The son of Sir Neil James Kennedy and Eleanora Agnes Cochran-Patrick, William John Charles Kennedy's name was legally changed to William John Charles Kennedy-Cochran-Patrick in 1900. He was educated at Wellington College, Berkshire; Tinity College, Cambridge; and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Commissioned in the Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own), he was seconded to the Royal Flying Corps on 11 June 1915. In December 1915, he was posted to No. 1 Aircraft Depot in France. Here he claimed his first victory flying a Nieuport scout. Flying the Sopwith 1½ Strutter with 70 Squadron in September 1916, he scored his second and third victories but, on each occasion, his observer was killed. Promoted to Captain and posted to 23 Squadron in early 1917, he became his squadron's highest scoring ace and the highest scoring SPAD ace of the war, shooting down eighteen enemy aircraft in four months flying the SPAD VII. On 22 July 1917, he was promoted to Major and assumed command of 60 Squadron. Kennedy-Cochran-Patrick left the Royal Air Force in 1919.
Post-war he was an aerial surveyor in South America, Burma, Africa and Iraq. Flying a DH.84 Dragon, Kennedy-Cochran-Patrick, founder of The Aircraft Operating Company of South Africa, took off from Baragwanath Airport near Johannesburg on 26 September 1933. Following a steep turn after takeoff, the plane stalled and fell to the ground from a height of 250 feet. Kennedy-Cochran-Patrick and his passenger, Sir Michael Oppenheimer, were killed.
Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificates, 1910-1950
Military Cross (MC)
2nd Lt. William John Charles Kennedy-Cochran-Patrick, Rif. Brig, and R.F.C.
For conspicuous skill and determination. He climbed and attacked an enemy machine at 14,000 feet and, although he failed in his first and second attacks, he went for it again a third time, shot both pilot and observer and brought it down. He followed it down and landed alongside.
Lt. (T./Capt.) William John Charles Kennedy-Cochran-Patrick, M.C., Rif. Bde. and R.F.C.
For conspicuous gallantry in attacking hostile aircraft. Within two months he brought down two hostile machines in flames, and four others completely out of control. In addition, he has driven several others down in a damaged condition.
Lt. (T./Capt.) William John Charles Kennedy-Cochran-Patrick, M.C., Bif. Bde. and R.F.C.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on numerous occasions in destroying and driving down hostile machines, frequently engaging the enemy with great dash and a fine offensive spirit when encountered in superior numbers. By his cool judgment and splendid fearlessness he has instilled confidence in all around him, his brilliant leadership being chiefly responsible for his numerous successes.