Born: 8th January 1905, Catford, South East London.

Died: 8th November 1940; age 35; Died of Wounds received at sea, at Colchester Hospital, Essex.

Residence: Upton, Plymouth Road, Horrabridge, West Devon.

Occupation: a Partner and Director of a Messrs. Empson and Slade. Ltd., Manor Garage, Horrabridge.

Rank: Lieutenant.

Regiment: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, H.M. Drifter ‘Reed.’

Funeral service with naval honours held at Colchester, followed by cremation at Ipswich. The ashes then scattered at sea.

Memorial Reference:

Screen Wall,

Ipswich Crematorium,


Memorial plaque within the temple, Ipswich

Relatives Notified & Address: Youngest son of James & Louisa Amy Empson; husband of Winifred May Empson, of Bognor Regis, West Sussex.


1911   34, Copley Park, Streatham, Wouth West London.

Kenneth was 6 years old and living with his parents & brother.

James Empson, 37, a Traveller – Drapery, born Westminster, London.

Louisa Amy Empson (nee Roe), 36, born Walworth, South East London.

Laurence James Empson, 11, born Peckham, South East London.

On the 22nd October 1932, at Christ Church, New Malden & Coombe, Surrey, 27 year old, Kenneth, a Draper, of Tregenna, Orchard Avenue, New Malden married 25 year old, Winifred May Richards, of Brampton Lodge, Malden Road, New Malden, born 1907, West Ham, Essex.


Kenneth was a Mechanical Engineer. He was married and living with his family at their family home – Upton, Plymouth Road, Horrabridge, Devon.

Winifred, unpaid Domestic Duties.

1 child.

Probate to Winifred Empson – widow, and James Empson – father, a retired Commercial Traveller.

Western Morning News – 22nd November 1940


Lieut. Kenneth Empsom, R.N.V.R., of Manor Garage, Horrabridge, who died as a result of wounds received at sea, was cremated at Ipswich and the ashes disposed of at sea after a funeral with naval honours at Colchester.

During his early career he was attached to H.M. ships Worcester, Courageous, and Velox and had commercial experience before becoming a partner and later director, of a private company of Messrs. Empsom and Slade, Ltd., Horrabridge.   

7th November 1940

H.M. Drifter Reed was built in 1911, she was requisitioned by the Royal Navy in 1939 as a minesweeper to protect coastal Britain and convoys. In 1940, she was converted to an armed auxiliary patrol vessel. During the afternoon, on the 7th November 1940, H.M. Drifter Reed (Skipper George Ernest Utting) was on patrol in the Thames Estuary when she struck a mine south of Holland Point and sank.

The motor lifeboat Edward Z. Dresden was launched at 5pm, and found the mined vessel. Fifteen members of the crew had been lost. Kenneth was the only survivor, he was badly wounded and had been picked up by a speedboat. The lifeboat took Kenneth on board and the motor-mechanic gave him first aid. The lifeboat returned to her station at Clacton-on-Sea at 10:15hrs. Kenneth was taken to Colchester Hospital, where he died the following day from his wounds.

Edward Z. Dresden information courtesy of Tristen Welham (crewman)

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