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1882759 Staff Sergeant
KENNETH THOMAS CHARD
Royal Engineers

by
Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis, 2001

1. INTRODUCTION

Unless otherwise noted, the details supplied in this narrative were obtained from the soldier’s service papers. The author has in his possession Staff Sergeant Chard’s original service documents to include a certified copy of his attestation, his Soldier’s Service Book, Soldier’s Release Book, and other documents related to his military service. Many of these documents include original letters received by Chard from various military offices in answer to his letters to them regarding pay and medal entitlements.

2. EARLY LIFE AND FAMILY INFORMATION

Kenneth Thomas Chard was born in the Parish of Trowbridge, near the Town of Trowbridge [1], in the County of Wiltshire on the 28th of December 1919. He was the son of Edwin James and Catherine Mary Chard. Prior to his enlistment in the Army, Chard lived with his parents at "Kailana", Hayes Gardens, Paignton, South Devonshire [2].

3. PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

The following is a description of Kenneth Thomas Chard at the time he enlisted in the Army in 1939 [3]:

Age on Enlistment:

20 years

Height:

5 feet 10 inches

Complexion:

Fair

Eyes:

Grey

Hair:

Light brown

Religion:

Church of England

Trade on Enlistment:

Clerk

A photograph of Chard shows that he had wavy hair parted down the middle and a neatly trimmed moustache that extended somewhat beyond the corners of his mouth. His countenance appears to be that of an intelligent and mild mannered individual.

4. ENLISTMENT AND TRAINING

Chard was recruited for enlistment in the Royal Engineers Territorial Army by Sergeant M. Pearn. He enlisted at Plymouth on the 17th of October 1939 and took the Oath of Attestation on this same date. At the time of his enlistment, Chard indicated that he was not married and that he had no prior naval or military service. He also expressed a willingness to enlist for General Service and stated that he would be willing to serve outside of the United Kingdom.

Chard’s attestation was certified by Major Albert Richard Gill, Officer-in-Charge of the Plymouth Recruiting Centre and he was immediately issued a pass to proceed on the Southern Railway from Plymouth to the Royal Engineers Depot at Chatham. Once at Chatham he was assigned to the Depot Battalion Royal Engineers as 1882759 Sapper Kenneth Thomas Chard [4].

Sapper Chard received the basic training for an engineer soldier while stationed at Chatham. On the 3rd of August 1940 he completed No. 11 Engineer Clerk’s Course at the School of Military Engineering. He received a certificate for the completion of this course indicating that he had received a qualification of Q2 – 43% [5]. This training as an Engineer Clerk would essentially establish the path of all his future assignments in the Army.

5. ASSIGNMENTS AND CAMPAIGN SERVICE

Following the completion of his training at Chatham, Chard appears to have been assigned duties as an Engineer Clerk at Brompton Barracks. On the 25th of May 1942 he was assigned to ‘D’ Company of No. 3 (Lines of Communications) Depot Battalion, Royal Engineers. His company was commanded by Lieutenant H. Jarratt, R.E. This transfer appears to have been in preparation for his assignment overseas.

Chard was granted embarkation leave on the 29th of May 1942. He returned to his unit on the 6th of June and on the 7th of June he left ‘D’ Company to embark for service in India. Upon his arrival in India, it appears that he was assigned as an Engineer Clerk to 932 Indian Works Section in Assam. This section was part of the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) in India [6].

There were 13 Works Sections in the GREF. A Works Section was commanded by a Garrison Engineer, normally a Major. The Works Section usually had an Assistant Garrison Engineer (Captain) as a second-in-command and two Assistant Garrison Engineers (Lieutenants). The supervisory staff of the Section was British or Indian, with Indian other ranks or non-combatants included in the unit to make it self-contained. Transport was provided to the section to enable officers and other supervisory staff to get about and control works projects. All military personnel in the Section were armed [7].

The role of a Works Section was the supervision of military or local civilian labour and transport on projects in operational areas. Staff Sergeant Chard’s Section formed part of Airfields ‘A’ Group and worked at Moran under the direction of Commander Royal Engineers (CRE) 108 [8].

For the reconquest of Burma, vast engineer resources were required. Large works were carried out in Assam, Imphal and Arakan in preparation for this mission, with the construction of the all-weather Burma road being of great importance. The organization formed on the 25th of March 1943 to undertake this important work was the General Reserve Engineering Force. The full strength War Establishment of the GREF was authorized on the 20th of May 1943.

In Assam, GREF took over the construction of the main projects along with engineer and other units and resources. In 1943 the GREF was entrusted with the Assam airfield construction. 932 Indian Works Section was assigned to northern Assam to work on the construction of airfields at Chabua, Mohanbari, Sookerating and Dinjan. Working conditions in these areas were difficult, as North Assam had practically no stone roads. Rains made the work even more difficult. Distribution of personnel and rations, collection of timber and bamboo from the jungle, traffic in stores and equipment and the movement of stone and sand were handicapped by the malaria and other tropical diseases that severely effected GREF efforts in 1943 [9].

The efforts of the GREF made an important contribution towards the American aid to China and operations in North Burma. The GREF took over the work of building or maintaining twelve fair weather fighter airfields. Further, when the GREF moved into the British IV Corps operational area, four additional landing fields were constructed in the Imphal area. Two all-weather landing fields were also constructed near Tamu [10].

From his service papers it is known that Staff Sergeant Chard was working in Panitola, Assam in January of 1945. His records show that on the 18th of January 1945 he traveled by rail from Manipur to a rest camp at Deolali, India. On the 14th of July 1945 he traveled by rail from Nasik to Bombay, returning to Nasik on the 10th of August. In November of 1945 he was stationed at Chabua in Assam.

During the time that Staff Sergeant Chard was in Assam, operations for the reconquest of Burma were under way (between March of 1944 and August of 1945). He was in the area during the defence of Imphal and Kohima (March to July 1944) and during the British offensives including the approach to Chindwin and the Irrawaddy River crossings between August 1944 and March 1945. Although he was not in a front line Sapper unit directly engaged with the enemy, Staff Sergeant Chard’s unit undertook vital work on the lines of communication in India and Burma, work that ultimately assisted in the defeat of the Japanese in that theatre of the war.

Chard returned to England early in 1946 and began processing for demobilization. On the 1st of March he was assigned to Military Dispersal Unit No. 6 at Taunton in Somerset [11]. On the 28th of March he received his War Gratuity for 76 months at 16 Shillings per month, for a total of 60 Pounds and 16 Shillings. He also received post war credits due from the 1st of January 1942 to the 12th of June 1946 in the amount of 40 Pounds and 12 Shillings. The total amount deposited in the Post Office Savings Bank in his name was 101 Pounds and 8 Shillings. These transactions were all handled by the Army Pay Office in Radcliffe, Lancashire.

On the 26th of April 1946, Staff Sergeant Chard was assigned to No. 6 (R&R) Depot Battalion, Royal Engineers at Halifax, West Yorkshire. He remained with this unit until his discharge.

6. PROMOTIONS AND CONDUCT

a. Promotions: Kenneth Thomas Chard received the following promotions during his time in service [12]:

Date of Promotion or Appointment

Rank or Position

17 October 1939

Enlisted as a Sapper

 

Lance Corporal

 

Corporal

 

Sergeant

1 March 1943

Staff Sergeant

29 August 1943

Appointed Acting Warrant Officer Class II

 

Reverted to substantive rank of Staff Sergeant

b. Conduct: During his time in service, Staff Sergeant Chard’s conduct was rated as "Exemplary." There are no records of any disciplinary actions on Chard’s Company Conduct Sheet.

7. EDUCATION AND QUALIFICATIONS

a. Education: Staff Sergeant Chard earned a certificate as an Engineer Clerk from the School of Military Engineering at Chatham on the 3rd of August 1940.

b. Qualifications: Staff Sergeant Chard was a qualified Engineer Clerk.

8. MEDICAL INFORMATION

The following medical information was taken from Kenneth Thomas Chard’s service records during his time in service:

Location

Date of
Admission

Ailment

Period of Hospitalization
or Treatment

Brompton Barracks, Chatham, Kent

Nov 1939

Preventive medicine

T.H.B. Inoculation

Brompton Barracks, Chatham, Kent

20 Jul 1940

Medical examination

Awarded Medical
Classification B1 [13]

Brompton Barracks, Chatham, Kent

2 Oct 1940

Preventive medicine

Small pox vaccination

Brompton Barracks, Chatham, Kent

16 Oct 1940

Preventive medicine

1st Tetanus inoculation (T.T.)

Brompton Barracks, Chatham, Kent

19 Dec 1940

Preventive medicine

2nd Tetanus inoculation (T.T.)

Brompton Barracks, Chatham, Kent

25 Feb 1941

Preventive medicine

T.H.B. re-inoculation

Marston Hall

15 Apr 1941

Eye examination

Issued prescription for glasses

Brompton Barracks, Chatham, Kent

15 Feb 1942

Preventive medicine

Annual T.A.B. inoculation

India

14 Jun 1943

Preventive medicine

T.A.B. and cholera inoculations

India

7 Jul 1943

Preventive medicine

Small pox inoculation

India

22 Oct 1943

Preventive medicine

Cholera inoculation

India

18 Mar 1944

Preventive medicine

Tetanus booster
inoculation (T.T.)

India

24 Oct 1944

Dental examination

Artificial dentures supplied

India

4 Nov 1944

Preventive medicine

T.T. and T.A.B. inoculations

Assam, India

3 Jan 1945

Eye examination

Issued new prescription
for glasses

India

16 Jun 1945

Medical

Examination

Awarded Medical
Classification C (Permanent) [14]

India

25 Jun 1945

Preventive medicine

Small pox

India

5 Oct 1945

Preventive medicine

Plague inoculation

India

12 Oct 1945

Preventive medicine

Plague inoculation

India

30 Oct 1945

Dental examination

Artificial dentures fitted

Except for some trouble with his teeth and his eyesight, Staff Sergeant Chard does not seem to have suffered from any illnesses while in the Army. Considering the problems with malaria and other tropical diseases in North Assam, and the length of his service in the area, this lack of illness is noteworthy.

9. MARRIAGE AND PERSONAL INFORMATION

There is no indication in Staff Sergeant Chard’s military records that he was ever married during his time in service. Prior to his enlistment in the Army he worked as a Clerk. His clerical skills plus his physical limitations were probably instrumental in getting him classified as an Engineer Clerk in the Army. Other than the fact that he was a member of the Church of England, the only other personal information about Chard that is included in his service papers is the death of his father on the 6th of January 1943.

10. DISCHARGE

Staff Sergeant Chard was discharged from the Army at Halifax, West Yorkshire on the 12th of June 1946. His total service was reckoned as shown in the tables below:

Location

Period of Service

England

17 October 1939 – 7 June 1942

India

8 June 1942 – 9 January 1946

England

10 January 1946 – 12 June 1946

Location

Period of Service

Home Service

2 years and 21 days

Service Abroad

3 years and 193 days

Total Service

5 years and 214 days

At the time of his discharge, Chard received the following testimonial from his commanding officer:

During his service S/Sgt Chard, R.E. has been employed as a Clerk. He has held responsible positions for about 3 years. During this time he has shown himself to be a good organizer, hard working, conscientious & definitely above average. He is a cheerful worker & of very good character, being honest, sober and trustworthy. I can recommend him without question for any job which he takes up in civilian life.

R.S. Austin, Major, R.E.
O.C. Release Wing, N. 6 (R&R) DBRE
Fort Shibden, Halifax

11. POST SERVICE LIFE

After his discharge from the Army, Kenneth Thomas Chard took up residence at 26, Hayes Gardens, Paignton, Devonshire. This address is probably the same home previously known as "Kailana" where Chard grew up as a child. Although his father was deceased, his mother may still have been living there at the time. No further information is known about him after he left the service.

12. AWARDS AND DECORATIONS

Staff Sergeant Chard was authorized the 1939-45 Star and Burma Star in a letter from the Royal Engineers Record Office, Brighton, dated the 1st of July 1944. He was also awarded the Defence Medal and the War Medal for his service during the Second World War. On the 13th of April 1943, Chard wrote to the Royal Engineers Record Office on Ditchling Road in Brighton regarding his pay in connection with the time that he served as an Acting Warrant Officer Class II. Apparently he had not been paid in the grade of WOII during the period that he served with that acting rank. In this same letter he inquired about his eligibility to receive the Territorial Efficiency Medal. On the 18th of April 1946 Chard received an answer from the R.E. Records Officer at Brighton indicating that he was to receive the balance of his War Gratuity of 7 Pounds and 12 Shillings at Warrant Officer II rate of pay. On the 14th of May 1946 he received a response from the R.E. Records Officer at Brighton indicating that his application for the Territorial Efficiency Medal had been denied. The qualification for this award was 12 years of continuous service on a Territorial Army Engagement, with the individual having been enlisted prior to 3 September 1939. Since Chard enlisted on the 17th of October 1939, he was not eligible for the medal.

It appears that Chard was also issued the wrong ribbon with his Burma Star. The R.E. Records Office sent him a letter on the 27th of July 1946 apologizing for sending him the ribbon for the Pacific Star instead of the Burma Star. In a letter dated the 12th of May 1974, the R.E. Records Office again confirmed his award of the 1939-45 Star, Burma Star and Defence Medal. This letter was apparently sent in response to Chard’s claim for the medals. The letter also indicated that "no claim is required for the War Medal 1939/45." The meaning of this sentence is not clear in the letter.

REFERENCES

1. Soldier’s service papers and other documents including the following:

a. Certified Copy of Attestation (Army Form E 531A).
b.Soldier’s Service Book (Army Book 64, Part I).
c. Pass for Recruits, dated 17 October 1939.
d. Company Conduct Sheet.
e. Engineer Clerks’ Course Certificate.
f. Active Service Home Scales Inventory of Kit.
g. Travel Warrant, Manipur to Deolali.
h. Travel Warrant, Nasik to Bombay.
i. Newspaper Cuttings and Maps, Burma Campaign, newspaper and date unknown.
j. National Savings Certificate receipt.
k. Soldier’s Release Book.
l. Testimonial Letter from Major R.S. Austin, R.E., dated 25 February 1946.
m. Pay Form R23. War Gratuity, 5 April 1946.
n. Letter from the R.E. Records Office, Brighton, dated 1 July 1946, re: Campaign Star Awards.
o. Pay Form No. 48. Balance of War Gratuity, 24 April 1946.
p. Record of Service (Army Form W5258).
q. Leave Entitlement Form.
r. Notice of Deposit in the Post Office Savings Bank, 24 April 1946.
s. Letter from the R.E. Records Office, Brighton, dated 18 April 1946, re: Pay for Acting Rank.
t. Letter from the R.E. Records Office, Brighton, dated 14 May 1946, re: Efficiency Medal (T).
u. Pay Form R.16. Post Office Savings Account No. RA.111636.
v. Letter from the R.E. Records Office, Brighton, dated 27 July 1946, re: Medal Ribbons.
w. Letter from the R.E. Record Office, Brighton, dated 12 May 1947; re: Campaign Stars and Medals.
x. Entitlement Slip: Campaign Stars, Clasps and Medals.

2. GORDON, L.L. British Battles and Medals. Spink & Son, Ltd., London, 1971.

3. LETTS, C. Roadbook of Britain. Charles Letts and Company Limited, London, 1977.

4. VERMA, S. and ANAND, V.K. The Corps of Indian Engineers, 1939-1947. Historical Section, Ministry of Defence, Government of India, Delhi, 1974.

ENDNOTES

[1] Trowbridge is located approximately 3 miles southeast of Bath.

[2] Certified Copy of Attestation of Kenneth Thomas Chard, dated 17 October 1939.

[3] Pass for Recruits issued to Kenneth Thomas Chard on 17 October 1939.

[4] Certified Copy of Attestation.

[5] School of Military Engineering Certificate of Instruction dated 3 August 1940.

[6] VERMA and ANAND, p. 431.

[7] Ibid., p. 416.

[8] Ibid., p. 431.

[9] Ibid., pp. 123-124.

[10] Ibid., p. 124.

[11] This posting of Staff Sergeant Chard put him in Taunton, Somerset, less than two miles northwest of Hatch Beauchamp, the place where the famous Lieutenant Colonel John Rouse Merriott Chard, VC, R.E. of Rorke’s Drift fame was buried .

[12] Oddly, his service papers do not show the dates of his promotions from Sapper through Staff Sergeant.

[13] Medical Category B1a4 was granted to men who were medically fit, but dentally unfit. Chard’s need for dentures later in his military service provides evidence that this may have been the reason for his B1 classification.

[14] Although not specifically indicated in his service papers, Chard was probably classified as C1: permanently unfit for general service; fit for home service. Although he was so classified, he did not return home immediately.