KENT, John Charles
(Service number 4/772)

First Rank Sapper Last Rank Sapper


Date 15 March 1885 Place of Birth Dunedin

Enlistment Information

Date 10 February 1915 Age 29 years 10 months
Address at Enlistment 41 King Street, Timaru
Occupation Carpenter
Previous Military Experience Waimate Rifles - 4 years - left district
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin John KENT (father), Geraldine; Mrs Catherine KENT (mother), 41 King Street, Timaru
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 8 inches. weight 168 lbs. Chest measurement 35-38 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes grey. Hair brown. Sight & hearing both good. Colour vision correct. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth - upper partly false, lower fair. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. No vaccination mark. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 4th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Field Engineers
Date 17 April 1915
Transport Willochra or Knight Templar or Waitomo
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With New Zealand Engineers

Military Awards

Campaigns Balkan (Gallipoli); Egyptian; Egyptian Expeditionary Force; Western European
Service Medals 1914-1915 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 13 December 1918 Reason On termination of period of engagement.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

2 October 1915 - a day in 7th Field Ambulance, sick. 8 February 1916 - admitted to NZ Auxiliary Hospital at Ismalia. 13 June 1916 - admitted to hospital in France, then to No 1 Convalescent Depot. 29 June 1916 transferred to No 2 Ambulance Train; 30 June admitted to hospital at Camiers, discharged on 16 August. 26 August 1916 admitted to General Hospittal at Etaples. 21 February 1917 - slightly wounded, but remained with his unit. 6 November 1917 - evacuated to hospital - accidentally injured during Recreational Training; he was not to blame. 10 November 1917 admitted to hospital, France, suffering from muostitis of neck muscles, then myalgia; had strained a neck muscle - trivial, not severe. 1 June 1918 - admitted to Casualty Clearing Station in the Field; next day to the General Hospital; 5 June transferred to Convalescent Depot.

Post-war Occupations



Date 4 February 1948 Age 62 years
Place of Death 100 North Street, Timaru (residence)
Cause Illness
Notices Timaru Herald, 5 February 1948
Memorial or Cemetery Timaru Cemetery
Memorial Reference General Section, Row 97, Plot 295
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

John Charles Kent, the elder son of John and Catherine (née Bourke) Kent, of Timaru, was born on 15 March 1885 in Dunedin. John and Catherine had married in 1879 at Waimate. They had six children – four daughters and two sons, the four youngest all born at Dunedin (1883-1887). All was not well in the Kent household. As early as January 1880, at the Oamaru Magistrate’s Court, John Kent was charged with having deserted his wife at Waimate without means of support and was ordered to pay 15 shillings a week towards her support. While John is listed as a gardener at Waimate in 1880/1881, the second daughter of John and Catherine Kent was born on 31 October 1881, the birth being registered at Oamaru. By an 1886 directory he was a gardener residing at Macandrew Road, Dunedin. In November 1889 a claim made against John Kent for payment for goods supplied was heard in the Waimate Court. Trouble flared in early 1890. Mrs Catherine Kent complained of cruel treatment on 27 December 1889 and applied under the Married Women’s Protection Act for an order protecting her earnings from her husband and for the exclusive custody of her six children. John Kent, of Hunter’s Hill, appeared to answer the complaint. “The evidence disclosed a very unpleasant state of domestic matters between the parties.” John Kent was listed as a farm manager at Hunter in an 1890 directory. In giving judgment His Worship said there had been faults on both sides. He thought it was better, however, that a mother should have the care of such young children, while the parents were separated. The husband was bound over to keep the peace for six months, but after that time, if he gave evidence of reformation and was prepared to give some security for keeping the peace with his wife, he could apply to have the order cancelled. The order was granted and the custody of the children given to the mother. In June 1890 an order was made that John Kent pay 15 shillings per week towards the support of six children, payment to include the time since 20th February. Perhaps he was the same John Kent who was arrested at Fairlie Creek in June 1891, charged with stealing a possum rug and several articles of clothing. Catherine lived on at Waimate, moving to Timaru between 1906 and 1911. John may have spent some years as a groom at Pleasant Point; in May 1915 John Kent, a gardener, gave evidence in the Christchurch Court, concerning an incident in the Botanical Gardens; and he was at Geraldine when John Charles enlisted; The Lyttelton Times of 21 December 1917 posted an advertisement seeking the address of John Kent, gardener; in 1919 John was residing at Marshland, North Canterbury.

A double wedding was celebrated at St Patrick’s Church, Waimate, on 9 January 1906 – Lucy Agnes Kent and her sister Elizabeth Catherine (Dolly) Kent – second and third eldest daughters of Mrs Kent, “Glenbane”, Waimate - married brothers, John George and Edward Lotan Venning, of Timaru. Lucy had been a valuable member of the church choir for twelve years. The brides were given away by their brothers, James and John Charles Kent. Their sisters, Mary and Caroline Kent, were bridesmaids. The wedding breakfast was laid at their mother’s residence, “Glenbane”, Michael Street, Waimate. Mr J. Charles Kent responded to the toast to the parents on behalf of his mother. Caroline Monica Kent, of Timaru, married Patrick Mulvihill, of Beautiful Valley, Geraldine, in February 1914 at Sacred Heart Church, Timaru. In July 1916 Mary Isabelle Kent, the eldest daughter of Mr John Kent and of Mrs Kent, of King Street, Timaru, married Michael Joseph Crowley at the Sacred Heart Church, Timaru. Mary was given away by her brother Mr James Kent. Her beautiful veil was a gift of the Sisters of St Joseph, Waimate.

A grand Christmas Carnival – “the biggest thing of the kind ever seen in Waimate” - was organised by the Catholic ladies of the district, opening on 20 December 1900 in the Drill Shed. Among the winners of the raffles, drawn on 29 and 31 December, was Jack Kent. John may have played hockey for the Waimate Hockey Club, being selected as an emergency in the team to play Timaru on 24 May 1901, or was it James? And again in July 1901; and in September for a match against Sydenham. Again the question arises – was it John or James who participated in the Volunteers Morris Tube Shooting match in September 1901? Who fired for Mr Dean’s trophy in November 1901? In December 1901 the Waimate Rifles, including Kent, fired for Mr Sinclair’s trophy. John served with the Rifles, James with the Volunteers. Private Kent was a member of the firing party at the funeral of Gunner Hazleton of the Permanent Artillery, which was held in April 1902 at Waimate. J. Kent entered a cycle road race at Waimate in October 1902. The two-shilling entry fee provided monetary prizes, and a bicycle lamp and a pair of shoes were also donated for prizes. Kent was given a 1 minute handicap – John or James?

Both John and James represented the Waimate Taniwha Club in the football match against Morven in early May 1908. This was the first year of the newly constituted Waimate Sub-Union. Later in the month Taniwha was pitted against Zealandia in a much talked of match. In a fast game Zealandia came out the victors, 3–0. The forward rushes and following up of the Taniwha team were of a high order, John Kent (Jack) being one who received special mention. Both Kent brothers were selected for the match against Morven on 21 May. J. Kent was a member of the Taniwha team which took part in the South Canterbury Rugby Union’s junior seven-a-side tournament on 25 May. Both were again selected for return matches against Zealandia in June and July 1908. One J. Kent was chosen for a trial match, and from there for the representative team, for a contest between Waimate and Mackenzie Country in August. “Watchful” in his notes observed of Kent – Has played consistently throughout the season and well earned his place in the team. A silent player, who puts his weight in the scrum. Both Kent boys played for Taniwha in the seven-a-side tournament in early September, on in the A team, the other in the B. One Kent was selected to represent Waimate against South Canterbury on 17 September. The teams being very evenly matched, the match ended in a draw (3-3). Kent’s interception right on half-time relieved the pressure. At the Taniwha (Waimate) Football Club’s annual meeting in April 1909 J. Kent was elected to the committee. In May following Kent featured in the Taniwha team for the new season. From June 1909 the Taniwha team defaulted games and had to disband. Although some games were played later in the season, the prospects for 1910 were not good and the Taniwha territory was divided among the three remaining clubs. It may well have been about this time that the Kent family moved to Timaru.

John Kent, a carpenter, was living at home in King Street, Timaru with his mother in 1911 and 1914, and again in 1919, after his return from the war. He did a stint with the Public Works, at Kurow – Waitaki Dam building? He returned to Timaru, marrying Mary Anne Kirk in 1936 at Timaru, and working there as a carpenter until his death. He enlisted on 10 February 1915, aged 29 years 10 months. Single and Roman Catholic, he named his father as next-of-kin – John Kent, Geraldine; and his mother as local next-of-kin – Mrs Catherine Kent, 41 King Street, Timaru, this being the address of John Charles also. He stood at 5 feet 8 inches, weighed 168 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 35-38 inches. His complexion was fair, eyes grey and hair brown. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all good, his heart and lungs normal. As regards his teeth, the upper were partly false, the lower only fair. He was in good health, free of disease and defects, though not vaccinated. He had served for four years with the Waimate Rifles before being discharged when he left the district.

With the Field Engineers of the 4th Reinforcements, Sapper John Charles Kent embarked on 17 April 1915 at Wellington, destined for Suez, Egypt. Having embarked for Gallipoli on 20 May 1915, John saw 28 weeks continuous service with the New Zealand Field Engineers at Gallipoli, from the first week in June 1915 until the evacuation in December 1915, when he embarked for Alexandria, per the “Ionian”. Writing to his mother, he said that he was one of only three of the 60 Engineers in his section who were fit and well on leaving the Peninsula. Being attached to the Headquarters staff of Field Engineers, he could not get away for a rest, but fortunately he enjoyed good health all the time. He had, however, spent a day (2 October) in the 7th Field Ambulance, sick, He received cakes, parcels, etc., at Lemnos, en route to Alexandria, and had Christmas dinner on board a transport. On 8 February 1916, while with his unit at Moascar, he was admitted to the NZ Auxiliary Hospital at Ismalia. In March 1916 he cabled from Ismalia that he was still keeping well.

Sapper Kent was among the first section of Engineers to arrive in France in April 1916. In June he enjoyed nine days’ furlough, which was spent visiting relations in England and Scotland. In June 1916, Will Bourke of Manaia, a cousin of John, visited his aunt Mrs Catherine Kent, prior to his departure for Trentham Camp. It was on 13 June 1916 that John Kent was admitted to hospital in France, and two days later to the No 1 Convalescent Depot. He was transferred to the No 2 Ambulance Train on 29 June and the next day admitted to hospital at Camiers, from where he was discharged on 16 August and attached to Strength at Etaples. There at Etaples he was admitted to the General Hospital on 26 August for nine days. John Kent was slightly wounded on 21 February 1917, but remained on duty with his unit. On 6 November 1917 he was evacuated to hospital, having been accidentally injured during Recreational Training; he was not to blame. On 10 November he was admitted to hospital in France, suffering from muostitis of the neck muscles, and subsequently myalgia. He had strained a neck muscle – trivial. His case was not severe, and he was discharged to duty and again attached to Strength on 28th.

In May 1918 Kent was detached to Reinforcements Camp. On 1 Jun 1918 he was admitted to the Casualty Clearing Station in the field, the next day admitted to the General Hospital and on 5 June transferred to the Convalescent Depot, returning to the Base Depot at Etaples, France on 13th. He rejoined his Battalion on 25 June. From France, Sapper Kent went to the UK on Special Duty on 18 July 1918 and marched into the Discharge Depot at Torquay on 19 July. He was to return to New Zealand on Duty Furlough. Mrs Kent was advised that her son, Sapper J. C. Kent, would return home with draft 187, due in New Zealand in October 1918. And arrive he did, on 8 October per the “Ionic”, having embarked at Plymouth on 24 August. He had been on active service with the Engineers almost continuously, with the exception of a few weeks, from 1915 till 1918 through the Balkan, Egyptian and Western European campaigns. He was in France when his younger and only brother, James Joseph Kent, died of wounds on 12 February 1918.

John was discharged on 13 December 1918, on the termination of his period of engagement, and was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. In February 1920 he had the honour of being best man at a wedding at the Sacred Heart Church, Timaru. John Kent, senior, died on 1 April 1927 at the Christchurch Hospital and is buried in the Bromley Cemetery from the Catholic Cathedral. By his Will, signed in December 1926, he gave his book “The Life of the Holy Family” to the current Roman Catholic bishop of Christchurch; he gave all his other books to his brother James Kent of Staffordshire, England, from where John hailed; he left money to the bishop to have masses said for his soul; he left £20 to his friend, Minnie Louisa Feron; and he bequeathed the balance of his estate, after the payment of debts, funeral and testamentary expenses, to his son John Charles Kent absolutely. Catherine Mary née Bourke, who came from Tipperary, Ireland (possibly Glenbane, which name she gave to her home at Waimate), died on 17 March 1938 and is buried in the Timaru Cemetery. Many of her siblings came to New Zealand and settled in the North Island. His nephew James Boardman Venning died in Italy on 24 December 1944 in World War Two. Another nephew, John James Venning, also served in World War Two.

John Charles Kent died on 4 February 1948 at his home, 100 North Street, Timaru, aged 62 years. He is buried in the Timaru Cemetery, Mary Anne buried with him in November 1956.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [24 January 2014]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5541 0063825) [18 November 2014, 09 September 2016]; Timaru CCemetery headstone image (Timaru District Council) [24 January 2014]; Oamaru Mail, 7 & 8 January 1880, Timaru Herald, 9 November 1889, 21 February 1890, 16 June 1890, 17 June 1891, 14 March 1914, 20 March 1916, 8 July 1916, 18 August 1916, 9 & 20 March 1917, 29 November 1917, 3 December 1917, 21 February 1918, 26 September 1918, 1 October 1918, 28 February 1920, South Canterbury Times, 8 & 21 February 1890, 14 June 1890, 21 May 1901, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 5 January 1901, 2 July 1901, 28 September 1901, 30 November 1901, 21 December 1901, 19 April 1902, 16 October 1902, 6, 13, 20 & 25 May 1908, 3 June 1908, 15 July 1908, 3, 7, 12 & 31 August 1908, 9, 14 & 18 September 1908, 8 April 1909, May 1909, New Zealand Tablet, 28 December 1905, 18 January 1906 (x 3), 19 March 1914, 20 July 1916, Ashburton Guardian, 12 May 1915, Lyttelton Times, 21 December 1917, Sun, 30 September 1918 (Papers Past) [24 January 2014; 15 October 2015; 06 December 2015; 04, 06 & 08 September 2019]; Family History ( [24 January 2014]; Timaru Herald, 5 February 1948 (Timaru District Library) [06 September 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls (

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