Frederick Donald James (Don) KENNEDY


KENNEDY, Frederick Donald James

Service Number: 803
Enlisted: 16 December 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Gulf Creek near Bundarra, Inverell, New South Wales. Australia, 6 September 1897
Home Town: Narrabri West, Narrabri, New South Wales
Schooling: Public School, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Wounds, Died of wounds, Military Hospital, Fovant, Wiltshire, United Kingdom, 23 September 1918, aged 21 years
Cemetery: Baverstock (St. Edith) Churchyard
INSCRIPTION IN LOVING MEMORY OF DON FROM SISTERS MAY, IVY, MYRTLE, LAUREL , Baverstock (St Edith) Churchyard, Baverstock, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Inverell & District Memorial Olympic Pool WW1 Honour Roll, Inverell War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

16 Dec 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 803, 33rd Infantry Battalion
4 May 1916: Involvement Private, SN 803, 33rd Infantry Battalion
4 May 1916: Embarked Private, SN 803, 33rd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Marathon, Sydney
23 Sep 1918: Involvement Private, SN 803, 2nd Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Lynn Percival


Frederick Donald James

Frederick Donald James KENNEDY (known as Don) was born at Bundarra, near Inverell, New South Wales 0n September, 1897 to parents Frederick Francis & Annie Eliza Kennedy (Wood). He was 18 Years and 4 months old, single, labourer from Narrabri West, New South Wales when he enlisted at Inverell on 16 December 1915. He agreed to serve from 12 January 1916, with the 33rd Infantry Battalion “C” Company of the Australian Army (AIF). He joined the First Contingent of The Kurrajongs when they departed from Inverell for the Narrabri and Armidale camps.

His service number was 803 & his religion was Presbyterian. His next of kin was listed as his sister – Mrs Mabel (May) Watling, Vivian Street, Inverell, NSW. He had other siblings Ivy, Myrtle and Laurel

As he was under the age of 21, Betsey McDonald signed as Guardian, consenting to the enlistment of Frederick Donald James Kennedy for Active Service Abroad.

As a member of the 33rd Battalion C Company he trained at Armidale and Rutherford prior to leaving Sydney, Australia on HMAT Marathon & disembarked at Devonport, England on 9th July, 1916. Reinforcements were only given basic training in Australia. Training was completed in training units in England. Upon arrival in England further training was undertaken at Salisbury Plain until Don was transferred to the 2nd Battalion and sent to France in September.

Pte Kennedy proceeded overseas to France to join 2nd Battalion on 16th September, 1916. He was taken on strength at Etaples, France on 17th September, 1916 & joined the 2nd Battalion in the Field at Belgium on 29th September, 1916. Pte Frederick Donald James Kennedy was Wounded in Action on 31st October, 1916.

He was admitted to No. 36 Clearing Station with a gunshot wound to left thigh. He was then transferred to 23rd General Hospital at Etaples on 2nd November, 1916 & then embarked for England on 12th November, 1916 from Calais, France. Pte Kennedy was admitted to 1st London General Hospital on 12th November, 1916. Hospital Admissions form states “Gunshot wound to left thigh – slight”.

On 23rd March, 1917 Pte Kennedy was marched in to No. 3 Command Depot at Hurdcott, Wiltshire from Perham Downs.

On 25th March, 1917 Pte Kennedy was classified as B1A 2– which was a classification as to his fitness for duty. Category A was for men who were fit for Active Service; Category B - men fit for certain kinds of service; Category C – men fit for service in England; Category D – temporarily unfit but likely to become fit after treatment & Category E – those who should be discharged. B1A2 was fit for overseas training camp in three to four weeks.

On 10th April, 1917 Pte Kennedy was classified as B1A - fit for light duty only – 4 weeks.

On 14th April, 1917 Pte Kennedy was marched in to No. 2 Command Depot at Weymouth. From there he was marched out to Drafting Depot at Perham Downs on 26th May, 1917.

On 20th June, 1917 Pte Kennedy proceeded overseas to France, from Southampton, to Overseas Training Depot & marched in to Havre on 21st June, 1917.

He was admitted sick to Hospital on 24th June, 1917 at Harfleur.

On 3rd July, 1917 Pte Kennedy was transferred to No. 4 Convalescent Depot at Havre with Bronchitis & marched in from Hospital on 10th July, 1917. Pte Kennedy was transferred to the 2nd Battalion from 33rd Battalion from 16th September, 1917.

Pte Frederick Donald James Kennedy was Wounded in Action for the second time on 22nd September, 1917. He was taken to No. 6 Field Ambulance & his file marked “NYDN (Buried by Shell)”. (Not Yet Diagnosed - Nervous – apparently the term Shell-shock was no longer allowed). Over the next few days Pte Kennedy was transferred to No. 10 C.C. Station & then to N.Z Stat. Hospital at Wisques. His file was still marked “NYDN admitted” at Calais on 2nd October, 1917. The O.C. at N.Z. Stat. Hospital marked Pte Kennedy as “Casualty classified – Shell Shock Wound”.

On 20th October, 1917 Pte Kennedy was admitted to No. 7 Convalescent Depot at Boulogne & on 25th October, 1917 he was marched in from Hospital at Havre.

Pte Kennedy re-joined his Battalion, in the field in France, from being wounded on 4th November, 1917.

Pte Kennedy was transferred from Shorncliffe on 12th August, 1918 & then transferred to 1st Aux. Harefield on 16th August, 1918. The Hospital Admissions form states “shell wounds of head, chest, left arm, & left thigh”.

Pte Frederick Donald James Kennedy was Wounded in Action for the third time on 22nd June, 1918. He was admitted to Hospital with shrapnel wounds to left Thigh, arm & back. He was transferred to Boulogne on 24th June, 1918 & invalided to England on 2nd July, 1918. the Military Hospital, Fovant, England Pte Kennedy was transferred from Shorncliffe on 12th August, 1918 & then transferred to 1st Aux. Harefield on 16th August, 1918. The Hospital Admissions form states “shell wounds of head, chest, left arm, & left thigh”.

Pte Kennedy was granted furlough from 31st August, 1918 & then to report to No. 4 Command Depot at Hurdcott, Wiltshire on 14th September, 1918.

On 14th September, 1918, Pte Kennedy was written up for an Offence at London – Absent without Leave from 11 a.m. to noon on 14th September, 1918. Major C. H. Howard admonished his punishment the same day. Pte Kennedy was later that day, marched in to Hurdcott from Admin. Headquarters from furlough.

Pte Kennedy was sent sick to Fovant Military Hospital from No. 4 Command Depot, Hurdcott, Wiltshire on 19th September, 1918 & later the same day admitted with Gunshot wound to head (old wound), left side, seriously ill. He was also found to have acute bronchopneumonia.

Private Frederick Donald James Kennedy died at 9.45 a.m. on 23rd September, 1918 at Military Hospital, Fovant, Wiltshire. Cause of death was marked as “Died of Wounds – G.S.W. Head (old wound).” Pte Kennedy’s death was also described as “Died of Wounds received in Action”. A death for Frederick D. J. Kennedy, aged 20, was registered in the December quarter, 1918 in the district of Wilton, Wiltshire. Private Frederick Donald James Kennedy was buried on 27th September, 1918 in the churchyard of St. Edith’s at Baverstock, Wiltshire and has a Commonwealth War Graves Headstone.

From the burial report of Pte F. D. J. Kennedy – “he died at Military Hospital, Fovant, England, on 23.9.18 of gunshot would head (old wound sustained in action in France on 22.6.18). The deceased soldier was accorded a military funeral, the coffin of good polished elm with brass mounts being conveyed on a Gun-carriage, preceded by a Firing Party and the Band of No. 4 Australian Command Depot. Six of deceased’s Unit comrades acted as Pallbearers. Chaplain R. M. Legate conducted the burial service.

Four Officers, and about one hundred N.C.O.’s and men of No. 4 Command Depot attended the funeral, and a beautiful wreath from them was placed on the grave after the “Last Post” had been sounded. Headquarters A. I. F. Depots in United Kingdom were represented at the funeral. The late Private Kennedy was most popular with both officers and men, and always proved himself a keen soldier and a good comrade……”

His medals and few personal effects were returned to his sister Mrs. Mabel (May) Watling in Sydney.

At Inverell Don’s name is recorded on the Honour Roll and Cenotaph. He is one of the 215 men for whom a memorial tree was planted in Kurrajong Parade in 1919.

Pte F. D. J. Kennedy was entitled to Victory Medal & British War Medal. A Memorial Scroll & Memorial Plaque was also sent to Pte Kennedy’s eldest sister – Mabel (May) Watling (Both August, 1923).

Letters were sent in April, 1923 to Mr F. F. Kennedy, of Howell, NSW – father of late Pte Kennedy, from Base Records to ascertain if the address was the correct one for the Medals of the late Pte Kennedy to be sent to. No reply was received.

In a letter dated 31st May, 1923 to Base Records Mrs Mabel(May) Watling states that their “mother is deceased & there are no brothers & I am the eldest sister. My father is still alive although he left us years through drink. He put in his claim for the Gratuity bond & his claim was granted which in my opinion he was not entitled to. However I wrote several letters about it to Headquarters & could get no satisfaction & naturally expected the same result in this case.”

A statutory declaration was signed by Mrs Mabel Watling on 25th July, 1923 stating that she would return the medals to the Dept. of Defence at any time upon receipt of its demand in writing, should a closer relative emerge.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Private Frederick Donald James Kennedy – service number 803, as being 21 years old & served with 2nd Battalion Australian Infantry. He was the son of Frederick and Annie Kennedy. Born at Inverell, New South Wales.

(87 pages of Pte Frederick Donald James Kennedy’s Service records are available for On Line viewing at National Archives of Australia website).


The Kurrajongs

Early on the morning of 12 January 1916, Inverell witnessed a great day in its young history. A huge crowd assembled in the streets to farewell Inverell’s first contingent of The Kurrajongs. This group of 114 men was one of ten snowball recruiting marches held in NSW to encourage enlistment. At the time, these men were the largest group to leave a country town together for War Service.

Wearing white hats, the men marched from near the corner of Rivers and Otho Streets, to the Town Hall for the official farewell by the Mayor. The huge procession then proceeded down to Byron Street and on to the railway station, passing shops closed for the occasion. The volunteers held banners high. Thousands of people, including women and children in white dresses with shady hats, stood in the streets as bands led the way.

At the railway station the train had been decorated with Kurrajong leaves and flags for the occasion. A special train had been arranged to take them to the Narrabri camp. Along the way the train stopped overnight at Warialda and Moree where further rallies were held and more recruits joined the Kurrajongs.

Further volunteers followed during the next two months including nineteen men on 1 February and fifty men who made up the second contingent of The Kurrajongs on 29 February 1916. Many of these men became part of the 33rd, 34th, 35th and 36th Battalions of the 3rd Division of the AIF. Their story has been told in the book A fine body of men: Inverell Remembers the Kurrajongs 1916.

It is likely that at this time the intensive recruiting campaign and departure of the First Contingent of The Kurrajongs would have influenced enlistment throughout the district.

The Kurrajongs
Inverell WW1 Cenotaph
11th November 2014

This memorial was first located at the intersection of Otho and Evans Streets, Inverell near the Town Hall. The site was chosen because it was near where the First World War volunteers were farewelled and promises given that the community would not forget them.

Made of one huge block of granite from Uralla NSW, it weighed four tons. Architect J. F. O’Connor designed this 6.17 metre classic pedestal and Roman Doric column on an octagonal base. At the top is a polished granite urn with a draped cloth over one handle. The four panels contain the names of 229 men who died during their War service.

The community following an appeal on Anzac Day in 1924 raised funds for the memorial. .

In 1958 when the Memorial Swimming Pool was constructed, this memorial was moved to its current location at the front entrance to the pool, opposite the Inverell RSM Club.