11th February 1921

Hubert Lindsay Kearne, formerly a Private with the Devonshire Regiment, died on 11th February 1921 having drowned at Hastings. The coroner recorded a verdict of death by drowning, declaring that there was insufficient evidence as to how the young man came to be in the water.

Hubert Lindsay Kearne was born in Brampton, Huntingdonshire in 1892 and was the younger of the two sons of Samuel Lindsay Kearne (1860-1938), who came from Liverpool, and his wife Emily Ann (née Robinson), who was born in London. The couple married in Cockermouth in 1889 and also had an elder son, Geoffrey Norman Keane (1888-1982), who was born in Blackpool.

At the time of the 1891 census, Lindsay (as he seems to have been known) and Emily were living with their two-year-old son, Geoffrey, in Putney. Lindsay was a professor of music, whilst Emily was an artist. Newspaper advertisements from 1890, when the couple lived in Grantham, Lincolnshire indicate that Lindsay gave lessons in Pianoforte, Guitar, Harmony, Counterpoint and Composition as well as Cello, whilst his wife gave lessons in Singing and Voice Production as well as drawing and painting. Lindsay also offered to revise manuscripts.

Emily had a painting of cellist, Edwin Thorpe, exhibited at the Castle Museum, Nottingham as part of an annual exhibition of the work of local artists. However, it was described in the Nottingham Evening Post of 10th May 1890 as showing boldness but “her method is not particularly pleasing, and the portrait is wanting in character.”

The couple had moved to Putney by November 1901 and by the time of the 1901 census, the family was living in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. By 1911, the family had moved to Green Hedges, Warwick Road, Solihull, and Lindsay was recorded as a gentleman of private means. Geoffrey, aged 21, was listed as a clerk to the Inland Revenue whilst 19-year-old Hubert was recorded as a “part student” [sic].

S. Lindsay Keane appears to have been involved in the musical scene in Solihull, as the Musical Times of 1st February 1912 mentions his directing a performance by the Musical Society of Mendelssohn’s “Loreley” at the Public Hall in Poplar Road, Solihull (now Yates’) on 19th December 1911. One of his own works – a concert-overture called “From Fairy Land” was also performed at the same event and was apparently highly popular.

On 29th March 1912, Geoffrey Norman Kearne sailed from Liverpool aboard the SS Virginian, bound for Canada. He was listed as a labourer.  We haven’t been able to find a corresponding passenger list entry for his brother, but it seems that Hubert also emigrated to Canada sometime between 1911-1914.

Following the emigration of both of their sons, the family home in Solihull – “Green Hedges” – was advertised for sale in the Birmingham Daily Post, 25th May 1914. It was described as a “very artistic pleasant house, overlooking golf links.” Lindsay and Emily then moved to St Leonards on Sea, Hastings.

On the outbreak of war, Hubert was apparently in British Colombia, Canada, working as a draughtsman. He arrived back in Liverpool in February 1916, returning to England in order to volunteer for active service. He served initially with the Royal Lancashire Regiment before transfer to the Devonshires. His brother, Geoffrey, volunteered for the Canadian Army, serving from March 1915 until his discharge as medically unfit in August 1918. 

Although both brothers survived their wartime service, both were wounded. Geoffrey fell on barbed wire at Vimy Ridge on 31st March 1917, puncturing his left knee, whilst Hubert was described in the Hastings Observer of 25th February 1921 as having “received severe wounds, was blown up, contracted trench fever, and suffered from shell shock” during his time in France.

Geoffrey was transferred to England to recover from his wound, recuperating at the 1st Southern General Hospital, Stourbridge (previously the infirmary of Stourbridge Union Workhouse, later Wordsley Hospital). He then suffered a recurrence of the asthma attacks that he had experienced whilst a teenager in England, and was transferred home to Canada where he was discharged.

Geoffrey married Christine Crebbin (1894-1954) in Vancouver on 20th November 1918. He is known to have returned briefly to England in 1925 and the couple were both in England by September 1939, living in Hastings and with Geoffrey being a manager of a retail tobacconist’s. Christine and Geoffrey were also both Air Raid Precaution wardens. Both of them died in Vancouver.

Hubert was discharged from the Army in 1919, but suffered from neurasthenia and bouts of memory loss. A fisherman found his body lying in a sand hole on the seashore near the fishing station at Hastings. His father mentioned at the inquest his son’s war service and, although no direct link between this and his death was explicitly mentioned, it seems possible that his ongoing health issues resulted in his being found drowned.

Having been discharged from the Army, Hubert Lindsay Kearne is not recorded as an official war casualty, and is not known to be listed on on any war memorials.

If you have any further information, please let us know.

Heritage and Local Studies Librarian

email: heritage@solihull.gov.uk

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