PRINCESS PATRICIA'S CANADIAN LIGHT INFANTRY
Armorial Description (current)
Within an annulus inscribed PRINCESS PATRICIA'S CANADIAN LIGHT
INFANTRY, the cypher and coronet of HRH Princess Patricia, pierced (the
coronet comprised of three visible crosses patte interspersed with two
strawberry leaves); the whole surmounted by the St. Edward's Crown.
To Michael Thierens (CEF
Forum Member - "Grandson Michael") who has provided valuable information
on this project. Michael is researching the P.P.C.L.I. from his home base in
Erica, the Netherlands.
Department of National Defence:
For an image of the P.P.C.L.I. in its scarlet full dress uniform, follow
this link to the "Drummer".
WWI Cap Badge
THERE WERE TWO ATTESTATIONS!
We know from the documents posted on the site of Library
and Archives Canada Records that he signed two sets of Attestation Papers.
The first set of attestation papers was signed in Victoria, British
Columbia on November 10, 1914. It would appear that he was only 18
at the time, whereas 19 was the minimum age for attestation. His
November 1914 Attestation Papers show his birth date as
"1896", no month or day is given. We know that he was
born on March 3, 1896 in Belfast, Ireland. That would put him at
18, maybe he was hoping they would assume he "had just turned 19,
the legal age for enlistment.
The second set of Attestation Papers is dated February 9, 1915. Interestingly
enough, Josiah was not only underage when he attempted
to enlist in 1914, he was still under age when he enlisted in February
The attestation records show that Josiah was a member of, or had served with, the
102nd Regiment (Militia). A check of that on Regiments.org (site
now closed - see CEFSG version) shows
that to be "The
Rocky Mountain Rangers". That fits, as they were located
in British Columbia. The site said they had contributed
volunteers to the 7th Battalion CEF (1st Division, 2nd Brigade) in 1914
and then raised the 172nd Battalion in 1915 (absorbed by 24th Reserve
It would appear that Josiah may have got sent home to wait until he
was 19 years of age, as he was not examined for his medical until
February 5, 1915. His 1914 papers show his regimental number as #643
and the only unit using those low numbers was the Princess Patricia
Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) who did have 1-800 in their number
block. Above this it is noted it was changed to #51288, which
remained with him for the rest of his service. This appears to
confirm that he was underage on his first enlistment, was assigned a
number, it was retracted when sent back home.
Interestingly enough, if you search Library
and Archives Canada for Regiment Number 643 you find 11 other
soldiers, none of them being Josiah Kennedy.
The document with the main title "ORIGINAL - Medical History"
actually shows two possible dates for Josiah joining the Princess Pat's:
|August 22, 1914|
|February 9, 1915|
which is the date Chris Baker used in his report, so there may be
some confirmation as to that date - those documents were not included in
the attachments. Pay records from Library and Archives
Canada confirm the February 9, 1915 date but they also show a transfer
to the PPCLI on December 31, 1914. It would appear, that the 16th
Battalion (Canadian Scottish) was serving as a "Reinforcement
Battalion" for the PPCLI prior to their role in the 1st Division,
3rd Brigade. This is a topic for further study.
The medical history papers indicate that he was #643 in the 30th
Battalion, which was a British Columbia unit (redesignated 30th Reserve,
absorbed by 1st Reserve Battalion), but did not have this number block. He
may have just "passed through" or that was the unit back in
1914 and it was changed to the PPCLI in 1915. The same document
refers to his #51288 being assigned to him as his enlistment in the 16th
Battalion Canadian Scottish (1st Division 3rd Brigade) which is the
correct name for that battalion from of B.C. but the number blocks were
28501 to 30000, which do not match.
To confuse the issue even further, his Pay Slips from the Canadian
Archives show his rank as Private #643 in November 1914 clearly in
the 30th Battalion CEF. In December there is a notation he was
transferred to the PPCLI on December 31, 1914 (authority granted
January 9, 1915). His new number #51288 does not show until his
February pay card.
The copy of the November 1914 Attestation Papers that are in the
detailed file from Library and Archives Canada differ slightly from the
version that is provided on the LAC web site. The detailed package has
the words "PPCLI Re'f'mt" (Reinforcements ?) typed across the top of the document.
The next significant entry is the wounding of Josiah Kennedy, as
recorded on May 12, 1915 (shrapnel wound to the foot). Reference
to the notes from the War Diary from Michael Thierens supports this as
it shows the office wounded on May 10, 1915 (see below). There is
no record of Private Kennedy suffering from "gas exposure",
the event commonly referenced in family records. That begs the
question - was this a self inflicted wound or was Grandfather Kennedy
wounded by the enemy? The battle at Bellewaerde was severe, we
will assume for now he was wounded in battle.
THE WAR DIARY ENTRIES, MAY 1915
As we have noted in the Background to this web site, we are indebted to
Michael Thierens (Erica, the Netherlands) from the CEF Forum for his early
response and direction to Maternal Grandfather Kennedy's exploits with the
PPCLI. Thanks to Michael for posting the following on the CEF Study Group
Forum in the early days of my research:
I hate to throw a spanner in the
works but I checked on your maternal Grandfather in Ralph Hodder-Williams,
P.P.C.L.I. 1914 – 1919, Volume II: The Roll of Honour and Appendices.
This is what I found:
51288, KENNEDY, J.C.
Original Overseas Unit: 30th Bn.
Joined P.P.C.L.I. in Field: Mar. 15, 1915.
Regimental Record: Pte., wounded May 10, 1915, struck off strength Feb. 29,
1916. Subsequent service: Lieut. B.E.F.
It sure looks as if this is your maternal Grandfather, but the dates don’t
tally, certainly not the date he joined the P.P.C.L.I. As for A/Captain, that
must have been his rank after he joined the Royal Irish Rifles, as you pointed
out on you website. (A typo?)
What Michael has found is in fact correct, as
Grandfather Kennedy was wounded at Bellewaarde and then rejoined the
unit. Some time later he was struck off strength for other medical
reasons, as detailed in the following section on this page, after which he
worked in HQ, took Officer Training and came back to the front as an Officer
in the British Army's "Royal Irish Rifles".
Michael checked the war diaries for the period that Grandfather
Kennedy was with the PPCLI and found the entries detailing his first
medical condition. Apparently, the wounds were due to shrapnel,
not the result of the gas use at Bellewaarde, as was the story that had
been passed down through the generations. Here is what Michael had
to say about the war diary entries:
War Diary entry:
Mon., May 10, 1915 YPRES, FLANDERS, BELGIUM
Ypres all day, in evening furnished a carrying party for S A A of 50 men
& one Officer & delivered 25 boxes S A A to trenches of BELLEWAARDE
LAKE. Casualties 1 killed 2 wounded
Furnished a digging party of 100 men under Lieut Clarke who constructed part
of support trench S of G.H.Q. line
--- signed Major R.T. Pelly, O.C. Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light
Infantry. (unproofed version, in
If we're still talking about your maternal Grandfather here, he must have
been one of the two wounded mentioned above....
We have located the original War Diary pages that
Michael has referenced and published these on the PPCLI
page of this web project. From here you will find the exact reference
to the May
1915 War Diaries and from there the page for May
10, 1915. Here is the actual page: (click on it to see the full scale
version, or go to the link noted above)
The PPCLI War
Diary is available on a page-by-page basis the Library & Archives Canada web
site for the complete duration of the war:
Patricia's Index of War Diaries
A consolidation of the periods covering Grandfather Kennedy has been
assembled from these images as two PDF files:
In addition, thanks to the incredible work of Michael Thierens (Erica,
Netherlands), the complete PPCLI War Diary for the Great War has
been transcribed in exact detail and is available as a consolidated
document or an annual basis:
RECOVERY AND REJOINING THE PPCLI
Grandfather Kennedy apparently went to the No. 2 Canadian General
Hospital in "Le Treport" on May 12, 1915, which agrees
with the listing of hospitals for that period of March 1915 - March 1919
(University of Toronto Roll of Service, page 599). On June 1, 1915
he was discharged to "Class B" at Rouen (also listed as No. 2
Hospital but I have no record of that location at that time).
Josiah regained the PPCLI Battalion on June 12, 1915, as noted on the
"Casualty Form - Active Service". The next record
appears to be his complaints of "swelling of the right
testicle" while on duty in the trenches. The medical case
sheet provides further information as it states :
"On November 15, (1915) while in trenches at Somme patient
noted swelling in Rt. testicle. First went sick Feb. 20.
Was sent to #6 Field Ambulance .... the to No 1 General Hospital ...
transferred to England, arrived at Taplow March 1st (1916)."
He was sent to hospital on February 12, 1916 ( a week in Lochre (6
Canadian Field Ambulance / Clearing Station), 2 weeks at Etaples then
off for an operation at Taplow (records say that is No. 15 General
Hospital December 1914 - September 1919, Duches of Connaught Red Cross
Hospital), where he was for 3 months. The Casualty Form says he
was sent back to England on February 29, 1916 with a combination of Tuberculosis
and Orchitis. Hospital records show he was in Taplow for 95 days
(March 1, 1916 to June 3, 1916). Other records (Medical Case Sheet) show
the operation was on May 17, 1916.
He then spent 7 days at the Canadian Convalescent Hospital in
Hillingdon, Uxbridge (June 3, 1916 to June 9, 1916). The report
further states "cured by operation".
The next records show that Grandfather Kennedy was posted on June 9,
1916 to the Headquarters at E. Sandling, which appears to be noted as the HQ for the RCR
(Royal Canadian Regiment) and the PPCLI. We know that the
RCR and PPCLI would both become key to the 3rd
Division, 7th Infantry Brigade (the 3rd Division was complete in
March 1916). He was "furloughed from reveille" on
November 2, 1916 "until Gazetted" - apparently some indication
that he had been moved to an officer's position. Next in the same
list it references he was with the 7th Reserve Battalion RCR & PPCLI
The next note of May 31, 1917 shows that he was SOS (Struck Off
Strength) on October 24, 1916 "on appointment to a commission in
the Imperial Army". This agrees with the records that were
subsequently received with the Chris Baker report for the UK National
Archives (Roll of Individuals Entitled to Decoration). The records
due refer to SOS from RCR & PPCLI as per the indication that he was
in an HQ position. There is also reference here that he was with
the "General Command to 8th Officers Cadet Battalion",
apparently the training to move to the Imperial Army.
To continue the military history of Grandfather Kennedy, you now
must go to the page on the Royal
Irish Rifles. For more information on the PPCLI, see the
notes that follow.
We have provided a summary of information here and noted the primary
references that are under review.
Nicholson's text (see related
link) tells me that the P.P.C.L.I. was in 3rd Division, 7th Infantry Brigade
of the CEF in 1918 (pg. 545). We know also that at the start of WWI they
were directly part of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force), as they were the
first Canadian unit to enter the Great War. Other Nicholson references are
noted in the link that we have created to the legendary works of Colonel G. W.
L. Nicholson, C.D. the CEF's official war historian. These are reported at
The Government of Canada's, Canadian
Military History Gateway has details of the Princess Patricia regiment in Chapter
4, and extract of which is as follows: (Department
of National Defence, Canada)
Integrated with the British 27th Division, the PPCLI was
the first unit from Canada to reach the front and suffer terrible losses. In
the fall of 1915 the division was called to Salonika with brigades of four
battalions rather than five. Having to choose between a new British
brigade and an equivalent Canadian formation, the PPCLI opted for the latter,
which would simplify the replacement of its casualties. On 25
November 1915 the transfer was completed.
Having little information on the Princess Pat's and the role of the CEF in
the early days of WWI I went back to my "Norm
Christie Collection" to watch DVD #1 on the "Baptism of
Fire". This DVD program deals almost exclusively with the PPCLI from
the time that they entered the war on January 8, 1915. I was surprised to
find that the first Canadian soldier killed in WWI was from the PPCLI, a Lance
Corporal by the name of Henry George Bellinger (See Library
and Archives Canada #1264). He is buried in the Voormezeele
Cemetery near Ypres, France (cemetery
map). On April 15, 1915, just a month before Chancellor Kennedy was
wounded, the first gas attack of WWI took place at Ypres. That evening, John
MacRae wrote the most famous poem "In
Flanders Field", which is known to us all. That evening the
infamous battle of Kitchener's
Wood as detailed in history
The Princess Pat's are also well known for holding the last line of defence
Ridge, at which point it was reported that Commonwealth casualties were
2,000 and only 7 officers and 400 men of the Princess Pat's were left.
Adamson wrote daily letters on the exploits of the PPCLI during this period
The Princess Pat's were involved in the 2nd Battle of
Ypres on the date that Grandfather Kennedy was wounded. For additional
information see this LINK.
As this was the German's first use of gas in WWI it coincides with the family
history of Jack being "gassed", an event that plagued him until his
The Canadians fought through using urine-soaked
handkerchiefs as primitive gas
masks, (for the ammonia
in the urine would react with the chlorine,
neutralizing it and allowing the soldiers to breathe.) Although the battle was
considered a stalemate, the act of reestablishing the front lines in such
harsh conditions earned the respective Canadian regiments some of the highest
battle honors ever awarded. In addition, this was the first time colonial
forces (Canadian Expeditionary Forces, CEF) forced back a major European power
(the Germans) on European soil. This occurred in the battle
of St. Juliaan-Kitchener's Wood.
Michael also posted the following background information on the CEF Forum
from the PPCLI history by Hodder-Wiliams:
An excellent review of the role of the PPCLI in the Great War is found in the
Stephen K. Newman book "With
the Patricia's in Flanders 1914-1918 - Then and Now". As well
as taking the reader on a step-by-step journey through the Patricia's in
Flanders in the Great War it also provides extensive details on the men and
women involved, the location of memorials and cemeteries, and highlights of
those killed or captured. Since I know that Grandfather Kennedy joined the
PPCLI in the field in March 15th 1915, was wounded May 10th 1915 and was struck
off the PPCLI record on February 29th 1915, I am able to track his passage in
Posted: Thu May 05, 2005 7:52
pm Post subject: The P.P.C.L.I.
On the Great War Forum the question was raised
who was the first soldier of the P.P.C.L.I. to die. I thought it appropriate
to share this answer I posted here as well:
The founder of the P.P.C.L.I., Mr A Hamilton Gault, later Major and in the end
Brigadier, specifically recruited soldiers who had previous war experience or
had served with the colours.
From about three thousand volunteers from all over Canada, more than a 1000
were hand picked by Lieut.-Col. F.D. Farquhar, who was appointed as the O.C.
on August 12, 1914.
“ Mobilisation was completed on August 19. Figures prepared at the time show
clearly the character of the original battalion. Out of a total strength of
1098, 1049 had been with the Colours and possessed 771 decorations or medals;
456 had seen war service. Under the conditions of enlistment it was inevitable
that nearly all had been men born in the Old Country: less than 10 per cent of
the ‘ Originals’ were of Canadian origin; almost 65 per cent were
Englishmen, roughly 15 per cent were Scots, and 10 per cent Irish.”
Source: P.P.C.L.I. 1914 – 1919 by Ralph Hodder Williams, Volume I, page 10
|page 31: At this time the Patricia's were associated with the BEF
(moved to the CEF in November 1915). The BEF launched it's first major
raid of 1915 15 miles south of St. Eloi at Neuve Chapelle, starting on March
10th and ending on March 14th (JACK joined the next day in the field).
March 14th was the date of the massive mining operation that created the St.
|page 49: The Patricia's left the St. Eloi sector on March 24, 1915,
spent a week in the rear areas around Ypres and then moved up to close
support positions at Bellewaarde Lake and positions in the Polygon Wood
(April 20th to May 3rd) after which they withdrew to Bellewaarde
Ridge. They suffered severe shelling May 8th at Freszenberg Ridge, the
site of a major battle for the Patricia's, reportedly (page 59) leaving the
very existence of the Regiment in jeopardy. It is here that the
reports show 5 more killed and 3 wounded (one of which was Grandfather
Kennedy). This is confirmed in the PPCLI war diary of that date (May
The authoritative text on the P.P.C.L.I. is reported to be the text of Ralph
Hodder-Williams. I have been fortunate to have had information from this
text sent by Michael, but as of yet I have not made the purchase. You can
purchase the text from the Naval and Military Press in the UK, details as
|PRINCESS PATRICIA’S CANADIAN LIGHT INFANTRY 1914-1919
This is the story of a remarkable regiment that was
born within a week of the outbreak of war and today is one of Canada’s
three remaining regular army infantry regiments. A business man and
South African War veteran, Mr A. Hamilton Gault, offered to raise a unit
at his own expense for active service in Europe. The offer was taken up
and for $100,000 an infantry battalion was raised and named after the
daughter of the Governor General, H.R.H the Duke of Connaught. The first
CO was Lt Col F.Farquhar, Coldstream Guards, the Military Secretary of
the Governor General. The call for volunteers, preferably ex-regulars or
S African War veterans, went out on 11th August and the response was
such that by 19th the battalion had mobilized, 1098 strong out of some
3,000 who had come forward from all over Canada. Some statistics of the
so-called ‘originals’ are of interest: ninety percent were British
born; 1049 had served with the colours and between them possessed 771
decorations/medals; 456 had seen war service. The battalion went to
France in December 1914 as part of 80th Infantry Brigade, 27th Division
- a newly formed regular division. It fought on the Western front
throughout the war, transferring to 3rd Canadian Division in December
1915 when that division formed in France. All this and the battalion’s
doings in France and Belgium make up volume 1.
Volume 2 is all about the personnel of the battalion, beginning with the
Roll of Honour. Three COs were killed and two RSMs and the dead are
listed alphabetically, officers and other ranks. separately.There is a
summary of the War Diary, 1914-1919, followed by various letters and
documents and then strength and casualty statistics. During the war
5,086 served in the battalion of whom 4,076 became casualties. A summary
shows a total of 369 awards, three of them VCs for whom citations are
given in full. The icing on the cake is the nominal roll and record of
service of everyone who served in the PPCLI. These records are tabulated
and read across the page, giving the following information: number and
name, original unit, date of joining PPCLI (identifying the
‘originals’), rank on joining with any higher rank held when struck
off strength, casualties with dates; date when finally struck off
strength, transfers and unit of subsequent service, decorations and
awards. At the end of this volume is the index to volume 1. A marvelous history!
|War history of a
battalion formed at the outbreak of war with nominal roll and regimental
record of all who served in it; roll of honour, awards and summary of
the War Diary.
To order this book please go direct to the Naval
and Military Press web site:
In the Summer of 2006 Stephen Newman released a new 3 volume set of books
detailing the exploits of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.
These are" Holding the Line, May 1915", "Capturing the
Ridge, April 1917" and "In the Mud and Blood, October,
1917". I will report back on these texts once I have read them!
Other noted references for the Princess Pat's are as follows:
|Adamson, Agar. Letters
of Agar Adamson, 1914 to 1919: Lieutenant Colonel, Princess Patricia's
Canadian Light Infantry Nepean, ON: CEF Books, 1997
David. The Patricias: The Proud History of a Fighting Regiment
Stoddart, 2001. (320pp) ISBN 0773732985
Ralph. Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry 1914-1919
Toronto, ON: Hodder & Stoughton, 1923
Patricia's In Flanders 1914-1918: Then & Now. ISBN 0-96876-960-8
Jeffery Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry: Leo Cooper ;
in association with Secker & Warburg, London, 1985. (124 pp.