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KEARNS, John Vincent (1875-1901) +

KEARNS, John Vincent (1875-1901)

Born at Loddon on 19 January 1875, the son of the Reverend John Thomas Kearns and Jane nee Davis, of Latrobe Terrace, Geelong, John Vincent Kearns was educated at the Geelong College enrolling at the School on 29 April 1889.

He served (No. 7) as a Trooper in the Anglo-South African War in the National (Waldron's) Scouts, where he went through the Colenso (December 1899) and Spion Kop (January 1900) engagements, and took part in the famous relief of Ladysmith (May 1900). He was killed at Klip River near Platrand in Natal on 12 November 1901, age 26 years, and buried at Volksrust Cemetery, Volksrust, Mpumalanga, South Africa - Grave 5.

John is also memorialized on his sister Ethel's grave at Burwood cemetery, Melbourne. This memorial also records the death and burial in South Africa of John's brother, Theophilus Sydney Kearns ( -1902), age 24 years, in the Anglo-South African War on 12 March 1902.

He is named on the Anglo-South African War Memorial Tablet in the Senior School Dining Hall at Geelong College which honours those who served in the Anglo-South African War. Traditionally he was thought to have been the first former Collegian killed in war however that record may belong to Noel Leonard Calvert (1877-1900).

John Vincent Kearns is also commemorated on a War Memorial erected by the citizens of Brunswick and dedicated on 30 May 1903 in Melbourne. The Memorial is in Hooper Reserve, Sydney Rd, Brunswick.

(Although Noel Leonard Calvert (1877-1900) does not appear on the Anglo-South African Honour Roll, nor is he registered as attending Geelong College, he may have been the first former Collegian killed in that conflict. His brothers all attended the school however and there is a possibility that he could have attended, even for a short time. An 'N L Calvert' is listed in the Annual Report of 1892 as being awarded 1st prize in Arithmetic in the 3rd Class. If this is Noel Leonard Calvert, it is Calvert who would have been the first Old Collegian to die during war service).

Sources: 'Geelong Collegians at the Great World War' compiled by James Affleck. p2; Australian War Memorial (AWM).
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