Added by: S Kennelly
Date added: 15 Jan 2012
Cpl. John Patrick Kennelly was born on February 21, 1950. He died on June 29, 2010, aged 60.
His headstone reads: ‘Devoted Husband, taken before his time. Deeply missed but never forgotten.’
John was born in London in 1950. Before he had spoken his first word he was taken to his Irish parents’ homeland where his first sister was born. Together the growing family moved to Bow, in East London. Soon, John was joined by three brothers and three more sisters.
He attended a local primary school and progressed to St Bernard’s secondary, where he was joined by his brothers. The priests and nuns who taught them were strict - and generous with the cane. One priest was particularly skilled with the knotted rope he wore around his waist. He never missed. But John’s knuckles were never too sore to tuck into his school-dinner pudding, whether it was semolina, tapioca, or the square of chocolate sponge and matching custard on offer each Friday.
As the eldest in a large family, John enjoyed time spent alone. He was an avid reader who consumed each book he came across. He was a telly-addict who would watch all that was on before the transmission stopped for the evening.
Even at school, John was drawn to the Army.
At the age of 15, John left school and began working, first as a greengrocer, then at other jobs. One day when working at a local clothes factory he caught a bus to Forrest Gate. It was there that he spoke to an Army Careers officer and signed up.
His mother was upset by the announcement, but his father had a more relaxed approach: “If that’s what the boy wants to do, let him.”
He was taken to the Signals Training Camp in Catterick for the twelve weeks basic, and then moved across the road for trade training. It was there he trained to be a quartermaster. John’s first post was to 2nd Division; a regiment based at the time in Germany - just half an hour from the East/West border. His methodical nature perfectly suited his role as quartermaster in the camp store. On quiet Saturday mornings John and his friends would shop in the local German town and feast on bacon rolls. He was then posted to Colchester, 5th Airborne Assault Division in Cyprus, and in 1974, John was sent to Hong Kong where he lived for two years.
After leaving the Army in 1979, John moved to Scunthorpe with his first wife, where her family was based. He worked in a steel-works and was blessed with three children; Nicola, John and Dean.
Years later, after John had moved back to London, he met his current wife; Teresa, at the Lotus bar in Forrest Gate. He was out with his brother Martin. John wore his trademark short sleeve shirt and his hair was short, thick, and jet-black. She was working behind the bar. They spoke, and met one week later in a local pub called the Moulders Arms. On the following Sunday they met for a meal, and soon they were dating.
They bought a house together and were married in 1987. There they have lived ever since. The house needed much work - though to his wife’s dismay - John was not a DIY expert. When asked to paint the ceiling, he forgot the dust-sheet, so she ended up with a matching carpet.
After getting a cough that wouldn’t go away, John endured much during his long battle with cancer. On June 28, 2010, John was taken to hospital. The next day his family surrounded his bed and his brother said a prayer. His wife whispered assurances into his ear and he breathed his last.
John was a great lover of classical music. He admired a fine voice, and a rousing melody. He loved the Three Tenors, Catherine Jenkins, and many others. On a trip to Venice, Teresa surprised John with tickets to a performance of La Traviata. Though he grumbled about the hefty cost, he was content with the price paid afterwards.
John was a passionate reader. He relished Shakespearean plays, Agatha Christie mysteries, various thrillers and spy novels, especially those of John Le Carre.
He enjoyed a brandy and a smoke, the odd flutter on the horses, and he adored soft-shell baby-crabs cooked in the Thai-style.
He was a soldier, a husband, a father, a brother, an uncle, and a friend.
He is sorely missed.