Lieutenant Russell Jordan Kennedy
Unit : 23rd Field Company RCE, 43rd (Wessex) Division
Awards : Military Cross
During the evacuation of the 1st Airborne Division on the night of the 25th September, Lieutenant Kennedy and his Canadian sappers made numerous trips over the Rhine to bring men to the safety of the southern bank. At 05:30, Kennedy was in the last of the powered boats to attempt the crossing, by which time it was broad daylight and the River was under such intense enemy fire that the operation could no longer continue; almost every man in this final boat was hit. For his actions on this night, and later operations, he was awarded the Military Cross:
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during operations in the Nijmegen "Island".
In the evacuation of surviving elements of 1st British Airborne Division from their bridgehead on the River Neder Rijn at Arnhem, this officer was responsible for the operation of the stormboats. He personally made several trips across the river in the face of heavy machine gun fire to bring off troops, and continued to do so, in spite of having one boat capsized, until no further troops could be brought off. His intrepid bearing and personal example, in spite of casualties to his crews, played a great part in the successful evacuation of the Division.
Later, in the period ending 21st November 1944, he was detailed to carry out the evacuation of other troops from the North bank of the River Neder Rijn to Hettaren. In the face of heavy enemy machine gun and mortar fire, he succeeded in unloading and concealing his stormboats, and for a period of six successive nights he went alone to a forward position, exposed to small arms fire, to await signals from the far bank indicating the presence of troops to be brought across. On the sixth night, having seen a signal, he crossed in his stormboat and brought back a party of men. Lieutenant Kennedy remained in his post during the next two nights after which it was certain that no further troops would come through.
From Normandy through to Holland, Lieutenant Kennedy has shown exceptional qualities of leadership, gallantry, devotion to duty and the ability to think and act clearly and quickly even under the most adverse circumstances. These qualities have been a constant inspiration to his troops and fellow officers. There is no hesitation to follow where he leads.
Russell Kennedy passed away in 2010.
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