1:30 a.m., Nov. 10)
Remembering two generations of Canadian war heroes
By Fred Sherwin
Hap Kennedy (top) and R.J. Kennedy
were among two generations of young men who
fought in the First and Second World Wars.
Both returned home unscathed to serve their
community for many years afterwards. File
an era when the word hero is bandied about
at the drop of the hat, it seems fitting that we should
remember three men who epitomized the true meaning of
James Kennedy left his familys farm in Cumberland
Village in 1914 at the of 22 to join the Canadian Expedition
Force. He was one of 30,000 Canadian boys who made up
the First Canadian Division.
a member of the Royal Canadian Artillery, he saw action
in every major battle of the Great War until he was wounded
in August, 1917 when a German shell hit his gunpit. He
made a full recovery from his injuries and sent home.
survived the first mustard gas attacks at Ypres in April,
1915, and he was written up in the War Dispatches for
his Gallant and distinguished service in the field
during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
he returned to Cum-berland, Kennedy married his childhood
sweetheart, Eva Farmer, and the two of them settled down
and raised a family together.
would go on to serve as both reeve and treasurer of Cumberland
Township, while Eva was the village nurse and mid-wife,
delivering countless babies. The couple also had six children
of their own. The three eldest boys all served during
the Second World War.
Farmer Hap Kennedy joined the Royal Air Force
in 1940, shortly after his 18th birthday.
would eventually become a fighter pilot and in October
1942, he was assigned to a Spitfire squadron based out
of Malta in the Mediterranean.
months later he was awarded the first of two Distin-guished
Flying Crosses he would receive during the war for exceptional
Kennedy flew combat missions on a continuous basis over
North Africa and Sicily for nearly a year, pausing only
once for two days leave.
February, 1944 he was shipped back to England where he
spent his time training other pilots until the opportunity
came to rejoin the fray after the Normandy invasion.
flying countless missions and barely suffering a scratch,
Haps luck finally ran out in the skies above France.
His Spitfire was disabled by anti-aircraft fire and he
was forced to bail out.
on the ground, he was rescued by a group of French partisans.
It took nearly a month for him to make his way back to
the front lines and eventually England.
he was to report to his next assignment, Hap was given
two weeks leave. He decided to use some of his time to
visit his younger brother Tot who had been
transferred to a nearby base after completing bomber training.
Hap dropped by the mess to inquire about his brother,
he was told that Tot had just been buried that same morning.
He died when the bomber he had been assigned, crashed
while attempting to land after completing their first
mission to Germany.
the death of his brother, Hap Kennedy was
mustered out of the air force and back to Canada.
returned to Cumberland Village where he served the community
as the local doctor for three decades until he retired
to nearby Chickadee Wood with his wife Fern.
Tot Kennedy was one of four Cumberland lads
who would never return home. The others are Billy Lough,
Cecil McFadden and David Irwin.
paid the ultimate sacrifice and are therefore among the
truest of heroes who we honour every year on the 11th
day of the 11th month at the 11th hour.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)
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