Ajax Veterans Street Dedication: Kingham Avenue
- Media Type:
- Street Name: Kingham Avenue
Name of Veteran: Reginald Francis Kingham
May 26, 1917 – Mar 26, 1999
Rank: Leading Engine Room Mechanic
Ship Served: HMS Ajax
Date of Service on Ship: 1938 - 1939
Year of Visit/Dedication: n/a
Veteran or Family Visit: n/a
Veteran of the Battle of the River Plate: No
Died at Battle: No
Reginald (Reg) Kingham was born in Holborn, London, England on May 26, 1917. As was the custom at the time, he left school at age 14 and had a number of jobs to make ends meet. These included pushing market barrows uphill and being a plumber’s mate. However, when he joined the Royal Navy at Chatham Dockyard in 1936 his life took a whole new turn. His strong mechanical aptitude led him to qualify as an engine room rating which, in 1938, took him to a posting with HMS Ajax in the America and West Indies Squadron. This included the Christmas 1938 cruise around South America. It was on this cruise in 1939 that the Ajax crew provided much assistance with the search for victims of the Talcahuano earthquake in Chile.
Reg served the Ajax until August 1939 when, along with seven shipmates, he was sent from Rio de Janeiro back to England on a cargo ship to take higher engineering training courses. War broke out during the voyage and the ship, loaded with Argentine meat, was a prime target for U-Boats in the South Atlantic. Even so, luck was with them and they came through unscathed.
While he was on the Ajax in Bermuda Dockyard in 1938, he received a letter from a girl, Violet Bridge, wanting to be his pen pal. He first met her when he returned to England in 1939. They became engaged in 1940 and married in November 1941.
With his engineering training complete, he returned to sea in 1940 and served through the war with distinction onboard ships such as the Liverpool, the London and the Warspite. This included Arctic convoy escort duty and heavy action in the Mediterranean and the Far East.
Reg left the Royal Navy in 1948 as a Chief Petty Officer and, using his naval skills, worked as an operator of large boilers until his retirement in 1982. His beloved wife and Ajax pen pal, Vi, died at their home in East Sussex in 1985. Reg eventually moved to Brisbane, Australia, to live with his daughter Janice. It was there, in 1999, that Reg died in true naval fashion, “with his boots on” while working at his son-in-law’s wood lathe.
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- Copyright Statement:
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- Location of Original:
- Original document and image located in the Ajax Archives.
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