Kenneth Claude Symonds was born in Sweetman Street, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire on 3rd July 1892 to Annie Elizabeth Symonds [née Power] and Ernest John Symonds and was the youngest of five children.
After completing his education at Wellington College in the first decade of the 20th century he assisted his father, who was an Inspector of Weights & Measures. Kenneth also decided upon a life as a territorial soldier in the recently created 1/4th Battalion, The King’s (Shropshire Light Infantry) and was duly commissioned as a Second-Lieutenant on 1st May 1912.
On the outbreak of war in August 1914 the Regiment was mobilised and Kenneth and his Battalion were moved from Shrewsbury to Sittingbourne in Kent. Here they remained until 29th October 1914 when they left Southampton on board a troop ship bound for India, the plan being that they were to undertake garrison duties so relieving one of the regular battalions which was desperately needed on the Western Front.
They arrived in Bombay on 1st December 1914 and after remaining in Rangoon for a brief period sailed for Singapore where they disembarked on 10th February 1915. Life out here was far more pleasant than either France or Belgium.
Over twelve months later on 15th March 1916 the C-i-C’s staff sent an urgent cablegram to London with a request that they forward Kenneth’s medical file by return; clearly something had sparked their concern. A reply was received the same day and so a cyphered follow-up cable was sent to the War Office in London from Singapore; decrypted it reads:-