KENNEDY, Maj Gen Sir John Noble (1893-1970)

Scope and Content

Papers relating to Kennedy's career, 1911-1972, notably narrative diaries of his service on the Western Front during World War One, narrative diaries of his service with the British Military Mission to South Russia, 1919-1920; narrative diaries and papers relating to his senior planning role at the War Office during World War Two; typescript of, and papers relating to, an unpublished memoir of his period as Governor of Southern Rhodesia, 1969. A collection of official photographs relating largely to Kennedy's service at the War Office between 1939 and 1945, has been included at the end of the collection, as has a group of unpublished memoirs written by Col Roderick (Rory) Macleod, presented by the author to Kennedy in 1966.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in 1893; educated at Stranraer and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich; entered Royal Navy, 1911; commissioned into Royal Garrison Artillery, 1915; served in World War One, on the Western Front, in France and Belgium, 1916-1918; served in 130 Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, at the Battle of the Somme, 1916; wounded Aug 1916; served in 119 Heavy Battery, 9 Bde Royal Garrison Artillery, 1916-1917; at the Battle of the Ancre, 1916; Headquarters, 9 Bde Royal Garrison Artillery 1917; Lt 1917; commanded 242 Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, 1917; acting Maj 1917; acting Capt, 1917; Reconnaissance Officer - Staff Lt 1 Class, with Australian Corps Heavy Artillery, 1917-1918; acting Capt (special appointment grade FF for intelligence duties) 1918; Acting Bde Maj (temporary Capt), France, 1918-1919; Acting Capt, commanded 70 Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, Germany 1919; served with British Military Mission to South Russia, 1919-1920; Special Appointment (Class HH), Allied Police Commission, Constantinople, Turkey; General Staff Officer, Grade 3, War Office, 1923-1924; Bde Maj Royal Artillery, Southern Command, UK, 1925-1926; specially employed, War Office, 1926-1927; General Staff Officer, Grade 2, War Office, 1927-1929; Capt 1927; Brevet Maj 1930; General Staff Officer Grade 2, Staff College, 1931-1934; local Lt Col 1931-1933; General Staff Officer Grade 2 War Office, 1934-1936; Brevet Lt Col 1934; Maj 1936; Brevet Col 1938; substantive Col 1938; Deputy Director of Military Operations, War Office, 1938; temporary Brig 1938-1939; served in World War Two, 1939-1945; Director of Plans, 1939; commanded 52 Div, Royal Artillery, France, 1940; Brigadier General Staff, Northern Ireland, 1940; temporary Brig 1940; Director of Military Operations and Plans, War Office, 1940-1943; acting Maj Gen 1940; Maj Gen 1941; Assistant Chief of the Imperial General Staff, War Office, (Operations and Intelligence), 1943-1945; retired 1946; Governor of Southern Rhodesia, 1946-1954; Chairman, Central African Council, 1946-1953; Col Commandant, Royal Artillery, 1948-1958; Chairman, Central African Defence Committee, 1950-1953; Chairman, National Convention of Southern Rhodesia, 1960; died 1970.

Publications: The business of war (Hutchinson, London, 1957).


The papers are mainly arranged in chronological order.

Access Information

Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form.

Acquisition Information

Presented to the Centre in 1995 by Dr Piers Mackesy, Kennedy's godson, who was given the right to dispose of the papers under the terms of Kennedy's will.

Other Finding Aids

Summary guide entry on-line at, and detailed catalogue available in hard copy in the Centre's reading room.

Separated Material

The papers of Lt Gen Sir Oliver William Hargreaves Leese, held at The Imperial War Museum, include correspondence with Kennedy, principally relating to 5 Army operations in Italy, Jan-Sep 1944, but also including comment on Operation MARKET GARDEN, The Netherlands, Sep 1944, and on operations in Burma, Feb-Mar 1945. A copy of Kennedy's account of the establishment of the Central African Federation is held by Oxford University Rhodes House Library, Oxford. Ref MSS Afr r 209, Micr Afr 631.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, attention of the Director of Archive Services.

Related Material

Section 6/4/6-10 of the papers of FM Alan Francis Brooke,1st Viscount Alanbrooke of Brookeborough, include copies of memoranda between Brooke, Kennedy, (Director of Military Operations), and others, concerning the plans for Operation SKYSCRAPER, the establishment of a strong Allied force within close bombing range of the Ruhr, Mar-Apr 1943. Section 1/419 of the papers of Capt Sir Basil Liddell Hart comprises correspondence between Kennedy and Liddell Hart, 1927-1957, with an obituary, 1976. The papers of Col Roderick (Rory) Macleod contain the author's typescript memoirs (section 9 of the Kennedy papers) with the exception of 'Great battles fought during the First World War - 1914-1918 - Flanders 1917' and further copies exist in section 15/14/1 of the papers of Capt Sir Basil Liddell Hart.