Private 16484 James Kennedy

Kennedy James 96 386x600

Died of Wounds on Friday, 1st November 1918, age 28.
Buried in Grave I. B. 15. at Kezelberg Military Cemetery, Wevelgem, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

18th Bn., Lancashire Fusiliers. 104th Brigade of 35th Division.

Husband of Edith Kennedy, of The Unicorn Inn, Tibbington Terrace, Prince's End, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Glasgow, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. John's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/163662/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
141 Haugh Road, Falkirk, Stirlingshire.
Robert Kennedy (36, Iron Moulder, born East Indies), his wife Elizabeth (34, born Glasgow), and their 6 children: George (12, Scholar, born Glasgow), James (11, Scholar, born Glasgow), Elizabeth (9, Scholar born Falkirk), Margaret (6, born Glasgow), Jean (4, born Falkirk), and Agnes (2, born Falkirk).

1911 Census
9 Tibbington Terrace, Princes End, Tipton, Staffs.
Robert Charles Kennedy (46, Iron Moulder, born India), his wife Elizabeth (44, born Glasgow), and 8 of their 9 surviving children of 10: James (21, Iron Moulder, born Glasgow), Elizabeth (19, born Falkirk), Margaret (16, Pawnbroker's Assistant, born Glasgow), Jane (14, born Falkirk), Agnes (12, born Falkirk), Robina (9, born Falkirk), Robert C. (7, born Falkirk), and Maude (2, born Princes End).

Personal Data

As the minimum height for a Kitchener volunteer soldier was 5ft 3inches, many strong, fit and healthy men under this height were excluded from volunteering. Alfred Bigland, MP for Birkenhead, asked the war office for permission to establish an undersized fighting unit. When granted, men previously denied the chance to fight made their way to Birkenhead, 3,000 in all being divided into two battalions in November 1914.

The original men were formed into the 1st and 2nd Birkenhead Battalions of the Cheshire Regiment (later re-designated the 15th and 16th Battalions). Other regiments began to recruit similarly: the Lancashire Fusiliers formed the 17th, 18th and 20th Battalions as bantam units. Eventually these units were formed into the 35th Division which was predominantly a bantam Division, and fought during the Battle of the Somme.

Although the initial recruits were fit and healthy men of small stature, by late 1916 it was found that the general fitness and condition of men volunteering as bantams was no longer up to the standard required. Medical examinations led to large numbers of men being removed from these Battalions (mostly to the Labour Corps) and their replacements no longer being bantams.

As James Kennedy died in 1918 whilst serving with the 18th Lancashire Fusiliers, it cannot be automatically assumed that he was a bantam. A relative of James Kennedy has suggested that he was a small man, although this must be reliant upon family stories as she can never have met him.

The Kennedy family came to Tipton from Falkirk, Scotland, between 1904 and 1909. Robert Kennedy worked at Lathe's Foundry of Summerhill, Tipton; family legend has it that Robert had the initial idea for the Claco grate which was produced by Lathe's Foundry, but his contribution was never acknowledged.

James joined up with Richard Thomas, his friend and workmate at Lathe's foundry in Summerhill, Tipton. James Kennedy's Army number was 16484, whilst Richard Thomas's was 16480. Richard Thomas was invalided out of the Army but survived, however his younger brother, Thomas Thomas, was killed on 10th September 1916 whilst serving with the Yorks and Lancs Regiment. Some years later Richard Thomas's eldest daughter Thelma married James Kennedy's only child George.

After James's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £17/16/3d (17 pounds, 16 shillings and 3 pence); this was paid to his widow and sole legatee, Edith, in February and April 1919. His War Gratuity was £18/0/0d (18 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his widow in December 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that James had enlisted in approximately February 1915.

Action resulting in his death

In August 1918 the war turned in favour of the Allies, and the 35th Division took part in the Advance in Flanders. They then fought at the Battle of Ypres, and the subsequent Action of Tieghem. The Action of Tiegham on the 31st October 1918 was the last action of the war for the 35th Division, which resulted in the easily accomplished capture of the western bank of the Schelde. Plans to cross the river on the 11th November were brought forward after the Germans withdrew on the 8th.

The Final Advance in Flanders
Fourth Battle of Ypres: 28-29 September
Battle of Courtrai.......: 14-19 October
Actions of Ooteghem.: 25 October
Actions of Tieghem....: 31 October

So James was unlucky enough to have been wounded in the last action in which the 18th Lancashire Fusiliers took part. He would have been evacuated back towards Ypres, but died on the next day - 1st November 1918 near the village of Moorsele, just 10 days before the Armistice. He is buried in Kezelberg Military Cemetery, about 7 miles east of Ypres.

Family legend has it that James' parents heard of their son's death on 11th November, Armistice Day.

Newspaper Cuttings

Birmingham Daily Post 21st December 1918
Lancashire Fusiliers, Kennedy, 16484, J., (Tipton).