Topic: Douglas Leighton Kesteven

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A soldier of the Great War who died of wounds received during fighting around Biefvillers .

Douglas Leighton Kesteven - 44189  

Douglas was born 17th September 1891, son of Shepley Cother and Georgina Kesteven. He had  married Ethel Florence Letitia Hana in 1913  and they had one daughter Margaret Georgina, born in 1914. He was 5ft 7in tall with a medium complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. Athe the time of enlisting he was farming at Rolleston, although he put his last residence as Whitecliffs. He had considerable military experience, the Senior Cadets at Christs College and 6 years with the Territorials, 13th Regiment, the North Canterbury and Westland. He had begun as a sergeant in territorials then, been promoted to 2nd Lieutenant.

Douglas enlisted at Darfield on 15th November 1916 and was assigned to 27th Reinforcements Canterbury Infantry Regiment, C Company. He reported for duty to serve as Lieutenant at Featherston on 2nd January 1917 and was allocated to C Company on 28th February. He embarked on board the Tahiti from Wellington on 12th June, disembarked at Devonport on 16th August and marched into Sling Camp. He was taken on the strength of the Canterbury Regiment the same day. He left for France on 18th October and was attached to the strength at Etaples 19th October, proceeding out to Division on 20th October. He joined 2nd Battalion Canterbury Regiment in the field on 25th October, was detached to Corps School on 29th November re-joining the Battalion on 1st January 1918. He was wounded in action on 21st February suffering a gun-shot wound to abdomen. He had been granted the temporary rank of Captain on 1st February to replace Captain Veale but as he was now wounded he relinquished the rank. He was taken to No 3 Casualty Clearing station and treated allowing him to re-join his battalion on 2nd March. However it seems that in his haste to get back he was not completely healed. He was sent to Hospital again 6 days later on 8th March with an abdominal abscess caused by the gunshot wound. Taken up by No 2  Field Ambulance he was taken to the XXII Corps Officers rest house on 14 march. This was the Chateau of La Motte au Bois, hidden in a clearing in the Forest of Nieppe, on the road between Hazebrouck and Merville. It was described as “well suited to its purpose as it had large, handsomely furnished rooms providing a dining room, a library, and a billiard room; there was accommodation for 25 officers and their batmen. The period of rest allowed was 14 days and the class of case most suitable was the officer who was run down or suffering from some minor ailment which could be benefited by a quiet comfortable rest in pleasant surroundings.” Duly rested and healed he was back on duty on 30th March at the XXII Corps Reinforcements Camp and was posted to No 2 NZ Entrenching Battalion. On 3rd April he was attached to the strength at Etaples and marched out to Division on 5th and re-joined the 2nd Battalion Canterbury Regiment. He was sent to Paris on leave on 26th June re-joining his unit on 10th July. He then went to England on leave 29th July re-joining his unit on 17th August 1918. He was granted the temp rank of Captain in place of Captain Palmer, who was sick, on 10th August but relinquished the rank on 14 Aug 1918. He died of wounds received in action on 24th August. On 8th August 1918, the last major offensive of the Western Front had commenced and on 24th August a major attack was ordered in the Bapaume area. On the 23rd the 2nd Battalion bivouacked for the night just to the south of the village of Bucquoy. Biefvillers was still in  German hands, and the 2nd Brigade was ordered to capture the village. By 5.30 a.m. the battalions had arrived at their assembly areas. His obituary notes that “He was buried in the military cemetery at Bucquoy village which he helped to clear of the Huns.”  However he is now buried in Fillievres British Cemetery, Pas de Calais. In New Zealand Douglas is remembered on the Malvern County & Springston War memorials (on Springston as W. F.).


Cemetery locale history: The cemetery was begun in June 1918 by the 46th Casualty Clearing station, used later by 6th Stationary Hospital.


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Douglas Leighton Kesteven

First Names:Douglas Leighton
Last Name:Kesteven
Date of Birth:17 September 1891
Place of Birth:Christchurch
Date of Death:24 August 1918
Place of Death:France
Memorial or Cemetery:Fillievres British Cemetery
Age at death:27
User Name:Selwyn Library
Occupation before enlisting:Farmer
Marital Status:Married
Regiment or Service:Canterbury Infantry Regiment
Country:New Zealand
Enlistment details:15 November 1916
Parents or Next of Kin:Son of Leighton and Caroline Elizabeth (nee Lake) Kesteven, Husband of Ethel .
Service Number:44189
Rank last held:Lieutenant
Embarkation:12 June 1917
Place of Embarkation:Wellington
Theatres of War:Western Front
Cause of Death:Died of wounds