J. A. C. Kennedy

The web site for Grandfather Captain Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy has now been updated so that all the links are now active on this web site. As the web site was created using Microsoft Front Page and not WordPress, we have placed the web site in a separate directory so that there are no software conflicts. Please click on the link below to go to that site:

http://laughton.ca/mirror/military/ww1/jackennedy

This page has now been updated to include information that was not previously included in the original version of the web site noted above. Only the new information is included in detail on this page. Please refer to the mirror site for the background details.

J. A. C. Kennedy (“JACK“) attested to the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) to serve in the Great War of 1914-1919. Prior to the Great War he served in the 102nd Militia Regiment Rocky Mountain Rangers. At the start of the war Josiah (whom I believe was better know as “Chancellor”) attested to the 30th Overseas Battalion (later designated the 30th Reserve Battalion) from where he was transferred to the 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish) and finally to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (P.P.C.L.I.). He shipped out of Canada on January 21, 1915 and after a short amount of training in England, he embarked for the Western Front on March 16, 1915. Josiah was one of two soldiers wounded in the PPCLI on May 10, 1915, perhaps fortunate as most of the PPCLI men did not survive the 1915 Battles of Ypres! After recovery of his wounds and a subsequent medical condition, Josiah retrained and accepted an Officers Commission with the Royal Irish Rifles (R.I.R.) of the Imperial Forces in October 1916. Two of his brothers served in the RIR as well but neither survived the war. Grandfather Kennedy was captured on March 21, 1918 and lived out the remained of the war in a German POW Camp inĀ Freiburg.

Summary:

Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy
Regimental Number 51288

  • 102nd Regiment, Rocky Mountain Rangers, August 1914
  • 30th Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), November 10, 1914
  • 30th Reserve Battalion, CEF
  • 16th Infantry Battalion, CEF, February 9, 1915
  • Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, Reinforcements, December 31, 1914
  • Royal Irish Rifles, October 1916
  • Guest of the Kaiser (POW), March 1918 – November 1918

There is considerable confusion on the early dates in Grandfather Kennedy’s records which appear to relate to the fact that he was underage when he attested in 1914. There is strong evidence to suggest he made it to England but was sent back home, where he re-attested when he became 19. He made it back to England as a reinforcement for the PPCLI.

In the years since this research was conducted on Grandfather Kennedy, much of my effort concentrated on the Unknown Project to match the graves of Unknown Soldiers to men of the Commonwealth Forces that had “No Known Grave”. The work started with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) and then later investigations started with other Commonwealth Forces – including British, South African, Australian, New Zealand and even the Caribbean. This meant learning a lot about the ORBATs (Orders of Battle) of these other nations and how they all tied together in major actions on the western front. To do this effectively also meant gaining access to the war diaries and service records of the men of those nations. CWGC Binders (the GRRF and COG-BR documents) also had to be assembled for many other cemeteries not covered in the CEF project.

In November 2019 I created a new section to deal with Great Uncle James Kennedy, who was sadly killed in action near Castres, France (northeast of Grand-Seraucourt and Hamel) on March 21 1918. It was on this same day that Grandfather Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy was captured by the Germans. The date is significant as it is the opening day of the 1918 German Spring Offensive known as “Operation Michael“. In German it was known as the “Kaiserschlacht” (Kaiser’s Battle). The two Kennedy brothers were actually in action quite close to each other that day, both southwest of Saint-Quentin in front line trenches. The map that I inserted for James Kennedy in November 2019 covers the same are where Josiah Kennedy was captured. The two brothers were only 3,000 yards (1.7 miles) from each other at that time. The two brothers had both been with the 8th (Service) Battalion Royal Irish Rifles prior to it being disbanded in February 1918. Josiah went to the 12th (Service) Battalion and Jack to the 1st Battalion.

The remains of Second Lieutenant James Kennedy were recovered at 66c.A.22.d.8.3, shown on the crosshairs on the left. Captain Josiah Kennedy was captured near 66c.B.19.d.9.0, very close to where the cross hairs are marked on the right. That is a reference to a different Captain of the Royal Irish Rifles that is currently unknown.

The war diary of the 12th (Service) Battalion, 108th Infantry Brigade, 36th (Ulster) Division provides us with the details of what happened to Captain Kennedy’s group on 21 March 1918. Included below are three pages from that war diary:

War Diary 1st March to 19th March 1918 when the battalion moved to Essigny Station in Brigade Reserve
War Diary of 20th and 21st March 1918 recording the opening of Operation Michael at 4:30 am with an “extremely heavy bombardment”, including gas shells. The battalion was in the front line trenches at the Jeanne D’Arc Redoubt (defensive position). By 5 am communication with the rear was cut off and by 12 noon the battalion was surrounded, with 22 Officers and 566 other ranks in the line, now reported as missing.
With the battalion surrounded and missing we know that many of the men were captured and became Prisoners of War with Captain Kennedy. The CWGC Reports that only 36 men were killed in action, of only which Private Denton remains were eventually recovered.