Although not buried in Beckett Street Cemetery, Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy was one of the most celebrated and legendary of WW1 chaplains. His mother and father are both buried at the front of the cemetery close to the memorial of Lowena Ethel Harrison.
The son of the Rev.William Studdert Kennedy and his Irish wife Joan, he was the seventh of nine children. His father`s church St. Mary`s at Quarry Hill was the central feature in the Burmantofts area.
It was in this parish that Geoffrey`s profound affection for the poor was born. He won a place at Trinity College, Dublin where he earned a First in Classics and Divinity. He later was ordained a priest, and in 1912 moved back to Leeds where he was attached to Leeds Parish Church and also helped his father at St. Mary`s.
In June 1914 Geoffrey opted to become vicar of St.Paul`s Church in Worcester in an equally poor parish. At the outbreak of WW1, he urged every able-bodied man to volunteer. Within 2 years he would have willingly eaten those words having witnessed the brutality of war
His short poem “Waste” sums up his feelings
Waste of muscle, waste of brain, Waste of Patience, waste of Pain, Waste of Manhood, waste of Health, Waste of Beauty waste of Wealth, Waste of Blood, and waste of Tears, Waste of Youth`s most precious years, Waste of ways the Saints have trod, Waste of Glory, waste of God - War!
As Chaplain to the troops he would often be seen with 2 rucksacks, one full of copies of the New Testament and one full of Woodbine cigarettes. He believed his place was with the troops at the front line.
In 1917 he won deepening respect from the troops when he was awarded the Military Cross for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty” during the attack on Messines Ridge.
Woodbine Willie returned to his parish in Worcester after the war, dying in 1929.