts to fall on the horse’s heels. The horse took fright and bolted, Mr Keen being thrown from the trap. The rest of the occupants were safely removed from trap after the horse had rushed through a picket fence and was caught. Mr Keen was fortunate to suffer only minor injuries. There were two women and six children with him.
In 1900, F. Keen contributed to the War Fund. Albert Keen, the eldest son, married in 1897 at Timaru. Albert worked in the saddlery department of the Canterbury Farmers’ Co-operative Association and was very active in the Waimate Acclimatisation Society, being a keen fisherman, in the Waimate Brass Band, where he was the bandmaster for some years, and with St Augustine’s Church. He was also a member of the Waimate Defence Rifle Club. On the outbreak of war, Mrs A. Keen contributed to the Patriotic Fund, and in December A. Keen donated to the Patriotic Sports Committee of Wellington fund to provide a Christmas Gift for the Belgians. In 1900, Albert had contributed to the Byrne Memorial Fund. Mrs Annie Keen died at her Waimate residence on 18 January 1910. In 1916 Frederick married Jessie Champion (née Burridge). Jessie died at their Timaru residence on 5 April 1927. Annie and Jessie are buried together at Waimate. After Jessie’s death, Frederick Keen moved to Christchurch and lived with his son. He died on 28 August 1930 at the Christchurch residence of his second son, William Frederick Keen. He was buried at Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch.
It appears that Arthur John Keen may have left New Zealand when a young man. Did he go abroad with his brother George or did George follow him? Arthur Keen was 28 years old, a labourer, born in New Zealand, when he left Liverpool, England, by the “Lake Erie” and arrived at his destination, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on 3 May 1908. Arthur John Keen – 28 years old, born in New Zealand, English, a blacksmith – arrived at Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in June 1908. He was going to relatives at Winnipeg – his brother George? On 20 June 1908, Arthur John Keen, a blacksmith born at Waimate, New Zealand, arrived at International Falls, Minnesota, USA, having crossed from Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada where his relatives were. He was described as having a fair complexion, brown hair and blue eyes. Arthur Keen – 33 years old, a New Zealander born in New Zealand, a blacksmith – arrived at Fort Frances, Ontario, on 3 April 1913, having travelled from St Paul, Minnesota.
On 12 September 1918, Arthur John Keen registered with the American Forces. He was residing Deer Lodge, Powell County, Montana, USA. He gave his date of birth as 14 June 1879 and stated that he was a New Zealand subject. Arthur was described as stout, of medium height, with brown hair and blue eyes. He was a blacksmith for Deer Lodge Farms. His nearest relative was Fred Keen, Waimate, South Canterbury, New Zealand.
What became of Arthur John Keen?
Arthur’s brother, George Henry Keen, enlisted with the Canadian Forces, twice, and was discharged medically unfit twice. Another brother, Frederick William Keen, who was a storekeeper in Christchurch, was a reservist and had been medically classified C2. His appeal in September 1918 was adjourned sine die.
NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [21 September 2021]; Timaru Herald, 7 January 1889, 19 March 1897, South Canterbury Times, 7 January 1889, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 19 January 1910, Sun, 3 September 1918, Star, 28 August 1930, Press, 28 August 1930 (Papers Past) [21, 23, 27 & 28 September 2021]; Waimate Cemetery records; Bromley Cemetery record; New Zealand Electoral Rolls (ancestry/com.au) [25 September 2021]; Passenger shipping lists (ancestry.com.au) [23 & 27 September 2021]; U.S., World War Registration Card (ancestry.com.au) [23 September 2021]
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