(Service number 32347)

First Rank Sergeant Last Rank Sergeant


Date 9 December 1892 Place of Birth Temuka

Enlistment Information

Date 26 July 1916 Age 23 years
Address at Enlistment 126 Clarence Road, Lower Riccarton
Occupation Clerk
Previous Military Experience Railway Engineers - still serving
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs M. TRAVERS (mother), 126 Clarence Road, Lower Riccarton, Christchurch
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information Height 5 feet 10¾ inches. Weight 165 lbs. Chest measurement 34-39 inches. Complexion fresh. Eyes grey. Hair black. Sight, hearing & colour vision all normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Fit.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 10th Reinforcements, 3rd Battalion, G Company
Date 15 November 1916
Transport Maunganui
Embarked From Wellington Destination Plymouth, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Regiment

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
Service Medals British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 28 April 1919 Reason No longer physically fit for War Service on account of wounds received in action (gunshot wounds both legs).

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

6 July 1917 - accidentally injured while performing military duty - “This soldier was standing in a sap on the evening of 6th July 1917, and in ‘ducking’ when a shell came over, he struck his head on a piece of iron just above, causing a slight scalp wound.” Admitted to No 1 NZ Field Ambulance. 25 August 1918 - Abbeville, France - gunshot wounds to both thighs. Admitted to Casualty Clearing Station; to No 1 South African War Hospital, Abbeville; to 2nd NZ General Hospital at Walton.

Post-war Occupations

Clerk; storekeeper


Date 10 September 1956 Age 63 years
Place of Death Lower Hutt
Memorial or Cemetery Karori Crematorium, Wellington
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Robert Kennedy, born on 19 December 1892 at Temuka, was the second son of Robert and Margaret Hood (née Heyward) Kennedy. The family had moved to Pahiatua by 1894 when James was born. His father died in December 1901, leaving Margaret with five young children, the eldest (Sam) just 10 years old. Robert Kennedy was buried in a family plot at Lincoln Cemetery. In 1905 his mother married Michael Travers. Robert was educated at Masterton School before moving to Woodville School in mid 1905 with his three brothers and one sister. At the age of 13½ he went out to work. Ii was in 1905 that his mother married widower Michael Travers. Michael died in 1928 at Woodville but some years prior to that (by 1912) Margaret had moved to Riccarton, Christchurch where she was residing when both Robert and his brother Samuel enlisted.

Throughout 1912 and 1913 Robert was a frequent competitor in swimming events, with some success. At the annual general meeting of the Sydenham Football Club, held at the beginning of March 1912, Robert kennedy was awarded one of two gold medals, his for most consistent training in the second fifteen. He was a regular in the Sydenham team during the 1912-1914 seasons. He was selected for the annual match between Dunedin and Sydenham clubs at Sydenham Park on 6 April 1912. Two weeks later he was in the senior team for a competition game. Sydenham enjoyed a good win over Canterbury College, Robert being a wing forward in the team. In May the two unbeaten teams met, before a very large and interested crowd. Unfortunately Robert’s Sydenham team lost, but they made a very good showing. A win followed, in a “poor exhibition of football”. More wins came. In the second encounter with Canterbury College, Kennedy was prominent in the forwards. In another uninteresting match Kennedy was instrumental in securing the win. In the second encounter with Merivale, Sydenham again lost despite Kennedy’s efforts. The 1913 season started well for Sydenham, Robert Kennedy leading the forwards in the rush and scoring two tries to help his team to a win. Thereafter the team’s fortunes fluctuated. In a loss by only one point incurred against Linwood, Kennedy was instrumental in a try being scored by Sydenham. The next week Sydenham won by only one point, despite having the best of play. Despite losing, Sydenham played a good fast game against Merivale, Kennedy leading the forwards in the attack. In another one point victory, the Sydenham forwards worked well together, Kennedy displaying a “neat piece of footwork”. A rather dull draw was fought out with Marist, Kennedy neutralising Marist’s advantage with “a dashy piece of dribbling”. Another fine piece of Kennedy footwork was evident in a comfortable win over Canterbury College.

It was in July 1913, that Robert Kennedy attained representative honours. He was brought in as a replacement in the Canterbury team to play the Maoris. Canterbury ran out the winners. Kennedy made his mark, being effective in putting the Maoris on the defensive, demonstrating his dribbling skill, and taking play the length of the field, a try resulting. In a “low grade quality game” against Albion, which was lost, Kennedy “was noticeable for fine footwork that placed Albion on the defensive.” At the beginning of August he was selected for a trial game, his C team – helped by his two tries - being decisive winners. He was selected, in August, to represent Canterbury on their southern tour – South Canterbury, Otago and Southland. Shortly after a West Coast tour followed, and after their return a match against Banks Peninsula, which was won by Canterbury. Representative matches against Ellesmere and Wellington were played in September. And in September a benefit match was played, Robert being selected for this.

At the 1914 annual meeting of the Sydenham Football Club, R. Kennedy was elected to the committee. The 1914 season opened with the Dunedin-Sydenham match at Sydenham Park. The senior competition resumed on 25 April, Sydenham starting with a draw. In a match in May, Kennedy relieved pressure on their line “by a vigorous piece of footwork”, but Sydenham lost. The Merivale supporters received a shock at the “unexpected good showing of Sydenham and the narrow escape from defeat by the blues.” (May 1914). Although Sydenham lost, a magnificent display was given by R. Kennedy, “who was easily the best forward on the ground”. “The bull-dog tenacity shown by the Sydenham forwards won them the admiration of all. ” R. Kennedy was “always in the thick of it”. In subsequent matches, Kennedy was described a s very good rover who harassed the opposition. Robert was selected in the A team for a Canterbury trial match, in late July. Selected in the representative team as a member of the pack, he played against South Canterbury at Lancaster Park, the match being won by Canterbury, 12-6. On 22 August 1914, R. Kennedy found himself playing for Canterbury against an Expeditionary Force team. He was in the team by virtue of being unable to leave Christchurch with the touring representative team. Troops marched to Lancaster Park and were drawn up on parade for a few minutes. The Expeditionaries’ win in the last few minutes was widely acclaimed. Canterbury (Kennedy included) won a scrappy match against Southland in early September. The annual representative match between Canterbury and Otago on Saturday, 12 September brought the 1914 rugby season to a close. Robert Kennedy was an emergency for this game which was won convincingly by Canterbury.

The 1915 season brought many changes in senior teams. “No sport has contributed more largely to the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces than Rugby football,” reported the Sun of 23 April 1915. “. . . . this is only in the natural order of things, for football attracts just the type of manhood – strong, virile, speedy – which makes a splendid soldier, and it teaches him lessons in self-control, alertness of mind, and adaptability to circumstances, . . . . .” Canterbury’s Rugby footballers’ response to the call was particularly good. Concerning Sydenham, R. Kennedy, “a dashing forward, a Canterbury representative, is talking of giving up the game.”

At the time of enlisting, 26 July 1916, Robert was a twenty-three year old clerk in the railway stores, one of four “well known and highly respected Lower Riccarton boys”. He was residing at home with his mother. Single and Presbyterian, he named his mother, Mrs M. H. Travers, of 126 Clarence Road, Lower Riccarton, Christchurch, as his next-of-kin. Like his brother Samuel, Robert was a well-built young man - 5 feet 10¾ inches tall, weighing 165 pounds, with a chest measurement of 34-39 inches. He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and black hair. His faculties were all normal and his limbs and chest well formed. He was in good bodily and mental health, free of diseases and defects, and vaccinated. He was still serving with the Railway Engineers. On the night of 26 July, the Christchurch recruits for the Nineteenth Reinforcements paraded at the King Edward Barracks, in the presence of a large crowd of relatives and friends. “They were a particularly quiet, business-like and well-behaved lot, and the majority were of first-class physique.” After roll-call the men were formed up opposite the drill hall and inspected in accordance with the usual custom. The Mayor of Christchurch congratulated the draft on the patriotism of its members and expressed the heartiest good wiches for the welfare of every man. Colonel Chaffey impressed upon the men the necessity for treating their training seriously and making themselves as fit as possible to undertake the difficult duty ahead of them. The draft marched to the railway station, escorted by bands and cheered frequently. At Lyttelton they took the steamer for Wellington, to proceed to camp. Private Kennedy was promoted to Lance Corporal on 9 August 1916 and to Corporal three weeks later. Robert came home on final leave in early October. Many friends entertained Sergeant Robert Kennedy and two comrades at a most enjoyable social in the Riccarton Town Hall prior to their departure to join the Nineteenth Reinforcements. In the presence of two hundred residents, each was presented with a sleeping bag.

Kennedy embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 15 November 1916, by then promoted to Sergeant. The “Maunganui” left Wellington and reached Devonport, England, in late January 1917. At Sling in March 1917 he reverted to ranks, briefly, on failing to qualify at Class. On 28 May, as Lance Corporal, he proceeded overseas to France. A week later, at Rouen, he was promoted to Corporal. On 6 July 1917, Corporal Robert Kennedy was wounded in France, his mother having received a telegram to that effect on 19 July. He was admitted to the Field Ambulance. Some weeks later this report was amended to read “injured accidentally”. He was “accidentally injured whilst in performance of Military Duty, and in no way to blame”. “This soldier was standing in a sap on the evening of 6th July 1917, and in ‘ducking’ when a shell came over, he struck his head on a piece of iron just above, causing a slight scalp wound.” He was admitted to the No 1 NZ Field Ambulance, rejoining his battalion on 21 July. After a week’s leave in Paris in October, he rejoined his battalion and was promoted to Sergeant.

Robert Kennedy was still with the forces in France when his older brother Samuel was killed in action on 6 April 1918 at the Somme, France. At the same time, a younger brother, John, was transferred from Christchurch to the Magistrate’s Court at Masterton. Robert went on leave to the UK in July 1918. Rejoining his battalion in the Field, Sergeant Robert Kennedy was reported wounded again, on 25 August 1918, at Abbeville – gunshot wounds to the right thigh. He was admitted to the Casualty Clearing Station and the next day to the No 1 South African War Hospital at Abbeville. From there he was transferred to the 2nd NZ General Hospital at Walton, England. He had received a machine gun bullet in both thighs – large laceration to right thigh, no damage to the bone, extensive incision of muscle, dirty wound across front and far side; superficial wound to left thigh. He underwent an operation on 13 September. The right wound was healing slowly, the left was healed. He was subsequently classified unfit for at least six months and was to be evacuated to New Zealand.

Ileen Robina (Ruby) Kennedy, the only daughter of the family, married in January 1919 at Lyttelton, not long before her big brother returned home. Draft 217, the “Zealandic”, left for New Zealand on 18 January 1919 and was due in Wellington on 28 February, carrying over 1000 men and nurses, including Sergeant Robert Kennedy, 32347, Canterbury Regiment. The Medical Board convened on the troopship found that he still required treatment and recommended seven days of hospital treatment. Back in Christchurch, the Medical Board recorded gunshot wounds to both thighs, the right thigh badly affected and scarred. He experienced weakness and aching on exercise. Although much improved, he was expected to experience disability for three months and 30% reduction in earning capacity. Sergeant Robert Kennedy was discharged on 28 April 1919, no longer physically fit for War Service on account of wounds received in action (gunshot wounds to both legs). All his service was in Western Europe, for which he was a warded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Robert lost his older brother, Samuel, in 1918 at the Somme, and a cousin, Samuel Clarence Kennedy, who died of wounds in 1916 in France.

A roll of honour to commemorate members of the Sydenham Football Club who served in the Great War was unveiled on 24 October 1920. Reference was made to the heroism of those who went forth to serve their country. Those who died had not died in vain – it was due to their sacrifices that our liberty had been preserved. The city was proud of those who had returned and appreciated the sacrifices they had made for the Empire. The club was congratulated on the steps it had taken to commemorate the names of those who served. Recorded in the names of those who served and returned is R. Kennedy. After the war he resumed his occupation a s clerk and also worked as a storekeeper, for the railways. On 7 October 1919 at St Michael’s Church, Christchurch, Robert Kennedy, of Riccarton, married Mary Ella Walter. His brother, Jack Kennedy of Masterton, was his attendant, and Miss Annie Kennedy, a cousin of Robert, was also an attendant. Mrs Travers (formerly Kennedy), who lived on at Christchurch, died in July 1942 at Te Awamutu. Robert died on 10 September 1956 at Lower Hutt, aged 63 years, and was cremated, as directed by his Will, at Karori Crematorium, Wellington. Mary Ella had died in 1952. Robert was survived by his son Raymond James, a first-born son being stillborn. To Raymond he bequeathed all his estate.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [24 March 2017]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5541 0063699) [26 March 2017]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [24 March 2017]; Lyttelton Times, 6 March 1912, 6 April 1912, 17 & 24 June 1912, 28 April 1913, 9 & 16 June 1913, 7 July 1913, 21 & 25 August 1913, 20 August 1914, 20 July 1917, 31 August 1917, 11 September 1918, Press, 19 & 29 April 1912, 14 July 1913, 3, 11 & 13 September 1913, 3 March 1914, 11 April 1914, 3 August 1914, 8 September 1914, 27 July 1916, 16 October 1919, Star, 18 & 25 May 1912, 8 June 1912, 6 July 1912, 12 April 1913, 14, 21 & 28 June 1913, 11, 12 & 19 July 1913, 2 & 8 August 1913, 20 September 1913, 25 April 1914, 16 May 1914, 2 June 1914, 1, 11, 18 & 27 July 1916, 30 September 1916, 7 & 21 October 1916, 20 & 25 July 1917, 24 & 27 April 1918, 14 September 1918, 12 October 1918, 19 & 22 February 1919, 16 October 1919, 25 October 1920, 24 November 1920, Sun, 1 June 1914, 29 July 1914, 3 & 24 August 1914, 4 September 1914, 23 April 1915, 27 July 1916, 18 January 1919, Timaru Herald, 11 September 1918, New Zealand Times, 20 February 1919 (Papers Past) [23 & 24 March 2017; 29 August 2019; 01 & 02 September 2019]; Probate record (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [24 March 2017]; School Admission records [24 March 2017]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [24 March 2017]; Karori Crematorium record (Wellington City Council)

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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