From medal recommendation:

“24th Guards Brigade, 1st British Division, 6 American Corps

P/94576 War Substantive Lieutenant, Temporary Major Darby Michael KENNEDY, 1st Battalion IRISH GUARDS

Captain KENNEDY was in command of No. 3 Company, 1st Battalion Irish Guards in the area of CARACETO when the Germans attacked January 26.  He had one platoon over-run by tanks having had two Anti-Tank guns knocked out. 

By re-organising the Company under heavy Infantry and tank fire and personally directing Artillery and Mortar fire he restored the situation and beat off the attack causing heavy casualties.  Previous to the night attack on January 29/30 he made some deep patrols with his company gaining much new and useful information.  In the early morning of January 30 when the leading Company position had to be evacuated for another position, Captain KENNEDY with the remainder of his Company, some 45 men, mounted on Tank Busters, sailed up into the enemy positions destroying all before him and enabling those positions to be re-occupied.

From January 30 - February 3 Captain KENNEDY cleared up innumerable Machine gune nests and enemy positions and Observation Posts on the Brigade’s left flank doing invaluable work.  He also produced all the information from personal reconnaissance on which the Divisional Commander formed his plans in reference to the left flank.

During the whole of these operations lasting some 4 days Captain KENNEDY was seldom not under all types of fire including shelling, Machine gun and sniping.  Under his most inspiring leadership his company did the most invaluable service to the whole Division.  I strongly recommend Captain KENNEDY for an immediate Military Cross, in recognition of his tireless courage, fine leadership and inexhaustible resource.


During the close fighting between 20 and 26 February, Captain KENNEDY again more than distinguished himself by his personal gallantry and tireless determination to kill Germans.  His magnificent leadership undoubtedly kept up the morale of his fast dwindling company and resulted in his Battalion position being held against heavy odds.

C.A. Montagu-Douglas-Scott, Lieutenant-Colonel, Officer Commanding, 1st Battalion Irish Guards.

Granted H.R. Alexander, General, Commander-in-Chief, Allied Central Mediterranean Force.”

From The Times, Thursday, April 6, 1944



A battalion of the Irish Guards was among the first troops to land west of ANZIO, and from there it advanced on CARROCETO.  On January 26 the enemy launched a counter-attack, which was preceded by tremendous artillery fire.  On the left flank the attack passed right over a platoon in slit trenches.  The men lay flat below ground level, and the attack was driven off.

The battalion then dug in half-way up the CARROCETO-CAMPALEONE road, and, when this work was made secure, attacked the enemy's main defences, which were protected by a forest of automatic weapons.  It reached its objective, a cross-roads, and again dug in.  German tanks kept sending up flares and shooting at digging parties, while British tanks could not get through to support them.  But the digging continued under a smoke screen provided by the artillery, and finally our tanks secured the high ground on the right and drove off the German tanks.

Later, the battalion headquarters staff were caught in a gully by a mass of Germans.  Their captors took them across the front of a neighbouring battalion, which opened fire.  Captain Simon COMBE, seizing the opportunity, picked up a rifle, shot his immediate guard, and then got possession of a tommy gun and killed five more.  Other guardsmen followed suit.  Of the 30 Germans in the escort 20 were killed and nine taken prisoner.


During a subsequent enemy advance German troops who had penetrated within 100 yards of a company headquarters were all killed, captured, or chased away by a counter-attack.  That fight was scarcely over when it was reported that another German company was approaching.  Most of them were caught in the fire of Bren guns; the remainder fled to cover, where they were caught by artillery fire laid on by Major D.M. KENNEDY.

Soon afterwards the same company of the Irish Guards was in danger of being overrun, and was ordered to withdraw to a prepared position.  It moved in three parties - a small section with three stretcher cases, the walking wounded and the wireless, and the remainder as rearguard.  On its way back it captured a number of Germans in houses, and eventually reached its allotted position.”

From The Irish Times, Tuesday, May 15, 1945:


A brother officer writes:-

All his friends, and particularly all ranks of Irish Guardsmen, will mourn the loss of Major D.M. (John) Kennedy, M.C., killed in March in north-west Europe. From the beginning John threw himself into the war with all the vigour of his strong body.  He was full of cheerfulness and fight in those days of irk some rearguard actions in Norway.  In North Africa he toiled day and night with his beloved No. 3 Company until he was wounded. He rejoined his battalion in time for the fall of Tunis. 

He next saw action at Anzio. There he performed prodigious feats of gallantry; time and again he led his company against the enemy, himself inflicting many casualties. Again wounded, his reward was a Military Cross, many times earned. 

After a few months' rest at home he went again to war, that time to Holland. He was killed, as many of us feared he would be, on German soil leading his company in the attack. 

John loved the good, clean things of life - horses, good fare, and the company of soldiers and friends.  His merits were tireless energy, a courage that knew no fear, extreme generosity, and, above all, a niceness of nature that saw the good in everyone.  His simple goodness made us all love him.  He will, indeed, be dearly missed at home in County Meath and County Kildare, and no less by Irish Guardsmen, who loved him as much as he loved them.”

Click here to read Basil Oscar Paul EUGSTER’s medal recommendation.

Major Kennedy’s name and citation appears in the publication Volunteers from Eire who have won Distinctions while serving with the British Forces. It states that his home was in KILDARE.

Major KENNEDY who was known as John, and whose nickname was ‘Sticky’, served with the 1st Battalion in Norway, North Africa and Italy until its disbandment in UK after the Italian Campaign.  He rejoined active service in Holland serving with the 3rd Battalion, travelling ahead of other reinforcements.  He died along with another Company Commander, Guy Edward FISHER-ROWE engaging German troops in unexpectedly superior numbers. The men who were killed that day near HOMMERSUM lie buried in MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY, HOLLAND.

Publications: His nephew published an account of his life after consulting family papers and interviewing men of the Irish Guards:  Major D.M. Kennedy, M.C., A Tribute, by Robert Jocelyn, Earl of Roden

Major DARBY MICHAEL KENNEDY, M.C., 94576, 3rd Bn., Irish Guards who died on 21 February 1945

Remembered with honour MILSBEEK WAR CEMETERY

Grave/Memorial Reference: I. D. 4.

See Times article Mar 09, 1945; FALLEN OFFICER, KENNEDY

See Times article Mar 08, 1945; KENNEDY, KNOWN KILLED IN ACTION

See Irish Times article May 15,, 1945; AN APPRECIATION

Quis Separabit

Sources: CWGC; TNA; The Times