6:30 a.m., Nov. 11)
Remembering two generations of Canadian war heroes
By Fred Sherwin
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 the word.
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
James Kennedy left his family’s farm in Cumberland Village
in 1914 at the age 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 gun pit. 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.
Kennedy returned to Cumberland, he married his childhood
sweetheart, Eva Farmer, who served as a nurse during the
two settled down and raised a family together. Kennedy
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.
couple had six children of their own. The three eldest
boys all served in the Second World War. Irving Farmer
“Hap” Kennedy joined the Royal Air Force in 1940, shortly
after his 18th birthday. He would eventually become a
fighter pilot and in October 1942, he was assigned to
a Spitfire squadron based out of Malta. Eight months later
he was awarded the first of two Distinguished Flying Crosses
he would receive during the war for exceptional service.
Kennedy flew combat missions on a continuous basis over
North Africa and Sicily for nearly a year, pausing only
once for two days leave. In 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,
Hap’s 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 to 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. He 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. They 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
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local
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