Kinseys Fighting for Australia in WWI: Joseph Richard Kinsey

With the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914, thousands of Australians and New Zealanders answered the call to form the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). Many of those who enlisted had deep roots to the UK.

Included in those men and women were two members of the Kinsey family, Joseph Richard Kinsey and William Roderick Darrell Kinsey.  One made it home, while the other did not. 

The one who made it home - Joseph Richard Kinsey.

Joseph Richard Kinsey was born on 4 June 1870 in Llandinam, Montgomeryshire to Roger Kinsey and his second wife, Jane Richards.  Joseph grew up on Berthddu Farm, the family farm, until the age of 17 where he immigrated to Manitoba, Canada in 1887 aboard the SS Parisian.  An older brother, Roger Lewis Kinsey, had earlier immigrated to Manitoba in 1880.

Picture of the SS Parisian
By 1902, Joseph Richard Kinsey is said to be living in New South Wales, Australia according to his father's will.

Then on 13 November 1915, Joseph enlist in the Australian Army in Dubbo, New South Wales.  By this time, he is 40 and is working as a labourer.  He enters the armed forces as a sapper in the 4th Tunneling Company.

His attestation papers also mention that he has spent 3 years in the British Navy.  However, his navy records cannot be located on the UK Archives website.

Joseph Richard Kinsey's WWI Attestation Paper - front

He also states that he is single.  Therein, he lists his sister, Margaret Jane "Maggie" Kinsey (of Redhouse, Llandinam), as his next-of-kin.

One of the most interesting things about looking through some one's military records is that you often get their physical description of that person.  In Joseph R. Kinsey attestation papers we find the following:

Joseph Richard Kinsey's WWI Attestation Paper- back

  • Age: 40 years, 7 months
  • Height: 5 feet, 6.5 inches
  • Weight: 156 pounds
  • Chest: 34 / 38.5 inches
  • Complexion: persaged (sic)
  • Eyes: Grey
  • Hair: Brown
  • Religious Denomination: Church of England
  • Distinguishing Marks: none listed

Photo of the A69 HMAT Warilda
Along with his mates from the 4th Tunnelling Co., Sapper Kinsey embarked at Sydney aboard the HMAT Warilda on the 22 May 1916, and arrived safely in Plymouth, England on 1 July 1916.  However, the same could not be said for the Warilda as she was torpedoed in the English Channel on 3 August 1918 with 801 people on board of which 123 lives were lost.  She sank in less than two hours.

On 2 August 1916, the 4th Tunnelling Co. proceeded onto France. Soon after they were absorbed by the 1st Tunnelling Co.  The 1st Tunnelling Co. has a rather fascinating story in the larger drama of WWI.

The 1st Tunnelling Co. were part of the cat and mouse game of underground mine warfare.  Their most famous episode was the blowing up the infamous Hill 60 on 7 June 1917 in Belgium.  The story has recently received greater prominence with the release of the Australian film "Beneath Hill 60".

While the film suffers from some of the same trappings as the recent Canadian film "Passchendaele", it still remains both an engaging and true story.

Joseph Kinsey survived the war and by 24 February 1919 he marched out to England with his unit.  Then, on 11 June 1919, he set sail aboard the HMAT Boonah.  The Boonah was a German Liner that was absconded in Sydney at the beginning of the war.  By 11 June 1919, Sapper Kinsey had arrived safely in Australia.

For his efforts in WWI, he was awarded 3 medals:
  • The 1914-15 Star
  • The British War Medal (1914-1918)
  • The Allied Victory Medal (1914-1919)
Joseph Richard Kinsey's WWI Casualty From - front

Joseph Richard Kinsey's WWI Casualty Form - back

According to his war records, Sapper Kinsey was discharged on 2 July 1919.  What happened to Joseph after that is not very clear.   There are a number of voters lists of New South Wales listing him as a miner.  The latest has him living on the Eugowra Road in the Cudal District of NSW in 1936.  As of now, his whereabouts after that remain a mystery.


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