Forbes, Kenneth

Younger son of Thomas and Alice Forbes of East House, Pinner, Middlesex, and brother of Thomas Forbes (F 1903-1908), he came came to Winchester from the Reverend Vernon Royle’s school at Stanmore Park. He was Head of his House, a Commoner Prefect and in Senior Division of Sixth Book. He edited the Wykehamist and in his last year was ninth man for Wimbledon VIII.

On leaving school he went on a world tour and in January 1914 was given a commission in the London Rifle Brigade. He went to the front with his battalion in November 1914 and on 19th December they found themselves in action for the first time in support in an attack by the 1st Somerset Light Infantry on enemy positions at Ploegsteert Wood. 1LRB lost one man, 2nd Lieutenant A S L Daniell (B 1909-1913 – see individual entry) but in the event, they were not called upon to attempt any major fighting, although all the other companies incurred heavy losses.

On Christmas Eve 1914 a wiring party of the LRB went out into No Man’s Land to put up barbed wire entanglements. Despite having to hammer posts into the frozen ground in bright moonlight they were not fired upon and at 2300 (midnight German time) the Germans put up a Christmas tree on their parapet and sang Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht. As dawn broke the Germans came out into No Man’s Land. “December 26th 1914:  Extraordinary as it may seem, it is a firing-line in name only. In the trenches held by our brigade, at all events, there has been a truce since Christmas Day. As I write now, some of the British are out talking to the Germans in the No Man’s Land between our trenches, swopping souvenirs and tobacco, and becoming good friends. Yesterday there were hundreds and hundreds of both sides, officers and men, in between the lines. We carried over some German dead, and helped to bury them. Their officer read some prayers and thanked (in English) ‘his English friends’ for bringing them over. Lots of them speak English. One man said he was a hairdresser in the Strand, and another was a London hotel waiter…” Source: “A Soldier’s Diary of the Great War” by Captain Douglas Bell, Fraber & Gwyer 1929. The Christmas Day truce was officially frowned upon by the military authorities and indeed in future, any officer or NCO found having initiated one would be court martialled.

Lieutenant Forbes was killed by a sniper near Ploegsteert on February 10th 1915. A memorial service was held for him at Pinner Parish Church on 17th February 1915. His brother, Thomas, (F 1903-1908) London Rifle Brigade, went out to France as a Lieutenant in January 1917; was severely wounded on 17th June and ended the war as a Captain in the Air Ministry.

War: World War 1

  • Surname: Forbes
  • Forenames or initials: Kenneth
  • House: F
  • Years in School: 1906-1912
  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Regiment: London Rifle Brigade
  • Date of Birth: 13th June 1893
  • Date of Death: 10th February 1915
  • How Died: Killed in action
  • Location in War Cloister: Outer D4
  • Decoration: NA