Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Coastwatcher Donald Kennedy

Discussion in 'Land Warfare in the Pacific' started by NAREEVES, Oct 31, 2009.

  1. NAREEVES

    NAREEVES Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    3
    Coastwatcher Kennedy, featured in a John Wayne war movie, was actually on the island of New Georgia in the Solomons during the battle for the island in 1943. Does anyone remember what the name of the John Wayne movie is? Anyone have more information on Kennedy?
     
  2. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Messages:
    1,240
    Likes Received:
    183
    "In Harms Way" might have been the movie. The island they invade, Gavavutu, also looked suspiciously like Guadalcanal when a map of it was shown to the press corps.
     
  3. NAREEVES

    NAREEVES Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    3
    Yes, I believe In Harms Way is correct now that you mention it. Perhaps Kennedy was there on Gavavutu and then moved up to New Georgia Island later. I'm not aware that Kennedy was ever on Guadalcanal but you know that facts are often distorted in the movies! For instance, Hollywood wanted to do a movie about George Gay but wanted Gay to sign a release for Hollywood to change some facts about Gay's ordeal for better movie interest. Gay refused to do so and thus the movie was never produced.
     
  4. NAREEVES

    NAREEVES Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    3
    Correction - Kennedy was on New Georgia in 1942 and 1943. He was on Gavabutu Island in 1944.
     
  5. Cla68

    Cla68 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    6
    Walter Lord's Lonely Vigil; Coastwatchers of the Solomons has a lot of information on Kennedy. D.C. Horton's Fire Over the Islands (a hard to find book) has some information also. And, of course, Eric Feldt's The Coastwatchers also has some information. Lord's book is fairly easy to find secondhand. Martin Clemens' Alone on Guadalcanal I think has a little information, but Clemens mainly focuses his book on the Guadalcanal campaign.

    If you decide to buy Feldt's book, I would suggest NOT buying the version published in the US, because it is severely abridged. You can obtain the full version, published in Australia by Penguin Books, from Australian online booksellers like Abe Books. If you live in the US, the postage will cost an extra $20 or so.

    Kennedy was an interesting character. He apparently killed at least one, if not more, of his irregular troops who didn't obey his orders correctly. Kennedy was wounded in a naval skirmish, he thought by the Japanese, but it wasn't revealed until many years later that one of his own men had tried to frag him, using the gunfight as cover for the attempt. Richard Frank described Kennedy as the "Captain Bligh" of New Georgia. He got the job done though.
     
  6. NAREEVES

    NAREEVES Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    3
    Great information! I will borrow Walter Lord's book from a cousin.

    Here is what I have on Kennedy from Samuel Morison's History of US Naval Operations in WWII Vol VI:

    "District Officer Donald G Kennedy, an Australian coastwatcher who operated a radio station, intelligence post, downed-aviator haven and native guerrilla base at Segi Point, (east of Munda Air Field)was a tower of strength for the Allies in this region (New Georgia). 'These islands are British and they are to remain British,' he declared in a message delivered to every native village. 'The Government is not leaving. Even if the Japanese come, we shall stay with you and in the end they will be driven out.' And he backed up these words by ambushing over a hunddred Japanese soldiers who tramped too close to his hideout, and those who approached Segi by sea fared no better. Kennedy ran a unique amphibious force consisting of native-manned schooners. His 'flagship,' Dadavata, a ten-ton schooner, won a duel with a Japanese whaleboat in which the enemy was rammed and shot up, and his deck showered with hand grenades.

    The Japanese tried to entice Kennedy to give himself up with the promise that he would be treated as a 'first-class prisoner,' and threatened him with a dire fate if he did not. On 17 June, one Major Hara set out from Viru with an infantry company and a machine-gun platoon to capture Segi. Kennedy ambushed the party and captured the inevitable Japanese diary containing details of the expedition. He then faded into the hills and radioed for help. Admiral Turner, who never let a brave man down, sent two companies of the 4th Marine Raider Battalion tearing up the Slot on the night of 20 June, in destroyer-transports Dent and Waters. The Coast Pilot described the channel leading to Segi Point as 'requiring ideal conditions for masthead navigation to ensure a successful transit'; and conditions were far from ideal that day. There was too little light for masthead navigation and the chart dismissed the bay leading to Segi Point with the ominous notation 'foul ground.' Kennedy had lighted bonfires on the beach and Dent carried a local pilot, but both ships scraped bottom. Fortunately they worked free without critical damage. While the transports eased gingerly toward Segi Point, Kennedy signaled a cheerful 'O.K. here,' and at daybreak the Marines started ashore. The unloading lasted two hours but the jungle-green camouflage of the APDs caused enemy airscouts to miss them. Dent and Waters wriggled out of the channel and made a safe daylight return to Guadalcanal."

    This, added to your information, certainly paints quite a picture of Kennedy and his determination. Morison makes no other mention of Kennedy in his many volumes. Was Kennedy ever on Guadalcanal? Apparently he moved up to Gavabutu after leaving New Georgia.
     
  7. Cla68

    Cla68 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    6
    I believe that it states in Feldt's or Lord's book that Kennedy began the war as the British district officer on Santa Isabel, but moved over to New Georgia shortly before the Japanese occupied Tulagi in May '42. I don't remember the reason he moved and don't have the books in front of me right now.

    One of the books states that soon after the Allies secured New Georgia in late '43, that he and his native "wife" were flown out on a military aircraft for rest and recuperation in the rear somewhere. From what you say, he must have moved to Gavabutu after that. I wonder what he did for the rest of his life, like if he continued to work in British colonial service like Martin Clemens or went into a different line of work?
     
  8. NAREEVES

    NAREEVES Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    3
    I seem to be way off base here. I just looked up the cast of In Harm's Way, and the Aussie coastwatcher featured in the film was Clayton Canfil, not Kennedy. Info on Kennedy is confirmed as starting out on Santa Isabel and then moving to New Georgia. Gavabutu is not mentioned for Kennedy as in the film. But Kennedy is my main interest anyway as he was on New Georgia and would have been flown out shortly after the airfield was secured and while my dad was there to start up CASU 14. Your information has helped a lot.
     
  9. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,072
    Likes Received:
    99
    NAR;
    Interesting subject, the coastwatchers of the South Pacific-I will have to pick up a book sometime. Some related links; Axis History Forum • View topic - Coastwatcher Donald Kennedy
    SOLOMON ISLANDS COASTWATCHERS
    Coastwatchers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    JFK and; Coastwatchers: Facts, Discussion Forum, and Encyclopedia Article
    COASTWATCHERS

    JeffinMNUSA
     
  10. Cla68

    Cla68 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    6
    One other book that I know of (listed at the bottom of the Wikipedia article) is A. B. Feuer's Coastwatching in World War II which concentrates on W. J. Read in northern and Paul Mason in southern Bougainville. The Coastwatchers Wikipedia article is on my "to do" list to improve but it will probably be a couple of years until I get to it.
     
  11. NAREEVES

    NAREEVES Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    3
    Wikipedia is a fabuous site and has helped me on many subjects. Get to it! :)
     
  12. Rosieradio

    Rosieradio Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just joined the group, and not sure what I am doing, I am a collector of Coastwatchers information and also a Ham Radio Operator and especially interested in portable, field radio operations., I do a search every few months and just ran into this site.

    Joe
     
  13. Rosieradio

    Rosieradio Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    It appears that this thead is pertaining to Donald Kennedy, are there other thread pertaining to the Coastwatchers ?

    Joe (newbie)
     
  14. Rosieradio

    Rosieradio Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    It also looks like there have been no posts since Nov of 2009, so I will have to be patient

    Joe
     
  15. Cla68

    Cla68 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    6
    Is there any particular facet of coastwatcher operations or personnel that you would like to discuss? There were coastwatchers on almost every major and minor island administered by Australia or Great Britain in the South Pacific. A few of them were captured by the Japanese and executed. Some of them saw no action at all during the war. Of course some of them, like Kennedy, had some very interesting experiences and made some extremely significant contributions to the Allied victory in that region.
     
  16. Rosieradio

    Rosieradio Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi. thanks for the reply, I guess I am just looking for any info on books etc, and info. on movies etc. that I might not know about. I ran into a fellow in Australia about 4 or 5 years ago, ON Line, that was working with some American Movie company on making a movie. but I have since lost any contact with him.

    Joe in Modest Ca, USA
     
  17. Rosieradio

    Rosieradio Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    I pulled out my old VCR copy of "In Harms Way" and wathed it, and the Coastwatchers were mentioned in there a couple times. although no actual scenes of them, except one shot of a woman spotting planes, dont think she was actually one of the Coastwatchers

    There is a new book comining out by Random House in Oct called Coastwatchers by Patrick Lindsay.
    Also I just picked up the first copy of a book called Missing in Action at Guadalcanal, August 1942 Just completed (ten years in the process) my WWII novella (a fictional short novel) with focus on ham radio, Guadalcanal, with two U.S. hams, an Australian ham/coast watcher, Solomonese coast watchers, a Japanese ham, air/sea/land engagements between the forces of U.S./Japan at Talugi and Guadalcanal in 1942.
    Written in an innovative creative style not normally seen in your everyday fiction.
    ..
    Missing in Action
    at
    Guadalcanal
    August 1942
    ..
    Very well written by a ham for other hams, WWII buffs, military buffs, fictionalized history buffs, mystery buffs, and everyone who likes good reading with action and adventure.


    Joe in Modesto Ca
     
  18. Kennedy

    Kennedy recruit

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2010
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Wow, okay this is really cool, but I am the great grandson of Donald Kennedy. I never realized he was such a great hero/madman, he did some outrageous things on the islands, but my family have never really talked about them.
    I think he came back to new zealand some time after the war, sold his island and settled down to normal life, at least thats what I gather.
    Amazed by the story of how he got americans to shore in the destroyers, its super epic.
     
  19. Greg Canellis

    Greg Canellis Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2009
    Messages:
    402
    Likes Received:
    25
    Welcome. I hope this inspirers you to research your great grandfather and share your findings with us.

    Greg C.
     
  20. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2007
    Messages:
    2,803
    Likes Received:
    558
    Location:
    Saskatoon
    Welcome, Kennedy. I ditto Greg C.'s hope that you research further and share with us, as well.
     

Share This Page