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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Hugh Bernard (Bobby) Morkill Hugh was born on the 1st October 1896 at Austhorpe Lodge, Whitkirk, Leeds. His father, John William Morkill, had married Hannah Shaw Hobson in Edinburgh in 1889 and they would have 4 children, Hugh being the third youngest. Hugh, like his father, was educated at Radley College Oxford enrolling there in 1910. He was a keen sportsman, being part of the College cricket XI in 1915 and a member of the first ever Rugby XV in 1914. During 1915 he was a college prefect. After college he enrolled at Sandhurst and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in December 1915. On the 22nd December 1915 he joined the Yorkshire Regiment. In 1916 he was in India with the 1st Battalion. However, becoming restless with the relative inactivity he joined the Royal Flying Corps. He was sent to the 20th Training Wing in Egypt completing his ground course in September 1917. He then completed his flying training and qualified as a pilot on the 13th October 1917. Hopes of active service were dashed when he was retained as an instructor. However, the 19th September 1918 would see his first air action against Turkish positions in Palestine. Apparently a pet ring-tailed lemur called Jimmy often accompanied Hugh on his flights! In 1922 he returned to the Yorkshire Regiment, eventually rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in 1940. He died in May 1991. Mike Senior, who knew Hugh Morkill in his later years recently visited the museum and recounted…
John Matthew Hewison lived in Penshaw and enlisted at the start of the war at Shiney Row. He was the son of Matthew and Anne Hewison of Shiney Row and he was married to Agnes. He would have left for France in late August 1915 and the 8th Battalion would have been involved in training and undergoing acclimatisation visits to the front line when he was killed in action on September 22nd. 14961 Private John Hewison died at the age of 22 and had been in France for only 3 weeks. He was awarded the 14/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His wife inherited his effects of 14s/4d and a gratuity of £3-10s. He was buried at Brewery Orchard Cemetery, Bois-Grenier.
Deirdre Tyler of Richmond explained the story of Ernest (Ernie) John Tyler to us at one of our drop-in days. Ernie was born on 23 April 1880 in Edmonton, London. He served in the Royal Engineers 1914-1919, mainly with 29 Division and saw active service in the Dardanelles and the Somme. He embarked for his first active service on 2 June 1915. He was one of the few Royal Engineers aboard the “S.S. River Clyde” in 1915, when it was ill-fatedly beached at “V” beach, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, under the guns of the defenders. Six VC’s were subsequently awarded to the ship’s crew for their courage in maintaining the bridge and rescuing the wounded from the beach. Ernie subsequently spent time in Egypt and then at the Home Depot. He suffered from typhoid or enteric fever and as a result was granted home furlough from 29 February to 19 April 1916. He also caught malaria, being classed B,ii for six months as a result. He was awarded a Good Conduct Badge on 18 June 1917. Ernie lost two of his brothers in the Great War, one at Gallipoli, and another at sea. After the First World War, Ernie returned to his work in the postal service and was in charge of the first telegraph message motor cycle delivery riders. He had six children who survived into adulthood. Five served their country in the forces; four in the second world war and one post war. Bernard, his eldest son, was killed…