A Lost Son Identified
Lieutenant James Mark Kennedy was born in Clarendon in Victoria, in i April 1879.
He served during the Boer War with the South African Constabulary (SAC), a para-military force established by the British to police the conquered Boer republics. Despite being a ‘police force’ the SAC took part in many campaigns, during which they experienced some hard fighting. This is evidenced by its casualty records and the list of honours and awards won by its members, including a Victoria Cross by fellow Australian James Rogers.
After the Boer War Kennedy remained in the SAC for another six years before returning to Australia. He was residing at ‘Kaluma’ via Jackson, in Queensland at the time he enlisted for service during the First World War. Following his enlistment at Miles, Queensland, in February 1915, he was subsequently commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. Kennedy embarked for overseas service as a reinforcement for the 26th Australian Infantry Battalion in August 1915.
On his way to Egypt, aboard HMAT Kyarra, he met, Charlotte ‘Lottie’ Kendell, an Australian Army Nurse from Geelong, who was on her way to join No. 2 Australian General Hospital. James married Lottie on the 29th of February 1916 on his return to Egypt from service at Gallipoli. They had only a brief period together before he embarked for France in mid-March. On the 23rd of June Lottie gave birth to a son they named William ‘Bruce’ Kennedy.
Lieutenant Kennedy was seriously wounded at Pozieres in late July 1916 and was invalided to the United Kingdom for medical treatment. His wounds were significant and took time to heal. He was able to spend some of that time recovering with his new wife and son in Scotland. Despite being urged to accept a safer staff role, he insisted on returning to his men and re-joined his Battalion in October 1916. Lottie and baby Bruce would not see James again. On the 5th of November, just three weeks later, during the Battle of Flers, in an attack on German trenches near a position known as ‘The Maze’, Lieutenant Kennedy was killed.
Due to the dangerous conditions, his remains could not be recovered following the battle and he was later commemorated on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial. In 1925, the remains of an Australian Officer, whose uniform bore a medal ribbon indicating service during the Boer War, were recovered from the location that Lieutenant Kennedy was last seen. They were buried nearby at Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France. At the time, the soldier could not be identified and was buried in an unnamed grave.
Following the advice of her husband’s death, Charlotte returned with William to Geelong, and never remarried. She passed away in 1970
In late 2021, following extensive research, Lieutenant James Kennedy’s remains were identified, the announcement being made on Remembrance Day. After 105 years his family finally had closure. Lieutenant Kennedy’s grandchildren will be consulted when arrangements are made to replace the previously unmarked headstone with one bearing his name and service details.
- Australian Government Department of Defence Ministers https://www.minister.defence.gov.au/minister/andrew-gee/media-releases/unknown-…