Joseph P. Kennedy Sr, the politician and his wife Rose Kennedy, a socialite and philanthropist raised their nine children in Massachusetts, unaware that five of them would eventually succumb to what is now coined, the ‘Kennedy Curse’.

The Kennedys were an Irish Catholic family, who became increasingly prominent in American Politics. Most famously, their son John F Kennedy served as the 35th President of the United States, leading the US through multiple challenges, including the Cuban Missile crisis. However, the success of his political career was never intended by his parents who instead placed all their hopes on his older brother Joseph Jr, the other Kennedy. As a result of hard work (and a sprinkling of nepotism) Joseph’s road to becoming the next President was clear. He attended the London School of Economics and then Harvard Law School. In 1940 he was elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention and soon after enlisted in the Navy. Having been awarded his wings in 1942 he was chosen to fly B-24s with the British Naval Command. During this time the Kennedy curse caught up with him and he died in a plane crash. Joseph died with honour, being praised for his ‘heroic devotion to duty’. The plane crash occurred while he was completing a secret mission for the Allies. The plan was for him to fly a loaded drone liberator bomber and remain with it until two other planes had gained radio control over the drone. He would then eject out of the plane, leaving it to complete its mission by flying and crash diving into a German rocket launch site situated in Normandy. Recognised as an expert in projects involving radio control, Joseph was the perfect man for the job. Unfortunately, before Joseph was able to get out of the plane two explosions destroyed the drone and killed him and the pilot accompanying him. It is still unknown as to what triggered these explosions. After his death his parents’ political aspirations switched to JFK who up until this point had wanted to become a journalist.

The fact that America was nearly governed by a different Kennedy is often forgotten and the only reason I knew about it was because of where my family and I go on holiday. Every year we stay with some friends in Walberswick, a small coastal town in Suffolk. For the first time this year we went on a boat tour along the River Blyth. The boat captain and tour guide gave us an insight into the local geography and wildlife  as well as a potted history of area. After smiling and nodding through the bird watching section, the chief chatter soon reached a more interesting topic. Having found ourselves in a particularly marshy area he stated that we were in the exact location where Joseph Kennedy crashed the plane. Although the other stories were interesting, like the tale of the burn mark left by a black dog (the devil incarnate) on local church doors or the pirates who partied up and down the estuary this story sparked the most interest. It was strange to think a member from one of the most influential families in America had met his demise in small and quaint Walberswick, the place where everyone knew everyone.

I then discovered the ‘Kennedy Curse’. Five of the Kennedy children died unexpectedly: Joseph and Kathleen both died in a plane crash, John and Robert were assassinated and Rosemary died shortly after a prefrontal lobotomy. And the curse did not stop there, the next generation were similarly impacted, with many of the nine children dying in shocking and unfortunate circumstances. John’s son, JFK Jr, and his wife Carolyn for example, died in a plane crash in 1999. JFK Jr apparently lost control in night-time conditions and crashed into the Atlantic just off the Massachusetts coast. One of Robert’s sons died of a drug overdose, and another died in a tragic skiing accident.  JFK also suffered, as his infant son died after only two days of life. So, is the Kennedy curse real or are they just the unluckiest family in history? Hard to say but what I do know, is that if I hadn’t taken that boat trip down the River Blyth then the Kennedy curse would have remained hidden, at least to me, for a while longer yet.