(Service number 39058)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Rifleman


Date 19 February 1891 Place of Birth Temuka

Enlistment Information

Date 13 October 1916 Age 25 years
Address at Enlistment 126 Clarence Road, Riccarton
Occupation Bushman
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs M. H. TRAVERS (mother), 126 Clarence Road, Riccarton, Christchurch
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information Height 5 feet 11 inches. Weight 169 lbs. Chest measurement 33½-39 inches. Complexion dark. Eyes brown. Hair black. Sight - right eye normal, left eye 6/8. Hearing & colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth normal. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. No fits.

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 Reinforcements G Company
Date 19 January 1917
Transport Waitemata
Embarked From Destination Plymouth, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 4th Battalion, B Company

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European (Somme)
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 Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

16 June 1917 - admitted to Field Ambulance, sick; then to No 53 Casualty Clearing Station; 18 June admitted No 7 General Hospital. 4 October 1917 - wounded in action - gunshot wounds to face & elbow. Admitted to No 3 NZ Field Ambulance; transferred to No 44 Casualty Clearing Station; then to No 11 General Hospital at Camiers; from there to Convalescent Depot at Etaples. Not a severe case. 6 April 1918 - killed in action at Somme, France.

Post-war Occupations


Date 6 April 1918 Age 27 years
Place of Death Somme, France
Cause Killed in action
Notices Press, 25 April 1918; Lyttelton Times, 25 April 1918
Memorial or Cemetery Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps, Somme, France
Memorial Reference V. B. 5.
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Samuel Kennedy (Sam), who was born on 19 February 1891 at Temuka, was the first-born child and eldest son of Robert and Margaret Hood (née Heyward) Kennedy. Named for his paternal grandfather, he was baptised on 9 August 1892 in the Temuka Presbyterian Church. His brother Robert was born in 1892 at Temuka, but the family had moved to Pahiatua by 1894 when James was born. The 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. Sam attended Pahiatua and Woodville schools, along with his three brothers and one sister. At the age of 14½ he went out to work. In 1905 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 Sam and Robert enlisted.

Sam Kennedy was a fine axeman. With a handicap of 4 seconds, S. Kennedy came second equal in the Single Handed Sawing Handicap at the Upper Hutt Axemen’s Carnival held in late December 1911. In March 1913 he won the Single-handed Sawing event (18 inch) at the Rangataua Annual Carnival, and finished second in the Single-handed Sawing (15 inch, one cut). He was nominated for Single-handed Sawing at the New Zealand Axemen’s Association’s Carnival to be held on 26th and 28th December 1914 at Eltham. His handicap was scratch. Sam and mate were also entered in the Double-handed Sawing Championship of Australasia, 2 ft logs, and Sam was entered in the Single-handed Sawing Championship of the World, 2 ft logs. On the opening day the “weather was in a happy mood, the sun shining brightly throughout the day. The crowd, too, was in gala mood, and despite war times and counter attractions, South Taranaki – and North Taranaki, too – supported Eltham loyally. . . . . . . In the chopping and sawing events the entries were not as numerous as of yore. This falling was probably due to the fact that the man who goes into the bush felling the giant trees would just be the type of man who has volunteered for the front.” Before too long Samuel Kennedy would be a bushman volunteer, one who would not see home again. For the time, though, he stood out in the competition – first place in the Single-handed Sawing Handicap, for which he received £5 – “the scratch man, sawing beautifully, won by a couple of cuts.” On the second day, in glorious weather, the Sawing Championships produced some great exhibitions. In the single-handed S. Kennedy clipped 6 2/5 seconds off the world record established the year before, and won another £5. “Kennedy sawed magnificently, and it could be seen early that the previous records were in danger, and so it proved.” “As on the first day, Kennedy was in a class by himself in the sawing events.” In the Double-handed Championship of Australia he and his partner finished in second place, winning £2. An axemen’s carnival was held at Rangatua on Easter Monday 1915, and Sam Kennedy was again at his best, winning both the Single-handed Sawing Handicap (12 entries) and the Double-handed Sawing Handicap, starting from scratch with his mate (12 entries). In the second event, Kennedy and Johansen finished in the amazing space of 28 1/5 seconds, establishing a world record. Kennedy was among the leading sawyers entered in the 1915 Boxing Day carnival at Eltham. The Single-Handed World Sawing Championship attracted only two entries, Sam Kennedy proving too good in retaining his title and earning another £5.

Samuel Kennedy enlisted on 13 October 1916, 25 years old. He signed up for the 22nd Reinforcements at Christchurch, there being a big shortage of recruits. He gave his mother’s address on enlistment – 126 Clarence Road, Riccarton, Christchurch, though he was working as a bushman at Rotorua. A well-built man, standing at 5 feet 11 inches, weighing 169 pounds, and with a chest expansion of 33½-39 inches, he engaged in bush-felling in the Ohakune and Taumarunui districts and participated in wood-chopping and sawing contests. Of dark complexion, he had brown eyes and black hair. He was in good condition in all respects (his left eye only 6/8), vaccinated and free of diseases and defects. Single and Presbyterian, he named his mother, Mrs M. H. Travers as next-of-kin. Rifleman Kennedy embarked for Plymouth, England, with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, on the “Waitemata” on 19 January 1917.

Reaching Devonport on 28 March, he marched into Sling and joined the Wellington Infantry Battalion before leaving for France in May. On 16 June, twelve days after having to pay 5 shillings for damaging Government property in the Field (cutting pair of trousers), Samuel Kennedy was admitted to the Field Ambulance, sick. From there he was admitted to No 53 Casualty Clearing Station and, on 18 June, to No 7 General Hospital. He was able to rejoin his unit on 30 June 1917. In August he was detached to the School of Instruction for ten days. Kennedy was wounded in Action on 4 October 1917 – gunshot wounds to his face and elbow. He was admitted to the No 3 NZ Field Ambulance and transferred to the No 44 Casualty Clearing Station; two days later he was moved to the No 11 General Hospital at Camiers and from there to the Convalescent Depot at Etaples. The hospital report soon after listed his as not a severe case. In December 1917, Kennedy was transferred to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, joining B Company in the Field in early January 1918.

When convalescent he was persuaded by Y.M.C.A. officials to give an exhibition of sawing. While at the front he was a member of a team of champion wood-choppers who gave exhibitions in various places, providing great entertainment to the Allied troops. They also cut down and prepared the Christmas tree for the Y.M.C.A., which was loaded with presents and gave much joy to the troops. Private J. E. (Ned) Shewry, a Taranaki champion “chopper”, wrote to his father that he and Sam Kennedy (world’s champion sawyer) had given an exhibition of chopping and sawing at the Lowry Y.M.C.A. hut at the base in France on December 22 (1917). There were over 1000 in attendance, including many officers and two generals. The wood was poplar, which was rather soft, and he stated: “If we had our own tools we would have surprised the English and French spectators.”

In March 1918 Sam spent three week on leave in the United Kingdom. Just three days after rejoining his unit in the Field, Rifleman Samuel Kennedy, 39058, was killed in action on 6 April 1918 in the Field at the Somme, France. He was 27 years old. Initially he was buried in an isolated grave (18 yards West of the Support Trench), before being interred in the Euston Road Cemetery at Colincamps, France. Mrs Kennedy and her family were well-known in the Riccarton area and highly regarded. She received many expressions of sympathy on the loss of her eldest son. At this time Sam’s brother Robert was still serving in France, and a younger brother, John, was transferred from Christchurch to the Magistrate’s court staff at Masterton.

Samuel’s medals – British War Medal and Victory Medal- were sent to his mother, as were the memorial scroll and plaque. Samuel Kennedy signed his Will on 24 December 1916, his brother John and sister Ruby being witnesses. He bequeathed all his property to his mother, Mrs Margaret Hood Travers, and appointed her executrix. As Mrs Travers renounced her right to probate, the Public Trustee administered. The property amounted to £100 in a Life Policy. A portrait of Rifleman S. Kennedy, of King Country, was printed in the Auckland Weekly News in 1918. Samuel's brother, Robert Kennedy, also served in World War One, and his cousin, Samuel Clarence Kennedy, also born in 1891, died of wounds in France in 1916. Ileen Robina (Ruby) Kennedy, the only daughter of the family, married in January 1919 at Lyttelton, her oldest brother having lost his life at the Somme, and not long before her brother Robert returned home. Mrs Travers (formerly Kennedy), who lived on at Christchurch, died in July 1942 at Te Awamutu.

“A faithful and devoted son – one of New Zealand’s best.” Mrs Travers recorded of her dearly beloved eldest son in the newspaper Roll of Honour on 25 April 1918. In 1919 all the family lovingly remembered Sam –

“Thy purpose, Lord, I cannot see,

But may be in the Better Land

I’ll read the meaning of my tears,

And there I'll understand.” (Mother)

“You are not forgotten, my dear brother,

Nor shall you ever be;

As long as life and memory last,

Dear Sam, we will always think of thee.” (Sister and brother-in-law)

“He fell as only a hero could fall. (Brothers).

And in 1920, Dearest Sam, fond memory clings –

“Some day we hope to meet him.

Some day, we know not when,

We’ll clasp his hand in a Better Land,

And part—no, never part again.” (Mother and brothers.)

His mother and brothers (Robert, James and Jack) remembered dear Sam again in 1921 –

“In our thoughts your memory lingers,

Tender, fond, and true;

Not one day goes past, dear Sam,

But we think of you.”

And his sister Ruby and her husband, Ernest Green –

“ A noble hearted brother, so dearly loved and sadly missed.”

Remembrance, fond remembrance, from his mother in April 1922 –

“Days of sadness still come o'er me,

Hidden tears do often flow,

For memory keeps my dear one near me,

Though he died four years ago. _

And from his loving brothers –

“No space of time, no lapse of years,

Can dim our dear brother’s past,

A loving memory holds him dear,

Affection holds him fast.”

From his sister and brother-in-law –

“He giveth His beloved sleep.”


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [24 March 2017]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5541 0063706) [24 March 2017]; CWGC [24 March 2017]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [24 March 2017]; Lyttelton Times, 21 December 1901, 19 November 1917, 2 March 1918, 25 April 1918 [x 2], 5 April 1919, 5 April 1920, North Otago Times, 1 January 1912, Wanganui Chronicle, 27 March 1913, Auckland Star, 28 March 1913, Taranaki Daily News, 10, 28 & 29 December 1914, 28 December 1915, 6 March 1918, Taranaki Herald, 28 & 30 December 1914, 16 & 20 December 1915, 6 December 1918, Taihape Daily Times, 31 March 1915, 8 & 9 April 1915, Sun, 13 October 1916, 24 April 1918, 18 January 1919, Otago Daily Times, 20 October 1917, New Zealand Times, 20 Oct 1917, Evening Post, 29 October 1917, Star, 17 November 1917, 1 March 1918, 24 & 27 April 1918, 14 September 1918, 5 April 1919, 14 September 1918, Press, 21 November 1917, 25 April 1918, 5 April 1919, 5 April 1920, 6 April 1921, 6 April 1922, Timaru Herald, 24 April 1918, New Zealand Herald, 5 April 1919 (Papers Past) [24 March 2017; 26, 28, 29 & 31 August 2019; 01 September 2019]; Probate record (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [24 March 2017]: School Admission records [24 March 2017]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [24 March 2017]; Baptism record (South Canterbury Museum) [01September 2019]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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