Michael Kenealy

Michael Kenealy
Born in 1896 in St Neots, Michael was the only son of Michael and Harriet. The family, which consisted of three daughters in addition to Michael, lived at 38 Spring Road, Kempston. Michael's father was Irish, his occupation shown as a retired solicitor's managing clerk. He clearly had a sense of humour. In the 1911 Census under 'Infirmities' he recorded 'Lack of cash'.

During WWI Michael had relatives living in St Ives. His sister, Kathleen Crisp, lived at St John's Road, St Ives. He also had a connection to Kenealy and Crisp, pork butchers in Bridge Street, St Ives, with whom he was employed for a time.

Enlisting at start of the War with the 7th Battalion, London Regiment, Michael fought in France and was wounded at the Battle of the Somme. While convalescing in England, he trained as an instructor and volunteered for service with the King's African Rifles in East Africa, arriving in December 1917. There's evidence he was promoted to Lieutenant and then acting Captain.

King's African Rifles
Soldiers of the King's African Rifles
The battleground in East Africa remains one of the least known campaigns of WWI. Soldiers had to contend with dangerous wild animals such as lions, elephants and hippopotamus. Clouds of voracious insects carried pestilence. There were unparalleled levels of sickness such as malaria, dysentery and pneumonia. By the time Michael arrived the Germans had been cleared from much of East Africa and were being pushed through Mozambique.

Michael died on Saturday 23 February 1918, aged 22yrs. It is believed he contracted yellow fever. Transmitted from the bite of a mosquito, most patients recover after three or four days of high temperature and sickness. Michael was one of the few with more serious symptoms and a 50% fatality rate. It was not until the 1930s that a vaccine was developed to combat the disease.

The Hunts Post reported Michael's death on 15 March 1918. He was buried in Bombo Military Grave, Uganda. It appears his grave was lost, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission now commemorates him at Kampala (Nakawa Road) Cemetery.

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Source materials
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