Friends of Hastings Cemetery
The Hastings Observer of 25th February 1921 records the following sad tale;
‘YOUNG MAN’S SAD DEATH – The circumstances attending the death of a young man named Hubert Kearne, an art student of 37, St Mary’s Terrace, Hastings, formed the subject of an enquiry by the Coroner for East Sussex (Mr G. Vere Benson) at Eastbourne on Tuesday.
Evidence was given showing that a fisherman found the body lying in a sand hole on the seashore near the fishing station. Mr Samuel Lindsay Kearne, father of the deceased, said his son came over voluntarily from British Columbia to serve in the army, during the first year of the War, and whilst in France he received severe wounds, was blown up, contracted trench fever, and suffered from shell shock. Since demobilisation, 13 months ago, deceased had suffered from neurasthenia and occasional loss of memory. The Coroner returned a verdict of death from drowning, there being insufficient evidence to show how deceased came to be in the water.’
Hubert Lindsey Kearne was born in Brampton, Hunts. in 1892. He was the second son of Samuel Lindsey Kearne, who came from Liverpool, and his wife Emily, who was born in London. In 1901 the family was living in Hitchin, Herts where Samuel’s occupation was professor of music. Also in the household was Geoffrey Norman, Hubert’s older brother who was born in Blackpool on 21st November 1888, and one servant. By 1911 the family were living in Solihull and Samuel was described as a man of independent means. Geoffrey was a clerk with the Inland Revenue and Hubert a ‘part student’ (sic).
A year later, on 6th April 1912, Geoffrey sailed for Canada on the SS Virginian. He was bound for Ontario and the ship’s ledger records that he was going to be a farmer. Presumably Hubert followed him at some point because the records for the SS Adriatic show him arriving in Liverpool on 26th February 1916 from New York.
His country of last residence was Canada, his occupation draughtsman and his address in the UK was 22 Springfield Road, St Leonards.
As his father said at the inquest, he had come back to join the British Army. He fought with the Royal Lancashire Regiment and the Devonshire Regiment and suffered severely as the newspaper report shows. He died on 11th February 1921 at the age of 28.
Geoffrey enlisted in the Canadian Army on 18th March 1915, but survived the war and died in Vancouver in 1982.
Samuel and Emily had moved to 22, Springfield Road, St Leonards by March 1915 as it is the address Geoffrey gave for his next of kin.