The Gentleman Farmer

Until the Day Dawn4

Image from Du Ruvigny’s RoH

Willson Kenwick Nunnerley was born on the 13th November 18987, Kenwick Park45, Cockshutt2.  He was the youngest2 of a long line of children born to Sarah Anne and affluent Gentleman Farmer William Nunnerley2.

As the nineteenth century drew to a close, Willson began taking his early steps into childhood; growing up on the prosperous and sprawling farm estate in the tranquil, but by no means prosaic9 hamlet, was undoubtedly an exciting place for his burgeoning sense of adventure as he explored the “verdant ridges and low rounded knolls … quiet woodlands and plantations”39.  On Sundays, however, he would have been expected to be quieter and calmer, with the morning spent in the company of his family at the weekly Service in the Parish Church of Ss Simon & Jude9.  Nevertheless, the ride in the family chauffeured car3 would have been quite a thrill and undoubtedly piqued his interest in modes of transport which didn’t require horsepower.

With the Edwardian20 era drawing to a close, Willson’s life changed direction as formal education beckoned; by the time he was eight, he was boarding at Ruthin Grammar School35, where, seemingly impassioned about competitive sport, many of his “happiest hours were spent”26 on the school field.

With the accession of George V21 to the throne, Willson’s life changed course yet again, as he made the transition to Rossall School32 in Lancashire; it was here that he would have learnt to live and work by its motto, Mens agitat Molem (Mind Over Matter)32 in the pursuit of success.32

By the time Willson had left school, the world had been plunged into one of the most catastrophic conflicts it has ever known.  Too young to legally enlist15, he spent the first two years of the war assisting his Father2 managing the farm18, many miles distant from the terrible destruction across the sea.  But as the demand for seemingly endless numbers of recruits continued unabated, the rules regarding enlistment were changed in early 191642.  Quite possibly, Willson had been frustrated at being held back from attesting earlier, but now he had the opportunity he had been waiting for.  Thus, in September 1916 at the age of “17 years 9 months & 14 days”17, he joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Cadets (OTC), Class B Reserve17, at Berkhamstead17, where he underwent intensive basic officer training in skills such as map reading, bombing, musketry, leadership and command22.

Having procured his pilot’s certificate, on 20th April 1917, Private WK Nunnerley, 1077617, was Gazetted 2nd Lieutenant (Temp), obtaining his wings on 4th August 191713.  Assigned to 13th Squadron12 he embarked on what would be the final, short chapter of his young life.

A year on from his attestation, 2nd Lieutenant WK Nunnerley had joined the BEF in France13, where his duties were to observe and photograph the enemy’s artillery and carry-out night-time bombing raids, often engaging in aerial combat22.

WW1, British War Medal & Victory Medal

Three months later, on 5th December 191712, despite being driven by the “incomprehensibility of being beaten40, 2nd Lt. WK Nunnerley was killed in action12.  He had been carrying out artillery registration44 near Arras23.  Laid to rest in Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun, France, he was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal8.

A Memorial Service for 2nd Lt. WK Nunnerley was held in the Parish Church of Ss Simon & Jude Cockshutt on 19th December 191745.  Aged 19 years and three weeks, he was the youngest man from Cockshutt to be killed in The Great War.

On 3rd April 1919, Ss Simon & Jude’s PCC unanimously approved the plan and inscription for his memorial tablet and that a faculty (permission) be applied for9; it was subsequently placed on the North wall next to the pulpit.

We Will Remember Him.


Memorial Plaque, St. George’s Memorial Church, Ypres
Panel on Rossall School RoH




Second Lieutenant, Willson Kenwick Nunnerley, 13th Sqdn. Royal Flying Corps.

Killed in action in France on 5th December 1917.

Buried at Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun, France. Grave V. D. 25.



So they passed over
And all the trumpets sounded for them
On the other side43

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