Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy, ("JACK")
Regimental Number: 51288

Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry
& Royal Irish Rifles 

This Page Last updated: February 07, 2013

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Page updated on 07 February, 2013


This page deals with the second part of the Military Service of Grandfather Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy in the Great War.  Details as to how he enlisted in Canada and served first with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) is provided in his Service Record with details on the page for the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry.


The Royal Irish Rifles were raised as the 83rd Regiment of Foot in October 1758. Disbanded in 1763 and raised again in 1793. This is as described in this link by Doyle:

    Irish Soldiers of the British Army 

We have recently come across the web site of the Royal Irish Rangers, the current Irish Regiment formed from the amalgamation of other regiments, including the Royal Irish (Ulster) Rifles.  Considerable detail is also provided here on the battles of the 36th Ulster Division at the Somme.

Chris Baker's reference to the Royal Irish Rifles can be found on his "The Long, Long Trail" web site at:  This site also contains details on the 36th (Ulster) Division, as extracted from Ray Westlakes text on Kitchener's Army.

New Web Site June 2009
Royal Irish Rifles 1914-1918

Great War Forum Link
Royal Irish Rifles Project



In the case of both my paternal and maternal grandfather, they initially enlisted in the CEF and then transferred to the BEF.  This has become a topic of some discussion with a number of researchers. I have posted an interesting response from Chris Wight on another page that provides for an interesting analysis of the events of the time.

    Transfer of Soldiers from the CEF to Officers in the BEF

We tracked the movement of Grandfather Kennedy in stages, as very little information was available when we initiated this project. These phases are "as they were written" at that time in the research, so it changes as more information was uncovered.

In October 2006, we were able to establish a family link in the Kennedy-Stephenson line (see genealogy page), with family members not only being good friends (through tennis and church) but also in the ties to the 14th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles.  I suspect, this was what brought Grandfather Kennedy back to the R.I.R when he accepted a commission in the Imperial Army.

Phase One

Family records, coupled with information from the U.K. National Archives (see link on this site) suggests that Grandfather Kennedy signed up with the Royal Irish Rifles after recovering from surgery in England for his testicular problems.  Initially we thought the change was made after recovering from wounds suffered while serving with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry on May 10, 1915 at Bellewaerde Lake.  Further research showed that Josiah came back to the PPCLI after the Bellewaerde wounds, but stayed in England to do Officer's Training, as a result of the more extensive treatment for his testicular condition.

The Medal Index Card retrieved from the U.K. National Archives shows that Josiah obtained his commission with the R.I.R. on October 24, 1916 (family records report October 20, 1916).  The family records state he was appointed Acting Captain on August 4, 1917, a position he held until captured on March 21, 1918.  I am yet unclear as to his service from the period of release on November 28, 1918 until his discharge on July 1, 1919.

Phase Two

On July 1, 2005 Ian Bowbrick reported on the Lost Generation 1418 forum that he had been to the PRO and was able to find the following information for A/Capt J A C  Kennedy: (copies of which have now been posted and are linked)

Army List January 1917: Listed under 1st/2nd Bn Royal Irish Rifles
Army List March 1917: Listed under 8th (Service) Bn (East Belfast) Royal Irish Rifles.
Army List November 1918: Still listed under 8th Bn.

Information posted on the Wikipedia on-line for the 8th Service Battalion show that it was in the 107th Brigade.  The "Order of Battle" is provided by Chris Baker under "The 36th (Ulster) Division".

Ian reported the following additional information on July 2, 2005: 

"As to other information, the war diary for the 8th Royal Irish Rifles is very sparse on personnel information; the only recognition is given to gallantry award winners.  Captain Kennedy's service record also appears not to have to survived."

Phase Three

In April 2006 we received our full report on Josiah Chancellor Kennedy from Chris Baker.  We have provided details of that report and the attachments in the section of this web site that details his "Service Record".  We encourage you to review the details noted there, as they provide great detail on his time with the Royal Irish Rifles, including the War Diary for the time immediately prior to and during his capture:

Chris Baker's Report: The 1914-1918 Military Service History of Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy, Great War Research Facility, March 2006.

Chris Baker Attachments: support information for the above noted report - scanned by myself with notations added to highlight information revealed by these documents.

The records from the UK National Archives agree with the records from Canada that show that Josiah left the Canadian Expeditionary Force (PPCLI) to join the Imperial Army on October 24, 1916.  He is noted in the records of the Royal Irish Rifles as reaching the status of A/Captain J. C. Kennedy, for which he was entitled to both the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  These records also show his entitlement to the Star from his service in the CEF Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.  As we know, medals are often issued for "being there", they are not the same as decorations, such as would be issued for gallantry.

There are four (4) primary mentions of J. Kennedy in the Royal Irish Rifle records, as contained in the attachments noted above:

December 1916 - 2nd Lieutenant J. A. C. Kennedy, 1st/2nd Battalions (Regular)

February 1917 - 2nd Lieutenant J. A. C. Kennedy, 1st/2nd Battalions (Regular)

February 1918 - 2nd Lieutenant J. A. C. Kennedy, 8th Service Battalion (East Belfast)

June 1920 - Captain J. A. C. Kennedy, 7th, 10th  Service Battalions (South Belfast)


We do not have a lot of information at this time, concerning activities for the period from October 1916 to the point that he was taken as a Prisoner of War in March of 1918.  We do have the "List of British Officers Taken Prisoner of War, Theatres of War August 1914 - November 1918" (as contained in the Chris Baker Attachments), that show he was a POW from March 21, 1918 until he was repatriated on December 6, 1918.  His life as a POW is further elaborated on the page for this "Prisoner of War". 

The UK National Archives search revealed the War Diary of the Royal Irish Rifles, for which we have been provided with the specific pages from March 1, 1918 to March 30, 1918.  Some of the events leading up to the date of Grandfather Kennedy's capture are summarized as follows:

The 1st RIR was moved up to the front line on March 1, 1918 to relieve the 12th RIR.  They moved to Essigny Station in Brigade support on March 7th. 
(Note: we have found another reference to the RIR and RIF at this battle on the web site for Major John George Brew, which will add additional information:

It would appear that the RIR Battalion moved to the front line again on March 16th in what appears to read as in relief of the 9th Battalion of the Royal Irish Fusiliers..  The following day the RIR laid down an artillery barrage on likely places the enemy might assemble.  This "harassment" barrage continued on the 18th and 19th.

The war diary reports that the enemy was very quiet during the night and day of the 20th, with the artillery continuing to carry out concentrations of fire where the enemy might assemble for attack.  The available information suggest the enemy was planning a large scale offensive for March 21, 1918.

The diary continues on the 21st of March that all was quiet from midnight until 4:33 am, at which time an extremely heavy bombardment with all calibers of artillery and trench mortars, including gas shells, was put down on the RIR front trenches. On this extremely misty morning, the RIR artillery and roads also suffered from the intense artillery attack.

At 5 am on the morning of March 21, 1918 communication with the rear was cut off and the last message sent was that the battalion was still holding out in the front line, although communication was impossible in the heavy mist and with the heavy artillery.

At 12 noon (the next entry) the war diary reports that the 14th Division on the right of the battalion fell back and it is believed that the battalion were surrounded, the right flank being in the area.  There were 22 officers, 566 others in the line and all were reported missing since this date.

From this point on, until the end of the war, the story of Grandfather Kennedy takes place in the Prisoner of War camp(s).  Off we go to the Prisoner of War page.


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