M.C. (Military Cross)


Born June 27, 1883, in Leeds, Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy was educated at Leeds Grammar Shool and Trinity College, Dublin, where he obtained a degree in classics and divinity in 1904. He then studied for the Anglican priesthood at Ripon Clergy College and went on to minister in Rugby and at St. Paul's, Worcester, in 1914. Volunteering as an army chaplain in World War I, Studdert Kennedy earned the nickname Woodbine Willy for his habit of giving Woodbine cigarettes to soldiers in distress. He served with the 46th, 24th, and 42nd Infantry Divisions and was awarded the Military Cross for risking his life to comfort the wounded at Messines Ridge. During the war Woodbine Willy wrote verses for soldiers in the trenches. Llewellyn H. Gwynne, Deputy Chaplain General in France, caused these verses to be printed for the army, among which they enjoyed popularity. Archbishop William Temple said that Studdert Kennedy was "the finest priest" he had known. He ministered at St. Edmund King and Martyr, Lombard Street, London, in 1922. He died on March 8, 1929, in Liverpool and is interred in Worcester. Leeds Parish Church, where his father was curate, has a chapel dedicated to his memory. Woodbine Willy's books of poems include:

  • Kennedy, Geoffrey Anketell Studdert. Rough Rhymes of a Padre. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1918. 1919/5/85 Cambridge University Library
  • --. More Rough Rhymes of a Padre. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1919. 1919/5/168 Cambridge University Library
  • --. Sorrows Of God, and Other Poems. 1924.
  • --. Rhymes. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1929. 1929/7/3853 Cambridge University Library
  • Rowell, Geoffrey. "Kennedy, Geoffrey Anketell Studdert (1883–1929)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004.