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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Is it coincidence that both my paternal and maternal grandfathers signed up in the CEF and transferred to Irish Regiments in the BEF?

Initially what we had to start the project were the Attestation Papers from Library and Archives Canada and some notes from my Uncle Guiler (his son).  We also had the Prisoner of War Diary for his days in 1918, details of which will be added as we track down these movements.

In April 2006 we received the report that we commissioned from Chris Baker author of the "The Long, Long Trail 1914-1918" who leads the Great War Forum in England.  Although we still note inconsistencies in the dates, the report and in particular the attachments go a long way to improve our knowledge of Grandfather Kennedy's time in the Great War, both with the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry (Canadian Expeditionary Force) and later with the Royal Irish Rifles (British Expeditionary Force).  You can access these documents on this we site at these locations:

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.

Grandfather Kennedy has been added to the database of the Canadian Great War Project and his summary record of Military Service has been posted at J. A. C. Kennedy for all to review and correct.

Some History

We do knew from the documents obtained from my Uncle Guiler the following about his father, Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy:

Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy (1896-1957) was raised in the UK, emigrated to Canada and then spent most of the war in France and Belgium.  Unlike his relatives (which create another long history of WWI soldiers), Jack entered the war from the Atlantic side, as he had moved to British Columbia as a representative of the Sun Life Insurance Company.  He enlisted as a Private on October 14th 1914 in "Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry".  Later, on October 20th, 1916 he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Irish Rifles, and on August 4th 1917 he was appointed Acting Captain.  Jack was discharged from the Army on July 1, 1919 after having been held prisoner by the Germans from March 21st 1918 to November 28th 1918 (Army Records Centre, Bourne Avenue, Hayes Middlesex, UBS 1RF).

As it has some relevance to Josiah's early enlistment (underage) we have been able to confirm that his exact birth date was March 3, 1896 (Belfast, Ireland).

Follow Up Reviews

Within hours of posting of this web site information, fellow members of the CEF Forum (Grandson Michael: Erica, the Netherlands) responded with more detailed information and corrections.  These notes have now been moved to the PPCLI Page of this web site so that we can expand on that information.  This page has been greatly expanded so that it now contains all of the details that trace Grandfather Kennedy's time from attestation in Canada, through service in the PPCLI, his wounding and hospitalization, and his return to service.

Michael's information suggests that documents I have may have the wrong dates, as "Jack" is mentioned in a small section the Stephenson works as "a fellow cousin" who served in France. 

The Attestation Papers are dated November 10, 1914 and the Enlistment Papers are dated February 9, 1915. The enlistment document is date stamped with "16th Infty. Btn." (Infantry Battalion) however I initially presumed that was a recording of the signing officers stamp.  On further examination, we also find that the ORIGINAL MEDICAL HISTORY form from July 16, 1915 in Salisbury Plain UK list Grandfather Kennedy as having belonged to both the 30th Infantry Battalion and the 16th Canadian Scottish, which  in fact was the name of the 16th Infantry Battalion.

Since that time I have become deeply involved in tracking the structure of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, both in terms of the Army Corps (the 4 Divisions of the CEF) and the Army Troops (the support cavalry, artillery and other non-combat units).  All of this is now available on the CEFSG Matrix Project, (now also CEFSG Wiki Matrix) all of which has lead to a review of the posted information.  

For example we now know:

The "Regular Army Recruitment Papers" first refer to the 30th Battalion, which we can see from the Matrix Project  was formed in British Columbia, was redesignated the 30th Reserve Battalion and was then absorbed by the 1st Reserve Battalion.  This obviously was never processed, as on his "Attestation Papers" that recorded number (643) was stroked out and his new regimental number #51288 was instead recorded.  That block of numbers was strictly assigned to the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. As you will read elsewhere, the PPCLI initially fought in France under Imperial (British) rule as part of the BEF 27th Division (see also Nicholson pgs 133-135 on the formation of the CEF 3rd and 4th Divisions).  Both sets of papers are dated November 10, 1914, which puts him at only 18 years of age (he had to be 19 to enlist).  Other pay papers confirm that he was initially #643 with the 30th Battalion MD11 (Military District 11 - Victoria) and transferred to the PPCLI as of December 31, 1914.  In the February pay list of 1915 he is shown as "Reinforcements" with the PPCLI and also that he was fined 10 days pay!

One of his attestation cards shows that he was in fact attested in Victoria and that he had prior service with the 102nd Regiment (that would be the Militia Regiment prior to the war).  We now know from (site now closed - see here for options) that the 102nd Regiment (The Rocky Mountain Rangers) were from this area and that they also contributed in 1914 to the 7th Battalion CEF (1st Division, 2nd Infantry Brigade) and in 1915 to the 172nd Battalion (confirmed in "Love - A Call to Arms").  I expect that since he was only 18 at this time, he could not be called into active service in these newly formed battalions.  Several of the later records show his pay as "P.P.C.L.I Reinforcements".

There is conflicting information in the report from Chris Baker from England and the records that were already retrieved as Chris Baker's report shows that hew landed in France with the PPCLI on May 22, 1915 (we now know that to be March 1915).  Other records show that he had a SW (shrapnel wound) in his left foot and was hospitalized on May 12, 1915 (No. 2 Canadian General Hospital, Le Treport).  The PPCLI War Diary confirms that he was wounded on May 10, 1915 at the 2nd Battle of Ypres.  We must assume at this time therefore that the Chris Baker report is incorrect.

Subsequent records do show that he was wounded, hospitalized and recovered to rejoin the unit (PPCLI) on June 12, 1915.  The records go on to show initial complaints of "swelling" (Orchitis -selling of the testicles) in November 1915 while in trenches at the Somme. He was hospitalized as a result of the Orchitis (Hydrocle) on February 19, 1916, recovered (see medical details of hospitalization and surgery 3.5 months) and was posted to HQ for the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) and the PPCLI in June 1916 (E. Sandling).  This same form reports his release to take an officers position with the BEF on October 24, 1916, in agreement with Chris Baker's report.  Medical records show a detailed track as he moved from the battlefield to clearing stations, to hospitals and to recovery facilities.

We have added the details of Grandfather Kennedy to the "Canadian Great War Project" and his details can be found under Regimental Number 51288.  There you will find a complete summary of his military service, ranks and awards as they are know known.  As we learn more information, we will update that site so that a complete and accurate service record is available.  The summary page is attached to the bottom of this web page.

Other medical records show that Josiah was admitted to the PPCLI 8th Officers Cadet Battalion on July 5, 1916.  This would agree with the above records concerning his transfer to RCR/PPCLI HQ duties.  He was furloughed from reveille on November 2, 1916, apparently in anticipation of his being "Gazetted" as an Officer.  Those same records show he was SOS (struck off strength) to accept a commission in the BEF Royal Irish Rifles on May 14, 1917 - but apparently this is long after the actual transfer in October 1916.

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.

As noted above, as of April 2006 we now also have the key war diary entries for his time in the Royal Irish Rifles, particularly those dates of intense battle, leading the group being surrounded and captured by the Germans.  That may be lucky (for me - I am here to write this) as a few days later the Royal Irish Rifles Battalion was decimated.

In His Own Words

As part of the ongoing research on Grandfather Kennedy we also were fortunate to receive a summary of his war service, prepared in his own words, as part of a March 1938 application for an adjustment of his War Service Pension (see details here). In the second part of the files received, the first page of his own statement contained the following summary:

1914 August. Joined Rocky Mtn. Rangers or 30 Can. Batt.
1914 December. Reembarked for France (draft to P.P.C.L.I.)
1915 February. Arrived in France.
1915 May. Gassed and slightly wounded. Hospital 1 month.
1915 March. Invalided to England. Hospital 3 months. T.B. suspect. Tests negative, I believe. No X ray or sputum taken.
1915 July. Cadet Camp, Fermoy, Ireland.
1916 November. Joined 8th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers in France.
1917 July. Leave from France, had trouble with my throat, reported sick and was kept in Ireland for 2-3 months. Whilst there I was sent on a gas course but the doctor would not allow me to go through the gas chamber. This leave was special as I was not feeling too good but not bad enough to report sick.
1918 March. Taken prisoner. Was kept in bed at Frieberg for a time after arrival there, as I was troubled with colds and cough.
1918 December. Returned to England. My family doctor advised me to rest and take life easy. I am perfectly certain now the he suspected tuberculosis. My brother-in-law lately confirmed this.
May 1919. Repatriated to Canada.
1933 March. Told had tuberculosis and had to give up work. Treated in Sanatorium and given pneumo-thorax.

His statement continues, as can be seen in the full document, but that is all that relates to his dates of service.

Summary Service Record

In addition to the Service Record Information retrieved from the UK Archives, we were able to obtain a complete copy of his Canadian Service Record from Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. A digitized version of this record has now been placed on the CEFSG (Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group) shared MediaFire document storage site located here:

Service Record of J. A. C. Kennedy, #51288

From the Great Canadian War Project, we have inserted the summary record for Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy, to the best of our knowledge as of the date of this page:

Private, Regimental Number 51288
Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy,         LAC LINK: Click Here
Died: December 31, 1957

Regimental Number:
Survived War:
Canadian Infantry
Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry
Place of Birth:
Belfast, Ireland
Next of Kin:
Richard Laughton, Grandson
Address at Enlistment:
Kelowna, B.C.
Date of Birth:
March 3, 1896
Trade or Calling:
Bank Clerk (at enlistment)
Marital Status:
Prior Military Experience:
Place of Enlistment:
multiple attestations and enlistments
Date of Enlistment:
October 14, 1914
Age at enlistment:
6 Feet 0 Inches
36 Inches
2 Inches
Enlisted or Conscripted:
Saw service in:
Cause of Death:
Battle Died/Wounded:
Wounded 10/05/1915 Ypres and thereafter returned to service (full details on web site noted below)
Date of Death:
December 31, 1957
Age at Death:
Buried at:
Prisoner of war:
Germany, 21/03/1918 to 28/11/1918
Ethnic Origin:
LAC Reference: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 1Box 5089-30
Research Notes

You will note that Josiah Alexander Chancellor Kennedy actually had two (2) sets of Attestation Papers, both sets are now on Library and Archives Canada.  His first regimental number was 643 which was later changed to 51288.  There is some indication that Josiah attested initially while underage, was challenged and re-attested at a later date.  Details of this ongoing investigation is noted on his commemorative web site. 

Full details of the exploits of J. A. C. Kennedy with the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry (March 15, 1915) and subsequently with the Royal Irish Rifles are provided on the web site prepared by Grandson Richard Van Wyck Laughton at:

After surviving wounds in Flanders in 1915 he returned to the PPCLI and then transferred to the BEF with the Royal Irish Rifles. Details are provided on the web site as noted.

Rank Regiment Unit Company
Private, Regimental Number 51288 Canadian Infantry Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry  
Private, Reg. No. 643 Canadian Infantry 30th Battalion  
Not Specified Canadian Militia 102nd Rocky Mountain Rangers  
2nd. Lieutenant / Act. Captain / Lieutenant British Infantry Royal Irish Rifles, 2nd Battalion & 8th Service Battalion  
Private, Reg. No. 643 Canadian Infantry 16th Infantry Battalion (Canadian Scottish)  
Not Specified Ulster Volunteer Force (Ireland)    
Acting Captain British Expeditionary Force 8th Service Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles  

The complete Prisoner of War Diary for Josiah Kennedy has been posted at:

Awards and Decorations
1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal



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