Albert Edward Kemp Mourning Collection




The Albert Edward Kemp Mourning Collection comprises 69 objects acquired by Museum Victoria in 2006. It represents one family's memoralization of a soldier who died in World War I, leaving a young family to mourn him. His widow and later his daughter cherished the few items remaining from his service: letters and postcards from and to the front, sweetheat brooches and photographs of him in uniform. They also kept the heart-breaking letters advising of his death and how he died, and later correspondence concerning official recognition of his sacrifice: a tree in an avenue of honor, a scroll, medals and a plaque, and his grave at 29 The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.

Albert Edward Kemp was a 32-year-old butcher living at 8 Normanby Ave, Caulfield and married to Annie Josephine, a seamstress, when he enlisted to fight in World War I in 1916. Born in South Yarra in 1884, he was a small man, 5'4½"", and weighed only eight stone (50kg). He and Annie had a daughter, Ethel Mavis, about six, and a son, George Percival, still a baby. Albert enlisted at Royal Park on 4 October 1916 and was assigned to the 22nd Reinforcements, 6th Battalion - regimental number 6800. The 6th Battalion, part of the 2nd Brigade, was one of the first raised in World War I, and was entirely composed of Victorians. Kemp left Melbourne on 25 October 1916 - just 21 days after he enlisted - on the Ulysses. The ship arrived in Plymouth three days after Christmas.Albert was shipped to France on 27 March and probably went into action in the trenches. He survived six months. On 21 September 1917, Albert died in the trenches at Glencorse Wood, Ypres. He is buried at 29 The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium. His widow Annie received a war pension but appears to have fallen on hard times - suggested by her need for assistance with a grocery bill approved in one of the documents. She was eventually evicted and moved to 19 Raleigh St, Malvern in 1922. Her nephew believes she actually bought a home around 1922, putting down a deposit of 100 pounds on a house. He surmises she might have received financial assistance, perhaps from other family members, for the purchase. Annie also worked as a seamstress to support her family. She never re-married, and was still living at that address in Malvern when she died in 1961, alone but cared for by an elderly woman. Ethel never married either, and lived until old age, dying about 1993. She never liked to talk about the past, although carefully kept mementoes of her father. Her family describe her house as 'a museum'.

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1884-1917; Anzac Day; Australians at War; Commemorations; Death & Mourning; Domestic life; Religions: Roman Catholic; Repatriation; Sweetheart Badges; Victory Medals; War Graves; War widows; Wars & Conflicts; World War I, 1914-1918

Coverage Spatial

Belgium; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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