John Kennell was born in Yeovil in 1872. One of five children, he was the only son of bootmaker Francis Kennell and his wife Elizabeth.
John enlisted in the Dorsetshire Regiment in 1888. Interestingly, his enlistment records give his surname – and that of his parents – as Hosegood. When he was discharged, however, the documents give him as John Hosegood alias Kennell (the census records confirm his family name as Kennell, however).
Private Hosegood was initially based at The Citadel Military Barracks in Plymouth. His service meant he travelled the world – he spent two years in Egypt, four in India and two in South Africa (where he was involved in the relief of Ladysmith). In all, John served 14 years in the army and was discharged in May 1902.
John married Bessie Greenstock six weeks after being demobbed; the Banns show they wed in the Parish Church of Sherborne (or Sherborne Abbey), and list John as a soldier. He was 30, Bessie seven years older.
By the time of the 1911 census, the couple were living with their two young children – Francis and Edith – and Bessie’s widowed mother in the village of Oborne, two miles to the west of Sherborne in Dorset.
When war broke out, John reenlisted within weeks. After a period of re-training, Private Kennell was posted to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force on 23rd October 1914, and served nearly three years on the Western Front.
Private Kennell returned to the UK on 30th December 1916, and remained there until being discharged as no longer fit for war service in July 1917. Sadly, I have been unable to find any details of what led to him being discharged, but the service records do not suggest that he was wounded in any way.
After his discharge, details of John’s life are sparse. His name does not appear in any newspapers of the time, and all I have been able to find it that he passed away on Christmas Eve 1919. He was 47 years old and was buried five days later.
Private John Kennell lies at rest in Sherborne Cemetery, Dorset.