DENNEHY, Thomas Francis
(Service number 46565)
|Aliases||Birth & enlistment name - Thomas|
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||21 October 1892||Place of Birth||North Street, Timaru|
|Date||22 January 1917||Age||24 years 3 months|
|Address at Enlistment||293 Cashel Street, Christchurch|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Mrs M. J. DENNEHY (mother), North Street, Timaru|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 7 inches. Weight 134 lbs. Chest measurement 32-35½ inches. Complexion dark. Eyes brown. Hair dark. Eyes both 6/6. Hearing - right ear slight deafness, left ear normal. Colour vision normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Not free of varicocele. Vaccinated (left arm). Good bodily and mental health. Slight defect(s) but not sufficient to cause rejection. Fit A. 6 July 1916 rejected for service - Varicocele. Slight deafness - right ear.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Expeditionary Force|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||25th Reinforcements Canterbury Infantry Regiment, C Company|
|Date||26 April 1917|
|Embarked From||Wellington||Destination||Plymouth, England|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Canterbury Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion|
|Campaigns||Western European (Passchendaele)|
|Service Medals||British War Medal; Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
12 October 1917, first reported wounded in action, then reported killed in action.
|Date||12 October 1917||Age||24 years|
|Place of Death||Ypres, Belgium|
|Cause||Killed in action, in the Field|
|Notices||New Zealand Tablet, 29 November 1917|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Tyne Cot Memorial, Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium|
|Memorial Reference||N. Z. Apse, Panel 2.|
|New Zealand Memorials||Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Timaru, Roll of Honour (as Thomas F. Dennehy)|
Thomas Francis Dennehy was born on 21 October 1892 at the family home on North Street, Timaru, the third and youngest son of Irish-born parents Michael Frederick and Margaret Josephine (Maggie, née Gerity) Dennehy, of Timaru. He was baptized on 13 November 1892 in the Catholic Parish of Timaru. His parents had married on 15 October 1884 at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Timaru. Thereafter they resided at Timaru where Mr Dennehy was a clerk and very active in community and church affairs. He presented drama and recitation items; was secretary and treasurer of the newly formed Timaru Handball Club in the mid 1880s, and he also met with success in handball matches; and he was secretary of the Hibernian Society for some years and when Bishop Grimes visited in 1888. He was often called on to perform civic functions – serving on a jury, on an inquest panel, and as returning officer. Throughout the war Mr Dennehy appears to have sought distraction and comfort in lawn bowls. Mrs Dennehy, who was long held in the highest estimation, would often be found playing the church organ or the piano for concerts, as did their daughter Eileen, a talented and highly qualified musician; In 1889 Mrs Dennehy not only accompanied all the singers in the Catholic Boys School concert (a regular practice), she also provided the music for a concert in aid of the building fund of St Mary’s Church, Pleasant Point. Eileen Dennehy, A.T.C.L., arranged and with her sister participated in a most successful concert for the Levels district patriotic festival in July 1915. Miss Dennehy was again to the fore as the accompanist at the patriotic concert held in the Theatre Royal in March 1916.
Thomas was educated at the Timaru Roman Catholic Boys’ School where he gained his proficiency certificate in 1907. He was into sports, playing for the Celtic football team for several years and participating in tennis, with some success, and sometimes in the doubles with a sister. Thomas and Miss McAteer won the ladies’ and men’s tournament for prizes held in February 1912. In 1914 he and a partner were entered in the Otago Tennis Association’s Easter tournament men’s handicap doubles, but they defaulted in the second round, perhaps because of the storm which blew up. He was elected to the committee of the St John’s Tennis Club in 1910 and as secretary and treasurer of the St John’s Tennis Club in 1913 and appointed delegate to the Sub-Association. He appears to have inherited some of the family musical talent also. The Timaru Operatic Society produced the opera “Boccacio” on 9 February 1911 at Geraldine in aid of the Geraldine District Brass Band funds. There in the chorus was Mr T. Dennehy. He was in a trio which sang parts of the Solemn High Mass celebrated on the third anniversary (4 October 1914) of the opening of the Sacred Heart Church. His sister Eileen played the organ and led the choir on this occasion.
Thomas was living at home – at the Dennehy residence, Ashhill House, North Street, Timaru, working as a clerk in 1914. By 1916 he was a clerk for the NZ Refrigerating Company in Christchurch, where he was listed on the Reserve Roll and had initially enlisted in July 1916, before being drawn in the ballot later that year. He had first been rejected for service on account of varicocele. He also experienced slight deafness in the right ear. To the accompaniment of cheers and stirring tunes from the bands, the men of the 26th Reinforcements of the Canterbury Infantry Regiment had left Christchurch by the express train on 7 February 1917. This, after Colonel Chaffey had addressed them, impressing upon them the great need for discipline if they were to meet the great military nations of Europe, wishing them the best of luck, and expressing the opinion that they would worthily uphold the fine traditions already established by Canterbury regiments. He embarked with the 25th Reinforcements, leaving Wellington on 26 April 1917 and destined for Plymouth, England per the Turakina. After some months at Sling Private T. Dennehy proceeded overseas and joined his battalion in France on 16 September 1917.
It was reported in casualty list 701 - a list containing 309 names - that Thomas was wounded in action on 12 October 1917 at Passchendaele, by which time his brother Frederick had also been wounded; and their brother Edmund had been killed in action at Gallipoli. Mr M. Dennehy of North Street, Timaru, was notified accordingly. This was later amended to read “killed in action”, one of 65 deaths recorded in casualty list 710 issued on 6 November 1917 – Dennehy T., 4656, C.I.R., and after only a few weeks in battle. In the aftermath of an early morning advance, Thomas became a victim of the Passchendaele offensive, falling on New Zealand’s blackest day. Perhaps he was one of the determined individuals who tried to get through the German barrier, but were quickly killed. A “For the Empire’s Cause” notice was published in the New Zealand Tablet of 29 November 1917. Thomas Francis Dennehy was just 24 years old.
His medals – British War Medal and Victory Medal - were despatched to his father, as were the plaque and scroll, the plaque in December 1921 after both parents had died. Mr M. F. Dennehy, the father, suffered a severe scalp wound in a nasty cycling accident in September 1918, and required hospital treatment. He was to live on for another three years, predeceased by Mrs Dennehy in 1920. Thomas was a brother of Edmund James Dennehy who left in October 1914 and was killed in action on 6 Aug 1915, and of Frederick Michael Dennehy who also served in World War I, leaving in February 1916. Frederick named his twin sons, born in 1921, after his two brothers lost in the war – Edmund James (Ted) and Thomas Francis (Tom).
Private T. F. Dennehy is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial near Zonnebeke, Belgium, and the Memorial Tablet in the Timaru Sacred Heart Basilica. The portrait of a fine young man printed in the Auckland Weekly News is attached to Cenotaph Database.
Cenotaph Database [21 July 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5537 0033324) [01 Aug 2013]; CWGC [30 July 2013]; Timaru Herald, 4 April 1884, 22 October 1892, 20 December 1907, 20 May 1908, 9 September 1910, 5 July 1911, 23 October 1913, 16 December 1913, 5 October 1914, 20 November 1914, 10 July 1915, 27 March 1916, 29 October 1917 [x 2], 7 November 1917, 25 September 1918, New Zealand Tablet, 7 November 1884, 15 September 1910, 15 February 1912, 29 November 1917, 17 June 1920, 22 & 29 September 1921, 6 October 1921, Temuka Leader, 14 January 1911, Evening Star, 13 April 1914, Press, 6 July 1916, 8 February 1917, 7 November 1917, Star 15 December 1916, Evening Post, 27 October 1917, 7 November 1917 (Papers Past) [08 September 2014; 06, 08 & 09 May 2015; 09 August 2015; 18 & 19 February 2018]; Baptism Record (Christchurch Catholic Diocese Baptism Index CD, held by S C Branch NZSG) [10 May 2015]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [06 May 2015]
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