In the Old Church cemetery half way down Old Church Hill, Langdon Hills is the Commonwealth Grave of Kenneth Allen Appleby who died on the 26th June 1958. It has always intrigued me. Was he killed in one of the various conflicts that followed the Second World War such as the Malayan Emergence that ran from 1948 to 1960?
To solve the problem, I sent away for his death certificate and I was somewhat surprised that he was from the Langdon Hills Camp and was killed in a motor cycle accident. He was with the Royal Corps of Signal, service number 23484787.
The Basildon Standard reported that two men died from head injuries when their motor cycles collided head on in Brentwood Road, Chadwell St Mary. Appleby was a learner driver and had only been driving a few weeks; he was not displaying “L” plates.
He had a pillion passenger, Gunner Michael Edward Turner also from the Langdon Camp. It was the first time he had been on a motor cycle. Turner was injured and giving evidence along with other witnesses it was obvious that Appleby was travelling too fast for the bendy road. P.C. F. Hodges said the accident happened at the bottom of two hills in Brentwood Road and on a sharp bend in the road. Vision round the bend was obscured by high hedges at the roadside.
A cyclist – Mr George Weddell from Corringham, was passed by Appleby, “I thought he was over doing it,” he said.
“He was going very fast and I saw him go around the bend on the wrong side of the road and then heard a crash and saw smoke rising in the air.”
Both machines were severely damaged and the other motor cyclist, Alfred John Still (24) of Moore Avenue, Tilbury was also killed. There was no evidence of how fast he was going.
The jury’s verdict was accidental death.
Appleby was from Durham and the fact it happened nearly sixty years ago, I will be surprised if there is anybody around who knew him. If there is please get in touch.