Remembrance - 6th Royal West Kent Regiment 1914-18. By Sidney T Kemp

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We' forwent a wilk together and I told her that Fred and I were going to enliiVi tomorrow. This waa Wednesday evening of the 26th. She took it oh so nicely as she knew that we intended going V/e kissed each' other and we both felt very sad but Lord Kitchener was begging for 100000 fellows daily. Well it was nearly four years before I and Ethel were able to get married as then I was invalided out. I didn't even think about getting married before Fred and I went. So we come to Thursday August 27th. I well remember seeing people at Winfield Farm preparing for the hop picking season which was about to commence but we had a sterner job to seek. We bought return rail tickets at Wrotham Station to Maidstone hoping that if accepted as soldiers we would be allowed to come home that night. It was just a short distance up the line to the barracks of the Royal West Kent Regiment but at Mailing there was an E Division Reservist who was being called soup he, Fred and I went together. He knew where togo for his own business and we joined with some more chaps seeking a uniform. But believe it or not this is what happened. Up until I was about fifteen and a half my parents and Fred and I had lived at Hailing having attended Hooks School at Snodland and of course we knew other boya and yet not having seen any of them since 1906 we were suddenly to see Thomas Harris and the two others with him as well as some boys from Snodland. Why I mention Thomas Harris is that in 1918 after I had been invalided out of the army Tom died winning the Victoria Cross saving an officer's life. I feel that Tom should be mentioned because he was always a fine chap. Well we with others were given a thorough medical examination. Fred insisted that he would pa3S the medical test. Well I was examined first and passed easily. Then it was Fred's turn but heat sixteen or seventeen had had a bad illness of bronchitis and his chest wouldn't expand to fit the regiment's requirements. He was rejected by the doctor when suddenly the doctor said to us are you brothers? We said yea. Comeback here he said to Fred and loosely put his tape round Fred's chest, and said you are OK. Behind us was a chap with bad eye-sight. He asked me what letters on the board we had to say. I told him: he ingot with that, was passed but when it came to seeing down the sights of a rifle well he didn't know whereto point the gun so was discharged. Another thing- no-one was asked for a birth certificate you said you were such-an age and they believed you. Boys of fifteen were saying they were nineteen or twenty and 'unsold over forty were saying they were thirty and there were many men and boys allowed to enlist who shouldn't have been there. When we went to France the following June there were several boys of fifteen to seventeen who went with us but they shouldn't have been allowed togo for it was a man's war and I found a signaller who was with me on a station who was seventeen: he just folded up when trouble came. Well after the medical examination we were mustered about twenty four of us into a room. A Magistrate Mr. Haynes of Maidstone was in attendance. He read all the details of which we were committing into and some of them were serious too. For instance if it became necessary to shoot down members of our own family 3ay in a rebellion or suchlike we would not hesitate to do so. He gave us time to think it over no-one backed out so then he started the business of attesting us into the army. After this was finished he congratulated us telling U 3 that we were soldiers 01 the forKing three years or duration of the war. Kitchener said given
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