Helen Bennett visited the museum to tell us about Gardner Kennedy.
(William Robert) Gardner Kennedy was my paternal Irish Grandmother’s first cousin. He was the son of Mary and William Kennedy of Ardbana House Coleraine, Northern Ireland. His father had an engineering firm. He was my Irish Grandmother’s cousin. (Annie Morton McMillan of Turnagrove Co Antrim) There is a very strong familial likeness between Gardner Kennedy and his Turnagrove cousins, most of whom I knew.
Gardner Kennedy died on the Swaben Redout on July 1st 1916 which is where his regiment the Royal Iniskilling Fusiliers fought Reg no:18637. Lance Corporal, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
He has no known grave and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, and on the Coleraine War memorial, although on the latter his Christian name is incorrectly spelt. He enlisted on 5th October 1915.
His brother, Lieutenant John Alexander Kennedy, survived the war. However further tragedy struck the family on 2nd March 1917 when the Kennedy family lost their only daughter, Mary Boddie, wife of Geoffrey W Boddie.
About 1959 or 1960 I visited Edie Kennedy who (I presume) was Gardner Kennedy’s sister law at Ardbana House, a splendid detached house full of faded elegance. I met Jack, Edie’s son who was a wild child, liked building his own racing cars. Of Edie, I remember only a little old lady, shrunken but lively, sitting regally amongst the faded and cluttered Second Empire furniture in front of a huge fireplace with an enormous glassed domed clock on the mantel piece. The Kennedy family in the past had had money. Of our conversation I remember nothing except, reading my father’s notes, we talked of Irish History.
My father (JD Long OBE) born in 1915 never knew his cousin, but always wanted to keep his memory alive. In later life my father was upset to find that Gardner Kennedy’s name had been last omitted from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Roll of Honour. He asked me to remedy this which I did with pleasure.
We took our children to Thiepval in 1996, and we have visited frequently since. Contrary to my father’s view when he visited Thiepval in the latter years of his life, I found Thiepval, a place of Cathedral – like peace and reconciliation, and the graveyards, places of sadness and of peace.
My husband and I visited the Swaben Redout and the Ulster Memorial two weeks ago. What a mission it was to capture, so many died, so much bravery. Now I know where Gardner Kennedy died and when he is most likely buried.
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Submitted by John H Mills – who wanted to tell the story of his grandfather. Herbert Mills was born on 16th May 1879 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, four months before his parents were married. Shortly after the marriage his mother and father separated his father got into trouble with the Law, abandoned them and departed for America. Herbert and his mother went to live with her parents. In 1891 he was still living with his grandparents and in 1911, age 31, he was living with his Aunt (his mother’s sister). He married in 1913 and had a son in 1914. His son went on to join the RASC in 1939. Herbert, age 35, volunteered in Lord Kitchener’s “Volunteer Army”. He had been married less than two years and had a one year old son. He was a Power Loom Weaver in a woollen mill. He enlisted in Huddersfield on 4th June 1915. His Attestation puts him in the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Mental Assistant and posted to RAMC 92nd Field Ambulance Unit, Crookham, Aldershot. He was posted to the, 15th Northumberland Fusiliers in August 1915. From August to September 1915 he was stationed at Hamersley, Physical Training Base Aldershot, and from September 1915 to March 1916 at Rugeley Camp, Cannock Chase. Rugeley Camp was a training camp which replicated the trenches in France and was used for training soldiers prior to embarking to the Front Line. He was promoted Corporal in November 1915. In March 1916 he was posted…
Submitted by Pat Burgess. The Graham family were local to Barnard Castle, they lived on The Bank, where father John had a chemist and grocery business. John Austin was born on 2 March 1872. After his time at school from 1886 until 1889, he took a Electrical Engineering apprenticeship. Later he started an electrical business with his brother – Graham Brothers Electrical Engineers in Middlesbrough. He was secretary of the Saltburn R.N.L.I. and a gifted operatic singer. Serving as a territorial captain, Austin Graham was with the 4th battalion when war broke out in August of 1914. He landed with the battalion at Boulogne on April 18th 1915 when the battalion was almost straight away thrown into the 2nd battle of Ypres. On April 24th Captain Graham and his men had their first taste of action in fierce fighting during the Battle of St Julien. On Whit Monday 1915 the battalion were in trenches astride the Menin Road at Hooge and Austin Graham was badly gassed and hospitalised with his injuries. In early 1918 the battalion were back in the Ypres sector and when the German Spring Offensive opened on March 21st they were in a position close to Hancourt. There followed nine days of fighting on the retreat under the enemy onslaught. A brief rest at Bethune followed this and then on April 8th the battalion was moved up to take part in the Battle of the Lys. By now CO of the 4th battalion Major Austin Graham was…
Submitted by Paul Elliott. My maternal grandfather, Edwin Scriminger, was born in 1892 and worked as a bricklayer living in the Leeds suburb of Meanwood. He joined the West Yorkshire Regiment in early 1915 and went to France. He became a Lewis gunner and, unfortunately, in 1916, a casualty, when he was hit in the lung by a bullet. Invalided from the front line to a casualty clearing station, he was sent to hospitals in Colchester and Stourbridge. On his eventual recovery he was sent to the Northumberland Fusiliers where he became a mess servant. In 1918 he was transferred to the Durham Light Infantry and sent to Archangel on the North Russia expedition. Like the majority of those sent to Russia he was not considered physically fit enough to be sent back to France. The DLI were used principally for guard duties, although some of his notes describe the subduing of a mutiny by Croat troops. After demobilisation in 1919 he returned to the building industry, eventually becoming a manager in a house building company. He died of cancer in 1972, aged 81. His service numbers were: 24904 West Yorkshire Regiment. 41631 Northumberland Fusiliers. 24th Batt. 78110 Durham Light Infantry. 2/7th Batt.