KENT, James Joseph
(Service number 52619)

First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 2 November 1887 Place of Birth Dunedin

Enlistment Information

Date 31 January 1917 Age 29 years 2 months
Address at Enlistment 41 King St, Timaru
Occupation Flour-miller
Previous Military Experience Volunteers - disbanded
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs Catherine KENT (mother), 41 King Street, Timaru
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information Height 5 feet 5¼ inches. Weight 140 lbs. Chest measurement 33-35½ inches. Complexion fresh. Eyes blue. Hair light brown. Eyes both 6/6. Hearing and colour vision both normal. Limbs and chest well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Heart and lungs normal. Illness - rheumatic fever 3 years ago, laid up for 16 weeks(?); operated on for double hernia. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Good bodily and mental health. Slight defects but not sufficient to cause rejection. No fits. Deemed Fit, Class A.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 28th Reinforcements, Wellington Infantry Regiment, B Company
Date 14 July 1917
Transport Waitemata
Embarked From Wellington Destination Plymouth, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Wellington Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
Service Medals 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 Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

11 February 1918 - wounded in action - gunshot wounds to tibia & fibula; hands, head & face wounded; lacerated wounds to left leg & foot, & back of shoulders.

Post-war Occupations


Date 12 February 1918 Age 28 years
Place of Death No. 2 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, in the Field, Poperinge, Belgium
Cause Died of wounds
Notices Timaru Herald, 21 February 1918; New Zealand Tablet, 7 March 1918
Memorial or Cemetery Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Memorial Reference XXVII. FF. 19.
New Zealand Memorials Timaru Memorial Wall

Biographical Notes

James Joseph Kent, the younger son of John and Catherine (née Bourke) Kent, of Timaru, was born on 2 November 1887 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). James was educated by the Sisters of St Joseph at Waimate. 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.

James 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 John? And again in July 1901; and in September for a match against Sydenham. Again the question arises – was it James or John 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. James served with the Volunteers, John with the Rifles. 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 – James or John?

Both James and John 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. 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. James Kent, a butcher, was living at home in Timaru with his mother in 1911. James shared the beautiful singing voice of his sister Lucy. In December 1916 he was one who sang at the Timaru Catholic Girls’ Club entertainment. He may have given a musical item at a presentation at St Patrick’s Parish, Waimate, in September 1902.

James Joseph Kent, a butcher, of King Street, Timaru, was drawn in the ballot in November 1916. In late December he appealed his call-up, stating that he had four sisters all married; his only brother had gone to the front with the Main Body (John Charles Kent); he stopped at home to support his mother; he was a flour-miller and was working on nightshift; he had undergone a serious operation about four years previously and he doubted his fitness. He gave whatever was necessary, out of his wages, to keep the home going. His mother’s health was indifferent. His case was held over to allow him to have a medical examination. He then said that he was working in a flour mill on wages, and asked for time until the end of April 1917. He had been engaged for a time at the Silo flour mill. Single and Roman Catholic, he enlisted on 31 January 1917, aged 29 years 2 months. He was only 5 feet 5¼ inches tall, weighed 140 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 33-35½ inches. His complexion was fresh, his eyes blue and his hair light brown. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all normal, as were his heart and lungs. He had been laid up with rheumatic fever for 16 weeks three years ago. He had also been operated on for double hernia. He was assessed as fit, Class A. James served with the Volunteers until they disbanded. He nominated his mother as next-of-kin – Mrs C. Kent, 41 King Street, Timaru, at which address he was also residing. J. J. Kent was among a large group of men who left Timaru on 11 April 1917. In June he was probably home on final leave when he was present at a social evening for Private Jack Hutchison who was on final leave. A pleasant evening was spent in playing euchre, with supper provided and songs sung. At Featherston he lost a few days’ pay for overstaying his leave.

It was 14 July 1917 when Private J. J. Kent embarked with the Wellington Infantry Regiment of the 28th Reinforcements, leaving Wellington for Plymouth, England, on the “Waitemata”. There he disembarked on 24 September and marched into Sling. One day into the sailing, he had been detached to permanent fatigues for the voyage. This entitled him to extra duty pay. On 18 December 1917, James proceeded overseas to France. Having joined his battalion in the Field on 17 January 1918, he was wounded in action on 11 February. He was initially admitted to No 4 New Zealand Field Ambulance. He suffered gunshot wounds to the tibia and the fibula; hands, head and face wounded; lacerated wounds to left leg and foot, and back of shoulders.

Private James Joseph Kent, 52619, Wellington Infantry Regiment, died on 12 February 1918 at the No. 2 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station at Poperinge, Belgium, aged 30 years. He died of wounds received in action just 7 months after embarkation and one month after going to France. James was a very popular young man and highly respected. He was “a good practical Catholic, and possessed of a pleasing and cheery personality, was a general favourite amongst all classes in the community,” recorded the New Zealand Tablet of 7 March 1918. James had been a member of the local church choir, and would be missed in musical and social circles. His only brother John Charles Kent, who also served in World War I, for 4 years, was in France when James died. James was survived also by his four married sisters. In the Timaru Herald Roll of Honour (21 February 1918), he was the younger son of Mrs Catherine Kent, King Street, Timaru; in the New Zealand Tablet Roll of Honour (7 March 1918), he was the second and younger son of John and Catherine Kent, Timaru.

J. J. Kent was buried in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, and is remembered on the Timaru Memorial Wall. An In Memoriam notice was published in the NZ Tablet in February 1921. His medals British War Medal and Victory Medal – were sent to his mother, as were the plaque and scroll. James signed a Will on 13 July 1917, the day before embarking. He left all his estate to his mother, Catherine Kent, absolutely. If she had predeceased him, his sister Lucy Agnes Venning would have been the beneficiary. His whole estate consisted of £54.13.4 interest in the estate of Caroline Boardman, his father’s sister who died a widow in 1915 in Staffordshire.

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. A cousin of James also served in World War I. This cousin, Will Bourke of Manaia, visited his aunt Mrs Catherine Kent, in June 1916, prior to his departure for Trentham Camp. 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.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [24 January 2014]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5541 0063824) [26 March 2014]; CWGC [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, 8 July 1916, 25 November 1916, 1 January 1917, 6 March 1917, 10 April 1917, 26 June 1917, 21 February 1918 (x 2), South Canterbury Times, 8 & 21 February 1890, 14 June 1890, 21 May 1901, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 2 July 1901, 28 September 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, 8 April 1909, May 1909, New Zealand Tablet, 18 September 1902, 28 December 1905, 18 January 1906 (x 3), 19 March 1914, 20 July 1916, 21 December 1916, 7 March 1918 (x 2), 17 February 1921, Ashburton Guardian, 12 May 1915, Lyttelton Times, 21 December 1917, NZ Times, 21 February 1918 (Papers Past) [24 January 2014; 16 September 2014; 14 & 15 October 2015; 03, 04, 06 & 08 September 2019]; Family History ( [24 January 2014]; Probate record (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [12 January 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls (

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Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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