Acting Lieutenant-Colonel Humfrey Hayes Kennedy

Many thanks to Jim Edwards of North Holmwood for this research.

Humfrey Hayes Kennedy was born on 19th January 1882 in Middlesex.

On 6th February 1901 (aged 19) he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Militia with 3rd Battalion, the Gordon Highlanders. By 1st April he was training at Aldershot with 3rd Gordon Highlanders Imperial Yeomanry. He then served in South Africa during the Boer War on attachment to 3rd Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment. The war ended in May 1902 and in January 1903 he transferred from the Militia to the regular army, becoming a Second Lieutenant in the Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, the Duke of Albany’s).

In June 1904 he was seconded for service with the Indian Army. In August 1905, having been a Supernumerary Second Lieutenant, he became an established Second Lieutenant. He was awarded the 1908 North West Frontier clasp to the India General Service medal, whilst serving with 1st Battalion of The Seaforths, which was in India from 1903 to the start of the Great War. In April 1908 he was promoted to Lieutenant and in December 1911 he took part in the Delhi Durbar, the celebration, attended by King George V and Queen Mary, to celebrate their coronation and allow them to be proclaimed as Emperor and Empress of India.

In June 1912 he was seconded for service under the Colonial Office with the Nigeria Regiment of the West Africa Frontier Force where he was promoted, in September 1914, to be local Captain and in November, to be Captain.

He was then attached to the 16th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (1st Bradford Pals). This battalion had been formed in September 1914 as a part of the Citizens’ Army League and did not become part of the actual army until May 1915. There were still shortages of equipment and they had obsolete rifles until September, so it was not until December 1915 that they were sent overseas. An account of the Bradford Pals can be found in the Bradford Libraries on-line resources.

On 3rd December Humfrey was promoted from Captain to temporary Major. Three days later the battalion started moving (only the officers knew the destination) and in late December it arrived in Egypt to defend the Suez Canal against possible attack by the Turks. It then moved to France in early March 1916. The Commanding Officer was taken ill and hospitalized in April. Humfrey was in command from then until 24th June when Major Guyon of the Royal Fusiliers arrived and took over, as a temporary Lieutenant Colonel. However, Guyon was killed in action on 1st July, within minutes of the start of the first day of the battle of the Somme. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, 100 miles from Calais. In the four days from 30th June the battalion lost (killed, missing or wounded) 22 out of 24 officers and 483 out of 750 other ranks from those who went into the line. (It was the practice at that time to leave about ten percent of the strength out of the line as a core to reform a battalion if necessary.)

Humfrey again commanded the battalion from 2nd July 1916 to 30th January 1917, throughout the Battle of the Somme, as a temporary Major but acting Lieutenant Colonel. After this he reverted to Captain, (temporary Major) until 6th March 1917, when he relinquished the temporary rank of Major on leaving the West Yorkshires.

He was married on 14th July 1917, in London, to Noelle Evelyn Campbell George (the widow of William King George) who was living in the parish of St John’s, North Holmwood. He was living in Mayfair.

Humfrey returned to the Seaforth Highlanders as a Captain and acting Major. For two weeks in October he was acting Lieutenant Colonel while commanding a battalion and, in January 1918, he was promoted to substantive Major.

In May 1918 he was again made an acting Lieutenant Colonel, this time while commanding the 8th (Service) Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders, but two months later, on 29th July 1918, he was killed in action. He was buried at Raperie British Cemetery, Villemontoire, (about 170 miles from Calais), which was made, after the Armistice, by the concentration of other graves from the area.

Humfrey left an estate of £2,144. Noelle lived in Dorking, first at Inholms House, Stonebridge and later at Chart Cottage. She moved to Australia by 1925, with Humfrey’s brother, Gilbert Lyon Kennedy, and they married in 1930. They continued to live in Western Australia until Gilbert died in 1945 and Noelle died in 1955.

Born Middlesex
Lived Mayfair, London
Husband of Noelle Evelyn Campbell George
Regiment 8th (Service) Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders
Date of Death 29th July 1918
Place of Death France
Cause of Death Killed in Action
Age 36
Cemetery Raperie British Cemetery, Villemontoire

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