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Full Name: Richard Vincent McKenna
Rank Last Held: Private
Forename(s): Richard Vincent
Surname: McKenna
War: World War I, 1914-1918
Serial No.: 57122
Gender: Male
Place of Birth: Australia
First Known Rank: Rifleman
Occupation before Enlistment: Farmer
Next of Kin: James McKenna (father), Private Bag, Pahiatua, New Zealand
Body on Embarkation: New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Embarkation Unit: Reinforcements J Company
Embarkation Date: 26 July 1917
Place of Embarkation: Wellington, New Zealand
Transport: HMNZT 90
Vessel: Ulimaroa
Destination: Plymouth, England
Nominal Roll Footnotes: Born in Australia.
Nominal Roll Number: 69
Page on Nominal Roll: 37
Last Unit Served: New Zealand Infantry
Place of Death: Bere Ferrers, Devonshire, England
Date of Death: 24 September 1917
Age at Death: 20
Year of Death: 1917
Cause of Death: Accidental death on active service
Cemetery Name: Plymouth (Efford) Cemetery, Devon, England
Grave Reference: R.C. C. 3386.
Memorial Name: Bere Ferrers Parrish, Devon, memorial tablet
Biographical Notes:
  • Richard McKenna was the son of Mr. J. and Mrs. V. M. McKenna, of Pahiatua, New Zealand.
  • Ten privates, serving in the 1NZEF (28th Reinforcements) were killed in Bere Ferrers Railway Station while getting out of the Troop Train on September 24 1917. They had just landed at Plymouth and were on their way to join their comrades on Salisbury Plain for preliminary training.
  • The accident happened when a trainful of NZ troops who had just arrived in the country left Friary Station, Plymouth at 3pm. At 3.50 the train approached Bere Ferrers. The soldiers were raw, sick, tired and above all hungry, having eaten breakfast at 6am. They had been told that food would be provided on the journey. The arrangement was that when the train made its first stop at Exeter, two men from each carriage would carry provisions from the brake-van together with cups of tea and buns provided by the Mayoress' Comforts Fund. When the train made an unscheduled stop at Bere Ferrers, men in the rear section of the train decided that this must be Exeter, and breaking the rule of two from each carriage, jumped down. Some of them spilled onto the down-line track, just as the Waterloo -to- Plymouth Express rounded the sharp curve on its entry into Bere Ferrers. Although the fireman shouted a warning, and the train driver applied the brakes, the train pulled up about 400m beyond the station. Nine soldiers died instantly and another died the following morning in Tavistock Hospital. The inquest revealed that the men had got out of the train in the wrong side simply because they had assumed the door of entry was the correct door to exit by. Information was supplied by Mrs Kyle (England).
Description of Image: Headstone, Plymouth (Efford) Cemetery (photo Mrs Kyle 2000)
Archives NZ source: Military personnel file
Further References:
Sources Used:
  • Nominal Rolls of New Zealand Expeditionary Force Volume III. Wellington: Govt. Printer, 1918
  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission. URL: http://www.cwgc.org
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