Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Patrick Joseph Kennedy

Patrick Joseph Kennedy : Photograph of Paddy in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre.  Reference: MR2/17/53

Photograph of Paddy in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: MR2/17/53

Patrick Joseph Kennedy : (L to R) Military Medal; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal with 'Mentioned in Despatches' oak leaves; 1939-45 Defence Medal

(L to R) Military Medal; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal with 'Mentioned in Despatches' oak leaves; 1939-45 Defence Medal

Patrick, or Paddy, was born on the 20th May 1893 in the Army Barracks at Dover, Kent. His father was called John and his mother was Clara. He had an older brother named John and 3 younger siblings: Charles, Walter and Eileen. The family were Roman Catholics.

John senior was from County Wexford in Ireland. He was a soldier in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when Paddy was born. The family moved around Britain and Ireland during Paddy's childhood. Each child was born in a different place, and in 1901 the family lived in a 6th location. This was 18 Tiber Street in Islington, London.

By 1911 John had left the Army and the family had moved to 2 Foxbank Street in Longsight, Manchester. He continued to receive a pension for his service, and also worked as a lift attendant. Paddy had found work as a warehouseman in a shipping warehouse. By 1914 he was a clerk in a cotton export office.

Although Paddy was not Irish, he was keenly interested in the debates over Home Rule, or devolution, between around 1912 and 1914. Protestants in the north, in Ulster, were opposed to this because they feared losing power to southern Catholics. Both groups formed armed organisations known as Volunteers, and smuggled weapons into the country.

Paddy joined the Manchester Company of the Irish Volunteers (the southern, Catholic group). One summer he was 'involved in a clash with English troops soon after rifles and ammunition from Belgium had been landed for the Irish Volunteers at Howth near Dublin'.

When the First World War broke out in August 1914 both groups put their quarrel aside to support the British Government. Thousands of Volunteers joined the British Army. Paddy wanted to join the Inniskilling Fusiliers, but they mainly recruited in the north of Ireland, so instead he joined his work colleagues in Manchester's 3rd City Battalion (The Clerks and Warehousemen's Battalion).

The City Battalions were formed so that men from the same area or background could serve together. Paddy enlisted on the 7th September and was given the service number 10826. The 3rd City Battalion became the 18th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and Paddy was assigned to XV Platoon in D Company. He also joined the battalion's Bugle Band as a Drummer.

When he enlisted Paddy was 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighed 122 pounds. He had a 'fresh' complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. He still lived with his family at 2 Foxbank Street when he enlisted. At some point during his service they would move to 13 Olney Street in Chorlton on Medlock, Manchester.

Paddy and the 18th Battalion trained at Heaton Park in Manchester until April 1915, when they moved to Belton Park in Grantham, Lincolnshire. In September they moved to Larkhill in Wiltshire before sailing to France on the 8th November.

We believe that Paddy first saw front line service in January 1916. He served near the villages of Suzanne, Bray and Maricourt during the first half of 1916. The battalion then began training to take part in the attacks on the first day of the Somme Offensive, the 1st July 1916. They were ordered to capture the village of Montauban from the Germans.

Towards the end of June the 18th Battalion began to move into the front lines. It was split into small groups and used to carry supplies and equipment. Paddy marched towards the line with 'a party of only half a platoon strong' (around 20-25 men). As they passed an artillery unit they were offered some tea. 'The only problem was that Kennedy and his pals could not get at their cups, packed under several layers of equipment. This was soon solved when a steel helmet was produced for all to drink from'.

Paddy spent the night of the 31st June with around 20 soldiers in 'a shallow tunnel which ran out into No Man's land from the front line. In the open end was a mortar and a big store of mortar ammunition...Suddenly there was a terrific explosion in the mortar post, the blast blew down the tunnel and the roof collapsed all around them'. A mortar bomb had hit the edge of the pit as it was being fired. It had exploded and set off the other bombs. Once the survivors had got back to the British lines, they found that only Paddy and 2 other men had escaped injury.

Paddy and his comrades had no orders, so once the attack began they joined the first British soldiers to reach them. They turned out to be from the 16th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. Paddy advanced with them towards Montauban.

The British captured Montauban fairly easily, although the Manchester Regiment battalions took heavy casualties from German machine gun positions as they advanced. The soldiers were amazed by the size and scale of the German defences. Their dug outs were often built from concrete and some had electric lighting and proper beds. The British lived in much more basic conditions in their trenches. One reason for this was that the Germans were defending captured territory, so they wanted to stay where they were, but the British were trying to recapture ground, meaning they would leave their positions behind as they advanced.

As he explored one dug out Paddy found a 'small, nervous black kitten'. He decided to take it with him, and fastened it into his pack. He also found a bottle of perfume, which he 'and his pals lightheartedly splashed over their dusty uniforms'.

Later on the 1st July Paddy was sent back to the British lines to bring forward more grenades. 'He was very upset to see so many wounded men lying out in the hot sun, calling for help'. He then spent the afternoon with the 16th Battalion, 'playing with his new found pet kitten or looking out over the wide empty valley. It was so peaceful he felt that the war might be over'.

At around 9:30pm Paddy helped fight off a German counterattack. At first he panicked, 'fumbling in his pouches to get at his ammunition'. The man next to him advised him to take his time and carefully get out all his ammunition before he opened fire. The attack was beaten off after a few minutes.

Paddy left the front on the 4th July. Before he had advanced on the 1st he had left his heavy equipment on the ground. He found it all as he had left it 3 days later.

The Somme Offensive continued until November. After one attack a member of the 30th Division, which included the 18th Battalion, was found guilty of cowardice and sentenced to death. Paddy and 5 other soldiers were chosen to form the firing squad for his execution. He was shot in a quarry in the early morning. We don't know who he was.

Later in November Paddy became a stretcher bearer. It was now his job to bring in wounded soldiers for medical treatment. For his bravery doing this job he would be Mentioned in Despatches on the 9th April and the 7th November 1917.

The 18th Battalion took part in the Battle of Arras during April 1917, and then moved north to Ypres in Belgium during May. They were based there, holding the front line and training, until the 31st July, when they took part in the advance through Sanctuary Wood. This was the beginning of the Passchendaele Offensive. Paddy fought with the battalion during this offensive, which lasted until November.

The kitten Paddy had found left France during June with Private 43666 Reginald Lord. He took it home on leave to his family in Rochdale, Lancashire, and left it there. In a letter in January 1969 Reggie's brother Jesse told Paddy what happened to it. Their mother didn't want the kitten, 'but we can't let it go. So the kitten stayed with us for several years.' Reggie died on the 13th December 1917 and was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium.

In February 1918 the Army was reorganised. The 18th Battalion was one of many units disbanded. Its soldiers were sent to bring other units up to strength. At the time Paddy worked out there were only 3 other men left 'in the fighting part of the battalion' who had originally joined in 1914.

Paddy joined the 1/6th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on the 7th April. They helped to defeat the German Spring Offensive of March and April, then took part in the Allied Hundred Days Offensive that began in August.

During this offensive Paddy was awarded the Military Medal. This is his citation:

For great courage both at Viller-au-Flos on 2.9.18 and during operations near Havrincourt on 27.9.18. On both occasions this stretcher bearer worked all day under heavy fire and dressed and brought in to the Aid Post a large number of wounded. Very many of his comrades owe their lives to the personal bravery displayed by this man.

The war ended on the 11th November. By then Paddy had 'had only 14 days of home leave...he was utterly worn out and a sick man'. He was suffering from sciatica and dyspepsia.

Paddy was at Fleurus in Belgium with Headquarters Company of the 1/6th Battalion during late January and early February 1919. He returned to the UK on the 13th February and left the Army a month later. He began to receive a pension from the Army in December 1921.

Slowly Paddy recovered. He was able to return to his office, and visited the Lords and the cat he had rescued several times during the 1920s. He lived at 13 Olney Street until the Second World War broke out in September 1939.

Paddy applied to rejoin the Army when war broke out, but we don't know whether he was accepted. The 1939-45 Defence Medal was awarded to members of the Home Guard, the Fire Service, Police officers and many others as well as to soldiers. He did serve in the Home Guard between 1952 and 1956.

By the mid 1960s Paddy lived at 19 Bristol Avenue in Levenshulme, Manchester. On the 18th September 1964 he attended a dinner marking the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Manchester City Battalions. Later that decade Paddy was one of the old soldiers interviewed by Martin Middlebrook for his book 'The First Day on the Somme' ISBN 0140171347. This was published in 1971.

We believe Paddy lived at 19 Bristol Avenue for the rest of his life. We don't know whether he ever married or had children. He died between January and March 1981 in Stockport aged 87. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in August 1997.

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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council