Memorial To Remember Carsphairn War Hero To Be Unveiled

A commemorative paving stone will be unveiled and wreaths laid at Carsphairn War Memorial to commemorate the centenary of Lieutenant Colonel William Clark Kennedy being awarded the Victoria Cross during WW1. A commemorative service will then be held in Carsphairn Parish Church.

Monday 27 August 2018
Carsphairn War Memorial
1200 – unveiling of commemorative paving stone, Carsphairn War Memorial
1235 – commemorative service, Carsphairn Parish Church
1330 – parade to Lagwyne Hall, Carshpairn, followed by civic lunch and viewing of school project [WW1] and exhibtion [100 Years a Hero]

The commemorative events will be attended by relatives of Lt Col Clark Kennedy, the Deputy Lieutenant for the Stewartry [Anna Campbell], the Canadian Army Advisor to the British Army [Colonel Andrew Lussier], and representatives of Legion Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council, and Carsphairn Community Council.

William Clark Kennedy was born at Dunskey House, near Portpatrick, on 3 March 1879, the son of Captain Alexander William Maxwell Clark Kennedy [Irish Guards] of Knockgray, Galloway, and the Hon Mrs Lettice Lucy Clark Kennedy [formerly Hewitt], the daughter of the 4th Viscount Lifford.

His great grandfather, Captain Alexander Clark, was decorated on the field following the Battle of Waterloo [1815], where he captured the Eagle and Colours of the French 105th regiment.

William Clark Kennedy lived in Carsphairn prior to being educated at Westminster School. He served with the Imperial Yeomanry and Rhodesian Horse during the second Boer War.

In 1902/1903, he emigrated to Canada, transferring to the Montreal branch of the Scottish life insurance company for which he worked, William Clark Kennedy emigrated to Canada where he worked for an insurance company.

In September 1914, he enlisted in the in the Royal Highlanders of Canada [13th Battalion, 4th Brigade, 5th Regiment] at Valcartier, near Quebec. While training, he married Kate Redford.

During WW1, Clark Kennedy was mentioned in despatches 4 times, received the Distinguised Service Order and Bar, was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross for most conspicuous bravery, initiative and skilful leading on the 27 and 28 August 1918 when in command of the battalion at Arras in France.

On 27 August 1918, the first day of the offensive on the Arras front, while commanding the 24th Battalion [Victoria Rifles] Canadian Expeditionary Force, aged 39, Clark Kennedy led the initial charge on enemy trenches. On the second day he was badly wounded in the leg. Though bleeding profusely and in intense pain, he refused to be evacuated from the battlefield. Using a shell hole as his command post, he continued to direct his men until, realizing that his exhausted troops could advance no further, he established a strong defensive line. His actions saved countless lives and made it possible for fresh troops to resume the forward attack.

VC Citation – The London Gazette 14 December 1918:

‘On 27th he led his battalion with great bravery and skill from Crow and Aigrette trenches in front of Wancourt to the attack on the Fresness-Rouvroy line. From the outset the brigade, of which the 24th Battalion was a central unit, came under very heavy shell and machine-gun fire, suffering many casualties, especially amongst leaders. Units became partially disorganised and the advance was checked. Appreciating the vital importance to the brigade front of a lead by the centre, and undismayed by annihilating fire Lt Col Clark Kennedy, by shear personality and initiative, inspired his men and led them forward. On several occasions he set an outstanding example by leading parties straight at the machine-gun nests which were holding up the advance and overcame these obstacles.

‘By controlling the direction of neighbouring units and collecting men who had lost their leaders, he rendered valuable services in strengthening the line, and enabled the whole brigade front to move forward.

‘By afternoon, very largely due to the determined leadership of this officer and disregard for his own life, his battalion, despite heavy losses, had made good the maze of trenches west of Cherisy and Cherisy Village, had crossed the Sausee River bed, and had occupied occident Trench in front of the heavy wire of the Fresness-Rouvroy line; under continuous fire he then went up and down his line until far into the night, improving the position, giving wonderful encouragement to his men, and sent back very clear reports.

‘On the next day he again showed valorous leadership in the attack on the Fresness-Rouvroy line and Upton Wood. Though severely wounded soon after the start he refused aid, and dragged himself to a shell-hole, from which he could observe. Realising that his exhausted troops could advance no further he established a stronger line of defence and thereby prevented the loss of most important ground. Despite intense pain and serious loss of blood he refused to be evacuated for over five hours, by which time he had established the line in a position from which it was possible for the relieving troops to continue the advance. It is impossible to overestimate the results achieved by the valour and leadership of this officer.’

Two of William Clark Kennedy’s brothers were killed in action during WW1. Captain Alexander Kenelm Clark Kennedy, King’s Own Scottish Borderers, died on 19 April 1917, aged 33. He is buried in the Gaza War Cemetery in Palestine. Captain Archibald Douglas Hewitt Clark Kennedy, 1/5th Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers, died on 18 September 1918, aged 30. He is buried in Queant Road Cemetery, Buissy, near Arraas, France. They are commemorated on the Carsphairn War Memorial, which was unveiled by William Clark Kennedy in 1923, and on a cairn on the family estate at Knockgray.

William Kennedy Clark died on 25 October 1961, aged 82. He is buried in Mount Royal Cemetery, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. His Victoria Cross is held by his family.

Councillor Archie Dryburgh, the Council’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “As an ex-serviceman, it has been a privilege and honour to be involved with the planning of the events to commemorate the centenary of Lieutenant Colonel Clark Kennedy being awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallant act of bravery during World War 1. This is the second commemoration for a Canadian VC held in Dumfries and Galloway, showing our continued support for Canadian forces.”
Councillor Dougie Campbell, said: “The courage of Lieutenant Colonel Clark Kennedy, and men like him, who battled in circumstances few of us can imagine, is humbling and inspirational. Carsphairn and Canada are both rightly proud of him. As a ward councillor and ex-serviceman, I’m deeply moved to be attending this commemoration.”


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