One of six children of Richard and Eliza Kennard of Brownston village. Born in Ugborough in 1872 he is later listed in RN records to have been born on 21st August 1873.
He followed in his father’s footsteps as a blacksmith and was listed as an apprentice blacksmith in 1891 census at age of 19. He subsequently married Annie Granville of 24 Brownston Street and worked as a blacksmith in Loddiswell and had one son, Sidney, who was born in 1898 and was killed in action serving with the Devonshire regiment on 3 Feb 1917 in Mesopotamia.
He joined the Royal Navy in 1899 and is listed as a Royal Navy Blacksmith aged 27 in 1901 census. He served on a range of ships before joining the armoured cruiser HMS Monmouth on 12th April 1912. By 1914 he had risen to the rank of Chief Petty Officer and lived in Galpin Street, Modbury.
Early in August 1914 Chief Petty Officer James Kennard left his home in Modbury to join his ship, the armoured cruiser HMS Monmouth.
On 6th August he set sail for Chile via Cape Horn to investigate German trade that had been revived between Valparaiso and Punta Arenas. They found no movement on the coast but, while at Valparaiso, the crew had the chance to send letters.
One young Royal Marine wrote: ‘Dear Mother & Dad, On our way now to the Falkland Islands South America, have just left Monte Video. Getting along alright hope you are the same….I don’t expect the war will last much longer…’
However, for HMS Monmouth, along with the 3 other ships of her squadron, the war was about to start in earnest when, on the evening of 1st November 1914, they found the German squadron of Spee, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Leipzig, Dresden and Nurberg; all modern ships with crack crews. The setting sun silhouetted the British squadron whilst the German ships were hard to see in the failing light. The German fire was rapid and accurate and during the evening HMS Good Hope suffered a magazine explosion and sank soon afterwards with no survivors.
HMS Monmouth was also in a bad way, being on fire and listing to port. Closing in, the Nurberg finished her off with gunfire at point blank and all hands were lost. The pride of the Royal Navy had been dented with its first defeat for over a century at the Battle of Coronel and the loss of two armoured cruisers and nearly 1600 crew. Modbury had its first casualty of the War – Chief Petty Officer Kennard.
His name is carved on the war memorial and recorded in the Church. A memorial to all those who perished at Coronel can be found in the Christ Church Cathedral in Stanley on the East Falkland Island.
His son, Sidney, was killed in action in Mesopotamia on 3rd February 1917.
|Address:||Galpin Street, Modbury|
|Next of Kin:||One of six children of Richard and Eliza Kennard of Brownston village. Father blacksmith. Married to Annie Kennardwith one son, Sidney, who was killed in action 3rd February 1917|
|Remarks:||5ft 8 ins with grey hair, brown eyes and dark complexion. Listed as apprentice blacksmith in 1891 census at age of 19 and as RN Blacksmith aged 27 in 1901 census,|
|Rank||Chief Petty Officer|
|Died On:||1st November 1914|
|Where:||Pacific Ocean, Coronel, Chile|
|Where Buried:||At Sea|
|Memorial:||Christ Church Cathedral, Falkland Islands|
|Remarks||Shown in RN records as born 21 Aug 1873 in Modbury.|