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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Robin Snook submitted this information about his grandfather, Charles Tweedy. 113319 Driver Charles Tweedy served with the Royal Horse Artillery. He signed up on 29th October 1915 in Richmond and spent time at the North Training Camp at Ripon. He fought in France and at one point the horse that he was riding was blown from underneath him. He was lucky though and survived to fight another day. The horse’s bit is still in the family to this day.
Mrs Pat Fazey visited the museum recently. She is originally from Yorkshire but has lived in Newent, North Gloucestershire for the past 17 years. We helped Pat research Private Pickering who was probably a distant cousin several times removed. John Mason Pickering was born in the third quarter of 1877. By the time of the 1881 census he is 3 years of age and living with his parents John and Ann in the hamlet of Newbridge in Pickering. His father is a quarry labourer and he has 4 sisters, Rachel, Mary, Elizabeth and Grace. In the 1881 census he is aged 14 and working as a “farm Servant at Brook farm in the Pickering area. The farm is run by the Banks family. In 1904 (January to March) there is a record of marriage to an Edith Emily Cruce in the Eccleshall Bierlow district of Sheffield. In the 1911 census John and Edith are residing at West Thorpe, Hoylandswaine near Pennistone. Aged 34 he is still working as a farm labourer. The couple have two daughters, Hilda Pearl aged 6 and Ruby Annabelle aged 1 and before 1914 they have son John. Before enlisting in 1914 John Mason is working as a quarry labourer. He disembarks, with the 2nd battalion, in France in December 1914. He is killed in action at Neuve Chapelle on the 12th of March 1915 and is buried in the Cabaret-rouge British cemetery Souchez. He was awarded the Victory and British War medals along with the…
William was born in Middlesbrough on the 26th March 1887. He was the son of Joseph and Maria Constantine of Harlesly Hall Northallerton. He was one of five offspring, having 2 sisters and 2 brothers. His father ran a shipping company which he had started in 1885 and would last until it was sold off in 1960. At the outbreak of WW1 the company had 28 vessels, 22 being ocean going and 6 coastal. During the war 13 of the company vessels and 32 crewmen would perish. William was gazetted into the Yorkshire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant in March 1906, promoted to Lieutenant 27th May 1907, and to Captain 5th October 1913. He served in France with the 4th Battalion. He suffered gassing at Ypres on the 24th May 1915 and was wounded on the Somme on the 15th September 1916. In 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross for ‘conspicuous gallantry in action’ which was cited in the London Gazette on the 14th November 1916. He had been promoted to Major on the 13th June 1916. On the 2nd May 1918 he was posted to The 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, then in August to the 9th Battalion the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. The family were associated with Constantine College in Middlesbrough having donated £40,000 towards the building cost. The college opened in 1930. William died on the 11th November 1970 and was buried at the Church of St. Oswald, East Harlsey where he had been Churchwarden…