Canada in the Second World War

People

Albert Wilson Kennedy

Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada

Albert Wilson Kennedy (Al Kennedy) was born on July 31, 1923, in Greenock Scotland. Al moved with his family to Canada, at the age of 9 months. His family settled in Mimico, Ontario.

Al Kennedy attended Mimico High School. Likely at Mimico High School, is where he met his girlfriend, Lillian Long.

After high school, in 1942, Al enlisted in the Canadian Military. He briefly tried out as a paratrooper, training in Benning, Georgia. From there, Al joined the Queen’s Own Rifles, training in Brantford and Camp Borden, before going overseas in January 1943.

Al Kennedy

Al Kennedy & Vic Berry.
Mimico Ontario, 1942

Telegram sent from Al Kennedy

A Telegram sent from Al Kennedy back home to Lillian Long.
April 12, 1943

al kennedy

Al Kennedy (centre) and other members of The Queen’s Own Rifles.

The following is taken from The Queen’s Own Rifles archives, summarizing what Al Kennedy and the rest of “B” Company would have went thru on D-Day.

Toronto’s Queen’s Own Rifles (QOR) landed at ‘Nan White’ beach near Bernières at 8:05. The enemy fortifications on the ‘Nan White’ sector had been barely dented by the preliminary bombardment. The DD tanks were supposed to ‘swim’ in ahead of the infantry to diminish German resistance but were forced by high waves to land after them. When the QOR regiment stormed the beaches, they received the worst battering of any Canadian unit on D-Day.

A Company boats were on the right and the B Company boats on the left

‘B’ Company landed 250 yards east of its objective, directly in front of an enemy pill-box which inflicted 65 casualties within the first minutes. The assault depended on the resolve and courage of the remaining men to race across the beach to the seawall with no cover in between.

Doug Hester, ‘B’ Company: “Then we saw the five pillboxes on top of the sea-wall. These were our first objective. About 500 yards out, they had us in their sites of their small arms and began shooting. When the craft got into shallower water, the Royal Marines lowered the door. The three in front of me including Doug Reed were hit and killed. By luck I jumped out between bursts into their rising blood. Cold and soaking wet, I caught up to Gibby…the first burst went through his back pack. He turned his head grinning at me and said, “that was close, Dougie.”…the next burst killed him.”

The Queen’s Own Rifles had the highest casualties among the Canadian regiments with 143 killed, wounded or captured. Despite the painful price, the QOR had succeeded in securing its D-Day objective seven miles inland.

Many gave their lives on D-Day. Sixty-three in The Queen’s Own paid the price. In our section of ten men, seven fell: David Boynton, Fred Eaman, Edward Westerby, Albert Kennedy, John Kirkland, Douglas Reed—all Riflemen—and Corporal John Gibson.

Three of our ten survived: Rifleman Robert Nicol, Corporal Rolph Jackson, and Doug Hester.

The following, is from the book “D-Day, Juno Beach, Canada’s 24 Hours of Destiny”. This is an actual account from survivor Rolph Jackson, of The Queen’s Own Rifles.

“No Bren guns in our section in our boat got ashore. Anybody that was carrying anything but a rifle didn’t make it. I was seeing the guys go down in front of me. One of the lads, Ted Westerby, had a mickey in his pack, and I saw Al Kennedy staggering. He had been hit (Al Kennedy). He was my Bren gunner, big guy…he then says “Mickey”. Al doesn’t drink, that is what went through my mind, I’ll remember that as long as I live, that Al didn’t drink. One of the guys started grousing about having to carry the Bren. Al says, “Give me the goddamn thing, I’ll take it”, and he hung onto that Bren gun until he was killed.

The Queen’s Own Rifles House. The first building to be liberated on the morning of D-day. Left, Annette, (Lillian’s granddaughter), in front of The Queen’s Own Rifles House.

Memorial plaque outside The Juno Beach Centre, generously donated by a Toronto Family.