Edgar Reginald Harrison Kemp

Master - Merchant Navy - SS Rotorua

Background Information


18th September 1891



Master - Merchant Navy - SS Rotorua


World War One and World War Two


11th December 1940 age 49

Edgar Reginald Harrison Kemp was born on 18th September 1891 in Harbledown, Kent. His father was Percy Kemp, Schoolmaster at School House, Horton Kirby, and his mother was Emily Rachel (née Harrison) a Schoolmistress. The first school that he attended was Horton Kirby National School.
In 1904 Edgar Kemp joined The Gravesend County Day School – now known as Gravesend Grammar School. The Head Master at that time was the Henry F A Wigley. The Gravesend County Day School was located in Darnley Road, Gravesend close to the Railway Station (now the Victoria Centre for Education). In 1938 the School moved to brand new premises in Church Walk, Milton, Gravesend opposite to Milton Church.
The School’s Admission Register lists Edgar’s address as School House, Horton Kirby. His sisters, Winnie (born 1895) and Madeline (born 1901) also attended the School, which at the time taught girls too.
When Edgar left the School in 1908, he joined the Merchant Navy, gaining his Second Mate Certificate on 11th October 1912 and his Masters Certificate on 27th October 1917.
By the time that World War Two broke out Edgar Kemp was Master of the SS Rotorua, which was part of the New Zealand Shipping Company. On 11th December 1940 SS Rotorua was on convoy from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Liverpool, HX-92. Rotorua was hit by a torpedo from U-boat U-96 and sank within 15 minutes with the loss of 16 crew and 5 Royal Navy service personnel, including Convoy Commodore, Rear Admiral Fitzgerald and Edgar Kemp. The wreck now lies 110 miles west of St Kilda, together with two other ships, The Towa and Macedonier. Edgar Kemp was 49 years old. He is remembered at Tower Hill Memorial.

There are links below to Newspaper Clippings and Photographs from the Gravesend Grammar School Archives.
Below are links to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and a few other websites that might be of interest:

Tower Hill Memorial