Source: AWM collection HERE
He was a teacher
Frank Winterburn Kemp was born at Yendon near Ballarat on 26th March 1885, the son of Elizabeth and John Winterburn Kemp who was a local teacher. He had an older brother John Robert and younger sisters Elsie and Ada “Dot”.
His family moved to Sorrento in 1894 when John Kemp was appointed Headmaster of the ‘Second’ Sorrento school (now a home “L’Ecole” at 3563 Point Nepean Rd. Portsea), a position he held until his retirement in 1911. They lived in the ‘first’ school building which is now known as ‘Kemp Cottage’ on Point Nepean Rd. Portsea.
(John Kemp on extreme right, possibly Frank Kemp at rear centre standing alone)
Frank completed his schooling at Sorrento and after assisting his father as a teaching aid, trained with the Victorian Department of Education to become a teacher. Upon qualifying he was appointed a ‘relieving teacher’ and traveled around Victoria. After Quambatook in 1908, then Harrow and others he found himself in Mildura in 1914.
Frank Kemp enlisted in the 8th Light Horse Regiment on 27th November 1914. He embarked as a trooper in “B Squadron” from Melbourne aboard the “Star of Victoria” on 25th Feb 1915.
Source: state library of Qld HERE
8th Light Horse Regiment
The regiment that would eventually become the 8th Light Horse Regiment was formed at Broadmeadows camp in Victoria on 23 September 1914 as the 6th Light Horse Regiment. A reorganisation of the rapidly expanding AIF in early October resulted in the 6th being renumbered the 8th, and it became part of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade. It sailed from Melbourne on 25 February 1915.
The light horse were considered unsuitable for the initial operations at Gallipoli, but were subsequently deployed without their horses. The 3rd Light Horse Brigade landed in late May 1915 and was attached to the New Zealand and Australian Division. The 8th formed the first two waves for the Brigade’s disastrous attack on the Nek on 7 August and suffered heavily. Exhausted and under-strength, the regiment then played a defensive role until it finally left the peninsula on 20 December 1915.
Source: AWM Unit Histories. for more go HERE
After training in Egypt, Frank embarked with the 8th LHR aboard “HMT Menominee” to Gallipoli on 15th May 1915. The Regiment disembarked at Gallipoli on the afternoon of 20 May 1915.
Charge at The Nek
Source: AWM collection HERE
The Nek was a vitally important position on the northern end of the ANZAC front line and the scene of a tragic attack by the 3rd Light Horse Brigade at dawn on 7 August 1915. It was a narrow bridge of land that stretched between Russell’s Top and Baby 700 across the top of Monash Valley. The Turkish trenches on the slopes of Baby 700 allowed them to dominate the Australian positions below.
As part of the diversionary effort for the August Offensive, the 3rd Light Horse was ordered to attack the Turkish trenches at the Nek at 4.30am on 7 August to support an attack on Baby 700 by New Zealand troops who were to have captured Chunuk Bair the previous evening. The attack commenced with a bombardment of the Turkish positions by a destroyer steaming offshore, but the bulk of the shells fell beyond their target and the bombardment ended seven minutes early. Instead of charging at this point, the officers of the light horse held their men back until the appointed time for the attack arrived. This gave the Turks time to man their positions, having sought shelter during the bombardment.
The first wave of light horsemen from the 8th Light Horse Regiment were shot down by Turkish rifle and machine-gun fire. The second line, also from the 8th, scrambled over the dead and wounded of the first line to make their attack, and suffered the same fate. Cancellation of the attack was proposed, but was rejected by Major John Antill, who had taken over effective command of the 3rd Brigade. The third line of soldiers, from the 10th Light Horse, went over the top and were also shot down. Cancellation was again suggested, but before a decision was made, the right flank of the fourth line charged as a result of a misunderstanding, and the rest of the line followed. They too were mowed down by the Turkish fire. The 8th Light Horse suffered 234 casualties, 154 fatal; and the 10th, suffered 138 casualties, 80 fatal.
Source: AWM Histories HERE
We don’t know if Frank went over in the first or second wave but a detailed description of The 8th Light Horse’s day on August 7th 1915 is contained in C.E.W. Bean’s Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918 Vol2 Ch XXI “The Feints of August 7th”. Go to p. 611 for the first mention of The 8th LHR. Other Chapters can be found at the Australian War Memorial site HERE.
The Nek – The Film
Readers may recall the 1981 Peter Weir film ‘Gallipoli’, the central character of which was based on a trooper of the 10th Light Horse from Perth who is mentioned by Charles Bean – in his Official History. Private Wilfred Harper was reported as:
Men known and popular, the best loved leaders in sport and work in the West, then rushed straight to their death. Gresley Harper and Wilfred, his younger brother, the latter of whom was last seen running forward like a schoolboy in a foot-race, with all the speed he could compass. . .
What happened to Frank Kemp?
Frank was reported missing on 7th Aug 1915 and was later presumed killed at The Nek. His body was never recovered.
When Commonwealth burial parties returned to the peninsula in 1919 after the war’s end, the bones of the dead light horsemen were still lying thickly on the small piece of ground. The Nek Cemetery now covers most of no-man’s land of the tiny battlefield, and contains the remains of 316 Australian soldiers, most of whom fell during the 7 August attack, of whom only five could be identified.
Like so many others Frank Kemp is remembered on the memorial at Lone Pine.
Back at home.
After leaving Sorrento in 1911, Elizabeth and John Winterburn Kemp had moved on to Rainbow in Victoria’s North West. The following article appeared in the local paper:
Source: Trove HERE
Frank’s older brother John Robert Kemp later moved to Queensland and in 1939 became Coordinator General of Public Works. A roll that included his being Deputy Director General of the Allied Works Council during the Second World War. For these roles he was Knighted in 1951.
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