DENNEHY, Frederick Michael
(Service number 26/990)
|Aliases||Frederick Michael Ignatius DENNEHY - birth & baptismal name. Enlisted as Frederick Michael.|
|First Rank||Rifleman||Last Rank|
|Date||31 August 1886||Place of Birth||Ashhill House, North Street, Timaru|
|Date||11 October 1915||Age||28 years|
|Address at Enlistment||Greymouth|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Mr M. F. DENNEHY (father), North Street, Timaru|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 10 inches. Weight 148 lbs. Chest measurement 33-37 inches. Complexion dark. Eyes brown. Hair dark. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing good. Colour vision normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal.Teeth good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. fit for Field Force.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Rifle Brigade|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||4th Battalion, C Company|
|Date||5 February 1916|
|Transport||Ulimaroa or Mokoia|
|Embarked From||Wellington||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With|
|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|
|Date||17 September 1919||Reason||In consequence of being no longer physically fit for War Service on account of wounds received in action.|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
20 September 1916 - gunshot wound to scapula & fracture, admitted to Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, England. 29 January 1917 - admitted to NZ General Hospital Brockenhurst. February 1918 - admitted to Horncurch, rubella.
Bank clerk, sawmiller, accountant
|Date||1 June 1947||Age||60 years|
|Place of Death||Greymouth|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Karoro Cemetery, Greymouth|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Frederick Michael Ignatius Dennehy, who was known as Fred, was born on 31 August 1886, at the family home, Ashhill House, North Street, Timaru, the eldest son of Irish-born parents Michael and Margaret Josephine (Maggie, née Gerity) Dennehy, of Timaru. He was baptised in the Timaru Catholic Parish on 19 September 1886. 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.
Frederick Dennehy was educated at the Timaru Marist Brothers’ School, where, in 1896, he won the Standard III geography prize. The prizes were distributed after an enjoyable programme of unison singing, recitations and dialogues. Fred was very much into sports. In December 1902 he was in the Timaru team to play against Country, batting well down the order. He was selected for the Timaru team to play against Oamaru on Boxing Day 1904. Also a tennis player, he was selected for the St John’s Club to play against the Timaru Recreation Club in February 1903 at the St John’s courts, Town Belt. He was drawn in the junior fours of the Rowing Club for the contest starting on 27 November 1905. In May 1906 the Timaru Rowing Club held its annual ball, with the prizes presented during an interval in the dancing. F. Dennehy scored a prize in the McBride’s fours event. F. M. Dennehy served his apprenticeship with the Timaru Branch of the Union Bank. In May 1910 when he was transferred on promotion to the head office at Wellington, it was noted that he would be much missed from Timaru Catholic circles. Five months later, however, he was transferred to the Geraldine Branch as a teller. There he engaged in his usual activities – in July 1911 he was elected secretary of the Geraldine Branch of the Hibernian Society, and at the annual meeting of the Geraldine Cricket Club in October 1911, F. M. Dennehy featured in the 1910-1911 season batting and bowling averages. About 1914 he was transferred again, this time to Greymouth. He was soon involved in local affairs, being selected for the grand jury at a trial in June 1914, and again in September 1915.
In August 1915, Fred. M. I. Dennehy, having handed in his name and passed the medical test for the Ninth Reinforcements, was awaiting orders to proceed to camp. A. Andrews and F. Dennehy were bade farewell at the National Reserve parade on the night of 5 October. Before the local men left Greymouth by the s.s. Mapourika for Wellington on 11 October, they were publicly farewelled at the Drill Shed and farewelled by the Reserve at the s.s. Mapourika. A few days earlier there had been “one of those little gatherings so potent of the spirit of the Coast”, when the members of the Greymouth Golf Club gathered to farewell Mr F. M. Dennehy prior to his departure for Trentham. The members presented him with a wristlet watch and expressed their appreciation of his decision to serve his King and country. One speaker assured their guest that “if it were not for their veteran state many of the golfers present would be only too glad to follow his example, and hoped that when he got over the Galipolitan “bunker” he would have an opportunity of “putting” many Huns on their home green.” Mr Dennehy thanked members for the present, “which would always serve to remind him of the good times he had had on the Grey links. He had asked himself the question whether any ties really prevented his enlisting, . . . He hoped that others would be able to satisfy themselves that soldiering was every fit man's bounden duty, . . .” Mr Dennehy’s health was drunk and the function closed with the Anthem. At an informal gathering of members of the Greymouth Club, he was wished every success and a safe return.
Aged 28, single and “Fit for Field Force”, Rifleman F. M. Dennehy embarked for Suez, Egypt with the 4th Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade, on 5 February 1916. He had named his father as next-of-kin. After going to France he qualified as a stretcher-bearer. On 20 September 1916, not long after being transferred to Headquarters, he was wounded in the head in France and was sent to the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley, England. It was actually a gunshot wound to the scapula and fracture. Progress was initially reported as favourable. The Greymouth Evening Star of 3 October 1916 published great detail of how casualties were reported and definitions of levels of wounds. The week for these casualties had been a very heavy one for casualty staff. On 29 January 1917 Rifleman Dennehy was again admitted to hospital – this time to the New Zealand General Hospital at Brockenhurst, From there he was transferred to the Convalescent Depot at Hornchurch. He was detailed “On Command” at Hornchurch in September 1917 and assigned to duty in the Ordnance Store. In February 1918 he was again admitted to Hornchurch, with Rubella. And it was from Hornchurch that he was discharged “On Command” to Headquarters London on 24 November 1918. In April-May 1919 at Brocton he was granted two weeks leave without pay.
His father, Mr M. F. Dennehy, received advice in July 1919 that his son was returning to New Zealand by the Somerset, which was due to arrive at Lyttelton about August 12. Fred Dennehy reached Timaru by troop train on 20 August. Likely his parents and sisters were in the crowd to welcome home their only surviving son and brother, as the train arrived with “its contents of singing soldier passengers”. The Somerset had left Liverpool on 2 July. The men were entertained by the Navy, Y.M.C.A., and the American people in general, during a brief stop-over at Norfolk, Virginia. Although it was at Norfolk Harbour that the troops witnessed a fatal aeroplane collision, very close to their ship. The 2nd Otago Infantry Band was on board the Somerset and provided entertainment during the trip. The Somerset also brought a big English mail. 6000 bags, for the dominion. After spending his leave at his home in North Street, Timaru, Frederick returned to Greymouth, and made a visit to Wellington. F. M. I. Dennehy was discharged on 17 September 1919, as he was no longer physically fit for War Service on account of wounds received in action. He had seen close to four years service and was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. On 24 October 1919 Rifleman 26/990 re-attested for service whilst under medical treatment. He had been was recommended for treatment as an in-patient at Trentham Military Hospital for a condition caused or aggravated by military service.
29 January 1920 was a big day for Frederick Michael Dennehy, as he married Mary Mechtildes Campbell (Tilly, Till) in a beautiful ceremony at St Patrick’s Church, Greymouth. Kathleen Dennehy was a bridesmaid and Eileen the organist. Post war Fred and his wife Till lived in Greymouth , Fred moving from the bank into sawmilling, maybe as an accountant, in the 1920s. Once back at Greymouth Fred again immersed himself in the local life – a tennis tournament in March 1920 featuring a singles match between Fred, the present champion, and the runner-up; appointment as auditor of the West Coast Cricket Association in October 1924; reaching the third round in the singles at the Canterbury Lawn Tennis Association’s Christmas tournament in December 1924, and losing by two sets to one in the Easter 1926 tournament; stroke matches award for 1925 season of the Greymouth Club; election as a committee member of the Greymouth Patriotic Association in June 1926; elected a vice-president of the Marist Brothers’ Old Boys’ Club (Greymouth) on the forming of a cricket club in September 1928; treasurer of Greymouth (Grey) Tennis Club in October 1928, again in 1929, assistant treasurer in 1930; retiring as secretary of the United Athletic club and unable to accept re-election, February 1929; presenting trophies at the Grey Tennis Club in April 1930. He was a keen tennis enthusiast on the West Coast. In 1929 he gave a monetary donation to the United Tennis Club to assist in the relaying of the courts.
When Margaret Mary Dennehy married in Christchurch in 1927, she was escorted by her brother Frederick. Ted and Tom Dennehy, the twin sons of Fred and Tilly, were pages. Relatives of both families were entertained by Mr and Mrs Fred Dennehy at their residence, in Fairfield Avenue, Fendalton. Mrs Dennehy would often stay in Christchurch with the children, sometimes for several months. Fred’s father, Mr M. F. Dennehy, had 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. Frederick was a brother of Edmund James Dennehy who left in October 1914 and was killed in action on 6 Aug 1915 and of Thomas Dennehy who left in April 1917 and was killed in action on 12 October 1917. Frederick named his twin sons born in 1921 after his two brothers lost in the war – Edmund James Ted) and Thomas Francis (Tom).
In August 1926 Mrs Dennehy gave the Grey Borough Council an enlarged framed photograph of her father, the late Felix Campbell, a former mayor of Greymouth. Mrs Dennehy was very active in Plunket, serving for some time as president. She tendered her resignation as president in October 1930. It was not accepted, and instead she was granted extended leave for two years when she would be in Great Britain and the Continent. The members presented her with a bouquet of roses and wished her bon voyage just before their departure, On several occasions she gave trophies for sporting events.
In December 1930 Mr and Mrs Dennehy and their two boys set out on an extended tour of the British Isles and the Continent. They left on the Rangitane, accompanied by Miss Mary Dennehy of Timaru, and intended to stay for two years. The Catholic parishioners of Greymouth entertained them and extended best wishes for s pleasant trip, presenting Mrs Dennehy with a handsome rug and a shooting-stick. By February 1931 they were in London where they visited the High Commissioner’s Office. On 5 December 1932 they set out on the return home by the Oronsay. Tom and Ted – nine years of age, small, dark, earnest and rather shy – were nicknamed the “£20,000 twins”. Their two-year travels to most countries of the world had been financed by a fortune left to them by their grandfather, the late Mr Felix Campbell. On the way home they stopped off at Sydney where it was observed that they were unspoilt and unaware of their wealth. “I am going to be a taxi-driver when I grow up,” said Tom. Ted was interested in studying Spanish – “the prettiest language he had ever heard.” They arrived back in New Zealand by the “Makura”, ready to return to school. The family made another trip to Sydney for two months in late 1932. Ted and Tom demonstrated some of the Dennehy and Campbell musical talent in passing their Grade III examinations in 1933. The following year the boys passed their Form I examinations at the Marist Brothers’ School.
Fred resumed his involvement in various local associations – vice-president of the Marist Soccer Club, vice-president of the Greymouth Municipal Band and vice-president of the Marist Cricket Club, all in 1935. In 1933 he had witnessed five tests in Australia and was able to make some observations at the inter-club debate for the Kent Honours Board – “Should body-line bowling be abolished?” And Mrs Dennehy resumed her association with Plunket. In 1933 she was elected vice-patron of the newly formed ladies’ miniature rifles club in Greymouth. Then, in January 1936, the family was booked to leave again for London by the Rangitane, accompanied by Mary Dennehy. But not before Mrs Dennehy won more awards for her blooms at the horticultural show. In their absence, both Mr and Mrs Dennehy were elected to office in various associations, one of those being Honorary Auditor for the Grey Branch of the Returned Soldiers’ Association. The family was abroad in May when Mrs Dennehy’s older sister died very suddenly. The following month they visited the High Commissioner’s Office in London. They sailed from Southampton on 30 September by the Queen Mary and returned home via Canada, leaving Vancouver by the Aorangi at the beginning of November, and after a few months in Australia, reached New Zealand in March 1937. Yet again, on 10 March 1938, the family travelled to England, this time by the Rangitiki. They left Tilbury on 31 December by the Orcades for New Zealand, and reached Christchurch on 23 February 1939.
Tragedy struck on 28 March 1939 when their 17-year old twin son Thomas received severe head and chest injuries when his cycle was struck by a car in Greymouth. He was taken to hospital in a critical condition. By December he was fit to visit Christchurch. In September following a painter sustained a fractured leg when he fell from a ladder while painting Mr Dennehy’s residence. In June 1940 a large pine tree which was being felled at Mr Dennehy’s residence, split and fell on five power lines, cutting the power in the town for a time. Later in 1940 Mrs Dennehy was appointed patron of the Grey branch of the Lady Galway patriotic guild, recently instituted to provide clothing for refugees. Frederick Michael Dennehy was involved in a tenancy dispute in November 1941, but failed in his claim for rent. By 1941 his son Edmund was a student at St Bede’s College, Christchurch, where he met with great success in oratory and debating and was a warded a gold medal for general knowledge. He was head boy in 1942 and 1943, at the same time completing law papers at Canterbury University. Tom’s prowess at St Bede’s was on the sports field, In 1943 he opened the inning for the West Coast team which played a star-studded Canterbury team, and won. In March 1945 Tom was playing cricket for Riccarton-Old Collegians.
Frederick Michael Dennehy died on 1June 1947 at Greymouth, aged 60 years, and was buried in the Karoro Cemetery, Greymouth, with his wife who died two years later. By his will of 28 November 1930 Frederick gave consideration to his three unmarried sisters, Eileen, Kathleen and Mary, and bequeathed the rest of estate to his wife. Their sons, who had both been drawn in the ballot for service in World War II, were together in Christchurch in 1946. When Mrs Dennehy died in 1949, Edmund was at Sy Hugh’s Charterhouse, Horsham, England; some time afterwards he went to the United States where he died in 1994 at Bennington, Vermont; Thomas, also a clerk, lived in various parts of New Zealand until his death in 2013 at Auckland.
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Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
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