James was born at Rushworth, VIC in 1894 to Daniel Kennelly and Jane Curran. James was an employee of Thomas Skene, who is also remembered in the Avenue.
James was a groom at Bullengarook Estate, near Bacchus Marsh, VIC(1), when he enlisted in the AIF on the 9th of May 1915, aged 21. He embarked aboard the HMAT A55 Kyarra with the 2nd Reinforcements, 31st Battalion in early January 1916, disembarking at Suez, Egypt later that month - ex Demosthenes. In March 1916 James transferred to the 46th Battalion and embarked for France in early June.
During the fighting at Mouquet Farm, France, James was killed by a shell.
Killed on the Somme by shell while on Fatigue, bringing something up to the trenches - he was in my section and knew him well - Under me some months - buried at Chalk Pits near Mouquet Farm and Pozieres and cross put up at his grave.Source: White, 1890
Kennelly was killed in a trench known as OG2 at Pozieres by shell fire. He was buried outside the trench where he fell.Source: Captain Cunningham, 46th Battalion
He is listed on the Roll of Honour for Bacchus Marsh and the Roll of Honour for the Bacchus Marsh ANA, held by the RSL at Bacchus Marsh and also remembered at the Villers-Bretoneux Memorial, France.
- The Bacchus Marsh Express 16 Sept 1916
- His service records contain a warrant issued (5/6/1916) for his arrest and conveyance to Ascot Vale Camp - supposed to have deserted 22/11/1915. However he was on his way to France when this warrant was issued and two weeks after his supposed desertion he was with the 31st Battalion.
It is possible that he may have deserted form Ascot Vale Camp, and then reenlisted at another location, leading to the Officer commanding Ascot Vale to start the process for arresting a deserter. The warrant would have then been issued, but not followed up when they realised he was serving. This could also account for why there is no record of him being charged with desertion, or court martialled, as the army would have turned a blind eye if the records came through after he entered active service.
This is only one possible explanation, unfortunately with a complex case like this it is unlikely that you will be able to identify exactly what had occurred.