8 November (1915)…

Captain Kenneth Theodor e Dunbar Wilcox 8 November 1915 Reninghelst Churchyard Extension (P. Ferguson image, September 2016)

Captain Kenneth Theodore Dunbar Wilcox
8 November 1915
Reninghelst Churchyard Extension, Belgium
(P. Ferguson image, September 2016)

2nd Lieutenant Kenneth Theodor Dunbar Wilcox
8th Battalion The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment)

These past days of commemoration bring us another story of a son whose remembrance is recorded elsewhere and can be best accessed by reading of him at Westminster School and The First World War. Still there is a reminder of this day when I cycled, along with a friend, to Reninghelst from Ieper (Ypres)…the journey against the wind, a stop to photograph poppies in the grasses alongside a cornfield…more wind…into the town where we visited a few Great War sites and the journey back to Ieper with the wind at our backs…back to Ieper in no time at all. With these visits I do often wonder whose tableaus of life I have failed to capture…what stories are left behind…what will I learn in the future from these stone sheets of time…what could others learn on a simple wander to these rows of lives?

Kenneth Wilcox arrived on the Western Front 13 October 1915. Within a month of his arrival Kenneth lost his life, age 20, south of Ypres at Lankhof Château also known as Lankhof Farm by the British. The British bunkers remain in the area and can be seen from the roadside in the farmer’s fields and very near to a demarcation stone. The stone and bunkers were another one of the stops on the 11.2 Km journey from Ieper to Reninghelst…(no wind here though). Again the story is another remembrance of a parent’s walk to their son’s grave though this one is not one of pilgrim families but the story of burying a son. Kenneth’s father was Reverend Alfred G. Wilcox who was the Senior Chaplain of the XV (Scottish) Division and the Highland Division and who presided over his son’s burial. At the time a wooden cross with his son’s name…today a stone marker at grave 2 bearing the inscription Faithful Unto Death.

Kenneth Theodore Dunbar Wilcox (Imperial War Museum)

Kenneth Theodore Dunbar Wilcox
(Imperial War Museum)

During the Great War Reninghelst village was far from the frontlines and was the location of a number of field ambulance stations. The graves at the Churchyard and Extension were in use from March to November 1915 when the nearby Reninghelst New Military Cemetery was opened. There are 3 Great War burials, one unidentified in the churchyard and 56 Great War burials in the extension. The latter also includes two burials from the Second World War.

This Day
8 November 1915
205 Fatalities
Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was captivated by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Over time Paul became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography, narration and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was inspired when he learned Weir visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. "Gallipoli", the film, led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii, Gallipoli, North Macedonia and Salonika. When Paul first watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests was a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, Paul believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


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