Kenneth Anderson Bayne

Kenneth Anderson Bayne, No. 11/774A, 9th Squadron, Wellington Mounted Rifles. Drowned at sea, 25 November 1916.

Born in Tapanui, West Otago in 1888, Kenneth ‘Kenny’ Anderson Bayne was the youngest of Ellen and William Bayne’s four surviving children. Following Kenny’s birth the family moved to Mangatainoka, but after his mother died in 1892 Kenny went to live with the Stewart family at Konini, south of Pahīatua. He attended Hamua School and became well known as a sportsman, representing Bush at rugby and winning several wrestling matches. Of average height with blue eyes and light brown hair, Kenny was working as a government surveyor at Pōrangahau when the war began in August 1914.

Kenny enlisted as a trooper with the Auckland Mounted Rifles in December 1914 and left New Zealand with the Third Reinforcements. After arriving in Egypt in March 1915 he was transferred to the Wellington Mounted Rifles. Kenny missed the early action at Gallipoli because of influenza and did not join the Wellingtons on the peninsula until June. In late August he was fighting at Hill 60 when a bomb exploded near his position. Hit in the arm he had raised to protect his face, Kenny was evacuated from Gallipoli. He was hospitalised first in Birmingham and then at Hornchurch convalescent hospital outside London.

Kenny’s arm healed, but scarring restricted his use of it and in July 1916 he was deemed no longer fit for active service. In October he boarded the SS Ruahine, a passenger liner bound for Auckland. On the evening of 25 November the Ruahine was near Pitcairn Island when toddler Theodore Edward Austin crawled through a porthole and fell into the ocean. Seeing this, Kenny jumped overboard to try to save the boy. Life buoys and a life boat were deployed, but despite an extensive search neither Kenny nor Theodore was found.

After his death, the Chronicles of the N.Z.E.F. noted that the only consolation for Kenny’s fellow soldiers at Hornchurch was that ‘they claimed as a “chum” one who died so heroically.’ [1] Kenny is remembered on the Wellington provincial war memorial at Karori cemetery and on the Pahīatua war memorial. In 1922 the Pahīatua community erected a separate memorial to Kenny to remember his brave act. An inscription on this memorial notes that Kenny’s action ‘was characteristic of the lad. He died as he lived – a stranger to selfishness’.

Further information

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

'A Hero', Manawatu Times, 8 December 1916, p. 5

'Soldier's Sacrifice', Star, 11 December 1916, p. 5

Kenneth Anderson Bayne Memorial

Unsung heroes of a forgotten battle: Hill 60


[1] ‘A Gallant Trooper’s Death’, Chronicles of the N.Z.E.F., 28 February 1917, no. 13, p. 7, reprinted in Chronicles of the N.Z.E.F., vol. 2, Cadsonbury Publications, Christchurch, 2014.

Community contributions

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Glenn Reddiex

Posted: 15 Nov 2016

I have a postcard in my collection written from Kenny Bayne to his Auntie while Kenny was at Trentham Camp in 1914. I have transcribed this and appears in my book on pages 55-56 of "Just to let you know I'm still alive - Postcards from New Zealanders during the First World War." Published by Grantham House, 2015. Would be grateful for inclusion in your article for reference to my book. Happy to provide scanned images of the front/back of the postcard should you wish to add this to your article.