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News > Notable RMAS Alumni > Roderick Kendrick Barnes - Intake 24

Roderick Kendrick Barnes - Intake 24

Roderick Kendrick Barnes was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad  on 23rd August 1935 and educated at St Mary’s College on the island. Joining the West India Regiment in 1956 he moved to Jamaica and was one of the first two from the regiment to attend Intake 24 at Sandhurst in 1958 as part of the initiative to build a post-independence army. When the island gained independence in 1962, Barnes transferred to the newly-created Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

Promoted to Major in 1965 he, after promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, commanded 1st Battalion The Jamaica Regiment. Promoted to Colonel in 1973 he was the Defence Advisor at the Jamaica High Commission in London and greatly enjoyed returning to Sandhurst to support some of the over 200 Jamaican officer cadets who have trained at the Academy.

In October 1983 radicals overthrew and murdered Maurice Bishop, the Prime Minister of Grenada. Several Caribbean leaders appealed to US President Ronald Reagan for assistance and the invasion of Grenada took place. To give the US intervention local legitimacy a combined Caribbean Security Force was created to take part in the operation, and Barnes was selected as the commander. The coup was duly crushed, Grenada was restored to democracy and he was described as ‘an inspired leader who was an officer and a gentleman.’ Ken Barnes retired from the army in 1989.

A talented sportsman who had captained the Jamaican football team Barnes had served as the Army sports officer and chairman of the JDF sports board. Barnes managed the national football team but, such was his reputation as an administrator that his services were much in demand and he was also President of the Swimming Association of Jamaica and the Jamaica Boxing Board of Control. However, perhaps his most well-known contribution to Jamaican sport came when he was approached to set up a national bobsleigh team. Throwing his energy into the project and utilising the renowned sprinting ability of his countrymen he built a team of military personnel. The laid-back attitude of the squad and the incongruity of a Caribbean island competing in winter sports brought them legions of admirers. The team finished a highly creditable 14th in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics and inspired the hit film Cool Runnings.


In 1963, after the birth of two daughters, the Barnes’s third child was born. His wife, Jeanne, placed a tiny football in the cot hoping that the baby would become the son his father had always wanted. It is ironic that a man who was one of his county’s leading performers and administrators in several sports over four decades, who led the forces of several nations in a successful military operation and inspired a hugely popular film should be remembered primarily for being the father of an even-better-known son. Fortunately, Ken Barnes lived long enough to witness his son John’s 79 game England career and later follow in his fathers’ footsteps as manager of the Jamaica football team. Colonel Ken Barnes died on 20th February 2009. 

Found this post interesting? Curious to delve deeper into the intriguing world of RMAS alumni? Discover the extraordinary stories of 200 people who trained at Sandhurst, but went on to gain recognition beyond the Military, in the new Sandhurst Trust exclusive book. ”They Also Served”




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