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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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.

Special Thanks: 
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 Crest 

WWI Cap Badge
(thanks Michael!)


   Current DND




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 1915.

The attestation records show that Josiah was a member of, or had served with, the 102nd Regiment (Militia).  A check of that on (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 Battalion).

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.



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:

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 progress)

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:

Princess Patricia's Index of War Diaries

November 1914-October 1915
November 1915-December 1916
January 1917-March 1918
April 1918- January 1919

A consolidation of the periods covering Grandfather Kennedy has been assembled from these images as two PDF files:

War Diary Files 1072321-1072483, November 1914 - October 1915
War Diary Files 1072484-1072614, November 1915 - December 1916

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:

Consolidated War Diary



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 at Seaford.

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 Nicholson's Princess Pat's.

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 took place.

The Princess Pat's are also well known for holding the last line of defence at Bellewaerde 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.  Captain Agar Adamson wrote daily letters on the exploits of the PPCLI during this period (available from

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 death.

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:

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

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 Newman's book:

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. Eloi craters.

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 10, 1915).

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 follows:


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:

Order Here

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


Bercuson, David.  The Patricias: The Proud History of a Fighting Regiment   Stoddart, 2001.  (320pp)  ISBN 0773732985


Hodder-Williams, Ralph.  Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry 1914-1919   Toronto, ON: Hodder & Stoughton, 1923


With the Patricia's In Flanders 1914-1918: Then & Now. ISBN 0-96876-960-8 (266 pp)


Williams, Jeffery Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry: Leo Cooper ; in association with Secker & Warburg, London, 1985. (124 pp.



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