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

Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry
& Royal Irish Rifles 

This Page Last updated: January 19, 2013

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In January 2011 a Freedom of Information Request was submitted to Veterans Affairs Canada, all in accordance with the Canadian Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. Information provided by other members of the CEFSG (Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group) had shown that such a request could result in the recovery of documents that might shed more light on the service of a surviving soldier of the First World War.

In the particular case of Grandfather Kennedy, it was known from family lore that he had perhaps died in 1957 as a direct result of TB (tuberculosis) resulting from exposure to gas at Ypres in 1915 and hardship as a POW in 1918. Therefore a request was submitted asking for any records that might relate to this matter.

In February 2011 some 39 pages of documents were received from Veterans Affairs Canada. A complete copy of these records have been digitized and uploaded to the shared CEFSG MediaFire site and can thus be downloaded from here:

J. A. C. Kennedy, #51288 Pension Records, Veterans Affairs Canada (MediaFire Site)
J. A. C. Kennedy, #51288 Pension Records, Veterans Affairs Canada (This Site)

Information contained in these documents relate to the following, many of which provide additional and first-hand information on the service of Grandfather Kennedy in the Great War:

copies of both sets of Attestation Forms under Service Numbers 643 and 51288;
medical records and statements from doctors in February 1938 suggesting that the TB was a result of exposure during the Great War;
letter from "The Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League" (now the Royal Canadian Legion) from March 1938 asking the Canadian Pension Commission to review the file of Lieutenant Kennedy, as it was possible the TB was present as early as 1918 (upon release as a POW);
report from the Canadian Pension Commission that suggest alternatively that Kennedy was in "very fine shape" prior to his pension claim and that there is no evidence that the TB was a result of service in the CEF (the BEF had previously declined a pension as well on the same grounds);
application for a "Second Hearing" before the Canadian Pension Commission on the basis of additional information that was not available at the First Hearing;
letter from Josiah's sister (Christina Lang Stephenson) dated September 27, 1938 stating the facts of post war medical examinations by the late Dr. John Simpson who had determined Josiah was in a weakened state upon arrival home after the war, required extensive rest, and was a likely candidate for TB;
report of a Second Hearing by the Canadian Pension Commission in March 1939, interestingly under the direction of Presiding Member Sir Richard Turner, VC and Member Col. C. W. Peck, VC, both outstanding officers of the CEF in the Great War;
rejection of the appeal to the Second Hearing of March 31, 1939 on the same basis as the First Hearing, that being that the TB was not attributable to service in the Great War; - as detailed in the written testimony of a Dr. A. E. Baker of the Alberta Department of Public Health, Tuberculosis Division; and
a first hand Statutory Declaration by Lieut. J. C. Kennedy, dated March 31, 1939 that provides Grandfather Kennedy's details of his service record in the CEF and BEF, including both his time with the PPCLI (CEF) at Ypres and the RIR (BEF) as a Prisoner of War.

The statutory declaration of Grandfather Kennedy notes that he was bed ridden for some time while as a POW in Germany in 1918 and was ill upon return to England. He states he returned to Canada in May of 1919 but was not told that he had Tuberculosis until May of 1935, at which time he had to give up work. The declaration also shows that at the time "he took sick" he was not in Canada but was employed as the Manager of the Sun Life Assurance Company in Manchester, England. He had been transferred from the Sun Life office in Canada to England. He attributed to rapid advancement of his TB to the drastic change in climate from Canada (B.C.) to England.

On March 17, 2011 Veterans Affairs Canada sent an additional 35 pages of information in response to the FOI request of February 9, 2011. A great deal of this information was repetitive, however some new information was interspersed in the file. Regardless, the complete new file was scanned and it is now available and can now be downloaded here"

J. A. C. Kennedy, #51288 Pension Records, Veterans Affairs Canada (Part II) (MediaFire Site)
J. A. C. Kennedy, #51288 Pension Records, Veterans Affairs Canada (Part II) (This Site)

In the end, the claim was not allowed and so we must presume that Grandfather Kennedy lived out the rest of his life with his advancing Tuberculosis, surviving until age 61. He died in Canada on December 31, 1957.

As with many soldiers, there appears to have been a significant difference between what was told in the Family History versus what actually appeared in the records. I had always been told by my mother (Maureen Montgomery Laughton - nee Kennedy) that Grandfather Kennedy died as a result of poisonous gas at Ypres in 1915. The records are clear that any gas that he received was minor (if you can state that any gas exposure was minor) and so any TB that did develop (which the authorities refute) then it was more likely the result of exposure in the later part of the war.

The summary of Grandfather Kennedy's service as noted in his second interview of March 1939 is reported on the Service Record Summary page.


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