Driver John Kennel (Credits: Mod UK)

British soldiers KIA during Market Garden finally laid to rest

On 16 September two special ceremonies took place at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery (“Airborne War Cemetery”) for two British soldiers who were killed in action during Operation Market Garden in 1944. In the morning at 10.30hrs a rededication service took place for Sapper Henry Sherwood who is now known to be buried in plot 23, row C, grave 19 at Arnhem (Oosterbeek) War Cemetery. Sapper Sherwood was previously commemorated by name on the Groesbeek Memorial.

At 1430hrs, Driver John J Kennell who served with 250 (Airborne) Light Composite Coy, Royal Army Service Corps, was buried. He was killed in action on September 18, 1944. He was only 19 years old.

The remains of Driver Kennell were discovered in 2012 at the Ginkel Heath near Arnhem.  He was identified by means of a 1944 army dental treatment card. It is led to believe that the was killed in mid-air by German fire whilst descending by parachute. His body was found and buried in a shallow field grave.

Driver John Kennel (Credits: Mod UK)
Driver John Kennel (Credits: Mod UK)

John Kennell was born on 23 July 1925 in Islington, London, the son of John and Jeanette Kennell. He liked sports and played football, cricket, swimming, boxing and billiards. His hobbies were reading, travel, history and music. He started work, aged 14, as an office boy, but soon moved into the hardware side of the business, becoming a tinner’s improver (mate) until he was called up for national service. He received his basic training with the General Service Corps and was subsequently trained as a driver with the 9th Training Battalion RASC.

He was posted to 230 Divisional Composite Company RASC, but may have been looking for more action; applying for airborne duties, which were voluntary. He was posted to No. 2 Parachute Platoon of 250 Light Composite Company RASC, which was, as part of Operation Market Garden flown in on 18 September 1944. John jumped over Ginkel Heath, but – according to unconfirmed sources – was hit by German fire mid-air whilst descending by parachute. His body was found and buried in an unmarked field grave, where it lain, undiscovered, until 2012.

Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Ministry of Defence UK and Ministerie van Defensie.